We’re a couple of weeks out from Grandmaster Nightfalls in Destiny 2, and even as I’m grinding my way up to the 1025 Power required to challenge them, I’m worried about what actually playing them is going to be like. If you’ve played a Master Nightfall this season, then you know that being at a Power disadvantage in a situation where you’re facing tough enemies and tons of Champions is a pain. The Grandmaster difficulty is set to make things even more frustrating, with Guardians facing practically every negative modifier in the game along with innumerable Champions requiring that everyone pack a specific load out. As it is, I doubt that it’s going to be an enjoyable play experience, much less a “watchable” one, which is one of Bungie’s goals for the activity.
Here’s the problem: enemies in high-level Nightfalls tear Guardians apart if they get anywhere near them. The go-to strategy for most of this content right now is to hang back as far as possible with sniper rifles, Xenophage, and other long-ranged weapons that keep players out of harm’s way. This season, Bungie nerfed sniper rifles in order to curb the perceived dominance of the weapon type in PVE. But right now, there’s really not much alternative in Nightfalls.
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Yes, Warmind Cells help. But rushing a boss or even a Champion with a shotgun — much less a sword — is a recipe for disaster. Right now, the only stressor pushing players forwards in Nightfalls is the timer. But Grandmaster Nightfalls seem to be about completion rather than high scores or time trivals. And with the new difficulty level also having limited revives, Guardians are being encouraged to play even more conservatively.
Short of disabling all sniper rifles, no nerf to the weapon type is going to get Guardians to play this activity differently. Instead, why not just give players an incentive to move quickly or get up close and personal? How about a simple buff that reduces damage taken when within a certain distance of an enemy, or else increased damage to our own attacks? It doesn’t have to be a huge bonus, just enough to make it worthwhile for some Guardians to rush in with swords and Fourth Horseman. Wouldn’t that be more watchable? Or what about a stackable buff to resistance or damage for killing enemies, in order to encourage fast and aggressive play?
This approach seems unlikely, given that Bungie’s current approach to PVE meta in Destiny 2 seems to be focused on reducing the effectiveness of strategies as they become dominant rather than introducing competing options. (Odd that this same approach hasn’t been taken with the Season of Hard Light in PVP.) But it’s the kind of change that the game needs — not just to increase the playability and watchability of Grandmaster Nightfalls, but to reinvigorate PVE play and develop a healthy ecosystem that encourages players to explore new strategies without the specter of nerfs constantly dangling over their heads.