Over the last several seasons, Bungie has been tweaking and updating the Light Elemental Subclasses in Destiny 2.
With the release of The Witch Queen, they revamped the Void subclasses for all 3 classes, transforming the Element into one of survivability, strength and utility. In Season 17, Season of the Haunted, they followed this up by updating the Solar subclasses, trying to tie each class closer to a specific fantasy of burning, buffing or healing (to mixed success).
The only Element left is Arc, the lightning Element of Destiny 2. However, Arc is also perhaps the most difficult to quantify: it has the most varied effects, the most free-flowing core identity and has been the Element that most people have left behind. What could they do to update Arc?
Well, in the last few months, there have been hints and changes made to the base game that is already pointing to one or two additions and alterations to the Arc kit. In addition, the changes to Solar and Void have been eye-opening on what we can expect from any other potential subclass updates.
So, what can we expect from Arc 3.0 in Destiny 2?
What Is The Identity of Arc?
The best way to figure out what may be coming with Arc is to have a look at class identity. Identity and unique ways to play are a factor that Bungie has been doubling down on with their 3.0 subclasses, aiming to make each Element distinct and worthy of play.
Void became an element revolving around utility: whether you needed an Overshield to heal or protect you, Invisibility to duck out of cover or make sneaky plays, Devour to heal on kill and keep you going, or a number of debuffs that would keep enemies grounded and easy to pick off. In its totality, Void became a Jack-of-All trades, with the ability for each class (Titan, Hunter and Warlock) to spec into one of these areas.
Solar, on the other hand, was far more focused. There are less actually effects (or ‘verbs’ as Bungie calls them) in Solar, with only 5 compared to the 6 of Void, but with far more emphasis on the idea of damage, whether taken or received. The new weapon buff Radiant increased all weapon damage for a set time, the heightened scope of healing by splitting it into two different parts (Cure for burst healing and Restoration for healing-over-time) and the explosive synergy of Scorch and Ignition let Solar become very good at add-clearing.
In both of these cases, Void and Solar have managed to carve out their own distinct identities that make both worthy of use on every class in the game: obviously, some are better, such as Void Titans or Solar Hunters, but there is now a clear and buildable role for each Element that players can work towards.
What is Arc’s identity, then?
Arc is Speed
If you had to boil down Arc into one word it would probably be speed.
Compared to the other classes, Arc is the subclass most associate with ability buffs – mobility increases are a large part of the Arc subset, with even the only stat buffing Charged With Light mods belonging to the Arc Element. Being quick, both in actual player speed and in how fast you get your abilities back, is at the forefront of many Arc abilities within the game right now, so I would very much expect Arc 3.0 to go down that same direction.
Looking at it in the world of 3.0 Elements, this does cut Arc a nice niche. Solar is about damage and control, Void is about utility and freedom, so if Arc became about speed and about regeneration it could allow it to become desirable.
However, there are other aspects to Arc too aside from speed. Close-quarters-combat, or CQC, is another massive part of the Element. Everything from Striker Titan to Arc Strider and even the Stormtrance Warlock’s all tap in to close-quarters-combat, giving you ways to get up close and personal with your enemies (something that is kind of hard to do in endgame content). It is completely feasible, and even expected, that this CQC part of Arc would make its way over to the 3.0 iteration as cutting it out would sever some of the appeal and the promise of Arc.
The specifics of Arc are another matter, but if we use this as a starting point, I believe we can more accurately guess what’s coming.
Arc Elemental Verbs
Solar and Void have both taken on one of the most important parts of Stasis: the introduction of elemental verbs. These are an easily identifiable way one word explanations of the various components of each Element and what they provide.
For Void there is: Overshield, Invisibility and Devour for player buffs and Suppression, Weaken and Volatile for enemy debuffs, as outlined by Bungie in a blog post on their website.
For Solar there is: Radiant, Cure and Restoration as player buffs and only Scorch and Ignite for enemy debuffs.
Stasis only has 3 (Slow, Freeze and Shatter) so we cannot accurately assume how many verbs Arc will involve, but if we were to guess at around 4-5 dedicated verbs, that may help us.
Arc inherently has more buffing effects than debuffing effects, which would make it an interesting choice in the current sandbox of the game, allowing for more opportunities to augment the player rather than their enemies.
Here are some verbs that I expect may make their way to Destiny 2 with Arc 3.0:
- Quicken (Buff)
- Recharge (Buff)
- Blind (Debuff)
- Discharge (Debuff)
- Chain (Debuff)
Quicken would be a general mobility or stat based buff to the player, allowing them more mobility, more manoeuvrability and more speed.
As previously said, speed is a core part of Arc, especially on a class like Hunter. The quick strikes and dodges of Arc are an inherently important part of the Element that can’t really be found anywhere else – sure, Icarus Dash and Cryoclasm do provide bursts of speed, but not in the same way as Arc.
Speed and mobility were even highlighted by sandbox lead Kevin Yanes when talking about the Synaptic Spear in Season 16. According to Kevin, the Spear was intended to test out a few key philosophies revolving around Arc, and one of the biggest things to note about the Synaptic Spear was that it can a massive increase to jump height, general player speed and even two Blink-esque teleports. If these are Elements that Bungie wanted to test using a seasonal weapon, using the Spear as a tool to see how far they can push the buffing aspect of Arc, then it would make a lot of sense to see some sort of speed buff incorporated into Arc 3,0.
Quicken could also factor into the CQC portion by maybe providing players with a touch of damage resistance while they have the buff (in PvE only). One of the factors stopping players from close is that they are inevitably going to die to a stomp or a smash that they just can’t live: if Arc 3.0 wants players to use shotguns or close-range weapons in endgame PvE, then some form of mitigation would aid considerable and Quicken is a great way of doing that.
An additional point to note is that Quicken may also provide a buff that increases base Mobility (one of the 6 core stats players can build into). Resilience is a stat that was increased in Season 17, making it so that it directly affected flinch and damage resistance, making it far more desirable for players. People have been asking for similar buffs to come to Mobility and Recovery after seeing the success of Resilience, so perhaps a Mobility stat buff in conjunction with a buff like Quicken coming in the same season may provide some very nice synergy and opportunity for build crafting.
Overall, a nice speed based buff that helps players get in to CQC and out before they die would be a great way to start Arc 3.0.
The ability to recover energy for your abilities is another massive part of Arc, whether it for your melee or grenade energy, so a buff that provides that would fit in well: enter Recharge.
Examples of energy recharge come in the form of the Hunter’s Combination Blow, which recharges melee on melee kills, or the Warlock’s Rising Strike, which recharges all abilities on melee hit. Generally, Arc abilities haven’t been as strong as Solar or Void ones, with them usually dealing less damage or being weaker. To make up for that, the rechargeable nature of these abilities allows them to be used far more often, which is something I expect to be a part of Arc 3.0.
Recharge could work on a stack based system. Abilities could offer Recharge for completing certain things (using your Class ability, getting a kill, eating a grenade, exc.) that starts you at 1x Stack. At 1x, you would get maybe 5%-10% of your energy back on all abilities – the more you stack Recharge within the time limit, the more energy you get back.
Some may disagree with this, as ability usage is already above what most people want (primarily in PvP) but the fact is that energy recharge is a core part of the Arc identity and some form of it needs to exist. Tying it to having to give up something or put in the extra effort through kills in a short time span may help balance it in PvP, without constricting the experience in PvE.
Recharge is also present with Ionic Traces. At the moment, Traces are only spawnable by Warlocks on Middle Tree Stormcaller, and by people using Coldheart, which only received the buff this season. While I don’t think Ionic Traces will become a staple keyword, they fit in quite well with the idea of Recharge: at the moment, Ionic Traces give a small amount of ability energy to whoever picks them up, so if you just subbed that out for a stack of Recharge, they could work quite well.
Speed isn’t only in terms of player speed, but also in how quick you can throw all your abilities too, so Recharge makes up that.
Blinding as a debuff is already present in some parts of Destiny 2.
We have Blinding Grenades that essentially work as flashbangs (which will be coming to every class next season if Arc sticks to the formula) and Hunter’s have access to both Disorienting Blow and Gemini Jesters which both blind enemies. There’s a good frame work for an expanded debuff here.
Blind also works as a way to differentiate the debuffs caused by each Element. The debuff it is most similar to is probably Supression on Void, but Blind would be more involved in taking away your sight or radar rather than actually restricting you and your movement like Suppression. In PvE, this roughly translates to the same effect between both debuffs (where the enemy cannot shoot) but it would very different in PvP – Suppression actively binds you and you cannot use your abilities, where as Blind could rob you of your radar or flash your screen (for a much shorter duration as to not be abused and overpowered).
I think Blind is just an easy debuff for Bungie to implement, with a clear and understandable effect on the target. There are already elements of the game right now that use it, so all it needs is a bit of tweaking so it doesn’t break everything in PvP when every class can steal your radar and make you see white.
Discharge may seem odd, but there is a purpose.
So far, both Stasis and Solar have a stackable debuff: Stasis has Slow and Solar has Scorch. These debuffs have additionally effects that trigger once that stack hits 100, resulting in a Freeze for Slow and an Ignition for Solar.
Discharge would work in a similar way. When hitting an enemy with a Discharge ability, they would become electrified and any damage dealt to them would periodically cause sparks of lightning to break out to enemies around them. These would small damage, but enough to make you focus on the enemy.
When you kill a Discharged enemy, they would explode and cause Chain to every enemy around them.
Something like Discharge isn’t currently in the game, but Bungie did alter certain parts of Solar to fit under the Scorch and Ignition theme, so something similar could happen here. With Discharge, players have access to a crowd-control ability that allows them to get close and hit multiple people from a central point – it would deal damage than something like an Ignition or a Volatile explosion, but would serve in hitting more targets, weakening them so you could get close and finish them off.
This would also mean that Arc has a place in dealing with tougher enemies, as Discharge would still deal damage to chunkier targets even if they don’t die and Chain.
Discharge would actively work alongside another new verb: Chain, which is a part of Destiny 2 right now.
Arcbolt Grenades chain lightning to any target in a certain vicinity, and Warlock’s are essentially the Kings and Queens of chain lightning with several abilities focused around it at their disposal. Chaining just means that damage dealt to one target chains over and hits another target, before chaining again and again until it runs out of enemies to hit. It’s a great crowd-clearer and crowd controller, making it a good pick for Arc 3.0.
By pairing it with Discharge, Chain can be both a standalone ability procked by effects such as Arcbolt Grenades, or an additional effect at the end of a Discharge. In contrast to other stackable debuffs, Chain would have a place as being able to hit a lot more targets than base Ignite or Volatile, and it could even be applied to certain weapon perks or abilities (Tesla Rounds anyone?) like Incandescent to further the chaining potential.
Overall, Arc has a ton of different directions it could go in terms of what verbs it could cover. The theme of speed, CQC and recharge are certainly a lot looser than those of the other Elements, so honestly the sky is the limit.
Class Roles Within Arc 3.0
Each of Destiny 2’s three classes can usually activated and engage with most parts of the newly revamped 3.0 system, such as Hunters and Titans getting access to Devour through a Fragment, but they each have curated roles within each Element.
Titans are Defenders in Void, and are supposed to huge damage dealers in Solar (with the reality leaning much more towards unstoppable tanks thanks to Sunspots and Restoration).
Hunters are nimble assassins in Void (who can go Invisible and help revive their allies, of course) and Radiant buffing Gunslingers in Solar.
Warlocks are soul sucking wizards in Void thanks to Devour, and serve as a medium between the destructive burning power and the potent healing of Solar.
Whether they always hit these goals is debatable, but Bungie has clear intentions when designing these classes and I expect Arc to be the same.
I expect Arc 3.0 Titans to be all about CQC and Recharge.
Striker Titan and Thundercrash are both incredible CQC options, with great melee picks like Shoulder Charge and Ballistic Slam is super fun when you throw yourself at large packs of enemies. Arc Titans are about embracing getting close and personal with your enemies, messing them up with melees and grenades before dipping out to recoup.
A specific focus on Recharge would allow Titans to keep chaining those abilities and keep them in the fight longer, as well as synergising with certain Exotics like Insurmountable Skullfort.
Arc hasn’t been a very strong pick for Titans outside of Cuirass of the Falling Star boss DPS builds, so giving them more options to use their abilities in close-quarters-combat as well as giving the Striker super a much needed facelift would help make Arc Titans feel potent.
Hunters have quiet a straight forward path in regards to Arc 3.0: Blind and Quicken.
Blind is already a big part of their kit, with Disorienting Blow and Gemini Jesters, so allowing them to build further into Blind is just a no brainer. Quicken is also understandable as they are the class most reliant and most in tune with mobility, with the best controllable jump and most fluid class ability of all. Focusing in on Quicken and Blind would give them a close range option, letting them get in close and deal a lot damage while enemies are stunned thanks to Blind.
One aspect that isn’t certain with Arc Hunter is their Super: every other Subclass in the game has more than one Super option, even if they have been consolidated after the 3.0 changes. Arcstrider, realistically, only has 1 Super – base Arcstrider. Nothing about the Super is changed enough to warrant multiple slots, and the default will likely end up being Whirlwind Guard, the option that allows you to block attacks, leaving Arc Hunter with only one option. Bungie devs have been careful to temper our expectations, telling us that a whole new Super is very unlikely, but it is worthy pointing out.
I expect that the slide melee from Middle Tree will also become a regular melee attack, as it is quite weak at current and changing it to a dedicated melee might help it a bit. I assume expect them to keep Disorienting and Combination Blow in some way shape or form, as certain Exotics such as Liar’s Handshake literally would not work without them.
Arc Hunters are honestly the subclass that needs the most help, so I hope Arc 3.0 gives them the love they deserve.
Warlock’s honestly have a lot of stuff going for them, but the keywords they will likely focus on are Discharge and Chain.
Chaining is already such a massive part of their kit, from their Super to just their basic abilities that enhance their chaining potential. As a result, if they were to become the class synonymous Chaining it would also make sense that they would become one with Discharge too.
Apart from that, they have a lot of little extra things too. Ionic Traces will likely be kept, giving them the ability to access Recharge (Ionic Traces may even become a Fragment, but I doubt this) and they have their signature ability in the Arc Soul, which will certainly become an Aspect (if for no other reason than they added a new animation to it recently that makes it float around with Child of the Old Gods). They will also likely keep the Middle Tree melee projectile as one of their base melee abilities, which may be buffed with Chaining capabilities to match the potency of the Snap and Volatile applying Void melee.
The Chaining potential of Warlock would be its strongest part, with that being their link to CQD: Chaining lets them hit a lot of enemies, softening them up for a good CQD round of combat and takedowns.
Warlock’s are the strongest Arc class currently, so they don’t need many changes… unlike Titan and Hunter, who desperately need it.
Arc 3.0 is coming next season in Season 18, and will be the final revamp to the Light subclasses – we may receive more Aspects and Fragments in later seasons, but this is unconfirmed so far.
Void and Solar 3.0 have transformed the game, allowing for so much build-crafting potential and freedom in our Guardians operate: basically any subclass is good right now and worthy of use in the current PvE and PvP sandbox. Arc is the only one trailing behind, and is so much promise inherent in Arc, so we just have to hope that the revamp makes it work.
I have faith in Bungie.