Destiny 2’s Exotic Trace Rifle Divinity has been the backbone of a lot of players’ arsenals for end game content ever since it was first introduced back in the Shadowkeep expansion in 2019. Yesterday, Bungie finally announced a long-awaited nerf to how powerful it is, and while many are welcoming the change, it’s also reignited a months-long controversy originally sparked by one of the game’s top players.
There are two things that make Divinity a ridiculously useful tool for Destiny 2’s most challenging content like raids. First, it weakens enemies by 30 percent, letting players deal a bunch of extra damage for an extended period of time. Second, it expands the critical-hit target area, making it easy for an entire team to land higher damage shots, even if their aim isn’t spot on. As a result, Divinity is the go-to Exotic for most activities, and even players who haven’t yet obtained the rare weapon have probably benefited from someone else on the team using it.
So it’s not surprising that Bungie decided Divinity was overdue a recall. “We’ve been looking at Divinity for a while now, and have tested a variety of changes in Season 19 over the last few months, landing on reducing Divinity’s weaken from 30% to 15%,” Destiny 2’s weapon team wrote in a blog post yesterday, previewing a bunch of upcoming balance changes. Here’s the developer’s expanded reasoning behind the decision:
We don’t believe that Divinity in its current form is actually a balance problem, i.e., it’s not necessarily too strong in isolation. That said, Divinity is incredibly dominant in endgame PvE because it trivializes aiming precision weapons and has an extremely high uptime for weaken. The most important issue is that Divinity granting 30% weaken sucks the air out of the room for all other weaken sources (such as Tether and Tractor Cannon), and we don’t want to power creep past Divinity to make them interesting.
TL;DR: Bungie wants players to make use of Destiny 2’s full suite of weapons and abilities. Divinity was crowding out other support abilities and equipment that do similar things, so Bungie has reduced its effectiveness to bring those other tools—like the Hunter’s Tether and the Tractor Cannon Exotic—back into play. Like every big decision in Destiny 2, however, it’s causing no small amount of outrage among certain parts of the community.
The controversy dates back to a now infamous Twitter thread by a player named Saltagreppo, whose raid team is three-time world’s first champions (i.e. even among Destiny 2’s top players he’s in a class of his own). “The gun is basically mandatory for most Boss encounters and it makes aiming a non factor, which is very unhealthy for the game for multiple reasons,” he wrote on September 8. Saltagreppo went on to say the gun undermined the skill gap in end game content, and then offered potential solutions such as making players choose between higher damage or easier crits. “The whole point is that Div shouldn’t be both the best and easiest option,” he wrote.
The thread did not go over well with some players, who thought it was too focused on the unique concerns of a very small percentage of elite players. They aren’t “bored” with Divinity. In fact, they really like how it makes quick work of certain raid bosses that might otherwise cause a night’s work to end in frustration. A perpetual tension within Destiny 2 is that some players like feeling super powerful, taking advantage of broken builds, and hammering at the latest loot exploit. Others don’t. Especially the ones who like competing in raid races and PVP modes like Trials of Osiris. A longtime suspicion among the former group is that Bungie spends too much time catering to Destiny 2’s top players and content creators who are playing dozens of hours a week.
So as soon as Bungie announced the nerf, which to be clear is a pretty mild one, it seemed like proof to some players that Saltagreppo had ruined the party for everyone else. However, the studio made clear that this change was planned far earlier than the debate on Twitter. “The Div change was planned before the spirited debates on social media began,” Destiny 2’s community lead tweeted yesterday. “It’s fine to give your constructive feedback to Bungie, but do not harass anyone in the community for having a different opinion.”
On Reddit, players shared clips from previous podcasts where the developers mentioned that the issues with Divinity were already on their radar, even if they weren’t yet ready to announce any specific changes. But that didn’t stop some from still trying to blame Saltagreppo for the nerf, or for simply being a signifier of Destiny 2’s 1 percent in what’s arguably an ongoing lowkey class war between different parts of the community. Of course, if you have Divinity in the first place, let alone are posting about it on a message board, you’re already part of Destiny 2’s elite. The weapon remains one of the more involved Exotics to acquire, with several quest steps, including finding hidden rooms in the Garden of Salvation raid itself. And even with this buff coming later this year in Season 19, it’ll still be well-worth getting. It just won’t be as overpowered as it has been for the last three years.