Once a month the popular game mode known as Iron Banner arrives and seeks to put the Destiny Community’s PvP (Player vs. Player) skills to the test. Unlike almost every other competitive mode in Destiny, this one actually takes into consideration your Light Level making it paramount you use high-end gear. Not only is this a major factor, but the high drop rate of rare and exclusive Iron Banner loot brings droves of players into the Crucible to battle it out for dominance. However, even with some welcomed and needed changes this month’s Iron Banner is helping highlight some of the biggest problems still plaguing Destiny.
Before we begin, it’s important to understand that the game mode this time around is a slightly altered version of Supremacy. Two teams of six are tasked with battling it out over “Crests,” which can only be collected once an opponent has died. If you pick one up it will add a point to your scoreboard and it’s possible to gather your allies crests before the enemy does thus denying them points. The first team to 150 points, or the team with the most points by the end of the round will win the match.For anyone who has played Kill Confirmed on Call of Duty, this is roughly the same idea, except that the act of actually killing someone will not add any points for your team.
One of the biggest problems is that this forces a very up close style of playing since the only way to win is to gather the crests from fallen foes. By doing this it causes players to heavily rely on their secondary weapons such as shotguns due to their high damage output and ease of use. Since players are not really rewarded for picking kills off from a distance or even really supporting their team from afar, this turns every match into a mosh pit of shotguns, grenades, and melee abilities. This can turn the Iron Banner into a chore of a game mode, given you are effectively pushed into this type of gameplay, whether you want to or not. Now that’s not to say some people can’t make the most of their fusion rifles, side arms, or shotguns, but this is few and far between.
While this may not appear to be a very big problem, it actually warps the balance of Destiny’s multiplayer considerably in the favor of certain classes. Support or distance based powers such as Nightstalker, Sunsinger, and Gunslinger feels shoved aside for the close quarters powerhouses like Striker, Bladedancer, and Stormcaller. Bungie has been trying since the games inception to find some sort of balance between all of the different guns and sub-classes, but this is the first time it’s truly felt broken. Now, I’m not asking for the entire game to revolve around snipers or allowing players to just camp in the back the entire match. However, one shouldn’t feel like entire gun archetypes are not viable due to everyone running exceedingly aggressive builds.
Yet, one cannot actually blame the player base for this as Bungie’s map design completely reinforces this mentality, especially with the 4 new maps that have released. Last Exit, Icarus, and Skyline have minimal sightlines and are full of narrow hallways and passages. All of the new maps, except for Floating Garden, feel incredibly compact which makes up close weaponry the best choice for dealing damage upon your enemies. Some of the older maps that were released with The Taken King have a great balance to them, but they don’t appear nearly as enough if the Iron Banner playlist.
However, the other problem with Destiny’s multiplayer has to actually do with the concept of teamwork. Now this doesn’t really count Trials of Osiris since that entire game mode is basically reliant on solid communication from your teammates. Since players need to both attack and defend various crests, it’s rare you will see players help cover others or move as a unit. Most encounters are scattered throughout the map and boil down to 1v1 engagements between players. This, of course, makes a coordinated fireteam of six players far more dangerous than a group of randoms since they will have better communication and tactics.
This once again traces back to Bungie, who really don’t offer a ton of incentives to work together as a group. Sure you can get some assist points, but since those actually don’t factor into the final score for Iron Banner matches it’s not nearly as important. There are no real rewards outside of a single bounty for assists or defending your team. Sadly, this backs up the “me over the team” mentality that has plagued a lot of fast paced first person shooters like Call of Duty. Again, we cannot really blame the community as a whole for this issue, as we are given virtually nothing but points that don’t matter for trying assist teammates.
In the end, Iron Banner is still an enjoyable game mode and the multiplayer for Destiny is still quite fun to play. However, that doesn’t hide the fact that there are still some glaring issues deeply rooted into the core concept of its PvP. For now, all you can do is load your shotgun and prepare to fight it out in tight hallways. Hopefully, next month’s Iron Banner will feel a bit more balanced, since it is one of the best multiplayer experiences that Destiny offers.