Yesterday Bungie revealed that they were rolling out a new Destiny patch that would include several nerfs to some fan-favorite weapons. While fans are used to this occasional tinkering by the developers, not everyone was excited when they found out that two of the targeted weapons were the Thorn and Gjallarhorn. Having the potency of two of the most coveted weapons in Destiny reduced is not something fans ever wanted to hear. Needless to say, this change is being met with opposition.
For Thorn, the nerf is pretty straight forward and you can make the case that Bungie is getting it right with this one. It is one seriously powerful hand cannon that has the ability to decimate anyone with ease. Its Mark of the Devourer perk was enough to piss off even the most seasoned of PvP players. Two shots from this difficult to obtain exotic was all that it took to eliminate anyone foolish enough to cross a guardian’s path, and that was something many fans were split over.
On one side you have those who worked hard to obtain Thorn. It is the hardest exotic bounty to complete, especially if you aren’t very good at the Crucible component of Destiny. It’s one of the only guns in Destiny that you really have to earn and isn’t based on luck. The difficulty of completing all of the required tasks initially turned people off to the end reward. After a small buff though, Thorn eventually became an absolute beast in PvP worthy of the trials players faced.
On the other hand, you have those who don’t have the weapon who feel it is way too powerful and unfair. So nerfing this weapon was an attempt to find a middle ground; one where the weapon is still powerful yet more fair and balanced.
For Gjallarhorn, this may be the first time that Bungie took a look solely at PvE before tuning down a weapon. The developers noticed that groups in Destiny were excluding players who didn’t have this powerful exotic rocket launcher in their arsenal. Naturally, the team didn’t want their online game to promote exclusive behavior so they felt the proper approach to take was to weaken the weapon so that it would no longer be a factor in putting together fireteams. The issue here is that Bungie may not have fully considered why the behavior became so popular in the first place.
There is a reason why players seek out those who have the Gjallarhorn. It’s because this rocket launcher is one of the very few weapons in Destiny that actually pulls its weight against the bullet sinks Bungie has created for their boss encounters. Gjallarhorn became a solution to an issue that has existed since the alpha days of Destiny by pure necessity.
As fans know, the endgame of Destiny is a set of different challenges for high level guardians to participate in. Strike playlists, Nightfall strikes, Weekly Heroics, Raids, and Prison of Elders, are all activities that ask for each guardian that enters to give their very best. Hordes of enemies, environmental challenges, huge bosses, and the need for teamwork are all elements that lend to the strict nature of each of these activities, mostly to fan praise. There is nothing like having something in a game that offers some serious difficulty for players to test their maxed out characters against.
But, things started to grow a bit sour when Destiny players realized that there was a pattern among the boss level enemies in the game. They all had a ton of HP. Even if you figured out the ins and outs of every single encounter, fights were reduced to a chore of slowly whittling down the health bar of whatever major boss (or Devil Walker) you happen to be facing. It’s no secret that Destiny isn’t known for being a game with a lot of content to offer, so to face the same chore over and over as you grind for specific drops was difficult to stomach.
That’s when fans started figuring out quicker ways to do things. Some of these were exploits that removed all of the challenge from the game and were promptly addressed, but others involved figuring out the tools Bungie offered players. It turned out that one of the best tools in the game was the elusive (if you didn’t buy it during the second Xur appearance) Gjallarhorn.
Here was a weapon that felt like it deserved the exotic title. Compared to the other exotic rocket launchers and the heavy machine guns it stood head and shoulders above the rest as a damage dealing behemoth of a weapon. It’s ability to lock on to targets was welcome, but it was the Wolf Pack Rounds that made this weapon a true godsend to those who just didn’t want to waste time on bullet sink bosses.
That power however would eventually be its undoing.