If you’re struggling with Destiny’s new endgame PvP mode, Prison of Elders, you’re not alone! Depending on the modifiers (arc burn on Major Wizards!?), certain waves of Prison of Elders can be downright terrifying. Don’t even get me started on the Skolas fight, which, outside of some cheese tricks, asks more of players than just about anything else in Destiny. There are a few things you can do to make the experience a little easier, though.
Gear up with some old, but useful guns
Some of the best guns for Prison of Elders come out of the previous two raids, Vault of Glass and Crota’s End. This is especially true for the elemental primary weapons that drop in those raids’ hard modes. Some of the most immediately useful primary weapons include Fang of Ir Yut (Arc damage Scout Rifle) and Word of Crota (Void damage Hand Cannon), which both drop from the final boss fight in Crota’s End Hard Mode. At 331 Damage without an Etheric Light upgrade, these guns are must-haves for Arc Burn and Void Burn modifiers, and they break shields on Fallen Captains and Vex Minotaurs respectively.
If you were lucky enough to hang onto your guns from the Vault of Glass and you’ve acquired some Etheric Light then you’re in for a treat. For primaries, my go-to weapons are Vision of Confluence (Solar damage Scout Rifle) and Fatebringer (Arc damage Hand Cannon). Don’t sleep on the shotgun Found Verdict, either, as its insane damage and rate of fire make it one of the go-to quick methods for defeating Skolas with an Arc Burn modifier.
Got a problem? Solve it with Gjallarhorn
I hate this kind of advice, because it separates the haves from the have-nots, but the truth is undeniable — Gjallarhorn is easily the best gun to have at your side in the Prison of Elders. Combined with a stock of Heavy Ammo synths and armor that provides extra rockets, a team of three Gjallarhorns can trivialize a lot of the more difficult moments in Prison of Elders.
Even when the modifier is an Arc Burn or Void Burn (Gjallarhorn does Solar damage), this rocket launcher makes mincemeat of enemies. When my team was dealing with a particularly tough Arc Burn situation (the aforementioned wizards), we realized that switching to this gun was STILL the best move for success even when we had Arc heavy weapons that should have worked well.
In my opinion, either the other heavy weapons need a big buff in PvE, or Gjallarhorn needs a nerf. For now, though, there’s little in Prison of Elders that (up to) 42 Gjallarhorn rockets can’t solve.
Don’t sleep on shotguns
Shotguns got a huge damage buff in PvP not too long ago. It’s a change recent enough that most players probably still view them as a great way to get killed in high-level content. Thankfully, Shotguns now have a place in your repertoire, doing the kind of “PLEASE STOP SHOOTING ME NOW” damage you usually only get with heavy weapons. The catch is that you still need to be super close to an enemy, but the risk/reward is actually worthwhile now. Regular enemies, even those with yellow health bars, can be staggered with pointblank shotgun blasts, allowing them to be taken down with a follow-up shot. In fact, shotguns are so viable now, that one of the best ways to cheese Skolas with the Arc Burn modifier is with a squad of Found Verdicts and 4th Horsemen’s blasting him in the face.
Take advantage of class specialties
One of the hardest rounds in Prison of Elders is when you have to diffuse mines. It’s tough because it usually takes players out of their comfort zones, requiring them to split up and move out of cover and into the fray before time runs out. Thankfully there are a few tricks you can use (depending on your choice of subclass) to alleviate some of the difficulty.
For Hunters, a focus on Bladedancer invisibility perks allows you to sneak over to objectives while your teammates draw the enemies to them. For Titans, a Defender bubble over the objective keeps you safe while defusing. Lastly, while Warlocks don’t have a surefire skill when it comes to diffusing mines, a Sunsinger Warlock can still self-res if they die.
Bottom line, get creative with your abilities. One of my favorite examples of this is in the Urrox fight, which requires players to jump and stay off of the floor for 10 seconds at a time to avoid taking damage. A clever Sunsinger with the Angel of Light perk can float comfortably and even keep fighting while everyone else is struggling to keep their feet off of the floor.
Use modifiers to your advantage
Each round has its own modifier, like a Nightfall. In the level 35 strike, each round has two modifiers. Keep note of these and use them to your advantage as much as possible. As previously mentioned, you’ll want to choose guns that work well with whatever Burn modifier might be on. If something like Small Arms is on, where primary weapons are preferred, go with it and use your primary, because your other weapons will also be doing less damage. One last tip — if you’re dealing with the Exposure modifier (where shields are increased but they do not regenerate), you can break it with abilities that engage healing like Red Death.
Don’t let Skolas get the best of you
There is no clear-cut way to defeat Skolas, the boss of the level 35 Prison of Elders, other than to play by the game’s rules and fight your ass off. In fact, online discussion seems to show that a lot of people who would have defeated a new raid by now are stuck on Skolas and struggling.
That said, week-to-week there will be cheese methods based on whatever modifiers are in place. The first week it was all about Gjallarhorn, the next week it was all about shotguns and Weapons of Light. Either way, there is a long time between now and the next expansion, with plenty of opportunities for Etheric Light in the 34 Prison, Trials of Osiris, and Iron Banner. Gear up, get better weapons, and tackle Skolas when you’re ready, he’s not going anywhere.