Raids can be a lot of fun, especially with the right people. The six-player co-op activities have long served as Destiny's true endgame challenges which require teamwork, prior knowledge, and plenty of effective firepower – but they're not for everyone. For starters, they don't allow for any kind of matchmaking, so you need to manually gather five other Guardians if you want a shot at victory. On top of that, they can also be pretty darn tough if you're relatively new to the endgame grind, or if your allies refuse to work together properly.
Indeed, there's no doubt that a lot of Destiny players feel like they don't have the time or the commitment to get stuck into raiding – and that's perfectly reasonable – but unfortunately for them, there's been no alternative to Raids if you're looking to hit that max level cap. Well, until now. With the shooter's next slice of downloadable content, House of Wolves, Bungie is implementing a new upgrade system which allows you to hit the cap with any legendary or exotic equipment. And this new process isn't just for DLC buyers, either – everyone will be able to ascend their favourite bits of gear until they're as powerful as the equipment gained from raiding.
However, without purchasing House of Wolves, you won't be able to partake in Prison of Elders – a fresh endgame activity that slots into the title's new upgrade system rather nicely. You see, Destiny's second 'expansion' doesn't come with a Raid, much to the dismay of eager fans. Instead, you'll be able to jump into something called an Arena, and in this case, that's Prison of Elders.
Where Raids required a lot of co-operation and pre-battle planning, Arenas are designed with a somewhat contrasting mindset. For example, you only need three players to get started, and yes, there is matchmaking. This means that you can jump into the fray with a couple of randoms by your side – but there is a catch, in that although you can play through Prison of Elders repeatedly, it's set at level 28. As most Guardians will know, your level is all-important when it comes to determining how easy or how hard certain challenges are, and it's safe to say that most players who have stuck around this long will likely be around or above level 28.
So the Arena may seem a little easy for some, then, but that's also part of what the developer's trying to achieve here. By keeping the difficulty at a reasonable level, it basically means that allying with mic-less strangers is a feasible option – something that, by and large, wouldn't apply to Raids and their need for some degree of coordination.
However, that's not to say that there aren't more difficult options. Unlike the standard level 28 Arena, the level 32, 34, and 35 versions of the activity can't be attempted repeatedly and don't feature matchmaking, but, like everything else in the game, a harder challenge generally means that you'll get better rewards.
Moving on to what Prison of Elders actually is, it's admittedly a bit weird that such an activity was never present in the sci-fi shooter to begin with. Essentially a horde mode where you have to survive through three waves of enemies, it's a partially procedurally generated task. In other words, every time that you play, proceedings will be slightly different, which means that the Arena should provide a more dynamic challenge than the rest of the single player content. Differing mission types pop up from time to time, tasking you with disabling mines, for example, while still holding off your aggressors.
In many ways, it seems like something that Destiny desperately needs. The endgame grind for better and better equipment requires a lot of willpower purely because you'll be slogging through the same handful of missions over and over again. Time after time, Strikes and Raids have made up the repetitive meat of the release, and by this point, most Guardians know exactly what to expect from them in terms of enemy spawning, where the best defensive points of the maps are, and which foes need to be taken out first. With Prison of Elders, we're finally getting content that promises some randomised variety, and that's an incredibly important part of keeping players enjoyably engaged.
Do you agree with our thoughts on Destiny's Prison of Elders, or are you sick and tired of Bungie's shooter? Drop some worthless loot in the comments section below.