Death To Linears | Iron Banter: This Week in Destiny 2

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Just about every week brings something new to Destiny 2, whether it’s story beats, new activities, or interesting new combinations of elements that let players devastate each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly look at what’s going on in the world of Destiny and a rundown of what’s drawing our attention across the solar system.

I was playing a legendary PsiOp mission on the EDZ with GameSpot’s own Jean-Luc Seipke earlier this week, and I spent a good deal of time just blankly staring at DIM (the third-party Destiny Item Manager) trying to figure out what would give me the easiest time. We were planning on going into the activity without a third guardian, and since the activity isn’t matchmade, it can get pretty dicey. That being said, it’s not that I had difficulty deciding what I wanted in my overall loadout, but the Power weapon slot was bothering me. Legendary seasonal activities aren’t necessarily hard, but they can be challenging if you don’t go into them with a somewhat decent kit. Unfortunately, Destiny has suffered at times when it stifles creativity–where the meta basically amounts to, “use this weapon, or you’re stupid.”

In this case, it’s Heavy linear fusion rifles. They have dominated the PvE space for what feels like an eternity now, especially with the introduction of the burst-fire versions such as Stormchaser or Fire and Forget. Countless beefy yellow bar enemies, raid bosses, and other baddies have been on the receiving end of these overpowered weapons. If you were lucky enough to have one with damage-boosting perks, a Veist Stinger Origin trait, Enhanced craftable mods, or an Adept Big Ones perk (hello, Reed’s Regret), it was a no-brainer. You used a linear (and Arbalest) if you were serious, and if you didn’t…well, let’s just say your clanmates probably had the higher DPS numbers.

Ok, I might actually miss you a little bit.

This isn’t a foreign concept to me, and I get the need to min-max your stats and build; some of my friends get the majority of their joy from doing this. The higher the damage numbers, the happier they are, which is fine. For me, though, that’s not where the fun lies. Instead, the best eras in Destiny are when you have more weapons in the sandbox being viable. When you can bring a machine gun or a grenade launcher to the fight and still be very effective, you’re deciding your loadout not on what gives you the higher number but on what feels more fun.

On Wednesday, Bungie dropped a sandbox tuning preview for Season 20, and it had me grinning from ear to ear because we are moving towards exactly that. The main takeaway is that Linears are getting a significant 15% damage decrease against all Champions, minibosses, and bosses. Yeah. Woof. This does not affect Sleeper Simulant or Queenbreakers, and I’m going to jump in front of this bus now and plead, please do not just resort to Sleeper and try something different.

Honestly, the Legendary linear changes are the biggest thing to note, but that’s not to say there weren’t other compelling changes made to Power weapons. Machine guns and Heavy grenade launchers were also buffed, with machine guns getting a blanket 10% increase to base damage. Meanwhile, grenade launchers have been fairly lackluster since the bonkers season in which Anarchy reigned supreme thanks to a busted seasonal artifact. In Season 20 they’re being buffed to be more viable (except for the Exotic Parasite, which is already quite powerful). Improved projectile collision (you’ll miss less), a larger blast radius by about a meter, and damage buffs of 40% to minions and 20% to Champions, minibosses, bosses, and vehicles all are tantalizing reasons to use these weapons a bit more day to day.

But if we’re talking pure DPS on a stationary boss, then yeah, even with the buffs, you’ll probably be ill-advised to go waltzing in with a grenade launcher. And of course, immediately after the sandbox changes were revealed, Twitter, Discord, Reddit, and everything in between concluded that we’re probably going back to an Izanagi-dominated DPS meta. Other folks still feel Arbalest will be a beast, but I’m gonna dig my heels in a little bit. We’re in a rare moment in the Destiny content cycle where there’s an opportunity for discovery whenever the sandbox undergoes certain changes. Whether we’re able to actually make interesting builds that defy the looming Izanagi meta is up for debate. Truth is, no amount of creativity can stand against the allure of maximizing damage, especially with the new Lightfall raid just around the corner.

Watch–as soon as the changes go live, we’re gonna get the community doing what they do best: push the damage barrier to its limit. But personally? I hope the next video I click on Twitter isn’t just a static Izanagi reload but something a bit more creative and outside the box. The thrill of buildcrafting is finding something that works that isn’t just a copy/paste of every streamer or YouTuber out there, at least for me, and I strongly encourage you to experiment as much as possible.

The sandbox changes come at a great time because we also got to see a sliver of the incoming Lightfall Exotic weapons and armor, and they really do look exciting as hell. Most of the armor shown is synergistic with Strand, the new subclass exclusive to Lightfall. Titan’s Abeyant Leap and Warlock’s Swarmers were more ability based with Strand, but the Hunter’s Cyrtarachne’s Facade has some great PvP precision weapon benefits. Once a hunter grapples using Strand, they’re given extra body armor, increasing their flinch resistance, so you’ll want to get your snipers ready for that.

The standout Exotic weapon reveal for me, though, especially in light of the sandbox changes, is Deterministic Chaos. The Heavy Void machine gun ties itself deep into Void 3.0’s best perks: weaken and volatile. Just hold the trigger, and every fourth bullet turns into a heavy projectile that weakens targets on impact, letting them take crit damage. On top of that, every fourth heavy projectile (so every 16th round) will make targets volatile on impact. That…sounds amazing. Of course, if it takes eons to get to that 16th round, it renders my excitement moot. However, all I can think about are boss encounters that require sustained damage and the fact that you now have a Void 3.0-friendly weapon that weakens targets without you needing to use up a subclass fragment, and maybe…maybe we won’t need to bring a Divinity to every boss fight?

This small sampling of new Exotics serves as a gentle reminder Destiny has created a kingdom of making our guardians powerful through a varied arsenal and imagination. The sandbox changes have been consistent in one thing: tipping the balance in letting different weapons a chance in the spotlight. The changes Bungie listed this time feel no different, and personally, I’m thrilled that the biggest losers of the bunch are the legendary linears. Death to them all! They had their time, they dominated easily, and over half a year of a linear fusion rifle meta was enough for me to have my fill. Seeing the new Exotics, and scouring my vault to brush the dust off some different ol’ reliable weapons for once is something I’m going to celebrate.