It took nearly two years and a bunch of failed attempts, but Bungie finally detailed the Prison of Elders combat arena that’s coming to Destiny. As with past reveals, including the Reef social space tour and the Trials of Osiris preview, this was a live demo, so much of what Bungie revealed was scattered across an ultimately ill-fated playthrough.
Still, there was a lot of useful info about Destiny’s Prison of Elders packed into the preview. This is arguably one of the more exciting endgame activities included in House of Wolves, and so players were appropriately eager to find out more.
First and foremost, Prison of Elders launches with a total of 6 “maps.” These maps will appear in various rotations, with 4 appearing during any given Destiny week. These maps will also come in four different difficulties – level 28, level 32, level 34, and level 35. They will each carry their own enemy types, objectives, and modifiers (more on that in a bit), but can only be completed once for full rewards. It’s also worth mentioning that although Prison of Elders does support matchmaking, it only does so on the level 28 difficulty. The other three options require pre-made teams.
In general, the make-up of each Prison of Elders “map” is relatively the same. Players spawn into an airlock surrounded by four doors. Each of those doors holds a different combat arena themed around one of the four Destiny enemy types (Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Cabal).
Every difficulty level consists of a certain number of rounds and each round sees the team run into one of the four areas to complete three waves. Some of the waves are pretty basic, requiring only that the team eliminate all enemies, while others have objectives. One that we saw pop up frequently during the demo was a bomb defusal objective that forced players out of hiding spots.
Once players complete a round they head back to the airlock and wait for one of the four doors to open again (it can be the same door). They enter that combat arena and lather, rinse, and repeat until the team has completed all rounds. Then it’s time to collect loot.
While the enemy types and objectives will certainly add variety to Prison of Elders, Bungie has furthered that idea with round-specific modifiers. We only saw a few of the modifiers, but highlights include a buff to primary weapon damage, one that strengthens shields but turns off their recharge, and the ‘Arc Burn’ modifier that features regularly in Nightfall Strikes. There was also a random scenario in which a “gift” appeared on one of the maps, offering the players extra heavy ammo or a unique, third person weapon called a Scorcher Canon.
Ultimately, though, Prison of Elders falls in line with what Destiny fans expect. It’s a wave-based survival mode with objectives and “boss” encounters thrown in. The difficulty levels will add new challenges – and feature different combinations of the four enemy rooms – but some might argue that, while different, this is not a replacement for a Destiny raid.
No doubt players will consume this new content with great voracity as they try to acquire the best loot, but it’s hard not to wonder how much longevity this particular experience has. Still, we should wait until Bungie can say more about the combat arena, especially since the demo team didn’t even reach the final round.
What did you think of the Prison of Elders preview? What most interests you about the combat arena?
Destiny – House of Wolves releases May 19, 2015 for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.