Iron Banner has always been a special ritual in the Destiny universe where one of our beloved Iron Lords, Lord Saladin returns to the Tower to set up a contest of sheer skill and teamwork. The Iron Banner has always been a place where Guardians, both solo and Fireteamed up can competitively vie for some awesome looking and tough gear. It was a week for competitive play and triumphant rewards but for many Guardians in Destiny 2, it has become a shadow of what it used to be.
First and foremost, the biggest concern with the new Iron Banner surrounds gear and the rewards that you can earn from hours upon hours of play. Bungie has implemented their Token system for the majority of gear drops in Destiny 2 and for the most part it has worked out quite well, with Guardians getting more gear than they know what to do with. This is quite the reverse when it comes to Iron Banner and many other high-level activities. You have to collect a grand total of 20 Tokens in order to level up and gain an Iron Banner engram, which only drops you one piece of gear and it is probably not the one you want.
This throws a wrench in the works, with sorely decreased rewards for the amount of time players are putting in. Like yes, it is a guaranteed piece of Iron Banner gear but the odds of you getting items you want are low and the odds of duplicates are high. That is fundamentally where the problem lies, Iron banner does not feel rewarding anymore. At these higher level activities the Token system needs to be refined a bit so we players can advance towards specific goals and rewards. This is where Destiny 1 Iron Banner really thrived with purchaseable weapons and armour at certain ranks, from a predetermined selection. You could check out what would be available and then make the decision to play in order to add them to your arsenal. It still had a grind element, which the small selection of Iron Banner stock available each month, but players could formulate a goal and feel like they were making progress. For me at least, Destiny 2’s Iron Banner feels like I’m progressing to disappointment.
For while the loot pool is a lot greater and players can effectively unlock every bit of Iron Banner gear in the first week, it turns it into a blind grind with no apparent goal except to build up as many tokens as possible. Even if you do develop a hefty pile of tokens, the odds of you scoring a large variety of gear is not great, with many players, including myself reporting a pile of duplicates larger than the Iron Temple. It almost feels counterproductive getting the same scout rifle three times in a row after a few hours of intense matches. Worse yet, it feels unrewarding. Not having a selection of perks on weapons in Destiny 2 means that once you have something, you have it and nothing is going to change the way it plays. Within this limited time event with limited time gear, Guardians begin to swim within large piles of Legendary Shards, which is all the weapons are worth since they cannot be utilised as infusion fodder. Hold on, I’ll get back to that.
A smart loot system needs to be implemented with the drops, especially at these higher level and limited activities to reduce the chance of duplicates. It is a simple concept but one that Bungie seems to have overlooked. But you see, getting duplicates would not be so frustrating if Iron Banner drops took stock of your current Power Level like the Luminous Engrams. After Guardians have spent ages accumulating a large pile of Tokens, they are rewarded with lower level gear, it may not be by much but it definitely is lower. How is that fair or rewarding in the slightest? Iron Banner in Destiny 1 had duplicates, it had so many, but the fact was, they dropped as end of match rewards relatively often and they scaled to the players Light Level. Guardians were making progress in building their characters up and it was a gratifying experience seeing that Iron Banner piece pop up next to your name, even if you had a terrible match. It was almost as if Destiny was saying thank you for playing Iron Banner, but now it just feels like a terrible, unrelenting grind.
Let us talk about the weapons specifically as they are not up to par with such a loved event that gets the Tower buzzing. I couldn’t have been happier when I saw that The Forward Path auto rifle had dropped for me out of one of those annoying Iron Banner engrams, but it was relatively shortlived. While it is a great gun and I cannot complain about the way it handles, I just couldn’t stop looking between it and my Origin Story, and the same can be said for all the other weapons. Re-skins, all of them, which is so disappointing, especially with how the Iron Banner weapons evolved throughout Destiny 1. A favourite of mine was the Clever Dragon which not only hit like a truck but looked amazing and sounded great, it was a weapon fit for an Iron Lord. That being said, the Iron Banner armour hit coolness right out of the park, with some truly amazing designs for all three classes, but of course Warlocks look the best.
Finally, the worst of sins that occurred during this relatively turbulent Iron Banner was the addition of normal Crucible gear that began dropping when turning in packages. The Iron Lords did not die for us to get crappy Crucible gear during Iron Banner! Unacceptable. Bungie could have used that slot for a potential second drop for IB, but with the generic token system, Power Levels not meaning anything (which I really do not have a problem with) and Crucible drops, it is clear that Iron Banner was normal PVP with a different announcer.
Many people may say that I, and many others are just complaining, but for a game that promotes loot drops galore, Iron Banner is kind of stingy and seems to have taken a step backwards when compared to Destiny 1. This is just the first week of Iron Banner in Destiny 2 so hopefully Bungie will listen to the feedback and tweak the way the event plays out or at least modifies the way Tokens are generated.