Lowering the Banner

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The first Iron Banner of Destiny 2 is officially over, and in spite of my comments yesterday…  I did legitimately enjoy myself for a good part of it.  It was only towards the end when things started to really grate on my nerves.  Last night for example was a really bad night where a combination of my general fatigue, my left index finger being sliced, and the fact that somehow I had gotten into what Destiny Tracker calls the platinum bracket…  served to lead to a series of not so fun matches.  I had every intent to grind out the daily milestone on each of the three characters, but in the end only managed to complete it on the hunter.  I am a little disappointed that I never got the Hand Cannon, but from what I am seeing my luck was considerably better than most players.  Here is my final haul for the 60 matches of Iron Banner I played over the course of last week…

  • 7 or 8 Unique Weapons – lots of dupes dropped
  • 5 piece set of Titan armor – lots of dupes dropped
  • 2 of 5 pieces of the Hunter armor set

All in all that really isn’t too bad of a haul for the very first running of Iron Banner.  This ultimately gives me the entire set of Warlock gear and most of a set of Hunter gear to get next go round.  Additionally there is still the chase for the Hand Cannon.  That is way more useful loot than I tended to get from several months worth of Iron Banner during Destiny 1.  Sure it was interesting to get a bunch of different weapon rolls…  but ultimately most of those wound up being trash.  The likelihood of me getting that god roll weapon was pretty limited, and in truth I think I like having a fixed point to focus on rather than not only hoping to get an item… but hoping it isn’t a garbage fire stat wise.  There are still a significant number of legendary drops that I have never seen.  For example I am still chasing the Jiangshi AR4 from the Gunsmith, and its not just a collector thing…  I really want to play with it because I loved the green version I got while leveling.

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As far as the weapons go… I am not sure if I really have it in me to do a review of them all.  I spent some time last night while grinding out Io tokens playing with them all… and most of them are completely reasonable.  I realize that is not exactly a glowing review, but in many cases I already have a weapon I just like better in that slot.  The Time-Worn Spire is a really solid pulse rifle, in an era when that entire class of weapons seems to be outclassed by practically anything else.  I’ve become a huge fan of the Forward Path auto rifle as well, but it has some pretty stiff competition for my time with the Origin Story and Ghost Primus.  The real breakout weapon for me shockingly is the Wizened Rebuke, if for no reason other than the fact that you can hit 100 impact with it if you so choose.  That said I feel like the weapon performs better if you are outfitting it for 95 impact…  which still makes it significantly harder hitting than all but the Shock and Awe in my vault.  Sure it has insanely slow recharge rate, but if I am going to use a Fusion it is likely going to be in a PVE situation where the charge time isn’t that big of a problem.  Essentially this just became my legendary fusion of choice when I cannot for whatever reason use Merciless as my exotic.

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The other weapon that I found myself shocked to actually enjoy is Guiding Sight the Scout Rifle.  This lives in the same archetype group as Does Not Compute, Song of Justice VI and Haunted Earth…  and in truth it felt better to use than any of those.  When I use a scout rifle, I want something with really good impact and range because I am effectively using it as a surrogate sniper rifle.  This fits that bill nicely because it will one shot a Vandal and has armor-piercing rounds to help with shields a bit…  though I feel like that perk needs a buff significantly.  Sure it will drop a shield faster than a normal kinetic weapon, but it still feels horrible as compared to even an unmatched elemental type energy weapon.  I’ve said this over and over… that I am not really a fan of scout rifles as a whole, however when I do use one I want something along the lines of this weapon.  Between Guiding Sight and Manannan SR4… I feel like I am set as far as scout rifles go.  Basically at the beginning of the week I had a good deal of time collecting loot in the Iron Banner, but as we wound down…   it started to feel like a house guest that overstayed its welcome.  I opened around thirty packages in total and in the future I really need to tag out significantly earlier when I am still enjoying myself rather than trying to force a grind I was no longer enjoying.

Xur Week Five: 10/13/17

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This week is an interesting week namely because it answers a question I had rolling around in the back of my head.  Since this is the first week Xur is returning to a planet that he had already been to…  I had wondered if he would always appear in the same place on each planet.  While we may not be absolutely certain… he did in fact appear up in the tree in the Watcher’s Grave area once again.  I am curious to see when he goes to Titan next week…  if they do follow the pattern if he also still appears in the little building that he did last time.  I feel like this is going to be one of those weeks where you are either highly disappointed or really excited based on a handful of variables.  So without further delay, lets rip that wrapping off and see what Xur brought us.

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Every so often in Destiny 1 they had an exotic that equipped in the wrong slot…  No Land Beyond the primary slot sniper or Universal Remote the primary slot shotgun are prime examples.  This weeks bounty is the Fighting Lion… an energy slot grenade launcher that has a significant number of negatives that I feel have been placed on it in order to let it sit in a slot that is easier to get ammo for.  The exotic perk is Delayed Gratification that allows you to do a timed explosion sort of thing where so long as you are holding down the trigger it will bounce the grenade around…  then when you let up off the trigger it will explode.  This continues to go into the generally fiddly and unreliable nature of grenade launchers as a whole that I went into a whole diatribe about yesterday.  The most interesting perk is Thin the Herd which causes direct hits with the grenade to do significantly more damage to enemy shields… and then rapid kills to enemies damaged in this fashion cause the weapon to reload.  Given that this is a single shot weapon… I feel like this is actually the perk we should be caring about.  In function I think this weapon is designed to be a shield stripper and for you to swap over to it… hit an enemy decimating its shield in a single hit and then swap back to your kinetic to kill it quickly so that the weapon reloads and is ready for the next encounter.  I mean this is a cool mechanic, but it also means you are losing one entire weapon slot to effectively a gimmick.  I rely way too much on both my kinetic and energy weapons for moment to moment game play and cannot really afford to have a one hit wonder taking up one of those slots.  Your mileage may vary of course and it is probably still worth a pick up if you have not yet unlocked this item in your collection.

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Peacekeepers are an item that I would have purchased…  were it not for the fact that I literally just got a pair from an engram last night.  The perk on these is interesting in that it effectively gives Sub-Machineguns a stronger version of the cocoon perk.  Effectively Mecha Holster does two things…  firstly it causes submacs to reload when you stow them and secondly it causes submacs to swap instantly.  I feel like this is screaming for a build where you are running two different archetypes of submachinegun in both your kinetic and energy slots.  Were I doing this build I would go with a highly stable 600 rpm weapon like the Antiope-D or the Adjudicator in my kinetic slot, and rock something like the Royal Dispensation II in my energy slot.  This is more than likely a PVP build sort of thing given that submacs akimbo is probably not the best idea for PVE engagements because you lose a lot of utility.  This is a cool item that is inspired by the way Robocop drew his weapon, but it just isn’t good enough to probably get me to stop using the exotics I already have in rotation.  Once again this is another if you don’t already have it, buy it to unlock in your collection sort of setup.

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This week we have yet another repeat in the form of the Wings of Sacred Dawn…  that actually last appeared in Xur’s inventory on week one when we were back here on Nessus.  This still is one of the most ornate chest pieces that I have seen in the game and I know a lot of players seem to rock this almost for looks alone.  I am still not really a fan of the Dawnblade sub class nor am I really a fan of the whole hover in air while hurling blades at your enemy that the Exotic perk gives you.  If you like hanging mid air and performing attacks though then this might be the ideal weapon for you…  for me that just seems to make you a giant target and I absolutely love when a warlock is using this in the crucible for that reason.  It is worth the pick up for the unlock and maybe there will be a situation where this sort of gameplay is really needed in the future.

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Now I present the diamond in the rough…  Knucklehead Radar.  There has been this trend in Destiny 2 of bringing underutilized exotics from Destiny 1 into the game, but this one sort of breaks that pattern.  Knucklehead Radar has always been useful because it grants an insanely good exotic perk in the form of Upgraded Sensor Pack.  What this effectively does is grant you radar 100% of the time regardless if you are aiming down the sight of your kinetic, energy or heavy weapon.  The shine off of this item tarnished a bit during year three, when they introduced the Memory of Gheleon artifact… that effectively did this same thing.  However for now…  this is the only exotic that I use on my Hunter and if you do not already have this in your arsenal you should do whatever it takes to buy this item this week.  Sure there are items that are functionally better in different situations….  but I like the fact that this is legitimately always going to be useful regardless of what sub class you are using or what situation you are in be it PVE or PVP.  One of my favorite Destiny 1 items… and still one of my favorite Destiny 2 items…  I just wish there was an equivalent for Titans.

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Another thing I have started trying to do on my Friday morning post is show of what Xur is selling in Destiny 1, since no one seems to still be doing this thing.  This week he can be located on the Reef, and apparently talked to his Destiny 2 counterpart as he is also offering the Knucklehead Radar.  I am not going to talk a lot about his offerings but instead just list them out for any players who are still trying to complete exotic sets from the first game.

  • Legacy Heavy Weapon Engram – 31 Strange Coins
  • Helm of Inmost Light – Titan Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Knucklehead Radar – Hunter Helm – 13 Strange Coins
  • Nothing Manacles – Warlock Gauntlets – 13 Strange Coins
  • Hereafter – Sniper Rifle – 17 Strange Coins
  • Last Word and Sequel Ornament – Hand Cannon – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust
  • Truth and Prototype Ornament – Rocket Launcher – 30 Strange Coins 25 Silver Dust

Autos and Grenades

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Apart from the recent jaunts back into Final Fantasy XIV brought on by our amazing Free Company house…  I have been spending most of my time this week with the Iron Banner.  There are a whole lot of things that have changed from Destiny 1…  most of which for the better.  For me at least in D1 Iron Banner was this holiday event in part because I knew that I could get gear that would help bump my light level up.  Unfortunately that is not the case with D2, and this is all part of a larger discussion I want to have at some point about the general problems with the way progression feels.  In D1 the only way you made progress through the ranks of the Iron Banner reputation was by winning, which meant that if you hit a frustrating unlucky streak you could stall out complete.  Gear drops were rewarded as part of bounties that you could get on each character, and as random drops at the end of matches.  On average I seemed to get a new piece of gear every three or four matches… but you also had dry spells where you could go upwards of ten games without seeing anything.  In D2 this situation is largely resolved by shifting everything to token based loot.  It takes 20 tokens to get a package with one iron banner exclusive item and then the potential of getting a random filler legendary and/or some shaders.  You gain 2 tokens for a loss and 5 tokens for a win, so if you can manage to get on a streak you can rack up several packages in a row.  Additionally there are challenges that can be completed each day and turning those back in to Lord Saladin rewards 15 faction tokens.

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My goal so far has been to earn at least 2 packages a day, and in part this is only because I cannot really handle a bunch of crucible in a row.  So far in Destiny 2 the length of time I can reasonably play crucible matches back to back lines up almost perfectly with the amount required to get the Call to Arms engram.  My biggest problem is that I need a breather every so many matches because I notice that my own abilities start to wain greatly as the stress and anxiety sort of catch up with me.  As a result I notice that I am completely all over the map when it comes to my ability.  I also have certain maps that I am just not good at, or do not fit whatever it is that my play style actually is and as a result my Destiny tracker profile is a mess.   The biggest problem for me is that the core reason why I spent so much time playing Iron Banner was the overarching goal of increasing my viability in the game by getting more powerful gear and infusing it into stuff.  With this gone…  some of my drive to keep playing is largely toast and at this point my goal is to get 10 packages so I can unlock whatever it is that I earn by doing so.  Right now I have opened five packages and gotten the same auto rifle twice…  which admittedly was the primary weapon I was interested in… as well as helm, chest and a grenade launcher.  I thought I would take a moment this morning and talk about the two weapons I have seen so far.

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The Forward Path looks like the Origin Story which is ultimately what initially got me excited about the weapon, but winds up being a vastly different weapon archetype.  It lives in the 600 rpm bracket which means its most direct competitors are Scathelocke, Ghost Primus and Martyr’s Make…  at least of the rifles you see in regular rotation.  All of these weapons are really closely grouped on most of the stats but The Forward Path has significantly more handling than most of the other weapons in this class.  The big take away from me after using this a good deal is that it feels really reliable and easy to hold on target… especially with a moving target.  It benefits significantly from the Tap the Trigger perk which grants increased accuracy and stability the few moments after pulling the trigger.  When I am taking down targets at max range I tend to habitually pump the trigger firing off short bursts… a habit that I picked up from playing the early FPS titles and this weapon plays directly into that instinct.  The only negative is… this feels like a PVE weapon… that is being rewarded by a PVP event.  There is just not a case where you would not choose to take Scathelocke or Origin Story in your kinetic slot because High-Caliber Rounds and Rampage are just that good.  However Armor-Piercing rounds makes this thing a beast for strikes and other PVE content where the mobs are shielded because this gives you the ability to easily break shields with both Kinetic and Energy weapons.  I am super glad to add this weapon to my arsenal, but it is right now a weird mixed bag for me… and in truth I am probably going to rock Ghost Primus/Scathelocke in a lot of the situations I would normally use it.

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Grenade Launchers need a great deal of work.  As it stands this is my least favorite weapon type and is voted most likely to get sharded on sight when one drops into my inventory.  I’ve found exactly one Grenade Launcher that I actually like using and that is the one from the crucible/packages Play of the Game.  The reason why this weapon shines above all others is because of a single perk…  Proximity Grenades causing the payload to detonate when it gets close to a target rather than hitting it.  Grenades are insanely unwieldy and bounce like mad… making them completely unreliable other than being used “for funsies”.  The Day’s Fury suffers from all of these problems with grenade launchers in general… but is increased by having a fairly small blast radius and perks that don’t really help make up for the weaknesses of the genre.  You have Mini Frags which increases reload speed and magazine size at the cost of blast radius, or Spike Grenade that inexplicably increases stability.  When I think Spike Grenades I think some sort of a claymore mine action where it hurls shrapnel into nearby enemies when it explodes…  which would have been awesome and maybe would have made this weapon reasonable to use.  As it stands this just ends up being vault clutter that I will end up holding onto because it was hard to get… hoping maybe they will turn Grenade Launchers into something useful in the future.

Have you gotten anything cool from the Iron Banner?  What are your thoughts of the event so far?  Drop a line in the comments and let me know.