Destiny 2’s Weapon System Is Now Drastically Different

Destiny 2’s Weapon System Is Now Drastically Different

Bungie has changed a lot of things about Destiny over the last four years, but only rarely have there been changes as sweeping as today’s 2.0 patch. Destiny 2 now plays significantly differently than it did yesterday.

Today’s 2.0 patch paves the way for next week’s Forsaken expansion, which the optimistic among us hope will be a Taken King-style overhaul that revitalizes the game after its tumultuous first year.

The new patch changes more things than I have time to list here, so go read the full patch notes if you want all those details. Among the most noteworthy changes: Melee attacks are getting buffed; Titan shoulder-charges will be a one hit kill in crucible; a number of exotic armour pieces are getting buffs; milestones have been overhauled and rearranged in the Director; infusion now requires planetary materials; and mods have been removed entirely in anticipation of a new mod system coming next week. More noticeable than any of those changes is the new weapon system, which combines elements of the systems from both Destiny 1 and Destiny 2 at launch.

I’ve played about an hour with the new weapon system, so I have only a preliminary sense of how it works. It’s a lot of fun in some obvious ways, even if it’s tough to initially get your head around. It’s both more flexible than the year-one weapon system, but also more limiting in some unexpected ways.

If you’ve never played Destiny, it will probably make sense. But if you have played Destiny, it’s much more confusing, because it requires you to unlearn some stuff you’ve spent years internalizing.

This is now a special gun, and it sits in the energy slot.

In the first Destiny, you had your primary guns, your special guns, and your heavy guns. Primaries were guns like hand cannons, pulse rifles, and auto rifles. Special guns were more powerful weapons like shotguns, sniper rifles, and fusion rifles.

Heavies were the most powerful of all, like rocket launchers, swords, and linear fusion rifles. Every gun did either kinetic damage or energy damage (you know: fire, lightning, or purple); guns that did energy damage were more specialised and useful against certain types of enemy shields. Most primary weapons did kinetic damage, and all special and heavy weapons did some sort energy damage. You’d get a solar shotgun, or an arc rocket launcher, that sort of thing.

Bungie overhauled that system for the first year of Destiny 2. There were still three slots, but they worked completely differently. Instead of primary/special/heavy, guns were now broken up into kinetic/energy/power, according to the ammo they took.

Kinetic and energy guns were all the guns previously thought of as “primary” weapons, while the more powerful stuff, including previous special weapons like shotguns, sniper rifles, and fusion rifles, were now lumped in under the “power” slot.

Many players hated this change, since it reduced the number of powerful weapons a player could equip at once. In the first game, you could equip a shotgun and a rocket launcher, but in the sequel, you had to pick one or the other.

The new system, introduced in today’s patch, is a hybrid of those two predecessors. Weapons are still categorized by the type of damage they do (kinetic, energy, power), but that categorization has been de-coupled from the type of ammo they take.

For starters, each weapon archetype now falls into one of three ammo categories: primary, special, and heavy. Here’s how they all break down, per Bungie:

Primary Ammo Weapons: Hand Cannons, Scout Rifles, Auto Rifles, Pulse Rifles, Sidearms, Submachine Guns

Special Ammo Weapons: Fusion Rifles, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, Trace Rifles, Single Shot Grenade Launchers

Heavy Ammo Weapons: Drum-Loaded Grenade Launchers, Rocket launchers, Linear Fusion Rifles Swords

Pretty straightforward, right? So the next thing to get your head around is ammo, which still drops in the game as white, green, or purple pickups. White ammo bricks go to primary guns like hand cannons and auto rifles.

Green ammo bricks drop less often and are used on special weapons like sniper rifles and shotguns. Purple heavy bricks are the rarest, and you use them for heavy weapons like rocket launchers and swords.

That all probably seems pretty easy to follow, too. Here’s where it gets weird, at least for longtime Destiny players. You still have three weapon slots, meaning you can equip three weapons at once. In your inventory, your weapons are now organised not by ammo type (primary/special/heavy) but according to their damage type: kinetic/energy/power.

That means all kinetic guns, including special guns, can only be equipped in your first “kinetic” slot. All energy guns, including both primary and special energy guns, have to go in your second, “energy” slot. Power weapons all do elemental damage, take heavy ammo, and all sit in your “power” slot.

For a balanced loadout, I can easily roll with the raid hand cannon in my kinetic slot, the Ikelos shotgun in my energy slot, and the raid rocket launcher in my power slot, like so:

Hand cannon, shotgun, rocket launcher.

That’s a killer loadout, and gives me one weapon for each type of ammo. But if I want to use the exotic Polaris Lance scout rifle as my primary gun—it’s a scout rifle, so it takes primary ammo—I still have to equip it in the energy slot, because it does solar energy damage.

I can’t pair it with the Ikelos shotgun, since I can’t equip two energy weapons at the same time. In order to pair it with a shotgun, I have to pair it with a kinetic shotgun like Hawthorne’s Field-Forged Shotgun, like so:

Shotgun, scout rifle, rocket launcher.

I’ll still have one weapon for each ammo type—Polaris Lance takes primary ammo and Hawthorne’s shotgun takes special ammo—but they’ll be in a different order. In practice, it’s more or less the same as that first loadout, except that I have to internalize that a single tap of the weapon-swap key gets me my special gun, while a double-tap gets to my primary.

That’s the reverse of how it’s always worked in the past, and one of those muscle-memory things that’ll be hard to unlearn.

If I wanted to play with a weird loadout like, say, three shotguns, I’d have to do it like this:

Shotgun, shotgun, shotgun.

I’d need to put a kinetic shotgun (Hawthorne’s) in the kinetic slot, an energy shotgun (Ikelos) in the energy slot, and a heavy-ammo shotgun in the power slot. Legend of Acrius is one of two heavy shotguns in the game, so that’s what I’d have to go with. If I did use this loadout, it would mean my top two shotguns would split my special ammo reserves, while the Legend of Acrius would use heavy ammo. I wouldn’t have anything using primary ammo, so it would be an unbalanced loadout.

It’s hard to say how well the new system works once you pick a loadout and start playing, though my initial impressions are positive. Despite the fact that it feels like one weapons system jury-rigged onto another (because it is), it seems like a clear change for the better.

In PvE, it’s super fun to be back as a Titan leaping into the fray with a hand cannon and shotgun like the glory days of the first Destiny. I hopped into Escalation Protocol with randoms on Mars and we got all the way to the seventh and final phase, which I attribute at least in part to the fact that everyone was carrying much heavier firepower than they could before today. It felt liberating to use a high-power weapon like a shotgun as freely as I was, without constantly hoping for rare purple ammo drops.

I also played a quick round in the crucible, which was enough to make it clear that Crucible is going to be so wildly different that it’s currently impossible to know how everything will shake out. People sure were shotgunning and sniping like it was 2015 all over again. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I can’t yet say.

It’s going to take some time to adjust to the new system, particularly given that Destiny 2 is about to go through a bunch more changes next week when Forsaken actually hits. For now, I’m gonna head back into Crucible and enjoy my newly buffed shoulder-charge.


    • Split on it myself. On one hand, can see potential in it, on the other, why mix it up so much? In general though, I like it.

      Most players tend to land on a single game style, and bias towards it. So letting people reinforce that bias should open up a lot more variety.

  • This patch today. Gambit on the weekend. Forsaken next week. Cant wait. I have played so much Destiny in the last two months, the game feels even better now than it did at the end of Year Three.

    Though part of me is seriously hesitant of a massively stupid shotgun or sniper meta coming back. I guess time will tell. And lets face it cant be worse than the GL one.

    • Another one who cant wait til after work, just fyi you can grab a piece of forsaken gear from completing the flash point on mars

    • I’ve mained the Graviton since I got it like 5 weeks after launch. The buff was great and i love it even more, but the number of people using it in Crucible has become silly.

  • d2 is one of the most disappointing games I have ever brought. I’m glad to see that things are looking better and part of me wants to re buy it for PC and start over but I just know I’m going to end up let down again.

    • Just wait til they do some special bundle after the final expansion drops. Play it all in one sitting. There’s absolutely nothing lost in doing that, at the moment. The post-content-devour routine in launch week remained pretty much unchanged even after the last few DLC drops. I’ve seen nothing in the patches since to convince me enough’s changed to reinstall.

      Plays really well on PC, though. Great gunfeel etc, really suits KB&M much more than I thought it would. Any fears on that front (based on experience with Halo on PC) were put to rest.

      Still a bunch of time-gated, repetitive grinds, though, for not very much reward. One of those real… ‘so close, yet so far’ crying shame cases.

    • D2 launch, absolutely.
      D2 post-warmind, an entirely different bag of chips here.

      It really is amazing just how much its changed since. I gave up on Destiny entirely when the Osiris expansion dropped, because it was god awful.

      But i’ve honestly never had more fun and spent more time on destiny since Warmind dropped. Forsaken only looks to expand on that.

    • it hasnt been a let down for me almost six months, especially since Warmind. Yes at launch they tried somethings, and it went pearshaped, but thankfully the community put them in their place… the charm of Destiny was that it wasnt (in some sense) a mainstream game. They went for profit and the idea of gaining a mass audience, over keeping the audience they already had.

      So much of what was lost has been returned and, indeed, even better than it was before.

  • I was into the original Destiny in a huge way to the extent that it crippling every other part of my life because of how much I enjoyed the game.

    I took some pretty drastic steps to remove myself from the game and reprogram how I viewed video games so when Destiny 2 was announced, and subsequently released, I felt no interest in going back to the game.

    Reading this really makes me feel like I made the right decision. That sounds confusing as hell.

    I hope those who still play the game enjoy it though and this change ultimately improves their experience.

  • Been playing it for the past 3 months (never played D1) & despite all the hate I honestly love it, bring on Forsaken!

      • You’re probably right, but it doesn’t change the fact that D2 has been a great experience for me. And that’s coming from someone that has about 950 hrs played in Warframe. Yea that’s right, I’m a fan of both games lol.

  • Yeah feeling pretty good about dropping this game and taking up the vastly superior Warframe instead.

  • I wouldn’t mind getting back into destiny 2 if the buy in wasn’t so expensive. I mean you literally have to pony up 100 dollars for the xpack and annual pass as compared to 60 dollars for WoW Expansion or 65 dollars for the new Tomb Raider

  • Yeah not touching d2 again. Reinstalled d1 recently becuase I’d rather spend the time patching that then play d2. Waframe has convinced me to never go back to d2. Warframe has devs who actually care about the players. Not pretend to.

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