New Destiny Content, Cross-Platform Play and Division Final Thoughts

At the tail end of last week, while I was putting down my Call of Duty: Black Ops III tips, we got a couple pretty big pieces of news. So to start off this week, I thought we’d hit those big points, along with my final thoughts on The Division now that I’ve finished pretty much everything the game has in store.

The Division BetaLet’s start with The Division since it’s pretty fresh in my mind. The more and more I played through the story content, I can’t help but cool on the game. I loved the first third or so of the game – I thought the early game missions were tuned, difficulty wise, pretty much perfectly for the level scale. The second third though felt like a major turning point to me – the main missions slow down during that level 14-20 area and in fact the game directs through a whole neighborhood without a mission. Normally, I’m totally fine with an RPG steering you towards side quests, but the side content in The Division is so repetitive that it really felt more like an obligation. That feeling really got hammered home once I hit the final section of the game – those last few levels and missions. Once you hit level 30, any side mission is, from a reward standpoint, useless. Once the Base of Operations is fully upgraded, those encounters don’t give you loot that really makes sense. Side content only rewards up to Blue quality items – by the time you’re in those last few neighborhoods you’re chasing purple and higher, especially once you hit level 30. I honestly only finished all the side content in order to reveal all the collectibles on the map for the achievements to collect them all. Add in to that that the actual story content feels really hollow as it comes to conclusion and the last taste that The Division left in my mouth was really bland. The actual ending was so anticlimactic that I really don’t feel at all excited for the free content headed our way next month. And that kills me because the foundation that the game has is so damn good. I don’t know where along the lines the decision was made to keep an actual confrontation with Keener out of the game, but that is the big misstep that I think hurts the story the most. I feel like, while I’ve been avoiding comparing The Division to Destiny because the games are very different, I find myself now going back to the same thoughts I had with Destiny’s story ending. It’s so blatantly setup for future content that we know is right around the corner that it just takes away any sense of accomplishment for finishing the story. I still think The Division is the first really good game of the year, but I’ve definitely cooled on my opinion with it.

Moving on though, we got a piece of news last week that I’ve been waiting a long time for. Microsoft announced that cross-platform play is not only possible on the Xbox One, but is essentially here. We all expected Microsoft to eventually push cross-platform play with PC, but last week they announced that Rocket League will feature it, and it will be cross-console – that’s Xbox One and PS4. That’s pretty huge – it essentially kills the console war idea – both manufacturers realize that working together is way more beneficial than not. That’s not to say that exclusives and that sort of thing are going away, but we’re slowing moving toward the idea of gaming being unified as a whole. I look at it the same way I do with movies or music. I love music, but I don’t listen to one specific label or band – I wouldn’t do that with gaming, playing only one console or developer. It’s just silly. Now, there’s still a lot of hurdles to get over before this is the norm – but Microsoft has basically put the ball in Sony’s court. By saying that it’s up to the developers, and giving them the power to put it in, that’s a good move – and important for them after their stupid GDC party move. Microsoft has a big year I think this year – they’ve been lagging a little behind Sony so far, but with Xbox One going down to $300 for the Spring Sale, and a pretty damn solid lineup of games this year, they could be a good position.

Finally, rounding out the catch-up from last week, we finally – finally – got some concrete details about the next update coming for Destiny. We’ve known about this amorphous “spring update” for a while now, but the little breadcrumbs Bungie had been giving us were starting to get a little stale. Finally though we know not only when it’s coming, but we have a little bit more concrete idea of what it is going to contain. The new update – now called the April update – will be pushed live to the game on April 12. It’s bringing with it patch 2.2.0, which will feature the first major sandbox (meta) update since the end of last year. We got a little more cemented list of what to expect from the update – sort of. Bungie did their usual trick of being vague – new PvE challenges, new gear and new light levels – but did say we’re getting a new quest and strike coming. The biggest talking point among the community though has to be the image that Bungie used as a header for the weekly update: Destiny Taken Guardians. It’s not too hard to see why we’ve been talking about this image since last week. To me, there are two big points that it raises. First, there’s the obvious visual look – those are guardians, and they are Taken. There’s a few possibilities to explain that – the boring, and probably right answer – is that it’s just a shader. A freaking cool looking shader, but still just a shader. The other options could be that that’s just how the armor looks – I doubt that is the case because of what that armor is, which we’ll talk about in a second. The third possibility is that this is a new enemy type. I think that eventually we’ll see enemy guardians in PvE – but I really doubt that we’re going to get that during Destiny 1‘s life. That seems like a perfect twist to put in for the sequel – which you might remember is something I said during my fantasy development for that game. The other major talking point from the image though is just what that armor they’re wearing is. If you’ve been playing Destiny since launch, that armor is probably very familiar to you. You were chasing it for most of last spring and summer – it’s the armor that was rewarded in the Prison of Elders. Hell the background of that image even looks like the Reef. That opens up a couple questions. Is the Prison of Elders going to be the new PvE activity that Bungie said is going to favor replayability? Again, that’s the boring answer, but probably right. The community has been asking for old raids to come back – technically, the challenge tiers of PoE were considered raids. Does that open the doors for the others? I actually hope not – as fun as the old raids were, I want to see the game moving forward. Add in that to make them work in the current PvE space would be a pretty involved undertaking, and I doubt that is something we’d see in a free update. I could see them adding the Taken into Prison of Elders as a new, selectable, tier – essentially acting as a new difficulty level for it. Since Bungie said that replayability is a big part of this new activity, I think that Prison of Elders is a good start, but definitely would need a little work. We’ll learn a bit more this Wednesday, and the next two after that, as Bungie does their usual livestream reveal thing. These are usually pretty solid watches, so if you can, I would tune in. I’ll offer up my thoughts on them afterwards of course as well. Regardless, Destiny definitely finally has some life injected back into it.


Destiny Weekly Update/Rumor Thoughts

Destiny I was out of town last week when the new Bungie Weekly Update came out, the first since before Christmas. So while this is a little late, I do want to put down my thoughts on what we got out of Bungie and what we’re getting in Destiny in the coming months.

As I was reading the post, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this post was pre-scheduled for a while now. A lot of the issues that have been talked the most about in the community weren’t really addressed in the detail that I think we would have liked. The lag in the Crucible was barely mentioned in passing, despite being a pretty prevalent problem. The weapon meta is turning really stale again – Thorn, of all guns is popping up with regular frequency again. That wasn’t addressed at all. The lack of new PvE content, while less important than the community would have you believe, wasn’t addressed either. Instead we learned that, yes they tweaked the Crucible matchmaking to include a bit more skill-based matchmaking in secret. We learned that what the new February event is – Crimson Days – and that it’s a Crucible event built around Doubles. And we got the usual Bungie “we’re still working on a lot of different stuff that we’ll tell you about soon” catch-all that they’re really fond of.

Destiny Crimson Days

Here’s the problem with that – we had been waiting almost a full month with no communication from Bungie on the Destiny front. Really, all we wanted was a more direct post about the current state of the game, and what we could expect in February. Beyond that, I would have perfectly happy without the February event update last week – there’s still a January weekly update that it could have been a part of this week. The current game is a weird state of limbo, and this weekly update didn’t really do a whole lot to reassure me that Bungie is hard at work on new content to plug into the game quickly. I know that they’re hard at work at whatever Destiny 2 will be, and I know that the developer environment for Destiny is kinda rubbish, so new content is going to be a little sporadic. Couple that with the shift away from monolithic DLC to smaller event based content and you see why we’re a little impatient. The comparison is a little tenuous, but by this time into Year One, we already had The Dark Below launch – a new strike, three new Crucible maps and a whole Raid. Now it’s not a one-to-one comparison, again, but I don’t think that what we’ve gotten since The Taken King launched is really close – Festival of the Lost didn’t include any new content, just masks; and Sparrow Racing League really didn’t add in a whole bunch of new stuff either. With February’s Crimson Days being based around the Crucible I don’t exactly foresee a lot of new stuff coming to the game in terms of meaningful content.

Destiny Loot Cave

The other bit of Destiny news recently has come from the rumor mill. Yesterday morning there was a rumor that Bungie planned on making heavy ammo synths cost silver – aka real money. Both Activision and Bungie shot that down right away, and really, it shouldn’t have gained any traction at all. Bungie is in a really tight spot right now and a move like that would just kill any of the good feelings that the community has left. They’ve been very good with the microtransactions so far – sure the level boost does have gameplay bearing, but not in any meaningful end-game way. The other rumor came from Kotaku’s article about the current malaise surrounding the game. In the article they say that a source of theirs at Bungie has said that Destiny 2, in whatever shape it ends up, has been pushed back from September. Now of course, that game hasn’t even been announced yet so it really can’t be delayed. But the idea of Bungie pushing a major release back shouldn’t be a huge surprise if it is true. As much as Bungie likes to have annual launches – just about every Halo game they put out came out in November – I think they know that this is a big step for the future of the franchise. I would think that Bungie and Activision both want to make sure that whatever they call Destiny 2 really measures up. As important as The Taken King was, and the current plan of timed events is, the big release this fall was always going to be, perhaps, the key to this “ten-year” plan playing out. I’ve been saying this just about every Destiny post lately, but now more than ever, we really just have to wait a little longer and see what comes our way.

Destiny Challenge Mode Hullabaloo Thoughts

DestinyYesterday with the weekly reset in Destiny, Bungie started rolling out the new Challenge mode bosses in King’s Fall. And with that came a whole hell of a thing in the online community. So I thought I’d offer up my thoughts on everything that’s gone down in the last 24 hours or so.

We’ll start with the actual challenge mode Warpriest fight. I’m not exactly the most dedicated raider anymore – I’ve only actually ran King’s Fall once, mainly because my play group has dwindled with Halo, Fallout and Battlefront. But now knowing what the actual challenge is for Warpriest, I totally get why the more dedicated PvE players are maybe a little disappointed with it. That challenge – having multiple players gain the aura during the damage phase – is probably something that a lot of raid groups already do. That, to me, kinda defeats the idea of it being a challenge. And here’s where I think the issue lies – it’s not so much that it’s an elitist mentality, I think it’s more that Bungie just chose the wrong word to describe the new fights. I think a lot of streamers and YouTubers were going in expecting challenge to mean difficult – not specific circumstances in a fight. That’s not on the community, or even Bungie, I just think it’s an unfortunate poor choice of wording.

The Taken King Logo

Now, what I do like with the challenge mode is that it does exactly what we’ve been asking for from a loot standpoint. It gives us a direct path to specific loot – in this case 320 Light artifacts and weapons. It doesn’t totally move away from RNG though, there’s still the actual talent grid to roll. That is what we’ve been wanting from the end-game loot table for a while. The previous raids kinda had it, with each boss dropping specific gear – but were a little too RNG based. The problem now is that now top Light level gear is tied to a rotational boss mode – it’s Prison of Elders bosses, in Raid form. What I actually would have preferred is Bungie put that top level artifact into Oryx’s Hard Mode fight as a possible drop. Then the challenge mode fights should just have dropped cosmetic gear – emblems, shaders, ships that sort of thing. That keeps the loot progression in the “normal” raid runs, and would have opened Challenge mode to be more of actual difficulty boosted fights, with loot that is more of a status-shower-offer.

Destiny Oryx

Which now brings me to the whole hullabaloo that showed up yesterday. In the greater community, there seems to be this notion that because the players who play Destiny for a living took issue with Challenge Mode, they were attacking the “normal” community. And the “normal” community responded with some pretty nasty comments and Reddit posts. What I think is more accurate here is that because of the semantics of the new fights, the “hardcore” community was expecting true difficult fights. And because the fight wasn’t really that different from normal, they were let down. Unfortunately, the wider community took that to mean that they didn’t want that loot out there. It became a “elitist V. casual” fight. The problem I have with that idea is that if you’re on Reddit checking out posts every day, watching streams and YouTubes – you aren’t a casual player. There’s been a pretty major disconnect between play-dedication and skill, and how they “classify” you as a player. Casual isn’t skill related – it’s time dedication. If you only play Destiny a few hours a week – that’s Casual. You can be a really skilled player and still be casual. Elite is a little trickier, but with this whole nonsense, they’re more talking about players who play for pretty sizable chunks of time every week. That only has bearing on skill in that if you play a ton, you should naturally get better thumbskill and decisions in-game.

I’ve written a few times in the past about player entitlement and community frustration based around it. Just because we buy a game doesn’t entitle us to complain and shout into the void about every little perceived slight. Instead we need to take advantage of the fact that we can so much more easily communicate with developers now to provide actual constructive comments. With Destiny, it shouldn’t be us just bitching on Twitter about a bad loot drop to Bungie. It should be us reinforcing the things we like, while telling Bungie about the issues that the game definitely had – story, progression and connection issues. It’s a wider problem than just in Destiny too – I see a lot of it with Call of Duty, and somewhat with Fallout even. That said, there is one thing about this whole Challenge mode nonsense that I think is a good thing is just how much I’ve seen the community as a whole react. That to me shows off that the Destiny community is still really strong, even though every couple weeks I see a comment or post about how the game is dying. Is Challenge mode good? Sure. Is it what I think the Raid needed? Not really. I find myself more in the “I’d like harder fights for personal gratitude” camp. I like hard games that push execution and punish poor decision, not arbitrary silliness. Maybe we’ll see it still – we’ll wait and see.

Destiny – Where Do We Stand Now?

DestinyIf there’s one game that I’ve played and written the most about over the last year, it has to be Destiny. It’s a game that just hits all the parts of an FPS that I really enjoy, with some sprinkling of RPG to keep it interesting. Yes it has had its ups and downs – I won’t deny that. But the second year started off so strong that I think expectations shot back up following The Taken King. So much so that if you head over to the subreddit or forums you’ll see a lot of posts demanding information about the next content we’ll get to play. Bungie did announce and introduce a new set of loot to the game this week, but it is gated by the Refer a Friend system; which has a lot of veteran players a little ticked off.

The new loot includes a new sword, the first since The Taken King launched, along with a good mix of cosmetic items. The big sticking point for most of us is the new Sparrow – the first truly new model introduced to the game since launch. It has the same archetype/stats as the Year One Veteran reward Sparrow, but has a sleek Tron-esque look to it. The problem is that the only way to get this gear is by bringing in totally new account to the game, then playing through a quest with them. I understand the need to keep the player base strong with a game like this, and in theory a Refer a Friend system isn’t the worst way to go about it. The problem I have is that for people like myself, all of my friends that I play games with already have Destiny, or did and no longer want to play it. Any friend that I could refer, I did back in Year One so we could play then. That basically means I won’t ever be able to get those new items, which stinks because even with all the great new games I’m playing now, I still make time to play Destiny every week.

The Taken King Logo

Which really speaks to the larger quagmire that I think Bungie is finding themselves in now. The player base was so engaged and recharged after The Taken King launched in September that Bungie really didn’t need to do much to keep us involved. But we’ve now gone two full months with the same content. The majority of players are starting to be the ones who have run through just about everything. The top 1% is growing as Bungie repeats the time-gated events like the Black Spindle mission, and No Time to Explain’s quest line. Even by now last year we were in prime Dark Below preparation mode, since it came out in early December. I would hope that Bungie has a plan for the next couple steps, and we’ve actually seen the very beginning with them outlining the December Patch a bit. But just letting us know that the weapons are getting another balance pass, and we’re getting a new set of Exotics to chase (most of which are Year One items) isn’t really enough. There are too many other fantastic games out right now to pull players away from the grind of Destiny.

I have no idea what the next DLC will be, or even how it will be presented to us. With the microtransactions that are in game now supporting the game, we might not get a huge purchase for a big pack. It could very well be brought out piecemeal for little to no cost. It’s really tough to say for sure because of the lack of an Expansion Pass, and with Activision refusing to say one way or the other how they want to do the DLC this year. That said, I think we’ll find out a lot more in the next week or two. This week will be probably a little weird with Thanksgiving on the usual Bungie Weekly Update day, but who knows, maybe this will be the week they announce it. Whatever route they do decide, I think that the sooner they make the move, the better it will be for Destiny moving forward.

Destiny: The Taken King Exotics – Round Two

The Taken King LogoI wrote a couple weeks back ago about my thoughts on some of the new Year Two Exotics in Destiny: The Taken King. Well since that post I’ve gotten a few new weapons, and the community has datamined some info on armor pieces. So I want to talk about those weapons, and a little about the armor. With the weapons, it’s more that I want to talk about how they actually behave. On the armor front, I’m a little more interested in talking about if’s – in particular, how Bungie could take some Year One armor pieces and move them forward.

In the weeks since my last Exotic post, I’ve gotten my hands on The First Curse, The Chaperon, Telesto, Ace of Spades, Tlaloc, and Sleeper Simulant. I’m four Calcified Fragments away from Touch of Malice, and one Light 300 Darkblade Strike away from my Bolt-Caster. So we’ll start with The First Curse – my most recent exotic. Maybe it’s just because of how simple this thing is to obtain, but to me, this is another Exotic that doesn’t quite feel it. It’s a solid gun – it’s got a little more range than most Hand Cannons through it’s unique perk, but it’s just a little boring. It’s definitely not a PvP weapon – it’s a three crit kill, which is horrendous in compared with a slew of other weapons. It’s got a great look to it, playing off of The Last Word, and it sounds awesome too, but again, it’s just kinda “meh.” Since my last post, I’ve gotten the other two Class specific weapons – Ace of Spades and Tlaloc. Ace of Spades is a solid all around Hand Cannon. It’s got Firefly on it – which is always great – and also has a really cool exotic perk in the Maverick. With that perk, you pull ammo out of your reserves after every critical kill. You’ll keep shooting, but you will burn ammo fast. Tlaloc on the other hand is the tale of two guns. While you don’t have a super built up, it’s just a standard Omolon Scout Rifle. Once you get a super charged though, this thing turns into a beast. Every stat gets cranked up and in doing so, this gun becomes a phenomenal all around gun, good in every part of the game.

Destiny Stand Asides

Moving off of Primaries now, I’ve gotten the Chaperon and Telesto as my new Specials (still no Black Spindle.) Of the two, Telesto is certainly the more useful, all around, of the two. Firstly, I’m really happy that it’s a Void damage exotic weapon. There’s a real dearth of Void exotics still. One Sword, one Rocket Launcher and now Telesto. It’s a good exotic in that it feels exotic – the unique perk makes the shots from the fusion rifle delay their explosion. It’s great for single target damage and can catch some people off guard in PvP even. In truth, of the new Special Weapons, I think this is the strongest Exotic that I’ve used so far. The Chaperon is a pretty cool idea for a shotgun that I think just falls a little short of being amazing. I like that it behaves differently – it fires a single slug round instead of buckshot. That means it deals a ton of damage, consistently per shot, at a decent range. But the rate of fire and the actual performance kinda don’t live up to the gun’s potential. Sure it’ll catch people off guard in PvP – and if you have Hung Jury or Nirwen’s Mercy you don’t need to run an Exotic primary. But that’s about all I see using it for.

Moving on to armor now, I quickly want to mention that I’ve only picked up one actual new piece since the last post. The Immolation Fists for the Titan are the only Sunbreaker specific Exotic so far, giving you Explosive Pyre for free. It basically frees up Flameseeker, giving you tracking explosive hammers – it’s definitely a PvE piece. What I’m more interested in are some old Year One armors that supposedly have been datamined to be moving forward. This gives Bungie a chance to take kinda crappy Year One Exotics and make them useful now. They’ve started doing that with the new No Backup Plans. Now that they trigger Force Barrier on shotgun kills, they have become a viable choice for Defenders in PvP over Saint-14. With Titans, I’m curious to see if or how they’ll change the Mk.44 Stand Asides or Eternal Warrior – cool ideas for Exotics that just aren’t worth using. Those are the kinds of pieces I think we should keep an eye on moving forward.

Destiny: The Taken King – King’s Fall Raid Thoughts

The Taken King LogoLast night I had the opportunity to finally run through the new raid, King’s Fall, that Bungie gave us in The Taken King. I, honestly, wasn’t sure when, if ever, I would be able to run through it this year. My usual fireteam only maxes out at four players, so we were at the mercy of finding two others; but I caught a break last night, with another buddy inviting me into his group. I may have made us go a little slower, just because I had no clue how anything worked since I stayed blind on the mechanics, we managed to finish the raid in just a couple hours – and only a couple wipes. So today I want to talk a little bit about this raid as it compares with the other two previous raids.

Top to bottom, I think that King’s Fall is certainly the second best of the raids available so far. I still think that Vault of Glass is the best one out of the bunch – mainly because the entire raid is built around different mechanics that all make sense. Once you learn how Oracles and the Relic work, you’ve got the foundation to win, but you still need to pick up on the more minute details – like how best to max the DPS on Atheon. With Crota’s End, the mechanics were all streamlined – and generally had a built in margin of error. If you screwed up with the Relic in VoG, you wiped. If you mess up the lanterns in CE, you just move slower. In King’s Fall, fight mechanics return and they’re more varied than before. There’s a bunch of different things that you have to keep in mind – from the totem encounter to the Warpriest and so-on through the raid. What I like is that they’re easy to grasp, but there’s still a high emphasis on execution. If you slip up on any number of parts, you wipe. Screw up the order on platforms in the Daughters/Oryx fight? Wipe. Die too much to Golgoroth? Wipe. I like that there’s a bit more difficulty to this one. It’s a much more execution based raid. Crota had a lot more wiggle room.

Destiny Oryx

The mechanics behind the encounters in King’s Fall are where I think the raid shines – especially compared with Crota’s End. Each fight has its own feel to it. The Annihilator Totems and Warpriest both have your fireteam splitting up to handle the debuffs and glyphs. Golgoroth is the opposite – your fireteam will be bunched up in the pool of the reflective light to DPS him, with one other member holding his gaze. The final two fights – Deathsingers and Oryx – combine both parts, you have to split up to spawn the platforms, then group up for DPS. That makes the fights a lot more engaging than just DPS battles – as a community we’ve complained about bullet sponge bosses, and these bosses help combat that feeling with their mechanics. We were able to burn the Warpriest in two damage phases last night. Weapons of Light and Shadowshot turn high HP bosses into a lot more manageable numbers with their major damage buffs.

Where I think King’s Fall isn’t as strong as the other raids is the reward phase. I like that you open the chests instead of just getting them dropped into your inventory. But I think the weighting on certain items is a little strong. Moldering Shards drop like candy. I thought I made out well with two weapons and an armor piece, but there were multiple people in my group that got another reward in addition to that – four raid drops in one go. That’s a bit more in line with what I think raid rewards should be. When you did VoG, you knew that you were getting – rewards after each major encounter. Sure the loot table was a lot more spread out, but you knew you were getting a good chunk of raid loot. I just think that if you’re doing this difficult, end-game level activity with unique loot, you should be guaranteed to get that unique loot.

All things considered, I think King’s Fall is a really good example of how Destiny can really shine. The building blocks are what really make the game so fun – the weapons, the abilities, the movement – that when they have a well designed environment like the raid, they really show off. Just like Vault of Glass made the rest of the vanilla story look silly, King’s Fall really just makes me wish that the entire game was that polished and fun – and that with The Taken King being way more put together in general.

Destiny: The Taken King – The Return of Iron Banner and How It Feels So Far

Destiny Lord Saladin

This week marked the return of Lord Saladin to the Tower for the first time since the launch of The Taken King for Destiny. For the new players, Lord Saladin’s appearance means that the Iron Banner is live – and that PvP is a whole different ball game. On the surface, it might not seem like a big change – you only can play Control and it’s only 6v6. That really isn’t the big deal though – Iron Banner is one of only two Crucible modes where your Light score will actually matter. Going in with gear that isn’t powerful can absolutely mean you’re in for a long game. That matters more than ever and it isn’t because of anything specific that Bungie did with the power curve. It’s because this is is the first Post-2.0 Patch Iron Banner.

Destiny Thorn

New players won’t really get why we talk so much about weapon balancing and meta game. They’ll never know the futility of fighting a team of Thorn/Last Word users, or going back further, Suros/Vex users. They only have a small taste of the power of shotguns – and won’t know the frustration of dealing with 15 ft. kill zones with them. They may even think that Titans have always been the go-to Crucible class and that Sunbreakers are just more of the same. I wish that was true. Veterans know all too well that Hunters and Warlocks used to have the Crucible in their grasp, with Thorn and Felwinter’s Lie reigning supreme. And it’s because of those memories that I’m having way more fun with Iron Banner this week than I did during House of Wolves.

Over the course of the last couple days, I really haven’t been killed by one specific gun noticeably more than any other. Sure a couple pop up frequently – Red Death, Hawkmoon, Hawksaw – but not in the frequency that Thorn and Last Word used to be there. I’ve even seen people using Fusion Rifles! That hasn’t been a sight in nearly a year. And that makes playing way more fun. Sure it sucks to get killed, but it’s nice to know that I’m not going into a fight already down a step because I don’t like Thorn. It means I can experiment with my loadout more than I ever did. In House of Wolves, if I played Iron Banner, I used Red Death, Party Crasher +1 and BTRD machine gun. That was pretty much it, no matter the map. My armor didn’t change either – the only Exotic I ever thought of using was The Armamentarium. This week alone I’ve used more weapons and armor set-ups than ever before. I’ve tried Red Death, my Imago Loop, Zhalo Supercell, Hereafter, Conspiracy Theory, In Times of Need, Truth, my Arc Edge and even Baron’s Ambition. Every weapon has gotten me kills, and gotten me killed – just like I want in a PvP environment. I want my thumbskill and decision making to matter more – and now they do. I can take a shot and pull into cover and not just tick my health away. Firefights are way more about tactics and accuracy than they were before. It’s the Iron Banner behaving the way it should.

My biggest issue though is that true power is still gated by a pretty serious obstacle. Yes it’s possible to break 300 Light with only matchmade activities, but you’re at the mercy of RNG. To really be going into Iron Banner at a Light Level of at least 300, you’re much better off having done the Raid a few times. Now for most Iron Banner players, that’s probably not that big a deal, but for newer players I can see it being a pretty serious barrier for performance. What I would really like to see is the Crucible rewards be closer to 300 light either during Iron Banner or right before. It shouldn’t be a guarantee or anything like that, but it would open up a way for PvP-centric players to get up to that 300 region. I do like the way that Iron Banner is shaping up though so far for Year Two – with Trials of Osiris coming up next, we might have a more defined meta after the weekend.