Armor, Weapons and Gunplay Mechanics
The armor and weapon system in Destiny 2 is close to the system in Destiny 1, with some differences of course. Starting with the similarities, you have your various characterizations or classes of loot: Common, Uncommon, Legendary, and Exotic. As you would imagine, the class of the item determines the quality and the amount of perks it can possess. Legendary and Exotic items cannot be used for the most part until your character is in the Level 18 to Level 20 range. Exotic items have very unique abilities or perks. You can only have one Exotic weapon and one Exotic armor piece equipped at any given time.
The Legendary and Exotic items are what you strive to acquire once you hit the current level cap of Level 20. Once your character hits this level, your overall strength is measured in “Light”, or your “Light Level”. You continue to grow in Light as you find Legendary or Exotic Armor that has higher Light than what you’re currently wearing. You can opt to simply wear the newly-found stronger items or choose to infuse those items into your own armor bringing those armor and weapon items into the Light level of what you infused.
As for what’s new, let’s start off with the new weapon classes. Before, the classes were Primary, Secondary, and Heavy, where you could have weapons in any slot that may or may not have elemental characteristics. Now, the weapons are characterized as Kinetic, Energy and Power weapons. Kinetic weapons have no elemental properties, such as Void, Arc, or Solar damage. They consist of sidearms, hand cannons, pulse rifles, scout rifles, assault rifles and submachine guns. Energy weapons consist of the same weapons, but DO come with elemental properties.
Power weapons also have elemental properties, but consist of high-damage weapons that usually lead to one-hit kills in PVP. They consist of rocket launchers, shotguns, snipers, fusion rifles, grenade launchers, and swords.
One of the most notable weapon system changes comes via the Power Weapon class. Shotguns, snipers, and fusion rifles were “secondary” weapons in Destiny 1, where their ammo drops were the second easiest to come by after primary ammo. It appears that Destiny 2 went with an insta-kill motif when classifying the Power weapons, as shotguns, snipers, and fusion rifles were each capable of one-hit kills in Destiny 1. They are still capable of this in Destiny 2, but are now coupled with rocket launchers, grenade launchers, and swords.
Another notable change comes in how you can infuse weapons. Firstly, armor infusion has not changed much. If you want to raise the Light level of as certain piece of armor, then you need to have an armor piece of the same type with higher Light to do this. (ie Helmet to Helmet, Boots to Boots, and so on and so forth.) As for the weapons, it used to be a bit of a “Wild West” in comparison. You were able to infuse weapons of the same category, regardless of the gun type (ie hand cannon to scout rifle or sword to rocket launcher.) In Destiny 2, the climb of grinding your favorite gun is a tad bit steeper as you have to match gun type to gun type in order to infuse. For example, if you want to infuse a high Light assault rifle into another weapon, that other weapon has to be an assault rifle itself.
This has you banking on the random nature of item drops that much more. Luckily, in Destiny 2, the item dropping system (aka RNG) takes into account what your highest possible Light level is by what your character has in its possession. So you don’t necessarily have to equip unwanted items of higher Light in order to get an item drop that would actually benefit your growth.
As for how the guns actually handle in Destiny 2, the gunplay actually feels more crisp and smoother than it did in its predecessor. Not only does the action and general character movement feel somewhat faster, but aiming and shooting feels more accurate. It all adds to the general enjoyment Destiny 2‘s action as a whole.
The traditional issue that comes with aim assist in console games is still there in Destiny 2. If you’re aiming down the sights while tracking an enemy, and another enemy shows up right beside that one, aim assist over-corrects and pulls your crosshairs between your targets. Aside from that, all of the guns are comfortable to handle and use, with grenade launchers feeling like the most inaccurate of the bunch and hand cannons feeling like the least interesting.
Bungie is very keen on observing weapon usage, so weapon tweaks are always bound to be in the works. As of now, the exotic scout rifle, MIDA Multi-tool, appears to be the most used by far. So here’s to hoping that the changes to weapon balancing, that is bound to come, does not over-correct what needs to be addressed. If anything, hand cannons need to have something done to them that makes them feel more worthwhile than they do now.