Hello again, Guardians! Bungie continues rolling out new details regarding the upcoming House of Wolves expansion, and this week we caught a glimpse of the long-awaited PvE activity, the Prison of Elders.
As most of us speculated, the Prison of Elders is an arena-style "Horde" mode, in which three Guardians must face-off against wave after wave of enemies. This activity can only be accessed after a player has completed all of the story missions from the House of Wolves expansion, and represents the DLC's endgame activities in the absence of a raid. The Prison of Elders features four difficulty levels, ranging from level 28 to level 35. Matchmaking, a feature excluded from much of Destiny's endgame content, will only be available for the level 28 tier, but all tiers will feature randomized elements, modifiers, and bosses. The level 32 and 34 challenges — two of which were revealed on the livestream and dubbed Broken Legion and Urrox's Grudge respectively — will rotate out each week, with activities chosen from a pool of five possible scenarios. The Prison's ultimate challenge, the level 35 Skola's Revenge, will always be the same, and is primed to test even the most hardened of Guardians, boasting a level unattainable with the expansion's highest level gear (Light level 34 is the House of Wolves cap).
When you enter the Prison of Elders, you must survive five rounds, each consisting of three enemy waves. Each round could potentially pit you against a different race of enemies, and has an aforementioned random modifier in place. Some of the possible modifiers include: a primary weapon damage buff, a melee attack damage buff, reduced recharge of special abilities, and many more. In addition to these new modifiers, the familiar Arc, Void, or Solar burns can also come into play. Each round takes place in a different room, and the rooms all look unique depending on which enemy race you will be fighting for that round. The rooms themselves are quite large, with many open areas and sparse cover, making it easy for enemies to surround you if you're not alert to their locations.
Some rounds feature Critical Objectives that must be completed within a limited amount of time. These objectives involve things like defeating a powerful enemy or disarming a series of mines. Failing to complete the objective within the time limit results in instant death. It should be noted that there are no checkpoints in the Prison of Elders. If you fail in a round, you will start over that particular round, but if you leave the Prison entirely before finishing all of the rounds, you will have to start over at the beginning. From what I have seen, the Prison of Elders will be a very intense experience for any Guardians who are looking for a challenge.
I would definitely recommend bringing along a good Fireteam and a variety of different weapons, because you never know what you might encounter here. I can tell that the Prison of Elders is going to require quick decision-making and a high level of alertness.
We didn't get to see what happens when you finish the challenge, as Deej and his Fireteam failed repeatedly during the Twitch stream. In their defense, I would probably be playing poorly too, if I had Professor Broman yelling in my ear for an hour. That dude needs to lay off the caffeine.
I don’t want to get off-topic too much — my focus here lies primarily on the content coming with the House of Wolves expansion — but my goodness, that was one of the worst livestream reveals I’ve watched in a long time. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m not familiar with Professor Broman or his shtick, but my man came in hot during this stream and was running in the red for the entire hour. Despite his antics constantly distracting from the stream itself, I still came away intrigued by the Prison of Elders PvE mode.
As my fellow Short Pause Guardian, Ben Boyce, has alluded to on previous podcasts, the Prison of Elders will indeed be an arena-style "Horde" mode that could possibly require even more teamwork than any of the Raids or Strikes we’ve played so far. The enemies come at you from all angles, and even though the maps appear to be a decent size, you’re never truly safe due to their relentless tactics; this is a prison after all, and the inmates have a lot of pent up aggression it would seem. Based on what we saw in the stream, this mode will be quite challenging on the harder levels; even the lead designer of the House of Wolves couldn’t lead his talentless squad through to the end. The random modifiers that Bender mentioned add an extra layer of strategy and will require Guardians to make sure they have an assortment of weapons, with a variety of elemental damage types, if they hope to win. It appears as if the Titans and their bubble shields will be especially useful during these battles, providing much needed protection while trying to capture mines or revive fallen comrades.
Even though it’s nice to have the option to play through the base level tier (28) as many times as you want during the week, it’s kind of a bummer that you can only do the higher level tiers once a week prior to the Tuesday reset. It’s disappointing because it looks like making your way through the more difficult activities will be a highly rewarding experience, both personally and in regards to obtaining loot. However, I get it. Bungie doesn’t want you earning all of the Prison's loot in one week and maxing out your Light level. This would potentially eliminate the grinding element of Destiny, and without that, people could possibly lose interest in the game before the next big expansion hits later this year.
Even though the Prison of Elders reveal didn’t blow me away like the unveiling of the Raids (Broman may have played a part in tainting this as well), there is still a lot of potential here. It appears that the Prison of Elders is Bungie’s attempt to give the most hardened Guardians a truly hardcore and challenging mode, and it’ll give many of us a new avenue with which to grind for new gear and weapons. Whether or not this is enough to compensate for the lack of an included raid is kind of irrelevant, as I don’t think that’s the point of the Prison of Elders. I think the point of this new PvE mode is to give us something new to play. I love the raids just as much as the next person, but I’m always happy when new modes are introduced to change things up; more options are never a bad thing (unless the options suck, of course!). I’m looking forward to testing my skills with many of you in two weeks!
What did you think of the Prison of Elders? Are you excited about it? Do you have any concerns? Let us know in the comments, or tweet at us @TheShortPause on Twitter.