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The science behind Destiny 2’s Lorentz Driver weapon

The science behind Destiny 2’s Lorentz Driver weapon
(Image credit: Bungie)

In Destiny 2’s fifteenth season, Season of the Lost, players can earn a new exotic grade weapon by progressing through the Season Pass – the Lorentz Driver. This new Linear Fusion Rifle may look like yet another science fiction weapon powered by impossible energies and ridiculous technology. That’s not necessarily the case this time, as the Lorentz Driver has its mechanics and name rooted in real science. Here’s how the weapon breaks down its interpretation of the Lorentz force.

So, first off, we have to look at the force this weapon is named after, the Lorentz force. Originally developed from a complete derivation by Hendrik Lorentz in 1895, Lorentz force (opens in new tab) is the combination of electric and magnetic forces on a charged particle due to electromagnetic fields. This charged particle will only feel a force due to the magnetic field if it is moving with a component of its velocity perpendicular to the field. If it moves parallel to the magnetic field, it experiences no force. Particles, or a single particle, guided by this force is influenced by the Guiding Center, where all surrounding particles align towards this point in space.

The sum of these two forces creates a force that we call the Lorentz force. This concept allows almost all modern electronics to function; speakers, computers, and even railguns all utilize the idea of Lorentz force as the main basis of how they handle electricity and magnetism. Particle accelerators and cyclotrons especially utilize Lorentz force due to their circular shapes and how the force multiplies the speeds of charged particles, allowing them to collide and create new elements.

Charged particles experiencing the Lorentz force_Marcin Białek

An experimental example of the Lorentz force. (Image credit: Marcin Białek)

Looking at how the Lorentz Driver weapon functions, we can break down the components of the mechanics and how they tie to Lorentz force itself in a basic manner. The Linear Fusion Rifle in Destiny’s universe is a weapon that projects a super-concentrated beam of elemental energy in a single shot, much like a sniper rifle but with much more piercing power.

The Lorentz Driver is a void element weapon, which is described in Destiny’s lore as an energy of “absence” or “vacuum” where energies can be negated. When players score a “Precision Kill,” or a head shot, on a target a small black hole forms that attracts nearby enemies and then erupts in an explosion of void energy. Targets at random will also be highlighted by the weapon’s scope system and drop a small, golden tag called a piece of Telemetry Data. When players pick up three of these tags they will gain a buff known as Lagrangian Sight.

When a singularity forms from a Precision Kill, this is basically the “Guiding Center” of Lorentz force charging a particle and attracting things near it to a common alignment. Since the energy of the weapon is void and it usually produces a vacuum-like effect when used, the fact nearby objects tend to collapse in on void energy, it makes sense.

Lorentz Driver weapon in use in Destiny 2_Bungie

(Image credit: Bungie)

While the Lagrangian Sight buff is active, the Lorentz Driver will cause more damage and every kill, precision or not, will cause the singularities to form. According to the weapon’s lore entry from in-game documentation (opens in new tab) the rifle was possibly built haphazardly by the alien race known as the Fallen, or Eliksni, from “non-weapon parts.” 

Applying the basics of Lorentz force to the weapon makes it easy to see how it all works. The weapon’s most basic functions are similar to that of a real-life railgun (opens in new tab), a type of cannon that employs magnetism and large amounts of electricity to propel a projectile at high speeds with the use of electromagnetic rails. Lorentz force is applied to how the weapon projectile is propelled by applying a charge to a beam of energy.

When the weapon’s Lagrangian Sight kicks in, it is using the basis of Lagrangian mechanics (opens in new tab) that add to the weapon’s power and precision. When the Lagrangian is applied to the weapon’s mechanisms, it is interacting with the weapon’s potential energy and bolstering its accuracy to find a vector within space, which explains why the singularities form on any kill rather than a precision kill.

While in the Destiny universe, weaponry and energy are dictated by the game’s own lore and concepts of how everything functions, it’s clear Bungie’s writing team did their homework on this one. The weapon’s name doesn’t just serve as flavor, but is a simplified demonstration of a foundation of electricity and magnetism.

The brilliance of the weapon mechanics make it not only an engaging weapon to use, but the clever demonstrations of real-life electromagnetism show Bungie’s attention to detail is bar none. Destiny is not a super-accurate world, but its roots in science and use of worldbuilding to give structure to how everything mingles allows unique representations of real-life concepts of science to exist such as this. As the saying goes, any sufficiently advanced technology can be indistinguishable from magic.

If you're looking for more sci-fi gaming content, check out our best Star Wars games guide, and if you're looking to get immersed in the VR space battles then we've also got our best PSVR space games guide for you.

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