Destiny’s Iron Banner special event was meant to be a highlight for the game and its community. The big separator between Iron Banner and regular Crucible was that the former was supposed to leave level advantages alone, creating an intentionally uneven playing field where only the strongest would survive. However, shortly after it debuted the mode was engulfed in controversy. Two videos surfaced, along with a mountain of anecdotal evidence, that seemed to indicate that the mode played almost exactly like a normal match. Low level players were able to dispatch maxed out players with relative ease.
Finally, Bungie has released an official response to the controversy in today’s Bungie Weekly Update. The post essentially says that the mode might disappoint those looking to dominate lower level players, and that it is currently playing as it was intended. Although with the caveat that they are open to feedback from the community.
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
Bungie community manager David “Deej” Dague opens with a story that essentially explains that he and his fellow Bungie employees felt the same way about the mode. “On the first night of Iron Banner, my Level 26 Warlock looked dashing, but I was still apprehensive. Was I powerful enough? Would I be able to hang in the most challenging arena of the Crucible? After all, power matters in Iron Banner. I compensated for my fears with the nastiest killers I could muster from my clan…One of them was even a Level 30. Perhaps, as a team, we would be able to achieve victory. Then, a funny thing happened. One of us got killed by a Level 6 Hunter. “That’s impossible!” gasped a member of my team. “DeeJ, you said power mattered!” The next day, some of the same questions were being whispered in our studio. One glance at our forum was enough to confirm that our concerns were being shared far and wide…the basic consensus was obvious: Warriors didn’t feel as if they wielded the advantages that had been clearly advertised.”
He then goes on to interview Senior Designer Derek Carroll about the mode. Asking him why level 30 Guardians aren’t able to wipe the floor with the competition as they expected Carroll responded “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.”
Going back to how the mode was advertised to players, essentially saying “power matters”, Carroll felt that they had been a bit misleading. “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!” We’re listening to that feedback, but this first Iron Banner is fairly conservative.”
Carroll goes on to explain exactly how the level differences are used in Destiny’s Iron Banner, essentially saying that higher level weapons don’t make things easier, but lower level weapons will be harder to kill with. He explains that skill amounts to, by Bungie’s estimate, 80% of your victory, and the gear differences account for the final 20%.
This seems to explain some of the issues reported by players, however it feels like a bit of a cop out from Bungie. The Crucible already offers a fun and competitive mode for all players, the entire point of The Iron Banner was to take that away and let the levels make the difference. Normally a level 30 player can be killed by someone who just picked up the game, if they are a better player or get lucky, and while this is preferred in everyday combat it was not the purpose that we all thought The Iron Banner was meant to serve.