Elite Dangerous has nerfed the heat weapons introduced in the game's latest expansion after players got together to show developer Frontier they were too powerful.

It wasn't long after heat weapons were introduced with the Engineers expansion back in May that players complained they were overpowered. The whole thing was dubbed the "heat meta".

In a post on the Frontier forum, lead designer Sandro Sammarco admitted to the heat meta issue.

"We want heat to be a useful combat resource to manage, based on builds and tactics," Sammarco said. "We don't want it to be a path of least resistance, and we don't want it to be irrelevant."

The problem, Sammarco said, is that heat was the path of least resistance when ships stack heat delivery weapons.

"The target can be pushed into a high heat level and kept there, causing significant damage to modules and even hull in extreme cases, with little defence against it," he said.

Heat weapons were frowned upon particularly by those who enjoy the player versus player aspect of the game. This is where the Smiling Dog Crew comes in. I've reported on the Smiling Dog Crew before in an investigation into Elite Dangerous griefers. The divisive group is hated by some players, admired by others. They exist to cause chaos but also shine a light on gameplay issues in the hope Frontier will take notice.

18 days ago, the SDC launched an operation called "Operation SpicyBois" designed to put pressure on Frontier to do something about the problems associated with the heat meta.

SDC said that the mechanic had become such a problem that PvP groups had agreed to stop using heat weapons in combat altogether.

Operation SpicyBois involved, essentially, wings of SDC players equipping full heat loadouts and going on killing sprees in open space. From a post on Reddit:

We are going to strive to make the heat meta an issue for the players most likely to visit the official Frontier Forums. Wings of SDC SpicyBois will be equipping stupidly non-meta ships (warning: keelbacks and orcas) with full heat loadouts and patrolling the occupied bubble.

Upon finding potential candidates, informative communication protocols will be established with the target, upon which said SpicyBois will then apply jet fuel to the target's steel beams until all signs of life cease. We are taking your feedback of "getting over heat" and applying it to you: the people!

SDC itself called the operation in-game "terrorism", but insisted the action was justified.

This game deserves a better class of criminal. Gone are the days of piracy. The playerbase has complained about meaningless killing time and time again, and we hope to fix that with this operation. This is proper terrorism with an objective as a means to an end (a useful end at that). We are the instruments of your liberation from the heat meta.

Frontier did step in to say it was looking into the heat meta in response to SDC's warning, but that didn't stop some reacting in anger to what they believed was an excuse to grief other players.

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The video, below, gives you a sense of how Operation SpicyBois played out.

Now, Frontier has announced plans to nerf heat weapons. In a post on the Frontier forum, lead designer Sandro Sammarco said the developers would lower weaponised heat diminishing returns so that they kick in at 65 per cent and lock at 95 per cent.

"What this means is that basically, heat weapons will not be able to cause module damage by themselves," Sammarco explained. "All other tweaks will be as discussed in the original post."

The original post referenced detailed Frontier's vision for heat in Elite Dangerous and a number of changes that amount to a pretty big change to the heat meta.

The upshot is there are plenty of Elite Dangerous players who are breathing a sigh of relief after Frontier took action. And the community is once again debating the rights and wrongs of the Smiling Dog Crew.

Some have praised SDC, suggesting the developer only took notice after the controversial group launched its operation. Others, though, refuse to credit SDC with much of anything, pointing out the likelihood that Frontier had planned to tackle the heat meta before the operation was announced.

For now, though, Elite Dangerous' controversial heat meta has cooled down.

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About the author

Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

Deputy Editor

Wesley is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.

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