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Destiny's new 'Damage Referee' will make life tough for players with bad connections

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Destiny’s Crimson Days event kicks of next week, and just ahead of it, Bungie will be releasing an update that not only fixes a few bugs and other issues, but brings some fairly significant changes to the Crucible.

First up is a change that will impact the early stages of Crucible matches: players will no longer spawn with Special Ammo. Instead, they’ll need to find it in the crates scattered throughout the stage. This will only affect 3v3 playlists, so 6v6 playlists and Rumble will remain untouched. Senior designer Derek Carroll does say that while the Special Ammo crates will act as they always have, players may spend a little more time looking for them.

Next is a change that solo players will surely welcome. Freelance playlists have been added, which are only accessibly by single players — no Fireteams are allowed. This should prevent a team of individual players from being pitted against a group of friends who are more used to working with each other, avoiding one-sided matches in the process.

Last month we reported that Destiny was introducing changes to matchmaking to reduce lag, and would be introducing these changes in the Iron Banner. Earlier this week, those same matchmaking settings were brought to Skirmish, and yesterday Rumble and Control got these settings as well. Tomorrow, the settings are coming to Trials of Osiris.

Bungie says that its ability to introduce these changes on its servers is limited to five playlists at a time, which is part of the reason the new settings aren’t simply being applied to all matchmaking. The company says this will change in a future update, but for the time being the limitation remains.

One change coming in the update is sure to be controversial, at least among some players. A new feature called Damage Referee is being added. Networking engineer Paul Lewellen says the goal of this feature is to “give you a better experience in the Crucible when there are Internet problems outside of your control.”

What the feature boils down to is that currently, many players feel that players with bad connections are actually given an advantage in the game, while players with good connections aren’t. Damage Referee is being introduced to level the playing field. If you have a good connection, Lewellen says weapons will feel more reliable and players with bad connections will be less annoying to fight. If your connection is bad, you’ll be in for a tougher time.

“Expect to lose fights a lot more often, even if you think you shot first or escaped behind cover in time,” Lewellen says. “Things will get much better once you fix your connection, but at least you’ll receive fewer angry messages in the meantime”

The update will be released next week on February 9, at which point the Crimson Days event will kick off. For more information, see Bungie’s blog post on the update.

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