Rift and Eruption are positive steps for Destiny 2’s Iron Banner

Rift was actually one of Destiny 2's best additions, and Iron Banner and wider PvP will only benefit further from Eruption in Season 18

Destiny 2 Iron Banner Eruption Rift: A Guardian bathed in a white light floats in the air

Introducing Rift to Destiny 2’s Iron Banner event was a calculated risk for Bungie, and one that almost backfired. Changing the rotation from tri-weekly to just twice per season upset players enough, but shaking it up further with changes to the reputation system and a whole new mode almost caused a community-wide meltdown. With Season 18 implementing yet another new mode, Eruption, Guardians should really be grateful that Bungie took a risk in the first place.

Iron Banner: Control was getting stale. Actually, it had been stale for some time. Every time Saladin shuffled into the Tower to present the same old mode in the same old maps with the same old rewards, the community sighed and eye-rolled like they were collectively impersonating that Robert Downey Jr. meme.

Yet in the tradition of all slightly unhinged, impossible-to-please online communities, the announcement of Control’s hiatus and Rift’s return was met with either open hostility or mildly disgusted curiosity. As the Destiny 2 community poked and prodded at the news like a toddler with a beached jellyfish, Bungie knew right away that it had its work cut out.

Admittedly, Rift’s launch wasn’t the triumphant return to glories past Bungie hoped it would be. It was plagued by glitches and progress bugs, and the player response was less than favourable. But here’s the thing: some of those complaints were probably music to Bungie’s ears. Not the bugs, obviously, but rather the sudden and constant caterwauling that the new mode was “too hard” or “unfair”. With only a week to get to grips with it and the knowledge that it was disappearing for over a month, players dived in, found it hard, and checked back out in the same evening.

But that was the whole point, as evidenced by Bungie not lifting a finger to hotfix any progression or gameplay elements. The similarities between the Rift complaints and those aimed at other PvP content like Trials of Osiris and Gambit were obvious. It wasn’t that the mode was too hard; it was simply a mode that demanded real teamwork, an understanding of the mechanics, and the ability to “play the damn objective”.

Ultimately, though, what Rift succeeded in doing was something far more important and essential: it made Iron Banner feel competitive again. Control had become so rote that most players jumped in every few weeks out of habit rather than any real desire to play. But Rift’s inclusion, along with a new Seal to work towards that added a greater incentive to grind the event, gave players something to actually get good at again. Players were using loadouts they never bothered with before, as unused Exotic weapons and armor provided perks that weren’t needed in Control or Crucible matches but offered unlikely advantages in Rift.


Destiny 2 Iron Banner Rift: Several guardians battle around a glowing void

When Season 18 rolls around and introduces Eruption, there’ll no doubt be another round of complaints and negative opinions. But Rift proved that Destiny 2 players still need something that makes them improve, that changes their way of thinking about established events. Yes it was a risk for Bungie, and at times it looked like the developer had utterly borked it, but now it’s over it has paved the way for Bungie to push the envelope every season and deliver new, exciting PvP contests with different grinds and objectives.

In hindsight, Rift gave us two weeks of almost hardcore objective-pushing, that rewarded us with a highly coveted new title and let some of the long-standing players revisit a fan-favourite mode from Destiny 1. All in all, I call that a win. Let’s just hope Eruption pays off just as well – and maybe lets us earn some new armor this time around, too.