Destiny 2′s Heroic Playlist Modifiers Need Some Love

I wanted to give the new Heroics a bit of time to settle and get up to recommended power level before deciding how the changes felt. My first response was “what an unfun jumble of modifiers that don’t change the way the player approaches these strikes other than through an abundance of caution or certain death.” After some time to reflect, power up and re-approach the list I could take slightly more damage but the feeling of these strikes was a far cry from the way they could have been.

Right now the biggest issue with the current modifier systems (1 singe, 1 advantage, 1 disadvantage) is that the balance between the advantages and disadvantages are heavily uneven and lead to almost the exact same playstyle.

For reference:


  • Brawler: Double melee recharge rate and damage
  • Grenadier: Double grenade ability recharge rate and damage
  • Heavyweight: Triple power ammo drop rate, double power weapon damage


  • Glass: Players health and shields are halved, but recharge rates are doubled.
  • Blackout: Radar is disabled, and enemies do 20x increased melee damage
  • Iron: Enemies no longer stagger, and health pools are increased by 50%
  • Grounded: Players take 5x damage while airborne

Glass, Blackout and Grounded – even with maximum player power advantage – leave the player so vulnerable that the best way to combat the disadvantage is passive play and slow progression. Grounded can be combated by not jumping but the design of most levels would normally encourage some form of vertical movement (infinite forest paths are a great example). Iron doesn’t leave the player more vulnerable but passive play seemed to be the best bet just because you needed extra time to kill enemies and your bullets weren’t going to stop them for anything.

I would then look for the advantages to see how the combination would lead to an interesting change in play or counter to the disadvantage. Brawler is REALLY hard to see as a viable advantage, melee power is still really slow even at double speed unless you have spec’ed your armor to that cooldown for the matching singe type for the week. Even with double damage, you won’t kill a mob fast enough to counter Glass or Blackout damage (NOTHING will combat Blackout damage making the combo of Brawler and Blackout especially tough), Grounded makes disengaging more difficult because you can only pivot and run instead of jumping to avoid damage and Iron means that it’ll take longer to kill and won’t stagger. I found no instance where Brawler would leave me actually WANTING to get into melee range.

Grenadier is slightly better as it can be used at range and is good against single targets (who will helpfully sit in a vortex grenade most of the time). Recharge rates are still slow so it’s not like you can pepper the world with grenades to put the hurt to enemies before they put the hurt to you. In most boss fights this was helpful for boss damage but would routinely need to be used for ad control (often paired with heavy weapon use just to stay alive in boss rooms with low amounts of cover). Then tickle the boss with guns and hope to not get one-shot killed.

Heavyweight seemed to be the most useful as it allowed the power spike to be more consistent and burstable. Unless you have a certain build you’re limited to a single grenade or melee charge while power ammo can be hoarded and used in spurts to down a beefy target OR to take out groups of mid-tier mobs. Again, the best plan of attack is to hang back and hit things from a distance, go slow to avoid getting one-shot.

“So, you’re saying that you don’t want challenging content??? ISN’T THAT WHAT REDDIT COMPLAINED ABOUT??? NO ONE CAN MAKE THESE PEOPLE HAPPY!!!”

Actually, I WANT it to be challenging but it would be better, IMO, if it lead to a different gameplay experience. I’m about to write a sentence that I never thought I would write ever.

I hope that Bungie looks to Massive and The Division on how to do modifiers.

Back in the earlier days of The Division, the underground had difficulty modifiers that just made it more punishing. Half ammo! Healing doesn’t work so good! etc. It was a complete trudge.

In the most recent iteration, they have introduced modifiers that change the way you engage. Ammo that shocks the enemy but will shock the player if over-used, higher damage resistance while moving, etc. New open world modifiers that would cause enemies to explode on death, more damage in cover, headshot kills increase headshot damage, all weapon damage increased/decreased at range/up close.

For Global events, those modifiers could then scale to further encourage the gameplay goal. For example:


  • Goal – promote mobile up close combat and pack fighting.
  • Base benefit – All player damage increased at close range.
  • Tier 1 difficulty scalar – All Enemy damage increased at range.
  • Tier 2 difficulty scalar – All enemy damage increased at range, agent damage further increased when near other players, damage taken increased when players are separated.

I REALLY enjoyed doing tier 2 difficulty events during those modifiers because it promoted a different way to engage in doing, let’s be honest, the same activity for the 100th time. I now had to think and consider other player’s activity and how to engage a tanky boss with high damage at close range.

In Destiny 2, the modifiers don’t have that kind of design flow behind them. The style of play is “everything is much more likely to kill me in 1 to 2 shots” and my counter to that is limited. It exacerbates the double primary problem because when you’re not using double damage abilities you’re just slowly plugging away with your guns from across the room.

I think there’s a ton of opportunity to make heroic strikes both challenging AND more interesting. I am hoping that in the feedback around rewards and challenge levels that Bungie looks for ways to make these strikes something interesting to play each week and each day instead of a different version of sit behind a rock and hope that splash damage doesn’t get you once again.

Chaerb is a contributor to presenting a fair mix of bad takes and bad jokes. If you're truly angry at your own personal sanity, you can find more bad jokes in comic book form at Giant Space Lizard.

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