Over the last few years, Bungie has shown a willingness to shake things up in Destiny 2 PvP. Sure,  standard Crucible playlists haven’t seen much love. But, we have received an excellent overhaul to Trials of Osiris and a decent step in the right direction for Gambit. Now, in Season of the Haunting, we get a complete (and desperately needed) overhaul of the Iron Banner.

This is all in an attempt to make Iron Banner more accessible and ultimately enjoyable to jump into. Let’s take a look at exactly what the new Iron Banner will look like and see if these changes accomplish these goals.

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A New Introductory Quest

If you’re not a fan of reading about gameplay changes ahead of time and just want to experience it, you’re in luck. Like most modern Destiny 2 experiences, there will be a new introductory mission that explains how the updated Iron Banner operates. Completion of this mission will be required for new and veteran players alike to even access the game mode.

Don’t worry, you only need to run through it once per account and it won’t be necessary for future seasons after you’ve completed it. Luckily, this addition does remove the lengthy and often frustrating Seasonal Iron Banner quest. You know, that one that you start, get bored with, and never finish since the rewards were never anything special.

Iron Banner Will Be More Like Destiny 2 Holidays

Iron Banner has always been tucked away in The Tower, seemingly an afterthought that could be easily overlooked. Now, when it occurs it will bring with it a Tower overhaul similar to Seasons like The Dawning and Guardian Games. 

Lord Saladin (now known as Bracus Forge) will be present right where Eva Levante usually appears. And rather than twinkling lights, streamers, and other decorations—Iron Banner’s presence is accented with billowing smoke and roaring flames. Oh, and he gets his own festive theme music to announce his presence and get you in the competitive mood. 

How Often Will Iron Banner Occur?

How Often Will Iron Banner Occur?
Image: Bungie Inc.

Does it ever feel like Iron Banner happens too often? That it tends to interfere with your ability to play top-tier PvP in Trials of Osiris? Thankfully, the team at Bungie agrees and is limiting the amount of Iron Banner occurrences to just twice a Season.

For Season 17, Iron Banner will be active during:

  • Week 2: May 31 – June 6
  • Week 8: July 12 – July 18

There’s even a story reason for why this updated schedule is occurring. Apparently, due to his new role on Caiatl’s war council, Saladin has to limit the number of events. Basically, he got a job and doesn’t have all that free time anymore. 

Unvault Your Favorites

iron banner weapons
Image: Bungie Inc.

A consistent paint point in PvP is the limitations of sunsetted weapons due to Power Levels. This removes the viability of previously go-to weapons, capping their level until they get cycled back into the current loot pool. However, with Iron Banner being the more introductory PvP mode in Destiny 2, this will no longer be an issue thanks to the Power Level being disabled.

That means that you can dig into your Vault and dust off any favorites. Just keep in mind that this won’t apply to every single PvP mode. Trials of Osiris, which is basically endgame PvP, will still have the Power Level limiter active.

Open the Rift

open the rift
Image: Bungie Inc.

One major issue with Iron Banner over the last few years is the single use of a modified Control game mode. While it’s honestly a more enjoyable version of Control, it has become extremely repetitive, especially with how often Iron Banner is active. That’s about to change with the reintroduction of the fan-favorite Rift game mode.

This is an objective-based mode similar to Control, albeit with a more singular focus. A Spark will appear in the middle of the map. Each team will attempt to capture it, bring it over to the enemy base, and dunk it in their Rift. The appearance of a waypoint over the carrier, the ticking clock of the Spark detonating, and the potential sudden death turnarounds all complicate this relatively simple mode.

Even if you’re not a fan of Rift, this development should be exciting. It means that Iron Banner is becoming a true testing ground for PvP and Bungie is willing to experiment and switch things out every Season. Oh, and as an added bonus, the new PvP map, which was designed with this mode in mind, will also go live with Iron Banner.

Revamped Rewards

Another prevailing issue with the old Iron Banner is the grindy reward structure. You claim the same bounties every time, play a bunch to earn tokens, and turn them all in to earn randomized Iron Banner gear. To make the effort more rewarding, Iron Banner is adding a ranking system similar to Shaxx and Saint-14.

You will now be able to level up and earn specific rewards just by playing and completing bounties. You’ll earn Iron Engrams with each rank which you can then choose to focus and convert into any previously earned armor or weapons. Cosmetics will also be unlocked as you level up and you’ll of course earn random drops from completing matches.

Daily Challenges

Circling back on bounties, rather than having the same slew of challenges available at the start of Iron Banner, there will now be daily challenges. Through the first four days, you’ll unlock a new daily challenge. You can choose to pick them up as they appear or grab them once they’re all available. 

The rewards from these bounties will now stack up reputation bonuses throughout the week along with a Pinnacle Iron Engram. This will adjust the use of weekly bounties to not be your only path to earn Pinnacles, providing you with far more chances to earn top-tier gear.

I Am Iron Lord

What would a revamp be without an in-game title to pursue. In this case, you can try to earn a new Seal and title called the “Iron Lord” throughout the year. You’ll likely have to spend 15-20 hours to unlock it and any progress made will remain through each season throughout the year. 

In short, you’ll have six to eight chances (depending on what Bungie determines to be the cutoff) to finish it and those that get a head start will be able to Gild the title as early as Season 18.

How to Get the Most Out of Iron Banner

How to get the most out of iron banner
Image: Bungie Inc.

With all of these changes, you may be wondering how to get the most out of your time with the Iron Banner. Luckily, this was laid out fairly clearly in a recent TWAB post. Here’s what Bungie recommends:

  1. Play matches to start earning Iron Banner reputation, with wins earning you a small bonus based on your current rank.
  2. Like other activities, you should use Iron Banner gear and weapons to earn reputation buffs. If you equip a full set of gear and weapons you can activate a 200% multiplier. Keep in mind that you can also equip Iron Banner ornaments instead if you would rather use other gear.
  3. Equip an Iron Banner emblem on top of this to activate an additional 10% multiplier.
  4. Lastly, complete the daily Iron Banner challenges to add a 100% multiplier for each individual challenge you finish.

All in all, this is fairly standard for Destiny 2 activities. The only difference is that the revamp has introduced a more gradual ability to stack buffs that can make any end-of-week play incredibly rewarding. 

Join the High Ground

The Iron Banner rework has been a long-time coming and it appears to fully fix many of the issues that have plagued this game mode over the last few years. It presents an exciting test ground for PvP play and will hopefully be far more rewarding for the time spent playing.

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Happy gaming!

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