In a recent This Week at Bungie blog post, Bungie revealed that Masterworked weapons would no longer generate Orbs of Power. Instead, players will now have to install an armor mod on their helmet to re-enable this functionality on some guns, determined by damage type. Does your loadout use Void and Solar weapons? You’ll need to give up not one but two mod slots in your build. Like using Kinetic weapons too? Enjoy the compromise. While this does allow Exotics without catalysts the ability to generate Orbs, this change perpetuates an issue that’s been plaguing Destiny for nearly a year: mod bloat.
Destiny’s reliance on armor mods is starting to become an issue. It has been a growing pain that you need certain mods to even attempt endgame content—notably Protective Light and Champion mods. Champion mods always go on your arms, so the unique ability-centric mods that typically go there are seldom used. It’s hard to justify using Impact Induction when all endgame content has two Champion types present.
Helmets are about to suffer the same fate as arms, arguably worse. While most arm mods give minor buffs in PvE, helmet mods include ammo finders that bypass Destiny’s otherwise random ammo economy. Most players run two ammo finders in PvE, but now they’ll be forced to use one if they want to take advantage of Charged with Light or other Orb mods. Crucible players will need to forgo targeting mods altogether if they want their Primary and Special weapons to spawn Orbs.
Most builds in Destiny 2 have a hard time functioning with how limited our armor slots are. Helmets require ammo finders, arms need Champion mods, chests need damage resistance (DR), legs need ammo scavengers, and the class item typically fits expensive Artifact mods. PvP players have a little more room for experimentation, but PvE players have to spec for these things to have a smooth build for the endgame. If you don’t believe me, run a Grandmaster Nightfall without any DR mods and see how far you get. Run a Master Lost Sector without any ammo finders and see just how inconsistent ammo drops are. These mods are meta for a reason.
And let’s not forget about Charged with Light, arguably the most useful set of armor mods for endgame content. Taking Charge—a mod that grants Charged with Light stacks upon grabbing an Orb of Power—has been a staple for almost every endgame build in Destiny. Protective Light synergizes with Taking Charge to give endgame builds some much-needed survivability. Grenade builds typically use Firepower and this mod to have constant grenade charges. Even Crucible builds use Taking Charge to activate High-Energy Fire, reducing the TTK of most guns. Every build that uses Taking Charge will need yet another mod for this interaction to function. For some players, that’s a big ask.
Let’s say that you were a newer player and wanted to create a simple build that could tackle Master Nightfalls. Back during Forsaken, you’d equip your favorite Exotics and be just fine. Now, you need good Exotics and:
- An ammo finder
- An Orb-generating helmet mod
- Two Champion mods
- Two damage resistance mods
- An ammo scavenger
- Particle Deconstruction or whichever Artifact mod is meta
- Taking Charge
- Protective Light
That’s one hell of a laundry list. Even if a newer player somehow has all of that, you’re going to need armor with enough upgrades to fit all of those mandatory mods. Unless you can Masterwork your armor—the reason you’d be running Master Nightfalls in the first place—you’ll also be limiting which weapons you can use since these Orb-generating mods only work for certain damage types. Unfortunately, that might not be the worst part of this change.
An additional change Bungie announced is the reduced cost of changing the elemental affinity of Masterworked armor. If you want to change the element of your helmet from Arc to Void, it’ll only cost some Glimmer and an Upgrade Module. This alone is a great change, but veteran players like myself wonder if this is the Monkey’s Paw at work.
Since these mods only work for certain damage types, there’s a good chance that these mods require a specific affinity to go on your helmet. If you’re someone who decides to change their loadout and just so happens to switch damage types, you’ll need to Masterwork your helmet again every time you switch weapons. That’s tremendously inconvenient and compounds the mod swapping problems builds already deal with. And if you’re a newer player who can’t afford to Masterwork a helmet, you’ll need to spend multiple Cores and Prisms every time you switch guns. This stifles build variety for no reason, and I seriously hope the Orb mods don’t behave this way.
Even if the Orb mods turn out to be a great change, there’s still one more aspect of mod bloat that needs to change: acquiring mods. Unlocking mods in Destiny is wholly tied to RNG. If you are looking for a specific ammo finder mod, you’ll need to get lucky by decrypting Engrams or hope Ada-1 sells it one day. You shouldn’t bet on the latter, as Ada-1’s mod inventory has gotten so bloated that it can take multiple months before she sells what you need. Worse, she’s your only source of Charged with Light and Warmind Cell mods. If you want to make a Firepower grenade build or use Protective Light, you need to check her inventory every single day and hope she eventually sells it. Better hope you don’t miss it, or you’ll be waiting months for another chance.
Bungie has made it clear that they want buildcrafting to be the next pillar of Destiny’s core design. It’s why armor mods have become more and more important, and it's why the Light subclasses are getting reworked this year. On a fundamental level, I agree with Bungie’s vision. I’d love to play a version of Destiny where every player you meet has a unique build that kicks alien ass in its own way. But with the current state of armor mods, those builds are locked behind layers of RNG and hundreds of hours of grinding. To realize a version of Destiny where every Guardian is truly their own legend, it’s time we reduce mod bloat, not make it worse.
NetEase called it a bug, but others called it a feature.