Can I interest you in trying to capture control points while a guy with a 20 point power advantage on you really tries to give it to you, but good? If so, load up Iron Banner, which is back in Destiny 2 this week.
Iron Banner is unique among Destiny 2‘s player versus player offerings in that it does not normalize players’ power levels. Depending on your perspective, that makes it either a mode that lets dedicated players flex their muscles or one that rewards time spent in the game over sheer skill. In the past, though, hard caps on power level have meant that Iron Banner couldn’t get too out of hand. Sure, you’d get murderized if you dropped in fresh as a new player, but if you’d been playing for a while then it wasn’t too different from regular Crucible.
That all changed with the advent of Seasonal Artifacts. These items increase a player’s power as they gain experience, effectively destroying the concept of a hard cap. The current “soft cap” in Season of the Dawn is 960, but Pinnacle activities (like Iron Banner) reward gear that can get a player up to 970. With the Seasonal Artifact, though, it’s entirely possible to get into the quadruple digits.
Having a 15 point advantage on another player, much less a 30 point one, is a big deal. It’s the difference between one and two-shot kills, between needing headshots and not needing them. Being on the receiving end feels like being in an anime battle where the other team just revealed their true power and you’re desperately just trying to stay alive until someone more central to the plot shows up to take over for you.
Maybe this isn’t really a problem though. Maybe Iron Banner should be a merciless killing field where players with thousands of hours can cut loose and walk among mortals like gods.
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Think about it. PVP has always been a problem for Destiny. In a game based on acquiring better gear, how do you make competitive play feel balanced for newer players but rewarding for more accomplished ones? Bungie has taken various approaches, and their recent step back from powerful PVP rewards to more balanced ones seems to be a nod towards less PVP-focused players.
So maybe a mode where the limiters are ripped off is exactly what we need. Iron Banner is a Pinnacle activity, after all, and that should mean something. Raids and high-level Nightfalls are already activities that a lot of players never complete, so why not have Iron Banner be the PVP equivalent? It’s perfect for Destiny 2, which — let’s face it — can never be a purely competitive FPS given that it’s based on loot collection. Allowing power level differences is just the logical next step.
Despite it all, I’m going to keep playing Iron Banner this week. Losing stings less and winning feels that much better when you know the odds are stacked against you. And if I get tired of being fodder for more dedicated players, Iron Banner’s antithesis is also in rotation this week — Team Scorched, where the guns are made up and the points don’t matter.