Pat is legend. He’s also annoyed at the Prison of Elders anger blisters on his fingertips.
The Taken King launches tomorrow, and with it starts Destiny’s second year. Hopefully Bungie won’t deliver another Skolas. Aside from my annoyance levels being unable to handle it, forcing the general player-base to complete something so prone to failure as a key marker challenge is blatantly unfair.
It was difficult not to do it. After I wrote about my imminent failure to complete the Moments of Triumph challenge from Destiny’s first year last week, my regular co-players gifted me a serious shot at the Skolas encounter that evening. I agreed, and we did it (just). After that it was just a matter of finding a few remaining gold chests (thanks, DestinyChestHunter.com) and beating 15 public events (thanks, DestinyPublicEvents.com). The Taken King launches tomorrow, and now I’m done. I am legend.
I said in last week’s piece that it wasn’t important to me to complete the challenge, but I now know that to be untrue. I’m obviously glad I did it, but the Skolas battle is, in my opinion, the worst high-level event in the game right now. It’s beaten, and I have Paul Davies and Andy Robinson to thank, but that doesn’t make the fight any less awful. The uncomfortable truth is that the Laurea Prima emblem, awarded only by completing Moments of Triumph, is more proof you beat Skolas than anything else. Considering the undeniable accomplishments of Destiny’s first year, that’s a real shame.
I’d tried the Skolas fight before, when House of Wolves first launched and the Prison of Elders was fresh. For non-players, Skolas is the House of Wolves’ boss, the Kell of Kells. The Prison of Elders is an arena event in which you face a string of waves, some of which have objectives other than “kill everything”. The top-tier is insanely difficult. If you want a detailed run-down of how it plays out, you can check out Paul’s guide. Yes, there’re always a few saying it’s “easy,” but it simply isn’t by any reasonable measure. It’s level 35, for a start, which means it’s a full level beyond the current cap of 34, meaning the enemies take exponentially longer to kill and you die much faster. Dropping a level 35 yellow Hobgoblin is no laughing matter. Even the opening rounds are very tough.
The boss fight, though, is flat-out unfair. We were lucky to beat it. There are several ways to drop the stupid, hulking, flaming, wanking bastard, but we chose to hide behind barriers on a shelf at one end of the room and avoided “going for a run” (taking a tour of the arena when things get too hot). I won’t go into too many details, but it was horrible. I play with Paul and Andy a lot, but tempers frayed. I don’t believe that encounter is a true measure of skill, as the entire effort can collapse in just a few seconds, and I genuinely feel for the legions of Destiny players who can’t complete the Moments of Triumph because, for whatever reason, they haven’t been able to beat Skolas. I helped someone through the first few rounds last night before freeing up a slot for another player, and the group eventually failed. It’s the only circle he has left to fill before tomorrow’s deadline, after which the year one Moments of Triumph will end, never to return. On my successful attempt, it took three hours from beginning to end with highly experienced players. If you can run it in an hour, I’m happy for you. Personally, I never, ever want to see it again. I’m not the only one.
The one thing I will say for the Skolas fight is that it’s the only challenge on that wheel you can’t piggyback. You can tack onto the end of the raids, even on Hard Mode, and get the kill. Hell, you don’t even have to be alive in Crota’s End and the Vault of Glass to win. In the Skolas battle, though, any mistake means failure. You have to have the right classes, the right guns, the right level of communication and thorough knowledge of the encounter to beat it, and even then it’s touch-and-go. Both Paul and Andy went down at the very end of our final run, with Skolas left with only a sliver of health, leaving me, a Sunsinger Warlock, crouched like a baby behind a metal wall being pounded by Skolas and any number of yellow Servitors, Captains and Vandals. I lost it, shouting into the mic. If Paul hadn’t told me to stay completely still we would have died. I still had my res, but, as anyone who’s been through the battle will tell you, returning in plain sight of the boss can mean near-instant death. After 20 seconds of actual fear I reached Andy, then Paul, and Andy dropped Skolas with a rocket. It was 1.30am and I was sitting in my office yelling in pure anger, my kids and wife asleep upstairs, running around the arena looking for his corpse to defile in some way. In any way. He’d disintegrated. My bitterness still hasn’t.
When I started writing this, the intention was to say that I thought I didn’t care about completing Moments of Triumph but I actually did. Finally, though, the message is that I obviously care about Destiny (I couldn’t have stuck it out for so long if I didn’t), but those golden circles are tainted by the Skolas fight. I feel sad Destiny’s first year challenge can be wrapped up like this, as the rest of it represents a truly memorable year of play, but there it is.
Regardless, though, I’m happy I’m done with it and I’ll wear the badge with pride. It took an uncompromising group effort to fill those circles and I could never have done it without being surrounded by passionate, dedicated players. The Taken King launches tomorrow, and with it starts Destiny’s second year. Hopefully Bungie won’t deliver another Skolas. Aside from my annoyance levels being unable to handle it, forcing the general player-base to complete something so prone to failure as a key marker challenge is blatantly unfair.
No more Skolas. Let’s play nice this time, please.