Starting this week, Bungie introduced players to their first Iron Banner event in Destiny. Iron Banner, for those who might not know, is a variant on Destiny's PvP multiplayer, more commonly called The Crucible, that removes the "level advantages disabled" qualifier from matches. In essence, it rewards higher-level players for their hard work in Destiny's Strike and Raid missions, and gives them an advantage in battle. At least, that's what we thought it would do.
Unfortunately, as it turns out the Iron Banner isn't very different from the regular Crucible. They are still some advantages to having higher-level gear, but as we've seen, even lower level players can survive, and even dominate, online.
Bungie even admits that the Iron Banner didn't quite turn out as they planned. This week, for instance, the developers revealed why there isn't that great disparity in the experience, but somehow ended up making things more confusing.
The way we pitched Iron Banner did make it sound like a “no-holds-barred” playlist. In reality, we delivered what we felt would be a competitive experience for everyone, not just players at the level cap. The reaction from players seems to be: “No, we want it to be bad for lower-level players. That’s the point!”
Power certainly matters, but so does skill. Our solution to add power back into the mix and keep the Crucible from turning into a ghost town is to scale it down to a reasonable level, and clamp damage on the “overkill” end...A decked-out endgame Guardian can’t defeat a low-level guardian with one shot from an Auto-Rifle. In fact, “time-to-kill” is the same when you’re using higher-level gear against lower-level gear. The opposite is not true, so an enemy with average weapons is going to have a harder time taking you out.
Clearly it appears more factors are in play in the Iron Banner, or even the Crucible, than we initially thought. Destiny has tons of checks and balances that ensure an even experience, and many of those are still operating on some level in the Iron Banner.
Unfortunately, that means what the Iron Banner players thought they were getting is not what Bungie actually delivered. Instead, the multiplayer experience makes it easier to take down opponents, but it doesn't give too much of an advantage to higher-level players. For example, my level 28 character with a Suros Regime had no greater success against a level 22 as a level 29, and there's a good reason for that.
If you were expecting to vaporize a crowd of noobs with a single burst from your SUROS Regime, I can see how you’d be disappointed. Imagine going into the Iron Banner as a mid-20s player totally unable to participate in the fun. We didn’t want players to have to complete the Vault of Glass in order to compete.
Bungie was quick to point out, though, that this is their first Iron Banner event, and there's a definite possibility that things will change. There's no guarantee, mind you, but Bungie seems to imply that this first event has taught them lessons for the future.
That appears to be a running theme with Destiny, as many features have been tweaked and changed in response to player feedback. Bungie has already improved the loot system so Legendary Engrams actually deliver Legendary items, but that's just the beginning. Currently there's talk of adding matchmaking to Raids and Weekly Strikes, as well as balance changes for PvP and PvE.
While some may say that Destiny should not have shipped as a work-in-progress, that's clearly what Bungie delivered. The good news, though, is that Destiny is changing for the better, and Bungie is listening to feedback.
How have you responded to the Iron Banner event? Where do you think it needs to improve?