New challenges for the week of July 14 with Destiny

It’s that wonderful time when Bungie’s rotating selection of high-reward activities are rebooted (along with any raid progress made in the previous week), giving everyone a fresh chance at scoring some of the game’s sweetest and rarest loot.

Are you new to Destiny? Don’t know what any of this means? Good news. There’s a Destiny wiki that’s packed with information. Click for details on what Strikes are, and how Nightfall differs from Weekly Heroic challenges.

The House of Wolves add-on also adds a new weekly wrinkle, in the form of Prison of Elders. The multi-round gauntlets are built for endgame play, with the specific enemy types and modifiers changing from week to week.

Here’s a rundown of what’s happening this week:

Nightfall (The Nexus)

  • Epic – This is a standard Nightfall modifier. It just means there are more enemies to fight, and a greater number of Majors (the yellow health bar dudes) on the field.
  • Nightfall – Another standard Nightfall modifier. This one boots the entire Fireteam back to orbit if everyone is downed inside one of the revive-only respawn Darkness Zones.
  • Angry – Enemies can’t be staggered.
  • Brawler – Guardian melee attack do increased damage.
  • Grounded – Guardians take increased damage when in the air.

The party had to end sometime, right? After who-knows-how-many weeks of Burn modifiers in the Nightfall, we head to the Nexus — possibly Destiny’s shortest Strike — with no Burn and only one marginally helpful modifier to lean on. Brawler isn’t a bad “oh shit” button for when the enemies push in too close.

The Strike itself is extremely straightforward. You can skip most of it, save for the Servitor room at the beginning. For the final fight, the cheesy strategy of keeping everyone on the upper ledge in the entryway to the boss arena still works. Brawler might even serve you well here; just have everyone run up and punch the Minotaur when it spawns for an easy kill. However you choose to run the Nightfall, it should be manageable this week even without the Burns.

Weekly Heroic (Cerberus Vae III)

  • Heroic – Standard Weekly Heroic modifier. More enemies show up than you would see on a standard Strike, and they’re more aggressive.
  • Grounded – Guardians take increased damage while in the air.

Ugh. Valus Ta’aurc. Cerberus Vae III used to be a rough challenge, but Bungie nerfed the big boss for this one. It’s still a long Strike, and Valus is no pushover, but it’s not the grind it used to be. All Grounded does is limit the amount of jump-and-shooting you should be doing.

There’s no real trick to this Strike. Rush past the non-objective fights, hang back and snipe during the lead-in to the tank miniboss and keep cover between you and the big guy during the final boss encounter. If Valus is really giving you trouble, there’s a safe area beneath the stairs in the back-left corner of the room from where you enter. Just drop down off the left side of the stairs and you’ll end up in a protected corner from which you can shoot all the bad things.

Prison of Elders

If you’ve got House of Wolves then you can also participate in the weekly Prison of Elders activities. These endgame challenges send players through a multi-round gauntlet in which each round has its own enemy type and Nightfall/Weekly-style modifier(s).

The lineup of enemies, modifiers and, in some cases, bosses for the level 32, 34 and 35 activities changes every week. Destiny power leveling make upgrade easy. You can find some general tips for surviving Prison of Elders right here. Read on for a breakdown of enemies and modifiers for each round this week.

Level 32: The Forever Eater

  • Round 1 (Cabal): Specialist (Secondary weapon damage is increased)
  • Round 2 (Fallen): Lightswitch (Enemy melee damage is increased)
  • Round 3 (Fallen): Airborne (Guardians deal more damage when in the air)
  • Round 4 (Fallen): Exposure (Guardian shields are increased, but recharge very slowly)
  • Round 5 (Kaliks Reborn boss): Grounded (Guardians take more damage when airborne)

Kaliks Reborn is a pretty straightforward boss fight, at least with regards to special mechanics that need to be dealt with. Every so often during the fight, a gang of Dregs spawn and rush the fireteam. They all glow with a white sheen, and you need to kill them quickly. Take too long and they despawn, at which point Kaliks “gorges on ether” (text that appears in the lower left corner of the screen), recharging all of its health.

Taking Kaliks down is a snap. First, take some time to clear out all enemies other than the boss when you first enter the arena. Take care not to hit Kaliks yet; just go after the little guys. Once the room is clear, have everyone pelt the boss with rockets. A Titan’s bubble shield is handy here, as reinforcements start to spawn in. Once everyone’s exhausted all of their rockets, either pop heavy synths or switch to sniper secondaries and continue to pour damage on. Speed is key here; it’s possible to kill Kaliks before his special Dregs give him the opportunity to gorge on ether, but all three players need to coordinate to make it work.

Level 34: Cult of the Worm

  • Round 1 (Vex): Airborne (Guardians do more damage when in the air)
  • Round 2 (Hive): Grounded (Guardians take more damage when in the air)
  • Round 3 (Vex): Void Burn (All Void damage is increased)
  • Round 4 (Hive): Angry (Enemies can’t be staggered)
  • Round 5 (Gulrot, the Unclean): Exposure (Guardian shields are increased, but recharge very slowly)

Maybe we don’t need to kill Gulrot. Has anyone tried just handing him a bottle of Tums?

This Hive boss is a giant Ogre with a unique quirk: every so often he gets an upset tummy, causing him to vomit and coat the room with bile. It’s not as gross as it sounds visually, but it does have a functional impact on your play: for the handful of seconds the room is gunked up, all Guardians are effectively prevented from moving.

This is very manageable if you know how to handle it. Just watch for the flavor text in the bottom-left corner of the screen signaling that Gulrot is ready to hurl. At that point, you have a few seconds to scramble behind cover. As long as you’re outside the line of fire of the big guys — Wizards, Knights, Ogres and Gulrot himself — you can deal with any of the smaller stuff that rushes in. Rinse, repeat until the sickly big boss is dead.

Level 35: Skolas’ Revenge (all modifier descriptions listed here)

  • Round 1 (Hive): Exposure and Brawler
  • Round 2 (Vex): Grounded and Airborne
  • Round 3 (Cabal): Catapult and Arc Burn
  • Round 4 (Fallen): Specialist and Juggler
  • Round 5 (Fallen): Trickle and Small Arms
  • Round 6 (Skolas boss): Catapult and Angry

Skolas is a Fallen boss and the constant big bad for all level 35 Prison of Elders runs. He’s a tricky one. You can’t even damage him until you take out one of his two special Servitor defenders (they keep respawning), and even then you have only a small window (20 seconds) in which to dish out damage. That’s the first half of the fight; once Skolas is at half health, the Servitor issue goes away.

They’re replaced by Skolas’ “Devouring Essence” attack, which puts one randomly chosen player on a 30-second countdown to death.The countdown can be reset by passing Devouring Essence to another player, but there’s a 35-second delay before the player that gives it up can grab it again. This means that all three fireteam members need to participate in a deadly game of hot potato.

The second half of the fight also features two rounds of mines that need to be dismantled. It’s tricky to juggle dismantling alongside the Devouring Essence hand-offs; frequent, clear communication is vital. Designate someone (preferably a Bladedancer Hunter with invisibility) to grab the more distant mines. You should pretty much ignore Skolas until you can get those taken care of.

The Skolas showdown is complicated this week by the presence of Catapult and Angry modifiers. Angry isn’t a big deal; staggering enemies sometimes buys you precious seconds to get away (or score a kill), but it’s not a winning strategy for any Fallen foes the way it is for the shield-toting Cabal Phalanx. Catapult is a sweet bonus, provided you remember to keep tossing those grenades.

The modifiers on Skolas are exactly what they need to be this week: inoffensive. Nothing that ratchets the difficulty too high, which means you can focus on the complicated process of bringing the Fallen leader down.