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Hands On: Manage your gear in 'Destiny 2' with Ishtar Commander for iPad

Players of 'Destiny 2' who feel the existing companion app isn't great for managing the weapons and armor of their characters should look at Ishtar Commander, a free iOS app that makes item management and optimally equipping the avatars quick and easy, both during and outside of gameplay.

Like the original game, "Destiny 2" is a first person shooter that requires a level of diligence from its players with regards to items. As a "loot-heavy" game, it offers players vast amounts of guns, armor, and other items for completing missions, leveling up, or even randomly in chests or by killing basic minions.

As the swaths of random usable equipment rolls in, there is a need to occasionally perform upkeep on the character's inventory, which allows up to ten of each category of item. If an item slot's capacity is reached, no more of that type of equipment can be added, and instead is sent to the postmaster for later collection.

Along with the character's own capability to hold equipment, players can also send items to be carried by their other unused characters, and to place some of the acquired weapons and armor in the vault. Over time, the constant acquisition of high-level and collectable in-game hardware will exhaust all of the available storage that developer Bungie decided was an appropriate amount to offer.

Juggling items between characters is difficult in the game itself, as it requires players to log into the character that holds the item they want to move, transfer it to the vault, switch characters to the one the item will be used by, then picking it up again from the vault before finally equipping it.

The official Destiny app is helpful here, as it provides a list of all items each character is holding, and allows for them to be transferred directly between characters and the vault, rather than requiring any in-game effort.

While handy, the official app doesn't seem to have been optimally designed for item management, as even on the large iPad screen, you can only see one character's items at once. The dark theme and layout of the app may also be unappealing to some, including the baffling design decision to have the menu items furthest left disappear out of view when users select options to the right, forcing users to keep swiping left to go through each and every menu item to get to earlier options.

Ishtar Commander is a free alternative to the official "Destiny 2" app, specifically aimed at those wanting more control over their items. Produced by Nigel Hietala, the unofficial app provides practically all the item management functions of Bungie's version, but goes a number of stages further in improving the "guardian's" game experience.

Firstly, the app attempts to match the visual aesthetic of the game itself, far more than Bungie's effort does. Equipped items are singled out to one side while carried items of each type are held in a three-by-three arrangement beside them, with a long press of the item bringing up an information box reminiscent of the in-game version.

The box offers all of the details about the weapon, armor, or item that is shown to players in-game, including weapon perks, mods, rarity, and if it is a masterwork. While it doesn't allow for an item's mods or perks to be changed like the official app, it does still allow users to lock items, preventing them from being accidentally deleted as part of the many discard sessions players go through from time to time.

While iPhone users will still have to switch between their characters and the vault at the top of the screen, iPad users are able to see all three characters and the vault on one screen, making it extremely easy to see where items are located. Once found, a quick tap of the item will bring up a transfer menu, offering to transfer or equip it to the other characters, or to send it directly to the vault.

Tapping the top left of the app will bring up an option to highlight duplicate items, which for item collectors provides a way to see if they already have a weapon or a piece of armor already in their inventory. For stackable consumables, this is also useful for consolidating stacks, lowering the number of spots the item appears and freeing up space.

For those looking to quickly increase their light level (a way of gauging the strength of a character or their items), Ishtar Commander offers a way to quickly update the avatar's light without having to sort through collected items for upgrades, an issue that is common for players leveling up their second or third characters. Tapping the character's banner will bring up a button that reveals the potential maximum light power using available items, including stuff stored in the vault and on other characters, while pressing it automatically shuffles all the items around to bring the character up to that light level.

The app divides itself into four sections, with the first two dealing with weapons and armor, while the third handles general "Inventory," including usable and transferrable vehicles, emotes, emblems, shaders, and mods. This third screen also shows the consumables pool shared between all characters, lost items awaiting collection at the postmaster, and if there are any engrams held by characters awaiting decryption into more items.

The fourth panel doesn't directly relate to items, but in fact provides an at-a-glance notification of each character's progress. Weekly milestones and levels earned with the game's factions are viewable here, partly to show what each character can achieve, the next bit of the storyline they need to play, or even simply how many times they have acquired items from specific factions over time.

The inventory focus of the app does mean it doesn't offer all of the features of the official app, including news items, details of live events, and assorted clan and community communication tools. It could be argued that, as a light-weight third-party app, it doesn't need to provide these elements at all, as those who want to manage items would rather just get access to them as quickly as possible instead of reading up on the game's development roadmap.

The only real negative is the authentication system, where players log in to their console or Bungie account through the app and authorize Bungie to allow it access to the player's account inventory. Attempts to authenticate a PlayStation account with two-factor authentication failed, seemingly connected to a similar issue with Sony's web account system in iOS Safari, with a workaround performed by authenticating a linked account instead

The intuitive nature of Ishtar Commander makes it a highly useful addition to a guardian's toolkit, as a simpler way to manage carried items and to quickly retrieve stored weapons from the vault or other characters. Its ease of use and its automatic max light level feature makes it indispensable for those power-leveling new personas or with massive item collections that strain under Bungie's defined limits.

Ishtar Commander is a better item management tool for iOS than what Bungie offers players themselves. As a free app with no advertising or in-app purchases, instead funded by a Patreon, anyone using the official Destiny app for "Destiny 2" should seriously consider looking at this as an alternate option.

Ishtar Commander is a 45.4 megabyte download and is compatible with all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models running iOS 8.0 or later.