The Prison of Elders in Destiny is a horde-like arena that tasks Guardians with surviving multiple waves and rounds against various enemies before a big showdown with a boss. This guide was put together to help PlayStation and Xbox owners understand the basic mechanics of the Prison of Elders and provide strategy tips on how to get past it even quicker.
The Prison of Elders is available in Destiny after completing the story missions that come with The House of Wolves expansion. The Level 28 version of the arena event is the only one first available. Once that is completed, Level 32, Level 34, and Level 35 are all unlocked.
It’s important to remember that each of the four levels of Prison of Elders are treated as separate entities with different bosses every week, but a consistent levels of rewards that can only be obtained by completing that level. In other words, completing the Level 35 boss fight against Skolas won’t grant the Level 32 and Level 34 rewards.
Additionally, it’s even more important to remember that there are no checkpoints in Prison of Elders. You will not get to return to the same round if you leave a match and try to come back. The best you can hope for is that your fireteam saved you a spot or you are able to find someone holding a spot in the various matchmaking groups such as DestinyLFG, the100, and Reddit Fireteams.
It helps to open up your Destiny character Legend on Bungie’s website and head to the “Advisors” menu. There you will see the room and modifiers for each round of Prison of Elders on every level.
That said, here is the general information and basic tips and tricks for completing Prison of Elders from Level 28 through Level 34. This includes the maps, objectives, and modifiers. Guides for each of the bosses, including Skolas, can be found at the bottom of this article..
Level 28, Level 32 and Level 34 Basic Mechanics
Round 1: Three waves of enemies or a mini-boss fight.
Round 2: Three waves of enemies with objectives in waves two and three.
Round 3: Three waves of enemies with objectives in waves two and three.
Round 4: Mini-boss fight.
Round 5: Boss fight.
General Map Strategy
The general strategy for the Cabal, Fallen, Hive, and Vex maps are the same. Move to either the left side or right side and defend as a group. The Fallen, Hive, and Vex maps definitely favor the left side as there are structures and rooms to hide in and around for cover. The right side for the Cabal is possibly the worst as the cover in that area does not have as easily defended cover spots with clean sight lines.
You primarily need to worry about Solar shields and weapons in the Cabal room. Centurions will be the only ones with elemental shields while all enemy types carry Solar weapons. The exception is the Psions whose psionic blast does Arc damage even through Titan’s Ward of Dawn bubble. Defender Titans should go with the “Armor of Light” perk during Arc burn rounds to avoid insta-death from the psionic blasts while inside the bubble. “Blessing of Light” does not provide enough protection.
The safest spot is in the room on the far left side of the map. Note though that enemies will jump over the wall in the middle of the room, so shotguns should be favored over sniper rifles and be sure to communicate. A confident and well-organized team can stand on top of the platform and take out Cabal as they emerge from the doors in the back and front of the room.
The biggest hassle in this room is the Phalanxes with their shields. Use grenades and rocket launchers to take them out quickly, especially when the “Angry” modifier is enabled or they are Majors.
The most open of the four maps has you only worrying about Arc shields from Captains and Solar and Arc weapons from the different Fallen enemy types. The platform to the far left is the best spot to huddle and defend as a team, but the platform on the far right is offers decent protection for when the left position gets overrun.
Again, the room on the left offers the best protection. The platform on the far right can offer decent protection as well, but the sight lines in the left room are cleaner in my opinion. Wizards have solar shields, but the larger concern with this map is the Arc damage dished out by Wizards and Knights. Eliminating them should be priority one and two, especially during an Arc burn round.
Cheese tip #1: If you stand against the wall on the right side of the room, you can lock out the enemies from spawning during second and third objective waves. Similarly, all three Guardians in the left room and then sending out just one Guardian to do the objectives will sometimes cause a spawn lock as well.
Cheese tip #2: Going under the platform that sticks out from the room on the left is a good hiding spot in a pinch.
You’ll want at least one Void weapon of some kind to deal with the Minotaurs and their shields, but otherwise equip the best weapons you have available. The enemies primarily dish out Solar damage with their weapons, but Minotaurs can do Void damage as well.
The yellow bar Hobgoblins and their sniper rifles are high on the concern list because the sight lines on this map allow them to dish damage from long distances. A fireteam with a mix of sniper rifles and shotguns will help tremendously.
There are three different objective types to deal with during the second and third rounds. However, it helps to clear out the mines scattered around the map before the start of the second round no matter the objective type.
Defuse the Bombs
This is possibly the most difficult of all three objective types as it requires Guardians to expose themselves. A general strategy is to have two players focus on enemies while the third goes after the bombs. The other two can follow-up if the first player goes down.
Bladedancer Hunters with their ability to go invisible should be able to clean up in this objective as long as they have the “Shadow Jack,” “Escape Artist,” and “Vanish” perks enabled. Equipping a pair of Don’t Touch Me gauntlets and the Patience and Time exotic sniper rifle will extend the ways that you can go invisible.
A Titan’s bubble is also great for defusing a bomb in a pinch, especially if that Titan is wearing the Helm of Saint-14. Just be aware that the Psion’s psionic blast wave in the Cabal room can go through the bubble.
A bomb will appear soon after the wave starts followed by two others. You can destroy the bombs from across the map using a rocket launcher or sniper rifle as long as you get a good angle. Have at least one member of the team dedicated to clearing out enemies while one or two focus on taking down mines.
Kill the VIP
This is the easiest of the three objective types. A VIP target will emerge from a door to one of the four rooms. It must be stopped before it reaches the fourth checkpoint. The best strategy is to simply use rocket launchers with tracking on him or any elemental burn.
In addition to the two small chests and a large chest that requires a Treasure Key (guide on finding keys), the following levels award additional items once per week. You can check out the loot table for Prison of Elders here.
Level 32: Armor Core and 200 House of Judgement reputation points.
Level 34: Weapon Core, Etheric Light, 300 House of Judgement reputation points and a chance for The Elder Cipher Exotic Weapon Bounty.
Level 35: Armor Core, Weapon Core, Etheric Light, plus a chance for an elemental primary weapon or an Exotic bounty to drop.
Modifiers and Strategy
Players deal more damage while in the air.
Strategy: Warlocks ability to float and shoot comes in handy. Still need to be careful as going airborne attracts attention in the Prison of Elders. Also, the bonus damage is calculated based on if the Guardian is in the air at the time the shot lands, not when the shot is fired. (H/T to CrotasScrota in the Destiny sub-Reddit)
Minions of the Darkness do not flinch, even under massive damage.
Strategy: This is a most troublesome fight against the Cabal Phalanx and their massive shields. Use grenades, rocket launchers, and/or super abilities to get around their shields for faster kills.
Guardian’s melee damage is increased by 300 percent.
Strategy: This is useful against the lesser minions, but the risk/reward factor is higher against upper tier minions with yellow bars.
Burns: Arc, Solar, Void
Elemental damage is increased 300 percent for both Guardians and enemies.
Strategy: Obviously, equip your best weapons that match the burn and be wary of enemies that shoot whatever element is the burn.
Grenade recharge rate is greatly increased.
Strategy: Let the grenades fly. Go with double grenades if you have a perk or piece of equipment that allows for it.
Players take more damage while airborne.
Strategy: Jump only when you have to.
Enemies will not drop any ammunition for currently equipped weapon.
Strategy: Switch between your primary and special weapons for most of the kills. You can also use ammo synths or weapons that automatically regenerate ammo like the Icebreaker.
Minions of the Darkness deal much more melee damage.
Strategy: Obviously, avoid getting hit by enemy melee attacks.
Guardian shields are increased, but they do not replenish.
Strategy: Any kind of buff or perk that you can use such as Blessing of Light from the Titan’s Ward of Dawn or the Sunsinger’s melee attack to provide an extra layer of protection helps. Otherwise, use cover frequently to avoid getting shot.
Primary Weapon damage is doubled.
Strategy: Equip your best primary weapon, but still take elemental shield type of enemies into account.
Special Weapon damage is favored.
Strategy: Same strategy as Small Arms, but with the special weapon instead.
Recharge of abilities is significantly reduced.
Strategy: Equip weapons and armor that recharge abilities with kills for a boost.
- Gulrot, Unclean – Cult of the Worm
- Kaliks Reborn – Machine Wrath
- Urrox, Flame Prince – Urrox’s Grudge
- Valus Tau’urg, Cabal Juggernaut – Broken Legion
- Skolas – Level 35 Boss
More are coming.
[Images via Bungie, Destiny in-game]