Let’s talk about Rise of Iron’s first Iron Banner

Hands down, this is the most fun that Iron Banner has ever been.

Although I’m mostly a PvE player, it was Iron Banner and the promise of sweet, sweet loot that got me to dabble in PvP in my early Destiny days. I used to get destroyed, had a spot reserved for myself at the bottom of the leaderboard, and could claim no credit for any wins that my fireteam (of randoms) managed to snag.

But I always enjoyed myself. It was an excellent break from strikes and the daily story missions, so when Iron Banner rolled around, I would spend the entire week attempting to get to rank 5. I used to be so bad that I needed the entire week. I’d get to rank 1 on day 1 because fewer people would be playing, so wins were easier to come by. Rank 2 and 3 over the next couple of days, and finally make it to rank 5 between Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

With the new Iron Banner format, I hit rank 5 on day 2.

Less work, more fun

That seems to be the development principle behind the new Iron Banner format. The tempered buff is gone, so you don’t get more reputation towards the end of the week and less reputation at the beginning. Wins give you a flat 250 Iron Banner rep, losses give you Iron Medallions that can be redeemed for 150 rep each on your next win, and – as before – you can stack up to 5.

The quality of the bounties has improved dramatically as well. Rather than 3 weekly bounties and 3 daily bounties, there are just 4 weekly bounties in total. There’s significantly less emphasis on doing specific things to complete the bounty, similar to the way Shaxx’s weekly bounties were reworked.

As an example, the Iron Banner daily bounty I hated the most was the one that required 3 kills with a heavy weapon. Heavy was difficult to get because it’s rare that a group of randoms will wait near the heavy box for the entire team to show up. Actually completing it felt like a long, hard slog.

One step in Iron Gauntlet – getting the top overall score in a match – was rather frustrating as well, because I’m average or below average at PvP depending on the day. The last time Iron Banner came around, I completed it with 7 kills in the match because the team of randoms I was on were almost all red bar and the opposing team simply disconnected. While I got a good laugh out of it, it was also the last day of IB and I hadn’t been expecting to get that one done.

Those moments of frustration are gone with the new bounties.

Iron Marathon requires 100 points, match completions get you 5 and wins get you 10. Iron Arsenal requires 100 points with weapon kills, primary = 1, secondary = 3, and heavy = 5. Iron Light requires 100 points with ability kills, with grenades giving you 2 points, melee, 3 and super, 5. And finally, the Iron Support bounty needs 100 points for support activities, with assists giving you 1 point, avenger kills, 3, and defending allies giving you 5.

I completed three bounties in the first three hours after Iron Banner came out without even trying, and the fourth one the next day during another three hour session in which I hit rank 5.

Also, fewer motes and more loot

This particular Iron Banner has been abnormally generous with loot. I have a full set of Year 2 Iron Banner armour on my Titan, but it took me months to assemble, piece by piece. In two days of the new Iron Banner, I have a full set of armour – minus artefact and ghost – also with the auto rifle, the scout rifle, and the pulse rifle, each with excellent rolls.

I’ve also seen people get the ship, emblems, and some of Shiro’s inventory at the end-of-match rewards screen and, from the things I’m reading on r/DestinyTheGame, people seem happy with the drops.

But they missed a beat with Efrideet

I said this in my review as well. Efrideet was hyped well beyond her actual role in the game. Byf speculated that there would be a quest to find Efrideet and bring her to the Iron Temple to kick off the Iron Banner event, and he was both right and wrong.

Yes, there is a quest to find Efrideet. But she is standing about 500 meters away with a quest marker dangling atop her head. Her return to the Iron Temple was commemorated with a cutscene that involved an exchange between her and Saladin that went roughly like this.

Efrideet: “O hai.”
Saladin: “Wut, u r not ded.”
Efrideet: “Lol no.”

That’s not the actual dialogue (obviously) but it might as well have been for all that it did to further the story of Efrideet and the Iron Lords. Granted, she talks about being out on the edge of the system with other Guardians who found ways of furthering the Light’s agenda that don’t involve an overwhelming number of bullets – but Efrideet feels badly mishandled.

The new Iron Banner is loot and fun-rich but, like so much else in Destiny, abysmally thin on story. And again, there was so much potential here that just hasn’t been realised.

So, to sum this up …

This is the most fun that Iron Banner has ever been. Plenty of loot, lots of fun, and Supremacy is an excellent game mode for it. Even if you haven’t spent much time in PvP, there’s plenty to enjoy here and, because loot drops are so frequent, it makes the 365 to 370+ grind much easier.

So go play some Iron Banana and, if you see a Titan named onebesottedfrog out there, wave before you kill me. I’ll be sure to wave back.

Trevor Coelho

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