Destiny 2 Witch Queen review-in-progress

The latest expansion from Bungie has been released, and it’s a big one, it’s the Witch Queen. This is a story that has been building for years, and Destiny 2 fans have been drinking it in over the last couple of weeks. I’ve put in countless hours into The Witch Queen, and today I am going to bring you my review-in-progress. This is also going to be a spoiler-free discussion, so if you haven’t played the Witch Queen campaign then I won’t go into story spoiler details.

Let’s start out at the beginning with the campaign. One of the biggest changes Bungie has implemented here is the introduction of the Legendary Campaign, which increases the difficulty but not to an insane amount. Over the past few years, Bungie has been ramping up the difficulty on the PVE content with Legend and Master Nightfalls, Lost Sectors, and also Grandmaster Nightfalls too. This is the first time we’ve had this treatment for the campaign, and you have to say that this is by far the best campaign Bungie has put together for Destiny 2 and it’s better by a country mile compared to other campaigns.

Over the past year Savathun, sister of The Taken King Oryx, has been waging a campaign against us by infiltrating the Last City and wreaking havoc. She nearly caused a civil war in the Last City by infecting residents with a tune called Savathun’s Song, this turned many of the Last City against one another due to the conflict between Eliksni and Humans. Mara Sov, The Awoken Queen, returned last season to uncover Savathun’s plan and imprisoned her, only for Savathun to escape at the end of the season.

In the Witch Queen campaign, we pick up right where things left off and we’re headed to Mars, which has mysteriously been returned, although it’s changed. The Cabal are setting up massive cannons there, and have them trained on something that isn’t us. They are pointed up, towards Savathun’s massive Throne World ship that has arrived in the solar system. We soon cannon ourselves onto the ship, only to find that the Hive has somehow gained access to The Light, the space magic that powers our abilities, and essentially gives us life through our ghosts. How did they get the Light? They must have stolen it somehow, and it’s up to us to find out what’s happened.

What ensues after this opening is a blockbuster campaign over a series of 8 missions, which takes us all over the Throne World plus the planets and the moons. Bungie has been very generous with their upgrade materials, constantly giving throughout the campaign allowing us to level up as we go. Previously in Destiny campaigns, we would have to stop the campaign and go and level up somewhere else for a little while, but the campaign was very generous with its rewards. All of our gear has been brought up to the new minimum of 1350, which meant we could use anything to kick off the campaign, however, you are quickly into the leveling grind with blue items and new weapons.

The legendary campaign mixes things up with difficult-but-not-impossible encounters, plus there are a number of set pieces throughout the campaign with returning classic characters from Destiny 1, nods boss battles from raids-gone-by and the whole thing culminates in an entertaining, and tough boss fight to end the story. We also get a tantalizing peek at what’s next for the Destiny 2 story, in one of the most interesting cutscenes we’ve seen in franchise history. The story throughout, the cutscenes, and character development was fantastic. We have a few new characters introduced, and our perceptions of existing characters are thrown into disarray. The story twists and turns, and in the end, you don’t really know how it’s going to pan out until it does.

This is the culmination of a huge year for storytelling in the Destiny 2 franchise. Beyond Light was a turning point for the narrative team, and season-over-season the team at Bungie has been producing some fantastic storytelling, even though much of Beyond Light’s gameplay fixes were focused on the issues introduced by Stasis. The Witch Queen Campaign was great storytelling, great mechanics, and stands on its own two feet as a great shooter campaign, and definitely the best we’ve had in Destiny history.

Once you have finished the campaign, much like expansions before it, things open up with new activities introduced on the Throne World, plus you have a few exotic quests, and a ton of loot to hunt down and try.

One element of that new loot is a new archetype of weapon, called The Glaive. This is a combination of things; it’s a melee weapon, you can shoot at the range, plus you can hold up a shield. It’s a first-person weapon, unlike the other melee attack weapons we have in the game like swords. I wasn’t expecting to like the glaive very much looking at the preview trailers, but I can happily say the glaive is now a staple weapon of my current loadout, and I’ve been enjoying my time with it. Bungie mentioned during a recent ViDoc that during development this thing was nicknamed the ‘murder stick’ and you can really see why, this thing just kills everything in it’s path. Rather than just a simple poke, you can combo enemies, plus you can shoot a decent damage shot from distance, and you also have the shield capabilities too.

We are introduced to the new Glaive weapon through another new feature in the Witch Queen, one that we have been asking about for some years and this is weapon crafting. You can access The Relic on the Enclave near the Throne World, and there you can shape and reshape weapons. To be able to craft weapons you first have to collect the weapon pattern and gather a bunch of materials, level up the weapon to unlock perks and traits, and then you can craft the weapon you want. I’ve only really interacted with this feature on the surface level at the moment, but it looks like it’s going to change the game significantly. Early in the game, we craft our new legendary glaive weapon, and then after the campaign, you can also craft the new Exotic Submachine Gun called Osteo Striga if you purchased the Deluxe Edition of the game.

I have some serious problems with my vault, I went into the Witch Queen expansion with about 350/500 items, and I’m already running out of space. From what I understand weapon crafting was supposed to help with vault space, but I am finding the opposite at the moment. It’s clogging up more space than it’s helping, but it’s early days for the new system. It’s a fairly new and complicated system to get your head around in the context of Destiny 2, but so far I like it and can see the potential. I think we’re conditioned to find weapons and not craft them, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

Another major update with Witch Queen was Void 3.0. This is a complete overhaul of our Void Subclass to move it into the same subclass type as Stasis. We now have much more freedom to pick and choose the combinations through the Aspects and Fragments. Thankfully, all of these are available to us when we start the campaign, and gone are the tedious quests to unlock new one’s season over season. I don’t think I ever finished all characters aspects and fragments on my other characters in Beyond Light, and I’d love to see Bungie go back and retrospectively unlock all stasis abilities for us. Void 3.0 is great and this led me to pick a Warlock to start The Witch Queen and I haven’t been let down.

Void explosions seem to be the flavor of the month at the moment, and with the Warlock, I have grenades, class abilities, and rifts that can help me out in battle. Void 3.0 has brought the space magic back to Destiny 2, without it overwhelming the sandbox. Beyond Light brought stasis with it, but for many players that ruined the game for them, with many top players leaving. In the post-launch updates in Beyond Light, we spent nerfing stasis and rebalancing the sandbox as PVP was almost ruined. Void 3.0 doesn’t seem to have had that effect, which is good news for all of us.

Bungie has brought their A-Game with the new loot. We have Throne World weapons, a new world loot pool, new exotics, and plus a whole bunch of new Exotic Armour pieces. The Throne World weapons are very good, I like the look of them and a few of them stand out like the Forensic Nightmare Submachine Gun and Father’s Sins Sniper. The new World Loot pool weapons have the ridiculous Funnelweb Submachine Gun, which is very much like the old classic Recluse from seasons gone by, plus Krait, a new Auto Rifle.

It feels like there is something here for everyone and the sandbox feels very fresh. With Exotics, we have the Osteo Striga, a new Submachine Gun that fires Toxic damage, which could be a nod to an upcoming subclass in Destiny 2’s future. Grand Overture is a Cabal Grenade Launcher, which makes you feel like a Colussus. We also have the Parasite Grenade Launcher which shoots Hive Worms.

Finally, we have the Vow of the Disciple Raid coming this weekend. It’s currently the eve of the new raid, which is why this is a review in progress and not a review. I can’t wait to jump into the new raid, which is always the pinnacle of the Destiny 2 PVE experience, plus we’re going to get a whole raft of new weapons and armor from that too. It’s highly likely the world will change in some way after the raid if the last couple of expansions is anything to go by.

Destiny 2’s The Witch Queen has been a huge success from my point of view. There was a lot of pressure on the team to deliver and I think Bungie has done a great job. Bungie has put out some great expansions in the past including the Taken King in 2015 followed by Forsaken in 2018. However, back then Bungie had the help from Activision, this is Bungie doing it on their own, and they’ve managed to create something pretty special.

Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Bungie
Release Date: 22nd February 2022
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Google Stadia