With Season of the Undying, Bungie has dedicated a playlist in Destiny 2‘s PvP arena, the Crucible, to new and returning modes that buck the game’s established norms. The playlist’s featured mode changes week to week, and players are rewarded with an extra Powerful Engram for participating in those matches. This week’s mode is called “Team Scorched,” and for my money it’s the best PvP that Destiny 2 has to offer.
Originally introduced as an experimental mode in the before times of 2018, “Scorched” (and its newly resurrected team-based variant) strip players of their usual weapons and give them functionally-infinite rocket launchers, called Scorch Cannons. These launchers are commonly found during certain public events in Destiny 2‘s PvE spaces, but it’s impossible for a player to permanently acquire one. And while Guardians often bring their own rocket launchers into the Crucible, ammo is severely and purposefully limited.
As you might imagine, everyone having infinite rocket launchers changes the Crucible considerably. Normal Crucible game types are all about the delicate balance between class skills and super abilities, what armor you’ve brought to the fray, and whether you’ve put in (or even have) the time to acquire weapons that are truly exceptional. Even though the Crucible adjusts all players to the same power level, that’s not enough to make everyone equal — Warlocks are crushed like worms beneath the heel of a Titan’s one-hit charge; Hunters decimate entire teams from cloaked positions; and anyone with The Recluse is basically a god.
But Team Scorched just … turns all that off. Doesn’t matter anymore. No one can use their supers or class abilities, and everyone is limited to the same, exact weapon, which one-shots a Guardian no matter how coveted their gear is. Oh, you’ve got Sweet Business and its catalyst, and those mods that basically give it infinite ammo? That’s great, sweetheart! Go ahead and leave it in your locker for now. I’m sure you’re proud of the enormous effort and commitment it took to unlock 21% Delirium, and I’m right there with you, but that’s not important here. The only things that matter right now are how well you can aim a Scorch Cannon, and how good you are at staying on the move.
It’s practically a different game, and I think that’s why I love it so much. It’s something that is not only rare for Destiny 2, but rare for online multiplayer games in general: a truly, hand-to-God balanced PvP mode. The normal Crucible is “balanced” in a zoomed out, abstracted galaxy brain sorta way, in that everything theoretically has an answer, and all of the numbers line up just so when you look at the spreadsheet from the right angle, but that’s not the moment-to-moment truth of the game.
Crucible’s true form is getting sniped the instant you run around a corner, because someone on the other team did the quest to get the bow that lets you see through walls. True Crucible is all about dumping rounds into a Titan who, unfazed, drops you at full health with one shot from their exotic hand cannon. It’s a game where you can do everything right and still lose.
But when I die in Team Scorched, it’s because someone shot me with a rocket and I exploded. That’s on me. When they explode, that’s on them. We’ve all got the same rockets, functionally the same amount of health, and while different classes have different jumping/dashing capabilities, those variables have minimal impact. Team Scorched’s moment-to-moment truth is that skill matters most, and in a world of constantly shifting metas and class adjustments, it is a deeply refreshing breath of fresh air. Well, scorched air. A deeply refreshing breath of rocket exhaust. I’m refreshed, okay?