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1 Destiny: Weapon Damage and Attack Explained on Mon 10 Nov 2014, 9:43 am


Reddit Thread: Damage and Attack Explained

Executive Summary (lead with your TLDR!)

Note: DPB = Damage Per Bullet
1) Impact and weapon type set base DPB against Lvl1 mobs.
2) Weapon DPB scales by 7% per mob level; until
3) Weapon DPB scaling caps at mob level = (Attack / 15).
4) Fighting mobs above your level will then apply a haircut to your DPB (30%-40%-50%-100% for 1-2-3-4+ levels above).

Key stats (against mobs >= Lvl20) (assuming identical weapon type and impact):

- A fully upgraded exotic will do 20% more DPB than a brand new exotic.

- A fully upgraded legendary will do 26% more DPB than a brand new legendary.

- A brand new legendary will do 3% more DPB than a fully upgraded rare.

- A fully upgraded rare will do 8% more DPB than a brand new rare.

KEY CONCLUSION: Fully upgrading weapons - particularly legendaries - has a substantial impact on DPB (and hence damage per second) against mobs of non-trivial level.

[More Detail For Those of You Still Interested]

Key data

I tested my fully upgraded Attack 300 "The Chance" pistol against a plethora of mob types and levels with my Lvl28 Warlock. Here was the damage plot (abbreviated for TL;DR sake, but tested at all mob levels):

LVL 1-2-3-4-...-19-20-21-22etc. (up to Lvl28)
DPB 139-149-159-170-...-469-502-502-502etc.

Observations: Damage capped against Level 20 = Attack 300 / 15.
(502/139) ^ (1/19) = 1.07.
DPB scaling was 7% per level consistently.
All mob types resulted in the same DPB at a given level. Thus either all mobs have same defense at a given level, or defense is not a variable. [Potential exception: did not test against bosses, though did test against several majors with no difference in DPB]

I also ran a test with an unupgraded rare scout rifle (Attack = 224). Theoretically this should cap at level 224 / 15 = 14.9. Results:

LVL 11-12-13-14-15+
DPB 61-65-70-75-75

Fits expected curve.

Further tests with other weapons at different attack levels suggest that fractional level caps from (Attack / 15) are not rounded off; EG weapon attack levels that result in caps of say ~X.5 yielded 3-4% increases for their final level scaling.

[Have not tested yet: potential that DPB starts curving back down if weapon attack << mob level / 15. However only an incidentally interesting case as your Khostkov will be having problems in VoG as it is Wink]

Supposition for normal PvP: Basic assumption is that attack-based level scaling is simply disabled; damage just reverts to impact/weapon type calculation.

Other observations:
1) The reason why higher attack helps you against higher level enemies (per in-game tip) is that your weapons will scale up for "longer" as mob levels rise. EG, 300 attack doesn't cap until enemy level 20, whereas 248 attack caps out against enemy level 16.5. Both weapons will do the same DPB against enemies up to level 16; however after level 16, the 300 attack weapon will keep scaling up at 7% per level through level 20, whereas 248 will get a ~3.5% boost to level 17 and then cap out. So against mob level 20+, 300 attack will be doing 26% more DPB than 248 attack.

2) When you increase attack, you will see no difference in DPB against enemies up to your old attack-based weapon cap level (EG you won't kill low level mobs any faster); you will however see the difference against enemies above your old attack-based weapon cap level.

3) Fighting mobs even 1 level above your level gives a more severe haircut that the maximum benefit you can achieve by fully upgrading a legendary. However, fully upgrading your legendary will still benefit you just as much whether you are fighting mobs of above, at, or (reasonably) below your level: 26% DPB boost in all cases.

4) Assuming mob health scales with level, even fully upgraded weapons will see a general trend of progressively more bullets needed to kill mobs beyond level 20.

5) Maximizing damage per second (rather than DPB) still depends on all of a weapon's stats, as well as your skill level. So a higher attack weapon may not necessarily maximize your damage per second if say you can't manage the recoil, reload times are slow/magazine size is small, etc.

Disclaimer: I can not say with certainty that the game is ACTUALLY calculating DPB this way. However the formulas I have given here fit precisely with what I have observed. I have not tested every single weapon type/rarity/attack level so I can not say for certain that my proposed formula applies universally.


Weapon damage explained (with science!)


The damage output of your character does NOT increase as your level surpasses that of your enemy. Example: facing a level 30 enemy, you will dish out the exact same damage per shot as when you are a level 30, 31, or 32.

Your damage per shot decreases as your level drops below that of your enemy's in the following manner: (% of max damage)

% Damage you deal to enemies:
• Equal/Above: 100%
• Below by 1 Level: 68%
• Below by 2 Levels: 55%
• Below by 33 Levels: 48%

% Less Damage Deal
Compared to a guardian of equal or greater level to a given enemy, your damage decreases as follows: (% less damage)

• Equal/Above: 0%
• Below by 1 Level: 32%
• Below by 2 Levels: 45%
• Below by 3 Levels: 52%

So if you have a level 29 or 30 on your team fighting Crota, they're going to be dishing out about half the damage than that of a level 32.

Critical hits:
Critical hit multipliers for the following weapons are as follows:

• Assault Rifles: 2.5x
• Pulse Rifles: 3x
• Hand Cannons: 3x
• Scout Rifles: 3x
• Sniper Rifles: 5x
• Fusion Rifles: 2x (Shows white even though it's a crit.)
• Shotguns: 2x? (still iffy about this, it's pretty damn hard to get just a single pellet to score a crit)
• Machine Guns: 2.5x

Enemy majors (yellow-bar) take 10% less normal damage and only 50% crit damage. Since crit damage is calculated from normal damage, they actually take less than 50% of your weapon's regular crit damage. i.e. A scout rifle that deals 100/300 normal/crit damage to red-bar enemies will do 90 normal and (90 * (3/2))=145 crit damage to a major.

Weapons of Light increases all weapon damage by 25%, and 35% with the Illuminated buff.

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