It’s been close to three weeks since Destiny launched its second major DLC expansion, the House of Wolves, and thus far fan reception has been mostly positive. PvE players have been poring over the new Prison of Elders combat arena, while Crucible fans have been testing their mettle in the Trials of Osiris in an attempt to make it to Mercury’s Lighthouse.
However, even though the time with this new Destiny content has been brief in the grand scheme of things, players have already pointed to specific elements that need to change. Trials of Osiris, for example, was overwrought with cord-pullers, quitters, and cheaters, but Bungie has broken out their banhammer and seemingly put an end to that. Prison of Elders, on the other hand, hasn’t seen any meaningful changes, although we do know some are on the way.
Chief among those changes that we know of is a tweak to the Prison of Elders arena bosses that will apparently tweak their health and damage output. As it stands, many of the boss fights can be quite a grind, putting fireteams at greater risk of failure and frustration the longer they go on.
But while weaker and less damaging bosses is high on Destiny players’ Prison of Elders wish list, there is an even bigger item making its way through the community: checkpoints. Raids have them and story missions have them, but unfortunately Prison of Elders has no checkpoints, and many Destiny players see that as a problem. Even stranger, Prison of Elders is built in such a way that there are key breaks in the action, and yet those are not checkpoints.
By and large, Prison of Elders on the lower levels is fairly easy, depending on if a player is level 34 or not. Tackling Qodron or Urrox can be a little time consuming – if you don’t burn them with Gjallarhorns of course – but the average Prison of Elders arena on levels 28, 32, or 34 shouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the difficulty.
Level 35 Prison of Elders, on the other hand, can take upwards of several hours, especially if players are struggling with the final boss Skolas. We’ve personally breezed through the level 35 only to hit Skolas and realize that the fireteam is not adequately prepared, or simply too mentally exhausted to grind out the fight. But with no checkpoint in place, the fireteam continually hits its head against the brick wall of failure, knowing that if they quit all that progress is lost.
Eventually, though, if it doesn’t seem to be working some or all of the fireteam members quit and the remaining players try to find a replacement. They search DestinyLFG.com or the Destiny subreddit for a suitable player, and if they are lucky this new person actually helps them succeed.
However, if there was a checkpoint system, that fireteam could simply call it a night and plan to tackle Skolas another day. It’s what they can do with Atheon or Crota, but not Skolas, or any of the other Prison of Elders bosses for that matter. And that needs to change.
Why Prison of Elders doesn’t have a checkpoint system is still a mystery to us, but some informed guesses have it down to two potential reasons. One is that the combat arena was built in such a way that checkpoints aren’t possible…for now. We have no idea what the timeline was for development on Prison of Elders, so it’s entirely possible that Bungie wanted a checkpoint system, but couldn’t make it happen in time for House of Wolves’ launch in May.
The other, and frankly more likely scenario is that Bungie didn’t want players passing around Prison of Elders checkpoints in the same way they’ve done with past raid checkpoints. For those who might not know, any checkpoint for any raid can be passed to another player simply by having that individual join your instance. Not only that, but it’s possible to pass checkpoints over the Tuesday Destiny reset, meaning players can hold on to and keep killing Crota, for example, without actually doing the rest of the raid.
So, in essence, if Prison of Elders does feature checkpoints, it’s possible that Destiny players could skip right to Skolas every week, and Bungie certainly doesn’t want that. As they’ve shown time and time again, Bungie wants Destiny players to re-experience their content as often as possible to keep playtime up.
Even without a checkpoint system, players are still trying to skip to the end of the line in Prison of Elders. A quick perusal of DestinyLFG will show dozens of players who are only looking for the Skolas “checkpoint” and could care less about a full level 35 Prison of Elders run. Chances are these players have felt the deflating disappointment of having to quit at Skolas, and so they’d rather cut to the chase then have to suffer through that and fail again.
And just in case anyone is wondering, it is possible to join a fireteam at Skolas with empty fireteam slots; all you need to do is wipe and try to join the fireteam at the right time. However, those who leave on Skolas have nothing to show for their efforts.
And in the end that’s one of the biggest problems with Prison of Elders. Without checkpoints, many players will walk away empty handed – no Elder Cipher, no elemental primaries, and no shot at the Treasure Room. Hopefully Bungie can implement a solution in the future, but players likely wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.
What do you think Destiny players: should Prison of Elders add checkpoints? Let us know in the comments below!