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Review: Destiny 2: The Witch Queen

In 2014, I vividly remember feeling incredibly excited about the launch of the original Destiny. It was the next big Halo game, and it was also the one that I was most excited about. I lost interest in Destiny as the game grew, and my interest faded between major updates. It just felt like there wasn’t much to do. It was years later that Destiny 2 came out. I loved it when it launched, but I totally forgot about the Forsaken expansion. I was so invested in other games, it was difficult to think about adding another game to my regularly played list.
Recent years have seen my interest in Bungie’s Destiny universe rekindled. After I tried Shadowkeep, I found myself more and more interested in Beyond Light. Destiny 2 is now in my grasp and I am eager to see the new expansion, The Witch Queen.

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, developed by Bungie, is out now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The Xbox version was played for this review on an Xbox Series X.

All for One

The Witch Queen continues the story of Beyond Light’s Season of the Lost. It begins with the reemergence of Mars. Mars was once shrouded (and vaulted) in darkness. Your Guardian descends to the surface of Mars to find out what’s happening. You also discover two other parties are attracted to the red planet. The Cabal and a large ship belonging only to Witch Queen Savathun are also present. They have set up a large cannon to target her ship. You are given the task of boarding the ship, despite recent alliances with Cabal not being in the Vanguard’s thoughts.

Your Ghost notices light traces after you have gained control and are able to yet yourself up to Savathun’s ship via Cabals cannon. This is an alarming observation. You discover more Light traces as you progress through the ship. Your ghost points out that it isn’t corrupted Light. It is the same kind as a Guardian would use. The terrible truth is revealed when you defeat a stronger Hive champion. The Hive use the Light and have Ghosts that can revive them, just like the player. Soon, you will find yourself in Savathun’s Throne World. You are trying to unravel the mystery behind how she acquired the Light.

The team came up with some great ideas for this expansion. While not everyone is comfortable with the idea of defeating a Lucent Hive member and then having their Ghost destroyed, that’s part of the point. It is supposed to be somewhat frightening. It’s a fascinating narrative and gameplay choice that forces you to reflect on the elements that make up Destiny. The Witch Queen’s campaign featured some amazing lore bombs. They took me by surprise. Bungie is working hard on their story and I cannot wait to see what the next chapter holds.

Fresh… but missing something

Since Destiny’s inception, the quest for the “god roll” has been a key feature of the game. This allows you to get specific weapons and specific traits. Bungie’s developers have finally created a better system that allows players to obtain the weapon and traits they desire. You can now craft weapons.

The game guides you through crafting your first weapon, the new glaive. You can choose a frame and the traits the weapon will sport so the weapon can be tailored to your play style. The weapon’s level will gradually increase as you use it in different activities. You can customize weapons as they get higher in level. This allows you to add more traits or enhance existing ones.

The game allows you to create any weapon you like with any trait you wish. To create these weapons, the game requires that the player first obtain deepsight versions. This basically means that you will need to find a weapon, and then use it. Once you have used the weapon enough, you will be able earn crafting materials. In some cases, you may also get the pattern for the weapon. This allows you to create one.

Although deepsight weapons are a grind, it is still a welcomed addition to the game. This is in contrast to the old method of playing the game and praying for the RNG gods. You can also equip different weapons when you do your weekly bounties. Although I don’t usually use fusion rifles, I might consider it if the system allows me to get crafting materials from it. It’s okay, I could throw it on and get some crafting materials off of it.

…That assumes, of course that I can unarm my glaive. It’s a weapon, a shield, a gun, and a spear. It looks like a huge space combat Swiss Army Knife. Although I don’t know why the designers decided to make the weapon so many different, I have been enjoying the final result quite a lot!

A revamped Void subclass is available to all Guardians with The Witch Queen. The new Void options give you more customization, based on the system that was developed for the Stasis class in Beyond Light. I was a Void-based Titan who used it a lot, so the changes were exciting to me. The changes are amazing for me as a Void Titan who also loved the shield to create a strange space-based Captain America fantasy. It’s amazing to see the void shield pop out when you use your barrier ability. Also, having a melee option that throws your shield at your enemies is awesome. Since the launch of The Witch Queen, there have been many videos about the “best builds” with Void. I cannot wait to get in on the action and try out all the possibilities.

Witch Queen’s new features feel solid. They come with a price. As Bungie did with Beyond Light and The Witch Queen, so too was the removal of older content. This time, the entire Forsaken campaign as well as the Tangled Shore area were among the victims. According to the team, one reason it vaulted content was to reduce file size. Bungie finally used the MMO term to describe Destiny 2 after I’ve been playing MMOs for more than a decade. This vaulting of content feels anti-MMO. An MMO to me is about expansion. It gives players more options and allows them to expand their game. However, Destiny 2’s vaulted content makes it harder for new players and weakens the game’s narrative threads.

Not only is the base Destiny 2 campaign over, but also the first major expansion campaign is gone. The original methods of obtaining certain weapons or their catalysts have been removed from those campaigns. Bungie however has tried to make them available via alternative methods. It used to be a narrative-driven quest to unlock a powerful weapon, but now it is often a “spam a bunch activities” grind using one of Xur’s exotic ciphers. It is a bit sad to see that the quests, areas and narratives that were created for them are no longer available.

Graphically Beautiful

The environment is an area where the Destiny teams have excelled, and Witch Queen is no different. The Vanguard is seen operating in Savathun’s Throne World. This area has castle-like grounds.

The castle grounds, which are pale green in color, are dotted with red hedges and foliage as well as some beautiful but disturbing statues. Although I was not sure of the overall aesthetic, I’ve been enjoying it more and more as I go. These more castle-like areas have swamplands around them that share some of the same eerie vibes.

These visuals are accompanied by a great soundtrack. It includes tracks that range from ambient and environmental to more intense fight songs. Although I haven’t yet heard any of it that I find as impactful, I do find myself listening to the new soundtrack when I sit at my desk. As I write this review, I am actually listening to it.

There is no Guardian Like Us Before

Destiny 2’s newest update isn’t without its quirks. There are some strange respawn points that I have experienced when I’ve been killed in the campaign. I’ve also seen enemies just floating into the air. The Witch Queen is a game I enjoy immensely and I’m glad that I started giving Destiny 2 more time.

The addition of weapon crafting and the revamp of the Void subclass has brought a lot of fresh air to the game. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them and making my Titan the best space-captain America possible.

Two of the campaigns are now complete and the exotic quests from the previous expansion have been removed. The game definitely gives you some FOMO (fear that you will miss out) vibes. For those who have been playing Destiny 2 for a while, this won’t be a problem. It’s a good idea to jump in if you have been thinking about it, especially since the story continues with each Season. Season of the Risen, which adds an activity and story to the expansion, was not covered in this review.

The Witch Queen’s new story is well worth the effort. The game also features some of the most impressive gunplay I have ever seen.

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