After taking a break from Destiny I have been diving back into runs on The Prison of Elders and Nightfalls. I still maintain that The Prison is some of the best and most enjoyable PVE content in Destiny next to the Raids. The Raids lacked accessibility and ease of engagement, but with a full team they were always pretty fun once the kinks got worked out of a new group. The Prison of Elders can be engaged with fairy easily since the fire teams can be smaller and once your team hits a stride they can be beaten much faster than raids. However, the more I play it the more potential I see for expanding this piece of Destiny.
There are far too many awesome vehicles in Destiny to have them absent from a game mode that is begging to be opened up. Having a wave with a Fallen Walker and Wolf Pikes would be fitting given their inclusion in the DLC. Their sparse presence seems like wasted potential and The Prison would be a great environment for them to shine. Especially if you started to introduce another idea: role assignments.
With all the variety of vehicles that could be injected to The Prison at any time, it would make sense to couple this with role assignments. So while one player is manning a Wolf Pike to attack and draw the attention of a Fallen Walker, the other two players could have way points they have to defend/attack in order to stop the Fallen Walker from regenerating health. The different mines and important targets already kind of do this, but having specific roles and objectives that each person must do would add to the depth and intensity. You could also have things that must be done in sync with each other, making the experience all the more intense and focused. What I like about the Prison is that I can’t just phone it in with my performance like I can on a Strike or even a Nightfall. Role assignments and timed objectives would be in line with how “on your toes” The Prison feels most of the time, and it could really help to open up the game mode. And of course, if you open up the game mode and add more things that need to be done, you could add a 6 player prison level.
I think the three man fire teams are a good balance and flow for what The Prison currently requires. The skeleton crew feel adds to the challenge and excitement of a tough Skolas battle or boss fight. But an extra prison level could be added with all of the above ideas while increasing the number of players. You could even have two 3 man teams that must enter different parts of The Prison at the same time, tying in the timed objectives idea already shared above. This would be another great way to expand the game mode and let it grow into a much bigger experience. Obviously though, if you increase the amount of needed players, I think it’s time to add the dreaded M-word.
Yes, the dreaded word in the Destiny vocabulary, matchmaking. After waiting a few minutes for some people from my stream to join me it became apparent that matchmaking was a much needed feature. Thankfully I have a very full friends list and Twitch following with many who are ready to jump right in and play. Given that I typically keep my headset muted so I can keep talking to my stream, we all managed to beat level 32 and 34 of the Prison with almost no communication. Periodically there would be jokes or minor directions about where someone should move to, but it was pretty straightforward since the content has been out for a while. Now many might think that matchmaking could be kept out of content until it becomes familiar enough, but I still think the absence of the feature keeps people from engaging with the content out of the gate. In general I think more strategies and helpful tips would come from random people being thrown together because that is essentially how my experience has been with The Prison. I’m familiar with the people in my stream, but we haven’t played Destiny before the launch of House of Wolves, so we just had to figure it out as we went and often someone with more experience would show us a new or better approach. And as Paul Tassi recently pointed out on Forbes, the LFG sites basically function as mastchmaking since you end up with random people you’ve never played with before.
More to come
I really hope Bungie sees The Prison as something that can be invested in, changed, and evolved over time. I already shared my blended PVE and PVP game mode idea, and I think that The Prison could be a good catalyst and introduction to that if they increase its size and scope from where it is currently. The Prison is just one more piece of Destiny that shows potential, and we can all hope it’s in the future plans of where things are going.
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