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.

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.

Iron Banana

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Iron Banner

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The strange thing about this week is that we just finished one Kings Fall raid on Monday night, only to start a brand new one fresh last night.  It gave a certain Deja Vu feeling to the whole doing Oryx fight, especially given that it was so damned hard fought on Monday night.  However I will talk about that a little later.  First I want to talk about what seems to be me going completely off my rocker.  If we had talked months ago I would have told you I was a Diehard Carebear, and that if pressed I could probably shoot rainbows out of my belly in a pretty mean Carebear Stare.  Over the last few months however something has happened and I have come to realize that I actually do enjoy doing PVP in limited situations.  Those limited situations appear to largely be “Destiny” and “The Crucible”.  I am not exactly sure what makes this game different… it could be that there are relevant items that I can be earning that help me in PVE content, or it could be that it simply feels like there is no negative to doing it.  Whatever the case doing the Crucible is one of those activities that I mix in when I want to do something… but don’t want to do bounties or be bothered with grouping up for a strike.  The other interesting thing is… that I don’t really mind that I am ultimately bad at the content.

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Now I have heard stories of much toxicity from the Xbox Live community, and folks leaving crucible matches only to have nastygrams waiting for them from other players complaining about their performance and questioning their parentage.  So far the PSN community has been pretty chill about such things, and nobody actually uses the voice chat for public groups either.  The end result is that I can just zone out and play some Crucible without fear of retribution, and this zero pressure setting has made me actually enjoy it quite a bit.  So much so that while I know this is far from the first Iron Banner… it is the first one that I actually care about and will be trying to rank up to level five during.  Largely I am looking at it as a way of maybe getting some infusion fodder, and maybe just maybe a decent legendary hand cannon or machine gun out of the process.  As of last night I am closing in on Rank 2, and have managed to complete several of the pieces of the bounties that I never expected to….  like getting highest score among all the players in a match.  I’ve been warned that I should hold onto my brown weekly bounties until later in the week to turn in, because I guess they become worth more points as the weekend goes on.  I am however trying to complete the three dailies each night, and in theory when I get home from work tonight I should be able to knock those out and put in a bit more work towards the weeklies.

Melting Ogres

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Like I mentioned at the top of the post, it was a little strange stepping back foot inside Kings Fall given that we just finished Oryx the previous night.  Before the start of a new raid I end up with quite a bit of anxiety that is not fully alleviated until we get past both the ships and the piston wall jumping puzzles.  I am just bad at both of them, and end up falling so damned often that I feel like a moron.  I had a significant better run last Tuesday, and was back to my fumbling prime last night.  That said in both cases I was not the last person through either puzzle, so I guess I don’t feel too awfully bad about my performance.  For months I have listened to folks in the Destiny community complain about the RNG in the Kings Fall raid and how it never seems to actually give them any upgrades.  I feel like I have crested the new and shiny portion of the raid and am entering the valley of slow and prodding forward movement.  Which is to be expected given that at least armor wise I have every available drop… but still have a bunch of weapons I have yet to see.  The odd thing there is that I have gotten two of the pulse rifles, and two of the auto rifles…  but the rest of the primary weapon types I have not seen yet.  Given that last night was only my fourth trip to the raid… I feel like I have plenty of time.

Of the drops that I did manage to get… the only piece of armor that I might use is the chest piece and even then only because it has intellect on it.  The fist and auto rifle will absolutely be used as infusion fodder to push something else up.  The Suros Regime will replace the 280 one that I picked up off Xur some time ago, and the 310 Thunderlord will replace my previous 290 dropped version.  One of the things that I am coming to realize quickly is that apparently my first two times into the raid were flukes.  Granted all of the encounters still for the most part melt before us… but those first two Oryx kills seemed effortless.  They just worked flawlessly without much issue and while they still took a couple of attempts…  they only took a couple of attempts.  Monday and last night both seemed like a battle of wills as we kept plugging away at the fight, only to be waylay’d by this quirky bit or that.  I am not sure if I would truly elevate the problems we were having to the glitch tier, but definitely things felt like a battle and not like a loot pinata.  We managed to get Oryx on what we had deemed was the “last try” because several of us needed to go to bed, and even then we failed at doing the challenge mode variant…  finally deciding to go ahead and finish up “as is” just to get the kill in.  Supposedly I can walk in and do challenge mode at some point during the week and still get the bonus chest.  In any case… content lag or not… I am loving this game more than pretty much anything else right now and looking forward to the big April patch.