Destiny

Code of the Devastator needs some serious help

Edit: Completely butchered the duration of Roaring Flames because I have shit for brains, patched that part up

Code of the Devastator has spent the past two years crying in the corner with Attunement of Fission. It's an unbelievably fun tree when it works – the feeling of bouncing a hammer back off an enemy right into your hands is amazing and Roaring Flames makes your little hammer hit like a runaway train. Unfortunately, nothing in its skillset works particularly well besides Roaring Flames and, to an extent, its super. Its traits are as follows:

Burning Maul – Summon a flaming maul and crush enemies with the force of an earthquake.

Throwing Hammer – Throw a hammer from a distance. After throwing it, picking up the hammer fully recharges your melee ability.

Tireless Warrior – After hitting an enemy with your Throwing Hammer, picking up the hammer triggers your health regeneration.

Roaring Flames – Kills with your Solar abilities increase those abilities' damage. Stacks up to three times.

Your main gameplay focuses on the Throwing Hammer, using it at a range to build up stacks of Roaring Flames to amp your damage and obliterate even the strongest of targets. Eventually, you cast Burning Maul to take advantage of your 90% damage buff to deal massive amounts of damage with your heavy attacks.

Sounds good on paper. It's a melee-based playstyle without any of the dangers of a melee-based playstyle. What's not to like?

Well a lot of things, really. Allow me to explain.

I. The Neutral Game

TL/DR: In its current form, Code of the Devastator punishes you for using your Throwing Hammer to build Roaring Flames. Your punishment for missing a throw is almost indiscernible from your reward for hitting one. Having the hammer always bounce back to you after a successful hit would greatly improve the tree's flow.

Imagine you're in this week's Heroic Ordeal, The Arms Dealer. You move out into the second large encounter and throw your hammer at a minor Legionary. Nails it square in the chest. You watch it bounce to the ground square in the middle of a group of enemies. There are two options in this situation:

  1. Run in, collect your hammer, and get vaporized by every enemy on the tarmac since Tireless Warrior's regen can be canceled easily, leaving you with no protection unless you're running a tank build.
  2. Stay back and lose your hammer, throwing away your sole source of contribution to the team full duration of the recharge.
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Now imagine you miss the hammer throw and it lands on the ground. No health regen now. So, you can:

  1. Run in, collect your hammer, and get vaporized by every enemy on the tarmac since you have literally zero protection now unless you use a tank build.
  2. Stay back and lose your hammer, throwing away your sole source of contribution to the team full duration of the recharge.

There's a pretty clear issue here. Both scenarios lead to the exact same outcomes: run in and risk dying, screwing over your team in certain scenarios and losing your neutral game, or nothing and still sacrifice your neutral game. You have no reward for landing a hit besides a regen effect that's practically a cardboard shield against a Cabal slug. Even beyond that, surviving and collecting your hammer forces you to play in close range rather than the medium ranges preferred by the tree, leading to your death in higher level content, or reposition to further away and, presumably, die as you run by a ton of aggro'd enemies. And even after that, repositioning would force you into the exact same loop if you throw the hammer again to take advantage of Roaring Flames.

So how do we circumvent this issue in the tree's current state? We could build an Ashen Wake setup that focuses on grenades and completely ignores half of the Code's traits. Heart of Inmost Light could help with ability upkeep but it once again ignores the entire gameplay loop. We could also use ranged weapons with a shotgun/SMG/sidearm and yet again ignore the core loop of the Devastator. The primary way to make Code of the Devastator viable in at-power level content or higher currently is to not play Code of the Devastator in the way it was designed. There needs to be an actual reward for skilled play with your Throwing Hammer as well as a reliable way to collect it without getting killed.

My suggestion is to have the hammer always bounce back to you on a successful hit, no matter what the range is. The one catch is that the hammer should break tracking upon sprinting, landing where you were on impact, so you can't just infinitely chain lightning hammers using Dunemarchers or freely reposition mid-toss in PvP. I'm…not entirely sure if that's possible to code, between the weird requirements to track position and the fact that I don't know how the game calculates Throwing Hammer rebound arcs, but I sincerely hope it is – the sprint change should be dropped if it prevents this from being feasible since it's not really limiting anything super powerful. This buff would reward you for precise hits, keep you at the tree's effective range, and retain the punishment for missing a throw all while making it so you're not rushing headlong into death every time you try to actually play the subclass. Tireless Warrior being a regen perk would also be way more justified since you won't need healing too badly at the ranges you'll be playing at.

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II. Burning Maul

TL/DR: Burning Maul is a damage super that is forced into being an add clear super by Roaring Flames. Having it consume all stacks of Roaring Flames to permanently apply its buff for the duration of the super would allow it to flow way more freely, along with some tweaks to spin tracking and PvP buffs.

Burning Maul is balanced for the presence of Roaring Flames. Without it, it does pitiful damage. With it, it becomes an absolutely brutal damage super. The buff requires a great deal of setup, however, something that you're not always going to get in moments where you'd need Maul for damage. Having any stacks of the buff present be consumed upon cast to allow it to last for the entire super rather than a small portion of its duration would allow the super to be way more functional. I'm not entirely sure how the consumable buffs work so I can't say if this is feasible or not either but hope it is – Burning Maul is so painfully close to being an amazing PvE super but is restrained solely by Roaring Flames forcing it to be something it's not. Dropping the weird tracking for the spin attack would also be nice, it makes movement and any quick add clear with the spin way too hard since you just get vacuumed to random enemies.

As for PvP tweaks, I can only really share this thread. I try not to play PvP too much and have minimal experience with the Code of the Devastator in the Crucible. The most input I can give is that no, a bounce return on the hammer would not be game-breakingly strong since you're locked in the animation and are limited heavily by melee attack speed and travel time. Higher stacks of Roaring Flames could be very easily countered by strafing away from the hammer (unless the Titan's actually good enough to aim the hammer well). Throwing Hammer would likely be weaker than current Ashen Wake builds with the tree due to its lack of AOE coverage and reliance on aim skill alone. That being said I could be completely wrong since I have no idea what high-tier PvP is like so please do leave a comment if I'm letting my imagination run too wild here.

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Hopefully these suggestions aren't too fantastical – all this sounds like a bit of a tall order but, from my experience as someone who mained Devastator briefly, it would make the code feel unbelievably smooth if it can be pulled off. I've been trying my best to make Burning Maul and my hammers work throughout the season via a variety of builds but the tree just really needs some love from the devs if it wants to be viable. It's so, so fun but it just trips over itself constantly due to its current organization. Hopefully Code of the Devastator will reach its full, hammer-filled glory in the coming seasons.

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