Anyone's who's been playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's multiplayer recently will know about the S6 Stingray, one of a handful of DLC weapons added to the game recently - but locked behind loot boxes.
The tactical rifle quickly became a talking point, with many suggesting it was significantly overpowered, upset the balance of multiplayer and, because it was found in reserves (Black Ops 4's loot boxes), added a disappointing pay-to-win element to the game.
The Stingray is incredibly powerful for of a variety of reasons, but chief among them is its ridiculously quick time-to-kill.
Its time-to-kill is fuelled by its Operator Mod, which significantly increases the damage each bullet that hits an enemy causes by making it explode. With the Operator Mod, the Stingray downs enemies at close to medium range in just 33ms. That's significantly quicker than any other non-one shot sniper rifle in the game (the next quickest is perhaps the Auger with the high caliber attachment at something like 132ms), and pretty much impossible to react to.
The Stingray achieves this effect by being a two-round burst rifle. Two high-damage shots slam into an enemy very quickly and, with the Operator Mod, do huge damage no matter where you hit. (The video below, from Call of Duty YouTuber Inkslasher, goes into more detail on how the Stingray works.)
The Black Ops 4 community has had something to say about the Stingray for over a week now, with a number of videos popping up to highlight just how disruptive it is to the current meta - and just how frustrating it is to be on the receiving end of the thing.
Treyarch please explain why you thought the S6 Stingray was a good addition to the game. How tf am I supposed to counter this? from r/Blackops4
Now, Treyarch has nerfed the Stingray, targeting its Operator Mod in particular. It's increased the burst delay between shots, giving players more time to evade the Stingray's projectiles and reducing potential damage per burst with the Operator Mod equipped. In short - that ridiculous time-to-kill has been lengthened.
"We agreed with many of you that the Operator Mod on the S6 Stingray proved too strong with its original rate of fire," Treyarch said in a post on the Black Ops 4 subreddit.
It's hard to understand how the Stingray's power slipped through the balancing net, and at a time when Treyarch is being heavily-criticised for locking new DLC weapons behind loot boxes, it's certainly not a good look.
But, to give the developer the benefit of the doubt, Treyarch may have expected the Stingray to be trickier to use than it turned out to be. The weapon is unique in that it fires projectiles that carry travel time (it's not hit scan), so you need to lead your target somewhat in order to hit. As it turned out, Call of Duty players are perfectly capable of hitting with the Stingray. And, despite the nerf, the Stingray is still an impressive weapon, and I'm sure it'll continue to be used by those lucky enough to have it in their arsenal.
"Whether it's brand new or a returning favourite, we design each weapon to feature a unique gameplay profile that feels fun to use while remaining balanced against other weapons," Treyarch said.
"When that balance doesn't seem quite right for any particular weapon, we'll make tuning changes using a combination of back-end data and community feedback to keep the meta competitive and fresh for every weapon class. This is a design philosophy that we've upheld since the beginning of the series and will continue to maintain to ensure every play style can thrive."