Destiny's Latest Iron Banner: Pretty Good So Far

Destiny's Latest Iron Banner: Pretty Good So Far

It's a big week for competitive Destiny players. A new Iron Banner started recently, which is a week-long competitive multiplayer event where players get to test their mettle -- and their cool new guns -- against one another.

This is the first Iron Banner since the launch of the Taken King expansion, and also the first since the 2.0 weapon rebalancing. I've played a fair bit in the last 24 hours, so I thought I'd share some early impressions.

Fights Are Far More Varied

Every time there's a weapon rebalance, some time passes before a new meta emerges and everyone starts hunting down the agreed-upon "best" guns. The 2.0 meta still hasn't settled, which has made crucible a remarkably fun place to be.

I've really enjoyed how balanced matches have been, in terms of weaponry. I get killed by so many different guns now! I get killed by auto rifles, and scout rifles, and hand cannons, and sniper rifles… it's, uh, fun.

No, really though, it actually is fun to be killed by guns other than Thorn and The Last Word. That's in part due to the rebalance, and in part because lots of the most popular year-one guns were left behind in year two. Those guns still work in vanilla Crucible, so Iron Banner has been our first time in the entirely new ecosystem. So far, I like it.

Shoguns Are Still (Still) Annoying

The day Iron Banner came out, Bungie included a small nerf to Shotguns. They removed the Shot Package perk and theoretically removed the "sniper shotgun" archetype from the game.

Results seem mixed, at least to me. In the first day of Iron Banner, I still saw a lot of instances of That Shotgun Guy doing his That Shotgun Guy thing: It's always a hunter, always bunny-hopping everywhere, shotgunning people in the face. (God, I hate that fucking guy.) Shot package or no shot package, shotguns are still annoying in Crucible.

That said, I've also had plenty of instances where I've beaten out a shotgun warrior with a sidearm or a fusion rifle. I'll get hit by their first blast, but my fusion rifle will beat out my opponent at medium-close range. In those instances, the game feels closer to working as intended. The impossible snipe -- where a guy one-hits you from like nine feet away -- hasn't happened to me since Iron Banner started. Shotguns may still need a few more tweaks, but this does feel like progress.

The New Supers Are Ridiculous

I'm playing as a Titan in Iron Banner, so I'm part of the problem. The problem in this case being that the new Sunbreaker super ability is hilariously powerful. Lots of IB matches devolve into seemingly endless chains of Sunbreakers bullying their way around the map and killing the entire opposing team in one go. (It's a similar situation with the Warlock class's new Stormcaller super.)

Most matches play out like this: The first couple of minutes are a gunfight, mostly because everyone's waiting for their super to charge. Then at about the 1/3rd mark, here come the supers! And everything goes out the window.

Many matches that I'm in go from a close contest to a blowout right around the halfway mark, which I'm guessing is tied both to the first round of heavy ammo and to people finally getting their supers up. I'm not sure if that's by design or not, but it's immediately noticeable.

As a result, a given Iron Banner match is defined more by each team's supers than by anything else. That's not bad, exactly, but it does make me understand why some people are asking Bungie for a PvP mode without supers. I love hammering the other team as much as the next guy, but I'd also love to play a guns-only match.

As far as the various supers' overpoweredness goes… I'm still not quite sure how I feel. The Sunbreaker super certainly feels overpowered, but the class's non-super abilities aren't that great. The Stormcaller super is extremely annoying… but I've successfully countered it in a bunch of different ways.

The thing that seems clearest to me is that the three new subclasses are superior -- maybe too superior? -- to the year one subclasses. Every time I see a Titan using Fist of Havoc, I think, "Really?"

My Levitation Helmet Is So Cool

This probably doesn't merit its own bullet point, but whatever. A couple weeks ago I got the new exotic Titan helmet Empyrian Bellicose, which gives you the ability to levitate in mid-air for a short time. It makes you a floating target, but if you use it aggressively and creatively, it allows you to snipe from angles that other players aren't expecting.

It is extremely fun to use, and has been a hoot in Iron Banner. It reminds me how a good Destiny exotic item should subtly alter how you play.

(To be honest, I was really just looking for an excuse to post that clip.)

The New Bounty System Works

The changes to the Iron Banner bounty system seem good to me -- the daily bounties are a cinch to get done, so I don't actually have to spend all that much time each day clearing them out. The weekly bounties were actually also pretty easy to complete, and I like that they pay in legendary marks.

I feel similarly about the new daily Crucible bounties, which are also easier to complete -- it's nice to make progress simply for playing, and the wider variety of IB bounties means I can carry over incomplete ones from the previous day.

Matchmaking Is Still Inconsistent

Unsurprisingly, Destiny's PvP matchmaking is still a mess in Iron Banner. Connectivity is still a drag, and lag is still ever-present. I'm still seeing players quit losing teams, and am still getting matchmade into in-progress games where my team is 4,000 points down. I'm still seeing red-bar players lagging all over the damn place, and in general, any up-close fight feels like fighting on a time-delay.

That said…

A Lot Of My Matches Have Been Really Close

Over the last day of Iron Banner, my motto has become "never say die." It's easy to think you're losing badly, only to look at the score a minute later and realise hey, we're still in this thing. That feels different to me than standard Crucible, where a 2-3k point deficit is almost always insurmountable.

In just the last day, I've been on both sides of a number of down-to-the-wire Iron Banner comebacks. It's happening often enough that I have to give Destiny's matchmaking some credit. Each close game is a welcome reminder of just how exciting a fair, well-matched Crucible contest can be.

OMG Saladin's Pulse Rifle Is So Good, I Want It

I've generally liked playing Iron Banner for its own sake, rather than for the loot and gear you can earn. After House of Wolves, it was worth doing it to get Etheric Light for upgrading my gear, but I never cared all that much about earning the Iron Banner equipment Lord Saladin sold.

Destiny's Latest Iron Banner: Pretty Good So Far

So I was pleasantly surprised to check out Saladin's inventory and see what amounts to my dream pulse rifle sitting there, waiting for me to get to rank 5 and buy it. I spent an absurd amount of time last summer rolling and re-rolling my precious Hopscotch Pilgrim, and the whole time I was chasing a roll much like the one Saladin is offering. Red-dot OAS! Braced frame! Third eye! Outlaw!

If those perks were specifically picked by Bungie -- and I'd imagine they were -- that suggests that Iron Banner weapons are going to have similarly fantastic rolls throughout the year. The upside is that players will all get a worthy prize to work towards; the downside is that every motherfucker in the Crucible is going to be using that gun starting a day or two from now.

Those are my impressions of Iron Banner, one day in. Everyone else out there who's been playing: How's it been going for you?


    Fucking shotguns. If a hunter can skip and dance his way around the level, giving everyone the shotgun tap then I should get to keep my ridiculously overpowered special.
    Is anyone getting any loot from the IB?

      Nah, I gave up, did pretty well in both games got strange coins. The 4 tokens I got from TKK was worth about 155 Rep. Whats the point of trying to buy gear with 280 light? none of that is useful to me.

        I think the benefit is if you find gear that has perks which you like, you'll infuse them with your stronger equipment: You get perks you like at a light level a little bit lower then you would otherwise normally have.

          Yeah, I am the type of player that see's light and thinks yeah ill just use that and adjust my play to those perks.

            Me too, when my Void Sword was languishing 20 attack points from my highest drop I knew I needed to start using this system :P

      Never seen any IB loot drop, let alone get any.
      Still seeing top scoring players get nothing while the rest get regular loot too.

        Lets nerf the drop of strange coins and just give them to alot of Iron Banner players.

      I am a Hunter and use Invective exotic shotgun in the Crucible and IB, mainly because I am rubbish and don't have the reflex times of those youngsters any more. If I get a handful of kills I am happy. Usually I'm dead before I get into shotgun range anyway.

      No loot dropping from IB for me and nothing much dropping for anyone else when I am playing. Slim pickings.

        I know what you mean, my reaction time is abysmal.

    I think shotguns themselves are not in too bad a state, it's just that the maps have a lot of cqb areas that favour them.
    And honestly, I much, much prefer that than a lot of pvp games that heavily favour camping snipers.

    And yeah, Sunbreaker nerf please. That combo of range, attack speed, one hit ko with splash damage and tracking, heal on kill while running around using it all over the map?
    Even bloody arc blade was possible, if difficult, to counter, same with Stormtrance.
    But those hammers are an I-win button if I've ever seen one.

    But yeah. matchmaking: sometimes bad, sometimes good. Weapon balance: pretty good.
    That pulse rifle? Hells yes.

    Whelp, with the hunter exploit and lolbreakers running around I'm not even going to bother getting frustrated playing IB. I'll wait at least another week for Bungie to fix their shit.

    Last edited 16/10/15 9:14 am

    Personally I think the shotguns are fine and pretty easy to counter. You can shotgun them as easily as they can you. Its the same in so many games, shotty's are always a constant, particularly when a lot of maps are close quarters

    Don't really have a problem with sunbreaker either to be honest, no more then I do golden gun, which I seem to be dying from way more :( In close quarters they suck, but on the larger maps i find them easy to avoid.

    Sunbreaker gets OP when there's no nightstalkers around...I had my hammers stolen three times in one match. With the glitch in's near impossible to avoid a nightstalker. I'm not complaining about it much though, as I can usually toss a hammer just before the super is stolen from me and it usually kills the hunter responsible for stopping my hammer spree. It's not uncommon for me to get 4-6 kills per hammer...which is insanity. But if you compare it to bladedancer where you can easily score 3-5 kills and if you use radiance correctly 4-7 kills (although this is much harder to successfully pull off).

    Although that Pulse Rifle is extremely tempting...I don't see any point in IB. Too much lag, too many shotguns, wayyyy too much salt.

    They need to get rid of IB being just control. It would be way better if it was inferno clash or an inferno version of control. Also red death > anything 90% of the time.

    Honestly, this is all I see when I see that GIF at the top of this post

    It's probably the worst Iron Banner I've played so far.

    1) The loot is EVEN stingier than before. Supposedly end-of-match drops were going to be the primary source of Iron Banner gear now, with the purchases from Saladin just being there if you were unlucky. Nobody gets anything. I've seen maybe four cloaks and one pair of boots drop for other people, and that's it in the whole time I've played. Hearing lots of similar stories too. It's like they accidentally made it "-50% drop chance" instead of "+50% drop chance".

    2) Nightstalker glitch is super annoying. And that's coming from someone that primarily plays Nightstalker. Thanks for getting Trials delayed, guys.

    3) Sunbreaker super is absolute bullshit. It's like a Gunslinger with extra shots AND tracking AND a ridiculous armour buff AND health regen. They're literally the only super you can't headshot snipe without a Black Spindle, which is crap in PvP anyway. It's got the best offense and the best defense of any class in the game.

    I also don't buy people saying it's neutral game is poor either, like Kirk is. It might not have the synergy of a Sunsinger, Bladedancer etc, but it's still reasonably solid. They've got the only OHK melee in the entire game - not even Sunsingers can do that mid-Super anymore. They've also got two OHK grenades with one of them being (post-buff) one of the best PvP grenades in the game, the Incendiary. Plus, Cauterise (the health regen perk) procs on ALL ability kills. So you can regen health with the crazy super, plus the OHK melee, plus the OHK grenade. It's insane.

    I've played both Sunsinger and Bladedancer, and I absolutely agreed when they were nerfed. But even they weren't this bad.

    The IB pulse rifle is essentially FWC "the villainy" Their base stats are almost identical. It should be interesting to do a review of the weapons side by side. The IB version will likely edge out the villainy slightly but will it really matter

    In regards to the IB drops, the higher rank you are on IB the more chance of loot. I am rank 5 and had Bond x3 boots and side arm..ONLY the bond dropped for all to see, the rest was just in my inventory after the game. I used to HATE crucible as I don't use hand cannons. Pulse rifles are the way forward, Guardians.

    XBONE: Myst1icalN1nja

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