In Destiny 2 there has always been a struggle to offer players difficult content that felt fair by challenging. Either players were overleveled for the content available and it was a cakewalk, or the required level for an activity was too high and it was impossible for average players to complete (read: Black Armory forges before the nerf). For Shadowkeep, however, Bungie is going to try to make a change that could add some of that difficulty back without making things impossible.
In part 3 of his Director’s Cut blog post, Destiny 2 director Luke Smith detailed changes coming to power scaling in the game. Where there once was a fairly narrow gap when it comes to damage scaling and damage mitigation with power levels, Bungie is hoping to widen that gap for Shadowkeep.
How Power Level Scaling Works in Destiny 2
As it stands now, there is a 50-point window for power level scaling. Players that are anywhere between 1 and 50 power level points below the recommended power for an enemy are still capable of dealing damage. At 51 points below, the player will see Immune where their damage numbers should be.
It might not seem like a lot, but that 50 points is also broken up into deltas. For every 5 points that a player gains, they enter the next damage delta and are capable of dealing out more damage and surviving longer. For example, a player at power level 720 deals roughly the same damage as a player at 725, but at 726 they feel a bit stronger. So within that 50 point power level scaling there are about 9 “steps” where the player can see the benefits of their higher power level.
With the release of Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, Bungie is expanding that window to 100 power level points. For starters, this means that Destiny 2 players will be able to attempt content that in Year 1 and Year 2 would have been impossible. If the recommended power level for an enemy is 500 and they are 401, they should still be able to damage and eventually kill it with enough perseverance.
To be clear, though, Bungie promises that this change to power level scaling will not impact the “on level” concept that exists in Destiny 2. Specifically, if a player is at or close to the recommended level for an activity they shouldn’t feel any more or less capable of completing it. The power level scaling increase is meant to remove some of those barriers and hopefully introduce some new challenges for the hardcore.
Playing With Casual Friends Becomes Easier
Perhaps the most beneficial element of the new power level scaling is that it will allow friends with different schedules to play together. By that, we mean a hardcore player who has already reached Destiny 2: Shadowkeep’s power level cap of 900 can play with a more casual friend who is only in the low 800s.
Before, it was hard to help (or “Sherpa”) a friend through a piece of content without it feeling too easy for the higher level player or too hard for the lower level one. It’s unclear how Destiny 2 will balance those experiences, but this 100 power level gap should do well to remove some barriers. And, since Bungie plans to standardize powerful rewards in Shadowkeep, players will have more predictable reward levels. Even players that are at the power level cap should be able to benefit thanks to the power bonus system.
Destiny 2 Difficulty is Coming Back
The other group that should see a benefit from the power level scaling is the challenge running community. These players are constantly trying to bend or break the rules of Destiny 2’s activities in order to accomplish impressive feats. Solo runs through raids, beating bosses using unique mechanics, and speed runs are just a few of the challenges that these types of players create for themselves.
Now, with this new 100-point power level scaling gap, there will be even more opportunities for challenge runs, or just to add a little more difficulty to activities. Players won’t have to look at activities as being impossible if they are 30 points under the recommended power level.
No doubt that activity will be challenging, but that is something that’s been missing from Destiny 2 for a while. It’s one of the reasons that raid teams enjoyed the Contest Modifier on the Crown of Sorrow raid race; it forced everyone to face the same challenge and prevented anyone from over leveling. Now you can make that content challenging right from the start, by attempting it earlier than expected.
Although Bungie hasn’t announced any plans for it, this feels like it could be a precursor to customizing activities based on desired difficulty. Currently, only Nightfall Strikes are capable of imposing limitations on players via the Strike Card, but there is a template available. Admittedly, plenty of people just want to run their missions and strikes and not worry about a big challenge, but others want that element of strategy. Hopefully, this power level scaling change is the first step towards that.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.