Destiny 2 Beta: Let’s talk about ability cooldown timers in PvP

If you’ve played a reasonable amount of Destiny 1, you’ll have settled into a gameplay rhythm that’s as reflexive as breathing. Intuitively, you’ll know in PvP and PvE, how much longer you’ll have to wait before you throw that suppressor grenade and yank a Stormcaller Warlock clean out of his super. In the Destiny 2 beta, that rhythm will be completely and entirely lost.

On the first and second days of the beta, as PS4 and Xbox One players got their hands on the new content, the Destiny subreddit was flooded with posts about issues with ammo drops in PvE, ability recharge rates in both PvP and PvE, and the fact that the Hunter class ability doesn’t have anywhere near as much utility in Destiny 2, when compared to the Titan and Warlock class abilities. One of those things is of particular interest to me – and if you’ve read the title, you know what it is.

In response, I have one word: Grenadier.

Grenadier and the perk problem in Destiny 1

Grenadier is a perk is Destiny 1 that, for the life of me, I could not find very many practical uses for. Its function is simple – kills with the weapon reduce the cooldown of your grenade. It felt wasted on many guns, so much so that if the perk took up a slot on a weapon I wanted, I would simply dismantle the thing and keep grinding for a better roll. This sense of uselessness came from the fact that, with a high discipline stat, grenade cooldown could be as low as 25 seconds.

If, say, as a Titan, I’m running the Armamentarium, I have two grenade charges on a 25-second cooldown each. On the other hand, I could be a Warlock (or a Hunter? I’m not sure about Hunters), with either gear or a subclass perk that gives me two grenades. Low cooldowns and two charges meant that I was rarely, if ever, lacking a grenade. This, in turn, directly fed into my playstyle.

These fast recharge rates essentially meant that a perk that directly affected grenade recharge rate were rendered either useless or close to it. You wouldn’t, for example, want Army of One (unassisted kills reduce grenade and melee cooldown) on a handcannon instead of a range perk, or on an auto rifle, instead of a range/stability perk.

The gameplay impact of fast charging grenades

Th3 Jez actually brought this up in his Destiny 2 PvP in a Nutshell video, calling Destiny 1 ‘ability spam simulator the game’. He is entirely correct in this regard.

As an example, I’ve recently discovered the joy of double lightning grenades on Striker Titan in PvP. Whenever my radar pings someone within engagement range, I toss the grenade first, hit them for 122 damage, and two tap with my Dis-47 or Eyasluna to end them quick. Before I decided to git gud with lightning grenades, I used to lob a flashbang and follow up once it went off. This behaviour isn’t just limited to Titans, as anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a Hunter wombo combo can confirm. And who among us has not been repeatedly stuck by a goddamn Sunsinger who forgets that s/he actually has guns and instead spends all game throwing fusions at everyone within range?

Destiny 2 is a horse of an entirely different colour. Not only is it more important to pick the gunfights you engage in, it is just as important to decide whether or not to use your melee or grenade. With the cooldown at upwards of a minute right now – I’ve heard that it’s as high as 1:35, although I haven’t bothered to time it myself – you could easily die thrice before you have your next grenade.

I don’t know yet whether this is good or bad. I know what much of the community seems to think about it. I also know it’s different. But I’m intrigued by the differences it brings to the way I play the game. 4v4 has gone a long way towards making the Crucible feel fresh, along with slower times-to-kill. Longer ability cooldowns has done much the same.

Your grenade is now a tactical choice

A friend and I were playing some Crucible on the second last day of the beta and we were being hammered. I, personally, was getting all kinds of rekt because I had just come off of Destiny 1 PvP – having wrapped up my Crucible bounties for the week. I was approaching Destiny 2 PvP in the same way that I would in Destiny 1.

A couple of games later, I started to notice a small shift. When I saw more than one blip on my radar, I would back off and look for teammates. When I saw my team pushing from one side, I would engage from wherever I happened to be at the time. And whenever I saw the enemy team clumped up – which happens more often than not now, by a significant margin – I would lob a grenade.

And I was almost guaranteed at least two to three kills per grenade toss. See a Titan with a half-height barricade down and two teammates behind him? Toss a grenade. See a couple of people heading for power ammo? Find a good hiding spot and toss a grenade. See three people running towards B to cap it? Toss a grenade straight on the capture point so they take a couple of ticks of damage and finish them off with that beautiful, beautiful Better Devils handcannon.

While I found myself holding onto my grenade more, it was balanced by the fact that using it felt impactful – much more so than in Destiny 1. This feels, based on what I played in the beta, like a positive change. But bear in mind that I am a filthy casual. So while the change isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I personally enjoyed being able to take out 3 players in a fight when it cripples the enemy team for the entire duration of the respawn timer.

Now, couple something like that with the Grenadier perk

Let’s say you take out 3 Guardians with a grenade + primary combo and have Grenadier on your weapon. When the perk procs and shaves time off of your cooldown, there’s a good chance that you’ll have your grenade back by the time you begin your next major engagement. The result is an edge over other Guardians who may not have their grenade back, weighing the odds of the next gunfight in your favour and making it more important that you secure kills to keep your cooldowns low. This, in turn, contributes to teams more focused on pushing the objective and securing kills when they have an advantage in order to keep their advantage.

The flipside is that if you fail to secure a kill and are forced to deal with a full-length cooldown, you’re put at a disadvantage versus your opponents. And I think the idea of this back and forth is fantastic. Potentially tying abilities – I say ‘potentially’ because we don’t know how ability cooldowns will work – to weapon perks could allow for incredible synergy in the game.

Bungie could, for example, fiddle with perks like Second Wind and Capture King that weren’t really critical to PvP in Destiny 1 and actually make them useful. So, while it seems like characters don’t have a lot of build diversity because of the limited pool of skills, interesting gear perks could completely shake that up.

Some time ago, Jason Schreier wrote that he had heard the transition from Destiny 1 to 2 being compared to the big changes made from Diablo 1 to Diablo 2. I would argue that, based on everything I’ve seen – which is very, very, very little – Bungie may be moving in the Diablo 3 direction instead. Simpler, easier to get into, more casual, but with a fair amount of depth below the surface for anyone looking to dig deeper.

I suspect that this is what Bungie’s aiming to do. Build diversity will come from gear, not from character perks or abilities, and that the customization slots – armour and weapon mods that we have yet to learn anything significant about – may facilitate different, interesting ways to play.

Of course, this is all just speculation and I could be completely, thoroughly, woefully wrong. But I hope not. Bungie seems to have learned from their mistakes. And one of the results, I hope, will be a deeper, richer, more meaningful game, with more depth to character and gear customization than Tier 12 builds.


Trevor Coelho

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