It’s beautiful when video games break. It can also be incredibly fun for players, and a nightmare for developers in charge of making sure everything keeps humming along without issue. Over the weekend, Destiny 2 players discovered a wonderful glitch that let them craft god-like weapons and tear through challenging end-game missions with ease. Days later, Bungie is still trying to put the genie back in the bottle.
Destiny 2 is a sci-fi MMO shooter built around collecting rare, magical guns and using them to complete cosmic gauntlets with ever-increasing efficiency and grace. This “grind” can at times feel like running on a treadmill, and Bungie spends a ton of time and resources trying to calibrate the variations in speed and incline to make it challenging and rewarding rather than tedious. Balancing the game’s hundreds of weapons is a big part of that, with minute changes to perk descriptions or numerical values leaving huge marks on the overall shape and trajectory of the experience.
On September 15, a new crafting glitch started making the rounds on social media and various Destiny 2 subreddits. It effectively allows players to create a new weapon with any set of perks they want by slowing down the game and swapping screens quickly. On PC, players put the framerate down to 30fps to increase the window of time to pull off the exploit, while console owners initiated massive file installs in the background to create a similar amount of lag. The result was the ability to create bows that fire grenades and auto rifles that shoot shotgun shells, each with mixes of some of the most powerful perks from standard legendary ones like Chill Clip to unique Exotic perks from guns like the Dead Messenger grenade launcher and Osteo Striga submachine gun.
These broken builds quickly started proliferating in various modes. In dungeons and raids it allowed players to clear encounters and demolish bosses in record time. In competitive PvP like Trials of Osiris, however, it gave players incredibly unfair advantages, and made it easy to essentially glitch your way into some of Destiny 2’s most coveted accomplishments—like flawlessly going through an entire Trials run (without losing). Many in the community assumed Bungie would roll back the game to remove the glitch and anything players had gained from using it. Instead, the studio gave players its blessing to have fun while it worked on a fix.
“We’re aware of an issue that allows specific weapon perks to be crafted into other legendary weapons and are investigating a fix, which will result in these weapons being reset in the future,” the studio announced on Twitter on September 15. “We currently don’t have any plans to disable Trials of Osiris due to this issue.”
Instead of banning players who gained in-game rewards or achievements using the exploit, Bungie revealed the next day that it would work on deploying two fixes. The first would be a server-side update to disable players from using any crafted weapons. The second would reset the “illegal” weapons back to their defaults.
“This is a complex issue, and as a result of testing, our original timeline for a server-side fix has been extended,” Bungie tweeted on September 17. It disabled the Osteo Striga, Revision Zero, Dead Man’s Tale, Dead Messenger, Vexcalibur, and Exotic class glaives, but over 72 hours later is still working on the second half of the fix to bring everything back online. “Please refrain from asking your local Destiny 2 triage developers how their weekend was,” Joe Blackburn, the game’s director, joked on Monday.
Bungie even leaned into the chaos with a Ted Lasso TikTok meme encouraging everyone to go ahead and “live.” In response, the top comment reads, “The biggest glitch in Destiny’s history and Bungie is letting us have.....fun?”
Word of the loot party clearly spread, because Destiny 2’s concurrent player spiked over the weekend on Steam. Where it had been peeking around 80,000 in the last few weeks, it cracked 100,000, a number usually reserved for seasonal updates. While the glitch has likely sent the team into crisis mode and no doubt ruined several developers’ weekends, the unexpected bonanza has also been a bright spot for a game that’s been caught in a bit of a malaise as its pivotal The Final Shape expansion arrives ahead of Destiny 2’s 10-year anniversary. The integrity of the game and its loot chase may have been fundamentally undermined, but at least for the moment anyway, players had a blast.
Update 9/21/2023 4:59 p.m. ET: Nearly a week later, Bungie says the illegal god-tier guns players crafted have finally been replaced by normal ones. While players won’t be banned if they try to do the crafting exploit again, they will be sent back to the main menu with an error code.
Work on the fix ended up slightly delaying the Crota’s End raid challenge week, and Bungie made the unsual move of revealing that the Destiny 2 servers suffered from a DDoS attack earlier in the week. Fortunately, it sounds like the game will be back to normal now, at least for a little while anyway.