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Everything You Need To Know About Destiny’s Private Matches

by Matt Miller on Sep 13, 2016 at 09:52 AM

We’ve been spending this month rolling out details about Destiny: Rise of Iron, the latest expansion for Bungie’s shared world online shooter. When our magazine cover story published a few weeks back, there was one major piece of content we couldn’t yet confirm, but we promised we’d have the full story later in the month. That time is now, and we can verify that one of the fan community’s most requested features is finally making its way into the game – private matches.

We spoke with the PvP team about the new feature, and we also captured some video in which Crucible design lead, Lars Bakken, walked us through what people can expect out of the new feature. Check out the video with Bakken below, and scroll further down for Game Informer’s own summation of additional info we gleaned through our conversations with the Bungie team. 

And don’t miss today’s other big PvP feature, where we show off video of the new Supremacy game mode in action.

What are private matches, and how are they different from other PvP content in Destiny?

Until now, playing PvP in Destiny meant that you needed to play matchmade games, and the system selected your opponents. You could choose your own teammates, but not who you were fighting against. In addition, standard Crucible play limits the options of what you can select about your play style. For instance, you could choose to play the Control game mode, but not on which map you’d like to play Control.

That all changes with private matches. You can now have the full roster of both competing teams queuing up in orbit, and the leader can select any number of options, including game type, map, score limit, time limit, light level (enabled or disabled), and time of day.

Private matches are a new option for how players can engage in competitive play. The established matchmaking options are still in place, as are all the special game modes like Trials of Osiris and Iron Banner. Private matches just offer a new playspace for Guardians looking for a more customized experience with friends (or known rivals).

Can I really play Crucible PvP any way I want with my friends?

Based on our conversation with the Bungie team, you can plan to play almost any existing variation of Crucible play with a variety of options, and you can check many of those options out in the video above. 

Bungie was up front with us that this first pass at private matches doesn’t allow for tweaking endless options, and there are limits to how much you can veer off established rules that are currently available in existing Crucible play. For instance, there’s no current way to tweak ammo drop rates. In our conversations with Bungie, the PvP developers understood that there are other tweaking options that players will desire in the long term. However, in our experience playing it, this new private match functionality is an excellent step in the right direction, and should allow for a multitude of new ways to play Destiny, not to mention opening up the door to a broader public competitive scene.

Even though I can’t set the rules with crazy tweaks, could my friends and I make our own house rules?

Absolutely. In fact, Bungie told us they were especially excited to see what new informal game types and rules players concoct. For instance, you can’t set the match to “Hand Cannons Only,” but if everyone in the match is on board with that plan, there’s nothing to stop you from playing with that style. 

We can also imagine a lot of other more imaginative ways to play. How about 6v1 Hide and Seek where only the person who is “It” can use weapons, but everyone else is allowed to melee? Or Control matches where no one is allowed to take anything but Point B. And that’s just off the top of our heads. There are a multitude of options, and we’re (almost) as excited as the Bungie team to see what the community comes up with.

Do the new private matches support every competitive mode that has shown up in the game?

Most, but not all modes are supported. The limited-time Crimson Doubles event is not included as an option. And technically, SRL could be considered PvP, and that is not included in the new private match functionality.

Does this mean I can run or play in private tournaments now?

We don’t see why not. Bungie Crucible team members told us that they know that some enterprising players were already going to incredible lengths to have their teams match up with one another in matchmade play, and attempting to run private tournaments. This new feature should allow player groups to have invite-only matches. The new private match functionality doesn’t intrinsically support any tournament matching, but any given tournament organizer should be able to figure out their own brackets and match structure.

How many players are supported in private matches?

Up to 12, but you can have any number fewer than that. 

Does that mean I can make 12-person fireteams elsewhere in the game?

No. 12-person lobbies/orbits are currently only featured in private competitive matches. 

So, can I enter Crucible matches by myself?

Yep, you sure can. Many players find it useful to enter a PvP map prior to competing, in order to find sniping lanes, check out ammo spawns, and track routes between objective points. You can now do that without a problem. Or, you know, you can go have a pleasant sit at Twilight Gap, and enjoy the bounty of nature. 

Can I have more than six players on a team?

No.  You can have mismatched teams (for instance, 5v2 is allowable) but you can’t have more than six guardians on a single team. 

How do I switch teams once I’m in the lobby?

Pressing L1 or R1 changes your team affiliation, but you can’t start the match if you have an illegal time size, as mentioned above.

Can I play any existing game mode on any map?

Yes, and that should be a pretty exciting feature for many players. Experienced Crucible players know that several of the game maps used in matchmade play only show up when playing certain game modes. Want to play Elimination on Skyshock? Have at it.  

What about vehicles? Can I use them on any map?

Yes to vehicles, but no to being able to play with them on any map. Only the maps that previously allowed for vehicles support vehicular combat. 

Can I set private matches so that my friends can join in progress?

Yes, you can keep your group open to allow latecomers to join when they arrive, or you can close the party after a match starts. 

Can I change the appearance of any of the maps?

You can change the time of day to your preference.

What about enabling power and light level to factor in, like it does with Trials and Iron Banner?

Light level defaults to being disabled like it is in most Crucible matches, but you can easily enable light level, so that your Guardian’s power affects the strength of your weapons and armor. 

What about clan support?

Bungie is still working toward the comprehensive retrofit of clan support that we all hope to see at some point, but there’s a nod to the importance of clans in the UI of the new private matches. The match creator’s clan affiliation is now prominently set near the top left of the game lobby. 

How will playing in private matches affect my character progression? What rewards can I get?

Bungie is aiming to strike a balance between making private matches meaningful, but not overly easy to exploit for progression. As such, you will not receive legendary or exotic rewards after a private match completion. However, you can still gain weapon XP in a private match, and you can complete daily PvP bounties. Private matches also reward glimmer and faction rep, just like a normal Crucible match. 

Should we expect that we would start seeing Destiny in competitive eSports? 

This move certainly allows for that possibility. Bungie told us they were eager to see if the community embraces a more public competitive scene in the wake of private match introduction.

Do I need to own Rise of Iron to play private matches?

No. Private matches are available to all Destiny players on current gen-consoles, including PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.  


Do you have ideas for ways to enjoy Destiny’s new private match functionality? Share your ideas in the comments below. 

For more on Destiny: Rise of Iron throughout this month, click on the banner below to visit our cover story hub.