With the launch of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, the game is making significant changes to how damage works in PvE. This will come mainly in two forms: how damage displays in the game's user interface (i.e. the damage numbers players see) as well as difficulty adjustments against enemies. Developer Bungie detailed the changes just days ahead of the expansion's release on October 1st.
First up, Destiny 2 is changing how damage displays to players. The numbers that pop up in the UI when a player damages an enemy have been crunched down and recalibrated. Now the damage numbers will display with fewer digits, which Bungie hopes will be more readable for players as well as avoid cases where player damage could be so high that it would simply display as a 999,999 damage number. Bungie said that the damage display maxing out should be greatly reduced or even eliminated after these changes.
What is most important about these changes specifically is that it is only a change to how the game displays damage numbers. It is not an actual nerf to player damage itself. Bungie said that damage output will not change at all in regards to how many hits it takes to kill an enemy, time to kill, or DPS. There are some other significant ways that Shadowkeep is changing weapon damage, but the changes listed here are not a change to actual damage.
These changes to the UI should lead to a more predictable and apparent increase in power and damage output, letting the numbers grow "at a measured pace" than it has in the past. According to Bungie, the way damage is shown has been changed from an exponential curve to a linear curve, which Bungie hopes will last for many years of power progression. This and other comments from Bungie recently looks to support the idea that Bungie will support Destiny 2 for many more years into the future before an eventual Destiny 3.
In addition to damage display changes, Bungie is also adjusting the difficulty in Shadowkeep by bringing back an experience many veteran players from Destiny 1 will find familiar. That is, that there will now be high-level enemies that are completely immune to player damage. So players may wander into a Lost Sector or some other part of the game and if enemies are 100 levels or more above the player, they will display a skull icon on their nameplate/health bar to show that they are immune.
With that, Bungie is tuning the difficulty of enemies on different scales. Enemies 10-40 levels above a player are actually going to be easier, taking less time to kill and dealing less damage to the player. Difficulty scales up from 41-99 levels above the player, with that immunity kicking in at 100 levels above. Bungie said there are no changes to the difficulty experience against enemies that are at or below player level. These changes only affect higher-level enemies.
These are big changes to Shadowkeep that will likely make the experience much more challenging than the game has been in the past. It's just one more sign that Bungie is indeed leaning into the more hardcore MMO experience of Destiny 2 instead of making it more friendly to casual players, for which the game was heavily criticized for when it launched two years ago.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep releases October 1, 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox, with a Stadia version also in development.