October is set to be a big month for Destiny 2. The game will be launching on PC via battle.net, and console players are seeing the return of Lord Saladin and the Iron Banner faction. This timed event has players participating in PVP control maps, completing PVP challenges, and turning in tokens to Saladin for event-themed rewards. Iron Banner rewards include shaders, weapons, armor, and player emblems. Iron Banner is the second timed event since the games launch, following the Faction Rally last month. Just between you, me, and all the people on the internet; Iron Banner has some real problems.
The Surface Problem
Destiny 2 designates this event as “Season 1.” Turning in 200 tokens, to receive ten rewards, grants players a final reward package containing a handful of both shaders, a special player emblem, and some random gear. After that, the event rewards for turning in tokens actually decreases. Whereas previously you would get two items (one non-event) and a shader, my 11th package contained only one item.
Of my eleven reward packages, four have been the exact same item – the hunter cloak – at the exact same power level of 294. I received duplicates of several weapons, and one other piece of gear; the hunter helmet. The drop rate has been pretty lame for me. Various posts on Reddit revealed players who have received close to thirty packages, and still haven’t received armor pieces, which are probably the biggest incentive due to their unique aesthetic. These redditor’s stories don’t encourage me to continue grinding the same PVP mode for more duplicates.
The previous event, Faction Rally, also left me with only a few pieces of unique armor. Bungie even informed players that after redeeming thirty rewards, factions would only drop shaders. This decision left more than one Guardian missing set pieces with no recourse.
The Deeper Problem
This isn’t a manifesto of entitlement, complaining about what I did or did not get for Christmas. The drop rate and event reward dissatisfaction in Destiny 2 is indicative of another problem. My hard drive on my PlayStation can only fit so many games. I want to keep Destiny 2 downloaded and updated the same way I keep Overwatch or Rocket League. I want to return every once in a while, for something special. Unfortunately, my return hinges on some sort of incentive. I don’t see this attitude as problematic. There’s tons of good games released every couple months, not to mention the free games through PS Plus, work, life, responsibilities. I need a little more if I’m going to carve out time to keep up with Destiny 2.
The initial problem, the dissatisfaction with reward packages, is only one side of the issue. The first event gave players rewards for doing all the usual Destiny 2 activities: Nightfalls, the raid, PVP, public events. Bungie introduced two new activities: a new public event that had players capturing points in the open-world, and a new mini-mission where players went into the lost sector mini-dungeons and blew up a few crates. There wasn’t really any new gameplay here. The incentive was purely reward – not the fun of a timed game mode like Destiny’s Sparrow Racing or Overwatch’s Halloween Terror going on now.
Currently, Iron Banner is suffering from the same issue, but worse. Iron Banner only rewards tokens in the Iron banner PVP playlist – which features exactly one game mode: control. I love control maps, they remind me of the good old days of the original Battlefront games. But there’s a lack of variety that gets rather boring rather quickly.
So why do I want to continue playing Iron Banner? Why would I want to come back when it inevitably returns for season 2? To play the same PVP maps and one single game mode? To grind out tokens just to receive a fraction of the reward table? My experience with Faction Rally left me feeling the same way. The longevity of this game isn’t in critical danger for me right now. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Destiny 2‘s hard drive space as DICE drops Battlefront II and if Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins proves worth the wait.
I’ve already made a few references to Overwatch’s event model in this article, and I’m not going to stop just yet. Overwatch doesn’t have a perfect system for timed events, but they’ve made progress that Destiny 2 can definitely learn from.
Firstly, Overwatch’s events generally launch with some game mode specific to the event. Summer Games has Lucio ball, Halloween Terror has Junkenstein’s Revenge, and their Holiday event featured Mei’s Snowball Fight, just to name a few. These game modes were different in terms of mechanics and setting and offered something completely unique from the base game. These new game modes were also relatively simple, usually deconstructing character’s skills and maps for something different that was still rooted in the familiar. Destiny 2 can take existing PVE or PVP maps and tweak gameplay for a new kind of experience that still feels grounded in the world and mechanics of the base game.
Secondly, give me the rewards. The reason I can see behind an unsatisfying loot table is because season 2 of Iron Banner will feature the same rewards. They want the player to come back to complete their set. Do better. Overwatch had a loot table for year one that I felt largely satisfied with. I put in enough time to unlock many of the rewards I wanted. Random loot drops kept a handful of skins out of reach. When year two started, Blizzard offered all the old rewards with a whole host of new ones as well. I wanted both, but I definitely wanted the new ones more.
I came back to Summer Games and Halloween Terror for three reasons: to play the limited time game mode, to get the new rewards, and to get last year’s missed rewards. The least of those reasons is unequivocally the last. As of right now, that last reason is the only incentive for returning to Destiny 2 for timed events.
I want to play this game periodically, to continue to invest time into its colorful lore and tight gameplay, but mediocre timed-events really hurt the integrity of what could be a great console-MMO type experience. Let me love you Destiny 2.
But we want to know what you think! Has Saladin been good to you? Do other games have event systems that Destiny 2 could learn from? Where else could the Destiny 2 experience use some polish? What events from Destiny 1 would you like to see return? Be sure to check out our review of Starfox 2 on the SNES Classic and our wish list of WiiU games that deserve to be ported to the Switch. Let Handsome Phantom know your thoughts and you could get a shout out on the Adventure Mode podcast!
Author: Kevin Lukacs
Kevin enjoys writing plays, short stories, comedy, history, and of course opinion pieces and listicles about video games. His dad could totally beat up your dad. You can find him in DC getting his M.A. in history, should you ever feel the need to fight about weebs and whether or not Knights of the Old Republic is the best game ever made.