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Destiny 2 Gambit Changes Explained: Witch Queen Update

Bungie has begun slowly and purposefully making updates to what is known as ritual content in Destiny 2. These activities include anything attached to a playlist, such as Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit. A few months back, the first of these updates brought a welcome overhaul to Trials of Osiris that made it far more rewarding and accessible for all types of players.

Now, with the launch of The Witch Queen, it’s Gambits’ turn. Let’s take a look at what this overhaul and all these Gambit changes will mean for the PVE/PVP game mode. We’ll also cover what players should expect once the expansion launches.

Let’s get to it!

Gambit Explained

For those that are unfamiliar, Gambit serves as the PVE and PVP hybrid mode for Destiny 2. It requires you to work with a team to fight off waves of enemies, collect and bank Motes of Light, and take out a final boss before the enemy team. The wrench in this process? Your opponents can send over additional enemies and even cross over to attack and cause you to lose Motes.

When this game mode initially launched, it was an interesting new addition that played unlike anything else in the game. It later received a few new maps, a more competitive mode called Gambit Prime in 2019, and the subsequent combination of traditional and Prime into a single mode. Since then, however, it’s unfortunately been left somewhat untouched. Gambit is currently wildly unbalanced, lacks any new and interesting content, and feels unfortunately outdated.

Thankfully, the update coming with the Season 16 and Witch Queen patch seems set to change that. While it won’t bring any new content into the game mode, it’s set to bring a prolific overhaul. Be sure to check out the original update from Principal Designer Alan Blaine and read on for our full rundown of what to expect from Gambit.

Gambit Ammo Economy Adjustments

Ammo conservation and collection in any PVP-related activity is vital. Obtaining and saving Special and Heavy ammo for the right moment can turn the tide of a fight or encounter. This has always been the case with Gambit as well, even in its PVE elements. This has made for a frustrating lack of additional ammo to take on ads and bosses.

Thankfully, ammo is getting an adjustment that will bring a hearty helping of Special and Heavy ammo-collecting methods. With the addition of every Front, a chest will appear that includes smaller amounts of both ammo types that can be accessed by every player. These chests still have a timer attached, so you’ll need to book it over to claim it before it disappears.

Additionally, you’ll now get a guaranteed Heavy Brick from killing high-value targets, as well as Powerful Enemies and Invaders. These methods all have the chance of giving you additional ammo if you are running any finder mods. This effect cannot be compounded and only provides minimal benefits in order to keep things fair between teams.

Curated Encounters

Bungie has been testing different ways to help players become familiar with maps and encounters. In Trials, it’s the singular active map that changes every week. In the Dares of Eternity activity, it’s the rotating arrangement of encounters that stays in a singular order when you play the higher difficulty version. For Gambit, this has long meant a singular map or encounter remaining for a ridiculously long period. Talk about frustrating and repetitive.

Moving forward, we’ll be seeing a rotating selection of curated encounters. There will be a set rotation throughout the course of a Season that changes with the arrival of the next Season. This ensures that you can master your current strategy while still looking forward to upcoming changes.

Respawn, Revive, and Mote Drops

Collecting Motes in Gambit
Image: Bungie via HGG / Kody Wirth

One aspect of dying in Gambit is that it takes a frustratingly long time to get back into the fight. You always spawn back at the initial spawn point and have to hoof it across the entire map. Additionally, the respawn times are so fast that virtually no one revives their teammates.

Now there will be a random set of spawn points littered throughout the different Fronts, making it easier to run back in before skirmish ends. To encourage more direct teamwork, the revive time from other players is being shortened by two seconds, while auto-respawn is being increased by two. This should make it more beneficial to stick together, and should help avoid players respawning in the middle of a friendly revive attempt.

Lastly, you no longer have to worry about losing all your Motes. While before, if you died you simply lost everything, now you’ll start dropping half of your Motes. These can be picked up by allies, enemies, and yourself if you make it back in time and makes deaths feel far less fruitless. Keep in mind, that all of these adjustments do somewhat apply to Invaders as well, although with slightly different parameters and benefits.  

Blockers, Draining, and the Bank

The big focal point for Gambit is the bank sitting directly in the center. This is where you fight Taken enemies, deposit Motes, and defend your collection. All of this is getting some minor adjustments to make Blockers feel a bit more challenging and fair, as well as help makes Mote drain far less brutal.

Blocker Changes
Image: Bungie via HGG / Kody Wirth

For starters, the 10 Mote Phalanxe Blocker is seeing a small health boost. The 15 Mote Knight Clocker, on the other hand, is gaining a Stasis attack. These adjustments are all in favor of making each Blocker feel equally challenging and useful as a Blocker, without one type becoming the go-to thanks to some broken health system or AOE kickback. 

Currently, activating multiple blockers will begin to cause the enemy bank to be depleted. This would continue even after engaging with the Blocker, meaning that unless you and your team gang up or waste some precious Heavy ammo, you can easily lose a quarter of your bank in a single go. Now, the drain will be paused as long as a Guardian is near the bank and engaging with the Blockers, you’ll immediately pause the drain.

On the flip side of this, the Blockers will now be more detrimental during the Primeval phase. Instead of being just additional enemies on screen to get in your way, if multiple Blockers are called, the Mote drain will now continue to be active even during this phase. This means that you’ll need to focus on eliminating these enemies as they come in order to disrupt the other team’s attempts and ensure that you can refocus on the Primeval.

The Primeval 

Fighting the Primeval successfully has always been about getting to it fastest and strategically taking out Envoys to stack damage buffs. While this focus isn’t really changing, the mechanics around it are to make teamwork and enemy management much more of a focus. For starters, the Slayer stack bonus from defeating Envoys is getting a slight adjustment. It’s intended to make it that much more difficult to wipe a Primeval out in one or two rounds while leaving damage dealt in any subsequent rounds relatively unchanged.

The Primeval changes
Image: Bungie via HGG / Kody Wirth

Speaking of Envoys, they now spawn out in the Fronts. They also have reduced health, are no longer affected by Slayer stacks, and use varied elemental shields. You’ll have to defeat them both in order to drop the invulnerability shield on the Primeval. This is intended to encourage movement and communication, as you and your Fireteam will now have to track them down in order to keep damaging the Primeval. Luckily, they shouldn’t be overly difficult to find, and feature a decreasing health pool (30% of the damage done to the Primeval) with each subsequent spawn.

Lastly, the Primeval Servitor boss will be removed since its shielding mechanics worked against this new system.

Space Invaders

So, what about Invaders? This is really the only true PVP mechanic in Gambit, and is intended to help shift the momentum of a game. However, up until now, it mainly helped stack onto the snowballing effect of top-tier teams burying the opposition.

To help with this, and reinstate the strategy behind timing your Invasions, one of the Invasion triggers has been removed. Now, you’ll only get two triggers at 40 and 80 Mote thresholds, while the Primeval phase will remain as is. You also can’t bank Invasions anymore, meaning you need to use that first one before hitting 80 Motes. Otherwise, you’ll lose it entirely!

While level benefits have been removed since Beyond Light, this has been officially announced with this change. Invaders can no longer see how many Motes another player is carrying. You also lose sight of players when using rocket tracking or engaging with enhanced zoom. 

As mentioned before, Invaders will also be affected by the Mote drop and spawn changes. You will now drop more Motes when killed and won’t spawn at the same location every time you cross over. Lastly, the overall damage dealt to the Primeval after killing an enemy player has been stabilized at 27%. This is far lower than what’s been present up to this point and should make Invading still feel rewarding but not broken.

More Ways to Be Rewarded

While the Drifter had already seen a reward tier overhaul similar to the Vanguard and Crucible, Bungie is now adding in a focusing system. This will function just like Trials — Gambit engrams can be focused into specific Gambit Armor and Weapons for 10,000 Glimmer and 50 Legendary Shards. You’ll need to unlock this gear before you can start focusing, but it will allow you to go after specific stat rolls and weapons more easily.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do this right away. Brand new Gambit weapons will be drop-only for a single Season before being added to the focus pool. Other than that, much of the reward structure will remain the same, aside from minor Seasonal changes that tend to affect every vendor.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that a new Gambit memento for weapon crafting can now spawn randomly after completing a match. This is a new cosmetic item that will be introduced as part of The Witch Queen. It’s the only one of its kind that we know of (outside of a teased endgame memento sometime in the future).

Freelance Gambit

Destiny 2 Gambit New Freelance Mode
Image: Bungie

Freelance additions have been added to both Trials and Iron Banner over the past year. This pool is intended to make matchmaking as a solo player much easier while ensuring you won’t play against full fireteams that are able to easily communicate. Gambit is now the next mode to receive this treatment. 

Now, when you hover over the Gambit playlist, you’ll see the option to choose Freelance Gambit. Bungie did mention that these Freelance nodes aren’t intended to be a permanent solution. They’re simply investigating a way to make this occur automatically without having to split the player population. 

Gambit Labs

The last thing worth mentioning about this update is the inclusion of Gambit Labs in the future. This rotating version of Gambit will function just like Trials Labs at first, where the main game mode is replaced by an alternate for a short period of time. While there’s no timeline for when this will happen just yet, we did get teases for what changes to expect:

New Gambit Labs
Image: Bungie

Invasion Swap

This Lab plays with how the Invasion trigger is activated. Instead of you controlling your own portal, it activates automatically when the enemy team hits 40 and 80 Motes. Now you need to pay attention to how quickly you’re banking so you can send blockers at different times to succeed.

Mote Thief

Rather than going on the offensive during Invasions, your goal is staying elusive and lasting for as long as possible. The longer you’re present as an Invader, the more Motes you’ll drain directly from the enemy bank into your own. And just to make things more interesting, the standard to Blocker drain is disabled for this match type.

Join the High Ground

Gambit has always been an interesting experiment that was just somewhat neglected after its initial release. However, this focused revamp is giving it a chance to shine again. 

Be sure to share this article on your favorite social platforms to help your Fireteam prepare to crush the enemy team. For the latest on Destiny 2, sign up for our newsletter for regular updates.

Happy gaming!

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