Destiny‘s “Iron Banner” event is a Crucible variant that ostensibly removes all of the multiplayer mode’s player level limitations. In theory, this means that you can walk into a match as a level 30 character and enjoy the higher armor, health, and damage output than a level 3 character would. The first post-release Iron Banner event kicked off on October 7, 2014, and players have quickly discovered that the reality of the enforced power imbalance doesn’t quite give high-level characters the edge they might expect.
“Power certainly matters, but so does skill,” Bungie senior designer Derek Carroll said of Iron Banner in the studio’s latest Weekly Update for the game. “Our solution to add power back into the mix and keep the Crucible from turning into a ghost town is to scale it down to a reasonable level, and clamp damage on the ‘overkill’ end.”
He later adds, “To keep competition close and avoid unwinnable fights, the largest advantage you can have is around 7 levels. So, if you attacked a target 20 levels above you, you’d have a fair shot at winning that fight.”
In other words, low-level players are limited by the power/defense ratings of their gear, but high-level players only enjoy so much of an edge before a limiter kicks in. A level 30’s high defense stat helps them last longer under sustained fire alongside the comparatively lower stats of a level 3, but that level 30’s super-powered weapons can’t deal out one-hit-kills to non-equals. Even Bungie recognizes the dissonance between the reality of Iron Banner and the way it’s been described.
“The way we pitched Iron Banner did make it sound like a ‘no-holds-barred’ playlist,” Carroll said. “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.”
What’s your experience been with Iron Banner so far? For high-level players, do you feel like you’re bringing more power into firefights than you normally do in Crucible matches? And low-level players, have you been able to keep up and compete when you see a match filled out by level 20-plus Guardians?