Destiny Year One Exotic Armor – The Titan

Yesterday we talked about the Exotic rarity weapons in the first year of Destiny, as we get closer to the launch of The Taken King and the start of Year Two. Today I want to continue the Exotic tour, with a post each day this week on the Exotic armor options for each class. There are plenty of different Exotic tier lists out there, that have gone through each armor piece in a bit more detail – my thought here more to offer an overall look at each classes’ options. We’ll talk both form and function with the armor, something I touched on yesterday with the weapons. We’ll start with the best class: The Titan.

Destiny Helm of Inmost Light

Let’s start at the top – the helmets. There are a pretty good number of options here for Titans to go collect, three that benefit the Striker subclass, the other two help the Defender. Strikers, despite have more options here, I think they don’t really have any one that is particularly amazing. I’m a huge fan of the Helm of Inmost Light – from a design standpoint, it’s one of the coolest pieces of armor out there. The light bursting out through the helmet just looks super badass. From a function standpoint, it’s one of the better options – mainly for PvP. Providing two boosts to Fist of Havoc is great – and opens up some nice build options. But it’s a strength stat helmet, and melee on the Titan is terrible as it stands now. An Insurmountable Skullfort, despite a cool name and cool design suffers from that very fact. It’s boost applies to the Striker’s melee attack – Stormfist – giving you Transfusion from the skill tree. Unfortunately, melee is super dangerous in end-game PvE content, and in PvP, the Titan punch is very much on the bottom level of melee attacks. The last Striker helmet – Eternal Warrior – is new, added in with House of Wolves. It adds a boost to the Fist of Havoc, giving you Unstoppable, keeping you alive while pounding the ground. In PvE it’s got some use – swarmed by Thralls, this could keep you alive through the super. In PvP, it’s definitely more useful, and could work since you can take Unstoppable and Shoulder Charge. On the design front though, Eternal Warrior is up there with Helm of Inmost Light – it’s such a cool looking armor piece. For Defenders, you’ve got two choices, but really from a gameplay standpoint, only one. The Glasshouse, introduced in Dark Below isn’t a terrible choice, giving you Illuminated, making your Blessing and Weapons of Light buffs last longer. It’s got a cool design, but when you compare it with the other Defender helmet, it just doesn’t quite measure up. That final helmet – The Helm of Saint-14 – is probably one of two pieces of Exotic armor any Titan needs to get. It’s exotic perk blinds any enemy that wanders into your Ward of Dawn. In PvE it’s super useful for crowd control. In PvP it can actually make Ward of Dawn somewhat offensive in nature. With a good stat roll, this armor can really make your Titan much more important to have on hand. Plus it looks pretty damn cool, giving you that awesome mohawk.

Destiny Ruin Wings

For gauntlets, Titans have three choices to pick from. One for each subclass, and one that’s neutral. The Strikers have the ACD/0 Feedback Fence, which was added with House of Wolves. It gives you some area of effect damage when you take melee damage. In PvE it’s not as strong as I thought it would be. In PvP, it can get you a kill or two here and there, but I wouldn’t build a set-up around it. These do look pretty badass, taking material off of the Warsats we’ve been defending in Public Events since Day One. Defenders have the No Backup Plans, which suffer from a similar problem to the Skullfort helmet – they boost the melee ability. Longer lasting Force Barrier is nice, since you don’t need to get a kill for it to activate; but again, melee in end-game is super dangerous, and in PvP you’re giving up range to the other classes. The look cool, especially if you have a shader like the Jester Apogee to get purple all over, but form along won’t make me use them over Saint-14. Finally, the subclass neutral choice would be the Ruin Wings. It’s great for PvE, giving you tons more heavy ammo drops, with more ammo in each drop. Now that Gjallarhorn was sold, and everyone will be using more heavy, these things are creeping up my usage list for sure. Add in that they look super badass, and pair well with a number of shaders/other armor pieces, and you’ve got a form and function armor piece.

Destiny Armamentarium

Chest pieces are where the Titans’ choices start to dip a bit. We’ve only got two choices, and they’ve been with us since launch. Neither is specific to a subclass, which makes them super flexible. The first, The Armamentarium, is one of the better all around picks for a Titan to go with. Double grenades are awesome – for both PvP and PvE – and this also gives you extra special and heavy ammo. Sure it looks a little less Sci-Fi than other Destiny items, but it fits with the actual function of the armor. I have been rolling with this pretty much exclusively since I got one with a good roll. The other choice, The Crest of Alpha Lupi, is the teamplay choice for a Titan. In end-game, if you aren’t running Defender, that probably means Arc Burn is on; and it also tends to mean you’re probably making life harder than it has to be. Defender is definitely the better end-game choice, and with Alpha Lupi you can complete the support class build. Saint-14 might be the more useful choice in certain situations (Crota’s End, Prison of Elders, early in Omnigul), but Alpha Lupi lets you get revives while sprinting which is tremendously useful boost. It looks good with the bright crest on the chest, and pairs with a bunch of shaders too. Again, I just got a better stat roll on my Lupi, and I always have mine on hand for Nightfalls/Raids/PoE runs.

Destiny Stand Asides

Finally, we come to the leg armor slot. Again, we only get two choices, but that’s better than Warlocks here. They were both added with the DLCs, so we’ve had progress as the game has evolved. First up, The Dark Below gave us the Mk. 44 Stand Asides. These jet black leg pieces look super slick, especially when paired with my Revenant shader. Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of their use. Having three extra seconds of Shoulder Charge is a pretty lame exotic perk. I’ve said it plenty here, but again, melee is super dangerous in end-game content. So in PvE it’s definitely not worth it, while in PvP it’s technically more useful, since Shoulder Charge is a one-hit kill; but there are absolutely better choices. The other choice, the Peregrine Greaves, are brand new, added with House of Wolves. These also impact the Shoulder Charge, in this case cranking up the damage up three-fold, but only when fired in midair. With the right mission modifiers, this is actually worth using. It can take out Fallen Walkers in one shot, and even bosses can be felled quickly. They have a pretty cool design too, looking sleek, and pairing well with Bittersteel or Chatterwhite. Are they worth using – sort of; am I going to take them over other exotics – hell no.

So there you have it – all the Year One Titan Exotic armor choices. We’ve got a whole bunch of options, spread over each armor slot. Of course, in practice, we really only have a few viable choices for end-game gear and PvP play. There are clear choices that are stronger than others. Saint-14, Armamentarium, Alpha Lupi and Ruin Wings are pretty much where you’re looking – anything else is pretty much just for messing around with, or needing to hit Level 34.

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Weekly News Recap – Week of July 13, 2015: Destiny 2.0 Edition

DestinyLittle different take on the Weekly News Recap here this week. We’re smack dab in the middle of the summer, which tends to be a slow time for news. This week we had the sad news of Iwata-San’s passing, and some news about Star Citizen‘s Kickstarter issues. But yesterday Bungie put out two new updates through the Destiny app/website – one the Weekly Update they always do, the other detailed a whole lot of changes coming for the weapons with the 2.0 Patch. There’s a lot to parse through with that so I want to talk about that today.

Shadow Price Destiny

The big focus in Destiny the last few months has been the current state of the Crucible weapon meta. Exotic Hand Cannons have reigned supreme more or less since December, while every other primary weapon type lagged a bit behind – especially the Auto Rifles. What we learned last night is that not only will those Hand Cannons be brought back more in line, but every weapon class available is getting some attention. Auto Rifles should be much more viable now – as long as you use them in their proper range, thanks to the change to damage drop-off. Pulse Rifles are getting a little tweak, mainly with the medium rate of fire archetype guns, dropping their base damage down a little. The big thing with Pulse Rifles is that in order to two or three burst, every shot needs to be a headshot now – which should reduce their quick kills, but generally keep them more stable. Scout Rifles are already in a pretty good spot – their generally the best long-range option now, and Bungie is reinforcing that role by reducing their close range effectiveness. Hand Cannons seem to be getting the most noticeable changes – the damage drop-off is being brought in to reduce effective range, pacing shots will be much more required for consistent precision shots, and their ammo is being reduced across the board. I think across the different primaries, this is the patch we’ve been asking for for months now. Weapons that have been behaving in ways they shouldn’t will hopefully be brought in line, and others that were left behind should be made viable again. That, in theory, should increase the amount of variety in the Crucible, which should help keep playing the PvP fun.

Destiny Felwinters Lie

Special weapons have been a sticking point lately as well – anyone who’s spent time in the Crucible knows all too well how strong long range, high impact shotguns are now, never mind when Blink is added to the mix. It’s been compounded by the fact that there are multiple longer range shotguns available now, and they can all be reforged to a perfect mix of perks. So to address that, they’re taking those perks that people look for – Shot Package and Rangefinder – and reducing their impact, along with some damage reduction, mainly for PvE. The Fusion Rifles have seen a lot less use, mainly because of the shotgun strength. So with 2.0, it looks like their making the changes based around archetypes – the long range Fusion Rifles are getting accuracy nerfs, while the close ranges get a slight boost. That should help put the Fusion Rifles back into their role as mid-range specials, especially with the shotgun nerf. Snipers have been more or less where they should be – long-range killers. However, the Final Round perk has been a pretty serious issue – it allows for one-shot body hit kills with a high impact sniper rifle. So to address that, Final Round will only impact precision damage now – which should already be a killshot, so really it’s only going to matter in PvE. The special weapon changes are again, more or less right what we needed. Shotguns didn’t need a flat range nerf, instead it was the perks that needed adjustment. Fusion Rifles needed something to help solidify their role to help counter shotguns. And Final Round was a serious issue that has been addressed.

Finally, we get to the heavy weapons. The only thing their even looking at here is Rocket Launchers – in particular it’s a blanket blast radius upgrade. However, much like Final Round, there’s a perk on Rocket Launchers that’s been a bit of an issue – Grenades and Horseshoes. In PvP it makes using Rockets almost a guaranteed kill thanks to the big radius for the perk to activate. So their reducing the range for the perk to trigger, which really should help keep it from being insane in PvP, but could end up being rough in PvE. That said, the changes here are good – it’s rare to see Machine Guns in PvP thanks to the ease of using Rockets right now, especially with reforging allowing any launcher to have Grenades and Horseshoes.

Normally, that would be enough for a weapon update. But that’s not all here – Bungie also addressed some particular Exotic weapons. it’s no secret that Thorn and The Last Word have been all but ubiquitous these days, for different reasons. Neither gun really fits into their intended design though, and so Bungie is looking at them. But we’ll start with two Exotic Auto-Rifles: Hard Light and Nechrochasm. Neither are particularly powerful now – their both the bullet-hose variety, which was hit hardest in February. Hard Light is getting some good attention – it’s getting a huge buff to stability, the bounce count for shots is increased and the gun will not have any damage fall-off. That’s a pretty substantial update, and combined with the Auto-Rifle buff, could make it a fun gun to use again. Necrochasm has its own share of issues – rarity combined with low effectiveness. So it’s also getting a stability buff, along with extra magazine and making that Cursebringer explosion more reliable and damaging.

Destiny Thorn

The two Hand Cannons though are really what we’re looking for. The Last Word, as Bungie said, is the fastest killing primary in the game, thanks to it’s insane Time to Kill. However, their intention was to keep it a close range monster; but thanks to a few little quirks, it’s been way more consistent at range. So they’re adjusting that appropriately – range is decreased, stability as well, especially while aiming down sights. On the flip side, the hip-fire bonuses are increased, pushing it into that role it was intended – and by fixing the bugs that triggered the extra damage while ADS helps it. And then there’s Thorn. Oh boy. Plenty has been said about the gun – here and just about everywhere else that talks Destiny. Through the Hand Cannon changes, the range shouldn’t be near where it was in the past. That leaves the Damage over Time to be tweaked – which they’re doing. Reducing it by about 1/3 of where it was, and lets it stack multiple times – it’s a good PvE tweak, and really shouldn’t make too much of an impact in PvP. Hawkmoon – the PS4 exclusive Hand Cannon – is getting some changes to reduce the chances for one-shots. Reducing the chances for the bonus damage perks to trigger should help keep it fair.

That’s when we get to the surprises. So far, every thing we’ve seen was more or less expected and desired. Bungie however is really making some changes to guns we didn’t expect. First up, Ice Breaker – in my opinion, the most important PvE weapon in the game. They aren’t really changing what makes it special, just reducing the effectiveness a little by slowing the ammo regen. It may sting a little, but I think it’s a fair move. No Land Beyond has basically been a joke weapon since it was added to the game. They’ve made a number of changes to help make it more effective – quicker handling, sight changes and changes to The Master perk. I still don’t see it being a particularly great gun, but could be slightly better. Black Hammer – a legendary Crota’s End sniper – is getting some tweaks to its White Nail perk. I don’t know a whole lot about this one, mainly because I don’t have the gun yet. Lord of Wolves, one of the new House of Wolves exotics is seeing a boost to the recovery perk it provides. And finally, the White Whale of exotics for most of us, Gjallarhorn is seeing a bit of a nerf – the Wolfpack rounds damage is being reduced. I’ve seen a lot of people crying about this one – here’s the thing: I really don’t think it’s going to be that huge a difference. It’s still probably going to be far and away the most efficient Rocket Launcher available, just doing a little less damage.

There’s a whole lot to sift through here, and it’s really hard to know just how much this will matter because we still don’t have a timeframe. In the past these major updates have come a few weeks before the actual DLC launches, so I would guess that we’ll see 2.0 sometime in August. Whether these changes will matter that much after The Taken King starts Year 2 remains to be seen, and I seriously doubt Bungie will say anything on that matter – if it won’t, saying that kills the player incentive to keep playing until then.

House of Wolves Crucible Revisit – What’s Changed and What Hasn’t

DestinyEver since House of Wolves launched a couple weeks back, I’ve found myself playing more Crucible games than I ever did before. Part of that is the increased rewards for completing the matches; part is to play and learn the three new maps available to me. It has been a little eye-opening for me, since during my few month break from Destiny Bungie had put out a pretty substantial patch that hit a lot of the weapon types.

First thing that I noticed was the absence of auto rifles – in particular Suros Regime, which had been pretty ubiquitous early on in the Crucible. The 1.1 patch really hit auto rifles hard, reducing their effective ranges pretty much to the short side of mid-range. The problem with this is that scout rifles, pulse rifles and hand cannons all got range and/or accuracy buffs in that same patch. The general idea was to make each weapon better fit their intended role – but unfortunately it resulted in turning hand cannons into the best option. It’s most notable with the exotic hand cannons – Thorn and The Last Word – which you’ll of course notice if you play more than a couple games in the Crucible.

Destiny Crucible

Now, at face value, it really does seem like everyone online is using Thorn. And I’m not saying it isn’t overpowered – it has the perfect combination of perks that wind up just being overbearing for Crucible. With the upgrades for hand cannons that make them more reliable at range, putting Send It on a gun like Thorn is just asking for trouble; and it gets worse with Final Round and Mark of the Devourer added in for extra oomph. It’s a gun that I really do see some kind of nerf coming its way in the near future. But is it a magic bullet – the answer to all PvP questions? No way. If there’s one thing that the 1.1 and 1.2 patches did well, it’s make every weapon choice viable, more so than ever. With the possible exception of auto rifles in certain situations, just about every weapon choice is still pretty damn viable.

What matters more now than weapon selection is comfort. You have to like whatever weapon you pick – know it’s behaviors in and out. Once you have those nailed down, and you play within those parameters, you really will be fine. That really is the biggest change from the pre-House of Wolves/Dark Below Crucible. In the old days, weapon choice could trump player skill and teamwork. A team that ran Suros really could end up unstoppable. Now, player skill and teamwork matter so much more. Even against a team of all Thorns, a team that’s working together and not playing into Thorn’s strengths will come out on top.

Destiny Thorn

The whole seed for this post comes from reading the Destiny subreddit more regularly since House of Wolves launched. Especially while Trials of Osiris is active I have noticed a ton of posts complaining about Thorn. It’s strong sure, but there’s a lot of ways to beat it. Rush close range – a lot of Thorn players tend to get a little jumpy with their shots at close range; or hang back and snipe/scout rifle them. If you meet up with a good team that also runs Thorn, well that’s when you have to bust out the anti-Thorn: Red Death. Now that pulse rifles actually hold their one in PvP, Red Death is a beast – you get health back per burst with the unique perk. That alone makes it the anti-Thorn, basically negating the damage over time from Mark of the Devourer. Then you have the extra range from being a pulse rifle, and it’s the perfect answer to combat rampant Thorn use.

Things like that – weapons that balance each other out so perfectly, tactics that are evolving to counter other evolving tactics – that are making the Crucible more engaging than it ever was to me. There are still issues – some that are becoming more apparent as Trials seems to bring out some cheaters in the mix. But on the whole, Crucible is way more fun, and more rewarding then ever. House of Wolves has made PvP a viable option for end-game players, and should keep people invested until the fall when Year Two content begins.

The Dark Side to New Content

DestinyOver the last week, I’ve really been keeping my eyes on the Destiny sub-reddit, both because I like seeing the thoughts of the community on the new content, and also because I know there are people over there who know way more about Destiny than I do. I would say that in general the response has been positive from the community, but over the last couple days, especially after the weekly reset, I have noticed an increased trend in the number of complaining posts. Generally it’s about the new Treasure Keys – the good vibes on farming the chests from a couple weeks ago are all but gone now. Instead, they’ve been replaced with players clamoring for easier and easier access to them.

Those are clearly the minority opinion, but it is vocal, and that can make it hard to ignore. Is the new Treasure Key mechanic perfect? Not at all – I do feel that their drop rate is a little low for what essentially is a roll of the RNG wheel. But making them available for sale from Xur or the Speaker for Strange Coins/Motes of Light is insane. Those two currencies lost any value with House of Wolves – they’re far too easy to obtain now with Nightfall/Heroic/Daily/PoE/ToO/and so on and so forth. I did like the idea of turning in one each of the new Tokens for one Key – only because they have similar drop rates and require farming anyway.

Destiny Treasure Keys

To me though, the influx of posts about the Keys really shows a deeper problem. It’s all too common in player communities these days to get a little whiny whenever changes are made that aren’t exactly to their specifications. The sense of accomplishment for finishing the new activities is lost on some of the more jaded members. It’s the same problem with those players spamming “Max level, must have max GHorn” posts on the LFG sites. There is a section of the community that’s really quite spoiled and entitled. The problem is that with new content, whether it’s House of Wolves, or Call of Duty maps, is that it emboldens that behavior. It’s not indicative of the whole community, but with sub-reddits and forums, they can be hard to ignore. Just keep your own playstyle strong and make sure you don’t take short cuts and any game can be tons of fun.

Welcome to the New Grind in Destiny

DestinyI mentioned yesterday that I wanted to talk about the new grind that I’m seeing in Destiny since House of Wolves launched last week. For new players, that grind is much, much easier now than it was at launch. I’m talking of course about that post-level 20 search for gear with high levels of Light. In the old days, thanks to poor drop rates, and a more limited selection of gear, that search was very much a grind. Now, it’s a bit simpler, but there’s still a grind to be had.

With both The Dark Below and House of Wolves, there are many more paths to high level gear, especially now that legendary items drop more frequently. However, at the core of the new grind is the new Prison of Elders, and Treasure Keys. Grinding the new Ether Chests that are part of the wanted bounty targets from Petra has both become the most effective way to try to get Treasure Keys – and by proxy, engrams. To me, the best place to grind them – after you’ve finished up the actual bounties – is Skywatch over in the Cosmodrome. The Wolf there is a Servitor, so shields aren’t an issue, which makes it a pretty easy finish. But the real benefit is that the chests only spawn in a couple places, which makes it easy to spot them quickly. After you find it, Skywatch is also the easiest place to take advantage of the multiple-looting exploit. It’s hard to say if the exploit will be patched – I’ve heard people say that because this takes place in public zones, killing the chest after one loot is a tricky proposition. Personally, I almost think that they intend to keep it, since Treasure Keys drop so infrequently. This little quirk is really why Skywatch is the best place – the zone borders are so close that you can transition back and forth really quickly. In most zones, I can almost always manage two lootings – sometimes three. With Skywatch, three is the low end – I’ve heard people manage to grab it five times depending on the spawn location.

Destiny Legendary Engram

While you’re out there grinding the chests, you’ll be getting tons of engrams – blue mainly, but probably a few purples too. Even without purples, you have a good chance to get legendary gear with the new decrypting algorithms. I don’t know the specifics, but it really does feel a lot more likely than it ever used to be. Then you take that new gear and dive into the Prison of Elders to try for even better gear. You’ll really be wanting to run the challenge level ones for the highest tier gear – the Fallen themed armor and weapons, through the armor and weapon cores. Ultimately that really means that for endgame players, we have a new option for the grind for gear – Nightfalls still have a ton of value; Heroics are good for materials; Vault of Glass and Crota’s End will probably always have value to play, thanks to their weapons; and now we have Prison of Elders.

Prison of Elders

If there’s one thing that Destiny really needed that House of Wolves delivered on, it was a reason to pull endgame players into Patrol mode other than the Vanguard bounties. With the new prowling wolves, as well as the new groups of static wolf spawns, Bungie has done that. Add in the better PvP rewards, and you can see why House of Wolves has made the grind easier, while also making it more varied and fun.

Destiny House of Wolves Wrap Up

DestinyAfter almost a full week messing around with Destiny‘s latest DLC, House of Wolves, I think I have a pretty good handle on what’s going on out there in the fight against the Darkness. So, in advance of the Weekly Reset early tomorrow morning, I thought we’d at a top-down look at the House of Wolves.

STORY MATTERS, MORE THAN EVER
It’s no surprise that, for many, the biggest complaint with Destiny has been the lackluster story content. The first DLC, The Dark Below, really didn’t do a ton to change that impression. But with House of Wolves, while the same framework is in place, they manage to make it work – arguably for the first time in the life of the game. Even with no input from the player character (or his Ghost), there’s actually some structure to the missions that branches through the whole series. The real bright spot is in the voice work from Petra and Variks – more than just a quick blurb to set the mission, the two handlers remain engaged in the missions. They have more life behind them than Eris Morn did, and certainly more than your Ghost does. The writing feels more lively, what that’s due to I don’t know for sure, but if it’s a sign for the future, than we might see a true resurgence for Destiny.

Destiny House of Wolves

PRISON OF ELDERS/TRIALS OF OSIRIS – THE NEW GRIND
On the other side of the House of Wolves coin, we have the new endgame content. Bungie really looked at their player base for this aspect of the game I think. Previously, endgame content meant Vault of Glass or Crota’s End, and arguably Iron Banner.  With the Prison of Elders and Trials of Osiris, there’s a whole new way of looking at endgame. They’re a bit more versatile, thanks to being three-man instead of six-man. And they give PvP players a legitimate endgame option. What they really open up is the new grind – it’s not as important to run Nightfall/Weekly/Raid/Repeat now for shards and energy. Now it’s more about running Prison and Trials for Etheric Light and brand new gear. I want to talk a little bit more about that new grind tomorrow, so I’ll leave it here. Just know that running Prison of Elders, even at level 28 is absolutely worth it.

GEAR, BOUNTIES, SHADERS AND EMBLEMS GALORE
At the core of any Destiny experience is the gear you’re wearing and wielding. House of Wolves had to add in plenty of new gear to reach the new level cap of 34, or damage cap of 365, but more than that, there needed to be variety in the gear. One of my biggest qualms about the Light level system was that it pushed players towards uniformity. In order to be the highest level, you needed the raid gear – which made everyone look the same, barring whatever Exotic slot they went with. Now that any Legendary is a viable choice, I’ve already been seeing a lot more variation in the gear people are wearing. For my Titan, I’m really looking forward to getting rid of the Hive themed gear for something a little sleeker – perhaps the Vault gear. Weapon-wise, there are just so many new weapons to go for. Not only do all three Tower factions have new sets of weapons, as do the Vanguard and Crucible; but there’s two sets of endgame weapons for Prison of Elders and Trials of Osiris – AND on top of that, there are the Legendary Queen’s Wrath weapons, plus new Exotics. That’s a lot to keep in mind while you’re out there patrolling. Add in the new ability for the Gunsmith to reforge the new legendaries and the options expand even more. Finally, from a customization standpoint, there’s almost as many options. New Fallen House themed shaders, class armors and jumpships appear alongside Queen’s Wrath items as well.

At the end of the day, House of Wolves is exactly what Destiny needed. It breathes life into a game that was starting to get a little long in the tooth with new activities for any player. Casual players can enjoy the story missions, while hardcore PvE players have the Prison of Elders and PvP players have the Trials of Osiris. The new mechanics open up all kinds of new combinations of armor and weapons; along with new customization choices to really make your Guardian your own. If you’ve been waffling on House of Wolves, waiting a week to see it shape up, go grab it – it’s absolutely worth playing for any Destiny fan.

Destiny House of Wolves – The Prison of Elders Initial Thoughts

DestinyI mentioned yesterday that I hadn’t run through the Prison of Elders, wanting to do it with my friends first. Well that plan kinda changed, I did play with friends yesterday, but it was more to finish the story content with them on my Hunter. After that was done though, I did run the level 28, matchmade, version of the Prison of Elders. I went with that option for a few reasons, not the least of which is that you have to play that option before the challenge modes are opened up. I also just wanted to get my feet wet before I really dove in, but in the end, I actually think that the level 28 version is pretty damn great.

Technically, you’ll be getting better rewards from doing the higher level challenge modes. The higher level ones are how you’ll get the Fallen themed armor and weapons that are light level 42, getting you to the new level cap. But that’s not to say that the matchmade version is worthless. In my short time I was able to get two legendary engrams, in addition to two legendary Queen’s Wrath weapons, as well as a new Icebreaker. And that’s just the gear – I got another Dark Below ship, as well as 10 Strange Coins and a couple Motes of Light and Glimmer drops. So from a pure loot grinding standpoint, going in with a treasure key is pretty worthwhile, regardless of what you’re looking for.

Prison of Elders

The matchmade version is also a lot easier to manage – you won’t need to try to get a fireteam together to load it up; plus joining in progress is possible, so you might get dropped in right at the end, speeding up your looting. It’s a bit less complicated, with modifiers only showing up in Rounds 2,3, and 4; as do the Critical Objectives. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy though – by the later rounds, you’ll be dealing with a lot of majors and ultras, and depending on the modifier you could be limited a bit. For example, I played one round last night – against Vex enemies – with the dampener modifier (majorly extended cooldowns on abilities.) I threw my lightning grenade in the first wave, and didn’t get it back until the very end of the round – the only way I was able to Fist of Havoc twice was because of some Orbs of Light on the ground. Granted that might change a bit depending on your intellect/strength/discipline levels, but still – it’s definitely going to impact how you play. That final round with the boss enemy is also somewhat complicated – not for any gameplay reason, just because the added enemies can get overwhelming quickly. It may say level 28, but I really think 30 is probably the low-end to complete it, just because of how many majors and ultras the later rounds have.

It’s hard to fully comment on the Prison of Elders, just because there’s still three different leveled activities to go through, but my immediate thoughts are really positive. I really think House of Wolves is the best thing to happen to Destiny since launch; both story and PvE activity-wise. Prison of Elders has plenty of replay value with it, if for no reason other than it’s fun and, at least the lower leveled mode, is faster than raiding. I think with House of Wolves, Bungie may have ensured that Destiny stays in my rotation through the summer.