Destiny Year 2 in Review: Strengthen the Iron Banner

by Gerry Rocha

Developer: Bungie

Publisher: Activision

Format: PS4/PS3/Xbox One/Xbox 360

Released: September 15th, 2015

The Iron Lords have bid farewell to Destiny’s first Iron Banner event post patch 2.0.

A lot was riding on Destiny’s first big PvP centric event, with a lot of speculation on what the changes would be after the release of the game’s first big expansion in The Taken King.

It can be a mixed bag, like with everything in Bungie’s first–person shooter. There are definitely some good ideas, but somehow the execution falls a bit flat in some aspects.

First and foremost, a big change that came with The Taken King was patch 2.0.

The patch addressed a lot of the gun balance issues people had with the Crucible.

It’s nice to see an array of guns being used as there is no clear winner among them. In a game that was dominated by hand cannons and nothing else, the guns actually feel balanced and there is not a single rage-inducing weapon.

Going into this first edition of Year 2 Iron Banner felt great, as the community is still trying to figure out the metagame and see which one will reign supreme. A month after the big 2.0 patch deployed, there is no superior weapon type between the different archetypes. Bungie did a great job balancing these guns and making them feel fair.


Now, let’s dig into what what Bungie set off to do with this Year 2 edition of Iron Banner:

  • “The tempered buff is now automatically applied and continues to grow in effectiveness each day of the event.”

This little change streamlined the way reputation increases work as days pass during the event. In Year 1, characters would have to visit the Tower and pick up the buff every 12 hours.

Making it frustrating to start the event and forgetting to pick up the buff. This goes in tandem with Bungie’s approach in Year 2 to streamline in-game processes, which is great for game that already makes you go to orbit before you can launch to any location.   

  • “Potential match completion rewards now include both weapons and armor, matching the same items available from Lord Saladin during each event.”

In theory, the new rewards system sounds like a blessing. Play the game, rank up. As you progress, the chances of earning Iron Banner loot increases. There is no need to spend precious Legendary Marks on the rewards Lord Saladin has to offer.

However, it doesn’t really work as advertised.

The two featured guns for the event were the sidearm Ironwreath-D and the pulse rifle Nirwen’s Mercy. Both of these guns were issued with PvP centric rolls, perfect for this event.

They never dropped. This wouldn’t have been so bad if Bungie hadn’t promised the following:


  • “Drop rates have been increased and are intended to be the primary source of rewards from Iron Banner. If you don’t get what you’re hoping for, you have the option to visit Lord Saladin instead.”

This felt like an outright lie.

After the countless Crucible matches it took to reach rank 5, the rewards were less than stellar. Across two characters the only drops were 282 boots and a 286 mark for a Titan. This was incredibly underwhelming considering that most “end-game” gear is above light level 300.

Again, this wouldn’t have been so terrible if Bungie hadn’t glorified the drop rates. Resorting to Legendary Marks was the only way to get Nirwen’s Mercy. A big bummer, considering loot collecting is one of Destiny’s main drawing points and that the gun won’t be seen for a while due to how Iron Banner is structured.

Very disappointing, hopefully next month Bungie will correct it.

  • “All new bounties including 9 Daily bounties (3 per day) and 3 new Weekly bounties which reward Legendary Marks.”

This was a huge relief, after Year 1 made you grind through the same exact same daily bounties every day for the entire week. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the bounties changed every day as the event progressed. Some of these bounties were considerably easier than previous editions, but it was nice to see a change in them. The inclusion of weekly bounties that provided Legendary Marks was also a welcomed addition to the event and a nice change of pace with the newer daily bounties.

While the majority of Iron Banner had some great ideas, there are still some lingering issues that the game has failed to acknowledge.

For a game model that touts “power advantages enabled,” there’s not much advantage in damage output between the different light levels. As long as you are within 30 or so light levels, the damage scaling is minimal. A Titan at light level 305 can deal 60 damage per headshot with the Hung Jury SR4, while a Warlock at 295 with the same weapon was doing 58 per headshot. Hardly something that one would call a “power advantage.”

Ten light levels should yield more than a 2 point damage differential with critical shots. Perhaps not something that needs to be completely retooled, but definitely make it so that it feels that there is, in fact, a benefit to be high level when facing an opponent that is 20 light levels below you.

While lag has been addressed considerably, matchmaking issues still plague the game. Why are fireteams of six people getting matchmade with groups composed of individual players? Why is the game dropping players into games that are 2 or 3 minutes close to the end?

These issues have plagued the game since Year 1. Bungie, a company known for pioneering console matchmaking with Halo 2 and almost perfecting it with Halo 3, still struggle with basic aspects of matchmaking for their flagship title.
In the end, it was a very disappointing edition of Iron Banner. A disappointing edition with good ideas, but Bungie is definitely on the right path. If history has taught us anything it is that Bungie listens to the Destiny community. This makes the wait for the next Iron Banner release in November more exciting.

This copy of Destiny was played on a Playstation 4 console.



About Joshua Russo

Josh has been playing video games since before he learned how to read and write. He fell in love with both and eventually combined the two to create the Next Save Point. His favorite video game series' are Pokémon, Uncharted, Mass Effect, Dragon Quest, Fallout and Borderlands.

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