The Return of Iron Banner and Why That Matters for The Taken King

Destiny CrucibleIn last week’s Bungie Weekly Update, Bungie outlined the plan for the return of end-game level PvP content. Next Tuesday we’ll see the return of Lord Saladin and the Iron Banner, and next Friday Brother Vance will start up the Trials of Osiris again as well. The Taken King already has a ton of content for players to enjoy, but the return of even more content is actually a really big deal on the PvP front. Today we’ll talk about why they matter so much.

One that Bungie has done really well with The Taken King has been infuse Destiny with all kinds of new content – and we’re still discovering secrets all over the place. On the PvP front though, the content was has certainly been a lot more straightforward. New maps and game-modes really isn’t a huge move when compared with the PvE content added in. In truth, most of the PvP shake-up has come from the weapon rebalance and the three new subclasses. I’ve already talked a bit about my issues with that long initial Crucible questline – but next week those feelings could change a little bit.

Destiny Lord Saladin

Let’s start with the lasting impact from Iron Banner and Trials. When power matters, and your light stat will impact your survival and damage, that’s really when a weapon meta can grow and define itself. You saw that in House of Wolves with the sheer number of Thorn/Felwinter’s/Rockets loadouts. Going into Iron Banner without that set-up, or one that specifically countered it (Red Death) meant frustration. That extended just as much – if not more so – in Trials. That meta doesn’t really exist anymore though – the rebalance has done a really good job of shaking everything up. Handcannons don’t have the uniform utility they did, which allows the other weapon types to start to shine. I’ve been playing a lot of Crucible lately, working on my Titan emblem quests, and I really haven’t seen a single weapon dominate the game like Thorn or Suros Regime used to. Sure there are a few I see more frequently, but I wonder how much of that is familiarity or quest related. For example, I still see plenty of Last Word, but that’s probably for the Jolly Holiday quest to get The Chaperone shotgun. What does bug me is when I see someone using all old Year One weapons – the new set of guns work really well in PvP, try them out!

That said though, I have a feeling that will probably change pretty soon after Iron Banner and Trials go live. That’s really when we’ll see the weapons strengths and weaknesses shine. Low impact, high rate of fire guns are going to be the ones I’m most curious to see – they were notoriously bad in the last meta, but I’ve been able to kill with them again now. We’ll see next week if they can still work with power balancing on. For now I do like that the meta is still in flux – it lets experimentation work and because of that, you’re seeing a lot more variety in the PvP game. I’ve said this about Destiny for a while now, the more variety that the PvP supports, the better it is. There isn’t a ton of content to really support a long PvP life – this isn’t Call of Duty or Halo where the competitive side is the real meat of the game. There’s only a few game modes and a couple handfuls of maps (with a sometimes rough rotation) compared with the other shooters double digits game modes and maps and map voting. That’s why I’ve been having a lot more fun lately than I was during House of Wolves – even without playing much Rift.

Destiny Felwinters Lie

The other benefits that Iron Banner and Trials bring with them are a little more hidden. The easy one is the new gear – armor and weapons. In the past set, the Iron Banner had the best PvP shotgun and sniper (Felwinter’s Lie and Efrideet’s Spear) and Trials had the best pulse rifle with The Messenger. I’m curious to see which archetypes they pick for the weapons this time around – especially for those ones that used to be super powerful. I have a hunch that even though the new Iron Banner shotgun has similar stats to Felwinter’s it’s not quite going to behave as nicely. The armor though is where I’m more curious – in the past the armor hasn’t been top-tier quality, except in PvP settings. With the new system, and perks making a bit more impact than stat values, I could see this new set being useful. Which is great because it looks amazing. With a good roll, I’ll absolutely take that Iron Banner helmet as my go-to legendary while I run with Immolation Fists or Crest of Alpha Lupi or Ruin Wings – even if I need to do some infusing on it.

That other benefit that I said is a little hidden is more of a feeling thing. When Iron Banner and Trials are live, the vanilla Crucible gets a little more forgiving. Those players that are chasing the end-game PvP content leave Control and Clash and Rift and head over to those end-game games. That ties into that big Crucible quest. I’m stuck at the Elimination phase – just before the last push. But Elimination right now has a lot of Trials veterans in there – and matchmaking against that is just brutal. But starting next weekend, with Trials actually live, that should make Elimination a little more doable. The same stands with Iron Banner – the more hardcore players and fireteams head off to impress Lord Saladin, leaving the vanilla playlists open for newer guardians to get those wins they need. The Crucible isn’t maybe the focus for a lot of players, but it does have some nice value in there – there are some really cool weapon drops I’ve managed to get plus those subclass specific emblems look so good. With more options headed our way soon, the Crucible’s value is going up again.

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