If you prefer to watch than read:
How do you make an Exotic feel more Exotic? It’s a two part question, including how it feels to acquire and upgrade the weapon and how it feels to use the weapon. To answer the first question, Senior Investment Designer Mark Uyeda is here to walk us through the process.
Mark: Our goals in extending Masterwork perks and mechanics to Exotic weapons are primarily to create new in-game goals for hobbyist players and reinforce specific activities with these long tail pursuits.
There were a few “problem spaces” that we wanted to address when creating the Exotic Masterwork pursuit. First up, Exotics in Destiny 2 are very easy to acquire. Many players have most, if not all, of the non-quest Exotics. As we don’t want to make players re-earn every Exotic weapon, Exotic Masterwork acquisition and progression needed to take place after acquisition. Additionally, we needed to figure out a player-friendly way of representing the process of obtaining and applying an Exotic Masterwork. The milestone tray doesn’t provide a good flow for every Exotic Masterwork, and bounties are planned for summer (as noted on our recently updated Development Roadmap).
With these goals and restrictions, we landed on the following player experience:
There will be one Exotic Masterwork per Exotic weapon that exists so far in Destiny 2. In order to begin the Masterwork process, players will have to find an Exotic Masterwork Catalyst. When inspecting the Exotic, there will be a hint at what activities can grant the catalyst for that weapon. Not all Exotic Masterworks have the same drop rates. Some Exotic Masterwork weapons are guaranteed after a certain amount of engagement, while others are earned at random.
Once acquired, the catalyst can be applied to immediately enable orb generation on double kills for the weapon. Exotic weapons with a catalyst applied will also start tracking enemies defeated, like their Legendary Masterwork weapon counterparts.
After applying the catalyst, there will be bounty-like objectives available that need to be completed in order to upgrade to the final Masterwork state, which will apply stat/perk bonuses to the weapon.
A few Masterworks will require you to do a single thing, where others will have multiple steps. These objectives will vary in difficulty and length, but will not be determined by RNG. The goal for these objectives is to push the player to engage with the weapon that they wish to make into a full Masterwork.
When it comes to difficulty, there are a few Exotic Masterworks paired with difficult activities or accomplishments in-game. We’re expecting that there may be one or two Exotic Masterwork weapons that give players the opportunity to set goals in mastering specific activities in order to earn their most desired Masterwork.
To get ahead of a few questions we’re expecting, here’s a quick roundup of more specific notes:
Exotic weapon Masterwork pursuits only need to be done once per account- you don’t have to chase your white whale on each character.
Through the Masterwork process, duplicate drops of an Exotic weapon via engrams, milestones, or even the Exotic Collection will be initialized at your current Masterwork upgrade state.
The Exotic Masterwork process takes place fully in the weapon details screen – there won’t be any objectives that take up character inventory space.
Not all Exotic Masterworks will be available immediately when Season 3 begins. If you inspect an Exotic Weapon and a Masterwork socket is not visible, the catalyst is not yet available.
We won’t be publishing guides on how to acquire specific Exotic Masterworks. This is in your hands!
As with all things in Destiny 2, these new features are subject to evolution. We’ll be monitoring acquisition rates and community reaction once these are in the wild and adjusting as needed.
The Exotic Gunsmiths
Over the last few weeks, Senior Sandbox Designer Jon Weisnewski has been giving previews on how some Exotic weapons are evolving at base level to feel more powerful in Season 3. We’re keeping the streak up. This week, Tractor Cannon, Hard Light, and Borealis are up for conversation!
Jon: Quick thanks and recognition to the video capture team that has been working hard to play, record, and publish this stuff on a tight deadline.
The Tractor Cannon has delivered a high amount of spectacle and has a huge fun factor, but was lacking utility for many players. To address this, in addition to the expected damage and physics impulse, any target hit by Tractor Cannon now has a debuff applied that adds suppression and makes the target vulnerable to Void damage for 10 seconds. Suppression will function as you expect, so in the Crucible, this will shut down active supers and prevent players from using their abilities. In PvE, this will put most enemies in the suppression state where they cower and grovel. The Void vulnerability adds a significant weakness to any source of incoming Void damage. So if you’re a solo player, run it with your favorite Void weapons and/or subclass for optimal effect. If you’re running with a coordinated fireteam… we’re both excited and terrified to see how fast you can melt some of our harder bosses with strategic Void attacks. The Void vulnerability does not stack with itself, but it does stack with other damage debuffs. Get to work!
Hard Light is inheriting the Borealis damage type reload swap: Holding reload will cycle elemental damage types in combat. The teaser clip shows this off pretty well, but what it doesn’t show very clearly is the other interesting change we made to lean in to this weapon’s gameplay. The bounce projectiles have always been a dazzling laser light show, but actually using them to do real work on your enemies around corners or off of walls has been difficult. It’s more of a suppression tactic than reliable offense. One option we considered was preserving aim assist for the lifetime of the projectile, but we couldn’t commit due to the sheer amount of pressure this would put on our runtime engine. (Imagine 12 players on a console in 6v6 all using this weapon, each player firing a round every three frames, and our aim assist code trying to predict the trajectory of each bullet for up to three bounces and then attempt to correct it to hit a target.) So, rather than make it easier for you to land a bounce shot, we made the payoff better for when it does happen. Bounced bullets now do double damage. We’re looking forward to seeing some montages from the geometry nerds out there.
So a natural question that may come from this is: doesn’t this change make Hard Light a better choice than Borealis? While Hard Light will definitely have more uptime due to living in your Energy slot, Borealis is also getting an update that will make it a tempting choice.
For Borealis, the utility of having a weapon that can match any damage shield on the fly is good, but in order to make the weapon great we wanted to double down on the reward for successfully pulling this off. After breaking an enemy shield with a matching damage type, Borealis now deals double damage until the next reload or damage type swap. For PvE activities it gives the weapon a more reliable benefit than Hard Light, in both casual modes and high pressure activities. However, it’s not a perk that was meant just for PvE. This behavior also applies to enemy Guardians in the Crucible while their supers are active. Simply put: If you use a Void round to break shield and/or kill an enemy Sentinel Titan who is actively using their super, you have double damage sniper rounds (yes, that’s a one hit kill to the body) until you die or reload. It’s pretty rare to pull off and requires a fair amount of predictive awareness, but we’ve had it happen organically a few times during internal playtests and I’m highly confident that skilled players will be able to make some amazing plays with this weapon.
That’s all for this week! I’m sure we’ll be chatting again soon.
Real soon? Maybe next week. We still have a few more development videos to share – stay tuned to @Bungie on Twitter.