‘Destiny’ Prison Of Elders A Procedural Horde Mode With Challenges

Bungie opened the doors to the Prison of Elders in Destiny on Wednesday. The developer gave the first in-depth look at the new Arena mode in the PlayStation and Xbox shooter that is filling in for a full blown Raid in the House of Wolves expansion.

The Prison of Elders reveal was made through a Twitch livestream hosted by Community Manager David “Deej” Dague, with Senior Designer Matt Sammons explaining the ins and outs of the new Arena mode. Community guest Professor Broman was on hand as well to provide extra commentary and questions.

The livestream lasted a full hour and saw Bungie explain what happens in a Prison of Elders adventure from start to finish as the three hosts wiped time and again to reach their objective. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect along with the rewards.


Prison of Elders does support matchmaking for the three-man fireteams at level 28. This is good news for those that have complained about the lack of in-game matchmaking for Raids. Higher level challenges will require pre-made teams.


Prison of Elders is a set of procedurally generated encounters that start at level 28 against all four enemy races – Fallen, Hive, Cabal, and Vex. The enemies, mission types, modifiers, and boss types can all be different from one play through to the next.

Additional challenges can be unlocked at level 32, level 34, and level 35. There are a total of six challenge arenas to tackle, but only three will be available during a week. The challenges revealed so far include “Broken Legion,” “Urrox’s Grudge,” and “Skolas’ Revenge.”

Bungie is adding new modifiers to Destiny just for the Prison of Elders. There are around 20 modifiers in all available for the mode. Some of the modifiers shown included a primary weapon buff, faster grenade recharging.

Destiny - Prison of Elders (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360)

Some encounters will have critical objectives that have to be completed such as holding control points or clearing the arena of mines. There’s also the chance to pick up weapons such as the Scorch Cannon Relic.

Each adventure into the Prison of Elders consists of five rounds per game with three waves per round. If you make it through all five rounds and defeat the boss, you gain access to the Queen’s treasure room.

The good news is that bosses in Prison of Elders are not bullet sponges. One of the bosses shown has a rotating elemental shield, which requires a fireteam to coordinate what element type weapon they use to bring the shield down and do damage.


Weapon and armor cores are among the loot drops in the Queen’s treasure room along with random Exotic and Legendary items. The cores can be turned in to the prison warden, Variks, for your pick of rewards.

Etheric Light, the new material needed to “Ascend” weapon and armor to the new caps, drops at the highest levels. The best gear and weapons from House of Wolves also drops at the higher levels.

Designed for Everyone

Prison of Elders indicates a course correction for Destiny and Bungie. Whereas the game’s first two raids require a combination of hardcore dedication and coordination, this new arena mode is designed to appeal to a broader base of users by starting at level 28 and including matchmaking.

This combined with the more straightforward upgrade path for weapons and armor shows that Bungie is learning from its mistakes. The lack of a new Raid in Destiny is disappointing, but Prison of Elders, Trials of Osiris, and the new Story missions do provide some much needed variety.

You can check out an alternative view of Prison of Elders from DattoDoesDestiny below.

[Images via Bungie]