For a variety of reasons, Bungie can't quite get that old school Halo love back for Destiny... or any of its updates, in-game events or DLC plans. Instead, the massively budgeted FPS MMO hybrid received mixed reviews and the reaction to everything post-launch has been mixed at best as well.
The game's core design kicks in when players finish each mission and cooperative Strike in the game. By then, maybe with a few rounds of PvP multiplayer (dubbed the Crucible), they will have reached the game's soft level cap of 20. That's when the actual game kicks in, built around finding ways to make player play and replay missions and strikes over and over and over and over gain to acquire and level up Legendary and Exotic armor to reach the hard level cap of 30. You get the point.
To do this there are daily and weekly challenges with rare and important rewards, there are bounties for PvE and PvP that reset daily, and there are occasionally in-game events like the Queen's Wrath and Iron Banner. The former was designed with the idea of adding another set of daily bounties for players to fulfill to build up their reputation with the Queen and access a few more items to buy. The grind required to do so was painful and for players, it wasn't worth the time and effort due to the inferiority of the purchasable items. Bungie slapped the event down even harder by making the Queen's Bounty mission rewards all but useless by preventing players from breaking them down for valuable components. They did that during the event, no less, to slow player progress down.
The event was a failure.
Next up was the PvP event titled Iron Banner. This one added another layer of Crucible-focused bounties, that require more of a grind than the standard Crucible ones, and just as with the Queen's Wrath event, players could put many hours into ranking up their reputation with the Iron Banner vendor to unlock access to buy a few things from him. There weren't many things on sale and for high-level players already deep into raiding, the armor was obsolete. The real problem with this event for the community however, is that the Iron Banner playlist didn't live up to player expectations. The concept pitched by Bungie was to take away the level balancing so higher level players with higher level gear would perform better. It didn't work out that way at all.
The event was a failure.
So yes, this all reads rather grim, and one look at the official Bungie forums for Destiny will paint a picture of disappointment like you've never seen in Bungie's history, but the good news it that they are taking note. It's good that players and media are pointing these problems out and not letting them go by. Otherwise, Destiny would never evolve and improve upon its shortcomings.
That's why Bungie addressed these events in its blog update the week before last, specifically focusing on the Iron Banner. The next time the Iron Banner comes around, the makeup of the bounties might be a little less painful. The available items for purchase will be beefed up so players can hit level 30 through the Iron Banner and not just hopeful loot drops during the Vault of Glass raid. Players will have options to earn reputation faster and to reforge any Iron Banner weapons. It sounded like Iron Banner was becoming what it should have been at launch.
And last night, we almost had our first look at Iron Banner 2.0. Almost. I was there, online, after the 1AM PST (the reset time didn't move with Daylight Savings) reset where the Iron Banner notification took over the screen. There were Iron Banner bounties and the playlist available but the reputation levels were reset despite Bungie saying they weren't going to do that. The gear available from Lord Saladin in the now-open section of The Tower was nearly the same as before, and none of it able to help players hit level 30. These were the bounties:
- Anvil of Light Defeat 50 Guardians while competing in the Iron Banner, with the Iron Banner Class, Emblem and Shader items equipped. - IB Rep +75, Experience +3750
- Iron Embrace Defeat 20 Guardians with a close quarters melee attack while competing in the Iron Banner tournament. - IB Rep +100, Experience +5000
- Rise Above Complete an Iron Banner match with the highest score. - IB Rep +100, Experience +5000
- Exacting Measures Earn 15 Headshot Sprees while competing in the Iron Banner tournament. - IB Rep +100, Experience +5000
- The Chaos and the Calm Defeat 30 Guardians with machine gun headshots while competing in the Iron Banner tournament. - IB Rep +100, Experience +5000
- Heavy Metal Earn 15 Machine Gun Sprees while competing in the Iron Banner tournament." - IB Rep +100, Experience +5000
Bungie quickly pulled the event a few hours later and has since not responded to questions about it on social media or the official forums. Our only guess is that it launched early without its intended feature-set or by accident. It didn't have any of the things Bungie said were coming with the second round of Iron Banner so it wasn't meant to launch in this fashion. The larger issue is that they've not come out and said just that to the players asking.
[Update: Hours later, Bungie Tweeted the following and they did re-launch the Iron Banner event (the old version) by accident]
We wouldn't be surprised to see Iron Banner return soon though, if not sometime during this week, perhaps with the next weekly reset next Tuesday morning. There's a need to do it soon because we're only a month out from The Dark Below expansion which releases on December 9th.
Destiny is available now for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
Sources: Eurogamer, Bungie