Everything Right and Wrong with the Iron Banner Changes in Destiny 2

The new Iron Banner is here in Destiny 2, and it represents a significant overhaul to the mode. Having played a few matches, here are my thoughts on the changes.

The Good

Power level is disabled — Great! It feels like Bungie is moving away from Power as a mechanic, which makes sense to me because it’s become nothing more than a mechanism to gate new content by padding out a grind. At best, it gives players a sense of progression, but I feel like it’s outlived its usefulness.

Daily Challenges replacing bounties — Gone are the days of grabbing four Iron Banner bounties and slogging your way through dozens of matches to complete them. In the place of the bounty system is the “Daily Challenge,” which is similar to the existing Weekly Challenge structure, asking you to, for example, complete a certain number of matches with a certain subclass equipped. Simple, doesn’t require you to pick up anything from a vendor, and less stressful.

No more Control+ — Say what you will about Rift (and don’t worry, I’m getting to that), it’s kind of nice to have some variety in the Crucible. Previously, Iron Banner was just a souped-up version of Control, and while I enjoyed the swings that the Hunt mechanic could provide, Rift makes the mode feel like something really different.

Strong theming — From an aesthetic perspective, I appreciate the push to get players using Iron Banner gear and emblems — it makes the whole thing feel like much more of a ritual celebration

The Bad

A lot of downtime — Getting killed in Iron Banner now means waiting to be able to be revived by a teammate, and if that doesn’t happen, then what can seem like an eternity of just sitting there waiting. Sure, this encourages more careful play and is kind of necessary to make sure players can dunk the Spark without worrying about the enemy team immediately respawning at their Rift, but it’s going to be discouraging for less-skilled players. Then again, that could be the point.

Long matches — These matches are long, or at least they feel that way. The timer is set at 10 minutes, and it’s 5 dunks to a victory. It feels like it could have been three or even four, but five is a lot. I feel bad for anyone who wants the Iron Lord seal and hasn’t already won 100 Iron Banner matches before this season, because it’s going to take you a while now.

Playing objectives isn’t fun — Going for the Spark paints a huge target on you, and since Destiny 2 is mainly a first-person shooter, most people want to, well, shoot stuff. At least you can still fire when you’re holding the spark, but this is a problem with pretty much any online multiplayer game with objectives other than “make stuff go boom” — it’s hard to design an objective that people actually want to carry out more than the core action out of the game. That said, if you want the Iron Lord seal, you’re going to have to focus on grabbing and dunking the Spark, or at least taking out the enemy carrier — you need 300 points to finish the Orewing’s Spirit, and without any dunks, I was at 6/300 points after four matches.

The Ugly

Bugs — Players spawning repeatedly, getting dropped in weird locations, the timer getting extended when you score a dunk even if you’re already winning. I expect most of these will get patched over the course of the season.

Loading screens between every round — I don’t know what’s going on with this, but it just draws things out even more.

Saladin says “Rift” instead of “Iron Banner” — “Rift” just doesn’t get the blood going the same way, you know?

Overall, it’s kind of a mixed bag. I like the changes to progression, but I don’t know that I’m going to get into Rift as a game mode. What do you think of the new Iron Banner? Let me know in the comments.