Destiny 2: The Witch Queen by developer and publisher Bungie—PC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a purchased copy.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Destiny 2 is a multiplayer first-person shooter that was originally released in 2017. At launch, it was on a high with 92 million units sold within the first week, generating a ton of revenue. Bungie release a couple of DLCs which were met with mixed reviews by fans. The DLC Curse of Osiris was arguably the worst expansion released while Forsaken revitalized the game for Bungie. Yet, with each expansion following the Forsaken (Shadowkeep and Beyond Light), the bar continually elevated. Many of us hoped that the Witch Queen expansion would change everything.
The reason is that the Witch Queen had to deliver an unforgettable experience since Destiny 2 had a storied past. Fans left the game due to an undesired direction, sunsetting of weapons, difficult partnerships, and most importantly, the removal of content. Storywise, Destiny 2 was difficult to wrap one's head around. And I personally had no concept of the lore or the prominent characters within the universe, which left me feeling behind. Up until the Witch Queen, the story was littered throughout lore books, cutscenes, and activities. These things had to be earned in order to fully understand the universe. Once Beyond Light hit, new players floundered like fish out of water. There was simply too little content to hook players. Thus, the Witch Queen had giant shoes to fill.
One of the first beneficial features of the Witch Queen expansion is the story itself. Players now have the ability to progress through the campaign on normal or legendary difficulty. Prior to this expansion, players experienced the story at one difficulty level which upset players who wanted a challenge. Players who chose the legendary campaign were experienced enough to handle the difficulty level or they were preparing for the raid race. Players did this because the legendary version would reward them with a full set of gear at 1520 light level allowing them to easily reach contest mode’s cap at 1530. Even though the story itself didn’t change, players faced more enemies (based on the fireteam size - also a new feature) and beefier opponents. Overall, having beat the campaign on legendary difficulty, I am a fan of this new direction. I’ll leave the story beats for players to experience themselves.
After playing a ton of Destiny 2 and participating in the day one raid race, I have a lot to talk about in terms of the greatest features and elements. For example, the Witch Queen had a brilliant setup from the previous season. In fact, the story built up over the course of a couple of years. Our great reveal occurred during the Season of the Splicer when we finally realized what was right under our noses. What I mean is, My Name is Byf released a video that not only shows how Savathun would become the big bad in the Witch Queen, but it showcases why many of us didn’t see her coming. In other words, Bungie’s brilliant storytelling has finally come to fruition.
One of my favorite features of the Witch Queen are the different puzzles in the Throne World. Many of the puzzles require a deepsight resonance that reveals new platforms or objects. Sometimes this causes the Witch Queen logo to appear in the area. Eventually, a portal to a new location will materialize. There are other puzzles that are found within specific missions. It gives players more context into Savathun’s thoughts. While these puzzles don’t take long to figure out, I hate that Destiny assumes we are stuck. The game would give us a hint without any sort of prompt. That said, Bungie fixed this issue after the community complained, so yay! (I like to figure things out on my own, just as an FYI.)
The Throne World brings a new public event and Guardians are introduced to light-wielding opponents - a new type of foe. These creatures are more intelligent than the average opponent. Plus, Lightbearers can use titan shields, throw solar blades, and dodge out of the way of your attacks.
The Throne World also has cleverly disguised lore. Players get to hunt for little collectible moths which will give players more lore entries and a triumph.
Another favorite aspect of the Throne World that I enjoy is its breathtaking landscape. Despite the fact that the Hive live here and is at war with the Scorn, the world doesn’t look like a normal Hive location. Personally, I found the beauty in the Florescent Canals. The area feels regal with its tall white buildings and archways attached by bridges that span over surprisingly clean rivers. In fact, the Hive aesthetic that we are accustomed to is only present in the depths of the Throne World. But there is plenty more to look at in the Throne World that players can explore.
Ever since the Beyond Light DLC, players received a new subclass known as Stasis. Not only did Guardians wield darkness for the first time, but the subclass separated its abilities into aspects and fragments. As a result, players have a new level of character customization. Once the Witch Queen launched, players received an updated version of the void subclass that would break up its abilities into fragments and aspects as well. I quite like the new direction of the subclasses because the changes pair nicely with the weapon crafting in terms of player autonomy.
So let’s talk about weapon crafting then. While I never played Destiny 1 and therefore was not familiar with the fact that weapon crafting used to exist, I found this introduction adds to our ability to customize our Guardians. Not only are we able to add mods to our armor to create character builds, but now we can craft weapons instead of endlessly grinding for god rolls. To boost this concept, Destiny 2 introduced a new weapon called the Glaive which can be customized and leveled to a players’ liking. This weapon serves multiple functions in combat as it has a melee attack, ranged attack, and shielding ability all in one! To sweeten the deal, there are exotic weapons that are specific to your class allowing for its viability in gameplay. While I haven’t unlocked the full potential of weapon crafting, this is clearly a feature that I enjoy.
There is a bit of a drawback. Players found that resonant weapons that give you the materials used to craft and customize weapons take up too much space. This is partly due to the material caps that Bungie has continually been criticized for. Players who have a ton of god rolls or armor sets now have to make tough decisions about their gear. Also, weapons not in the crafting list can drop as resonant weapons. Thus, the gear/inventory economy is still a large point of contention in the community. Give us more space or boost the cap. We beg you. I refuse to dismantle some of my favorite weapons that aren’t in the game anymore. (Also Bungie, please let us see how many of these materials are on our character. Players don’t want to waste their time only to learn that they are short on materials!)
I can’t talk about the Witch Queen expansion without talking about the changes to Gambit. Before readers bring out their pitchforks, know that I actually enjoy the mode. In fact, I’ve always liked it more than crucible because there is a PvE and PvP component in Gambit. Right before the Witch Queen launched, Bungie released an official ‘This Week at Bungie’, colloquially known as the ‘TWAB’, which detailed a number of changes. In short, Bungie focused on adding a freelance mode (similar to crucible), ammo economy, Primeval changes, invasions, and rewards. This included adding different respawn locations, shield resistances to non-matching damage types, augmented blocker health and abilities, heavy ammo for all players, and a health gated primeval.
For the most part, I feel that the changes to Gambit are fantastic. It now places the emphasis on the PvE components of the mode as opposed to the PvP elements. One cracked invader used to destroy entire teams with ease in the old version of Gambit. Since Witch Queen dropped, invaders now have to consider whether they want to get destroyed by an entire team loaded with heavy ammo or not. And as a person who is not fantastic at PvP, I appreciate having a chance at taking an invader out. I mean, I can still miss the shot!
That said, while I like most of the changes, there is a two-fold point of contention. First, even with the health gating of the Primeval, there were teams that managed to kill theirs as though health gating didn’t exist. This is frustrating because it seemed like the changes were on the right track. However, my main gripe with the rework of Gambit was regarding the matches where the opposing teams were down in players. After banking and draining motes, we were up 70 - 0. Players joined the match and not only did they catch up, but they managed to win. I’m all for fairness, but not only did they get to their Primeval, they were able to obliterate it. While I don’t know what kind of change needs to happen, I know that removing heavy ammo from the mode (like Twitter like to spout), would not be the solution. Unfortunately, the competitive community wanted Gambit to continue to be easy mode even though Destiny 2 isn’t a competitive esport. (It’s not. Stop pretending that it is and get over it. I said what I said.) In short, Gambit still needs work. Huge swaths of the community have abandoned the mode when it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. I hope that in the future, players will learn to be more adaptable to changes especially when many of those are massive improvements to the game as a whole.
The new raid, Vow of the Disciple, released two weeks after the Witch Queen expansion. While the raid was much more accessible for players in terms of gear requirements, the raid itself was quite challenging. First, it was plagued with several error codes that kicked players out of the raid. Secondly, contest mode made the encounters harder because it required coordination and skill. Finally, if players didn’t get stuck on Caretaker, they were destroyed in the final fight. Overall, it was fun and it was brutal.
Anyways, Vow of the Disciple marks the second time I’ve participated in a Day One raid, and for the second time, I’ve not successfully cleared it. Even with the extension for the exclusive emblem, exhaustion took over. But, don’t just take my word for it, the numbers don’t lie. If it wasn’t for that extension, there would be a lot fewer clears. And due to the difficulty of the raid, players who wanted more challenging gameplay found this raid to be representative of a higher difficulty. Basically, Vow of the Disciple hammered home the idea that Destiny 2 is now on a whole new level. Knowing that I quite enjoy the new raid overall. It forced players to be more cooperative and skilled instead of being carried through end-game content. (Although, that is still possible.)
Overall, I have just as much high praise for the Witch Queen as everyone else. Not only did the pre-order sales smash the numbers out of the park, but Bungie delivered on an unforgettable experience with weapon customization, gameplay difficulty, a spectacular story, interesting challenges, subclass and Gambit changes, and plenty of spicy lore to feast upon. Also, the Witch Queen has had one of the smoothest launches to date which adds to the appeal - despite some of the curious issues that plagued the raid race. Overall, I feel as though new and former Destiny 2 players would enjoy the Witch Queen expansion and should jump back into the fray. We may very well need every Guardian we can get. Trust me.
The Witch Queen is the best expansion I’ve experienced in Destiny 2. And even though I began my adventures in the revival of the franchise in Forsaken, I concur with the rest of the community in that this one tops everything Bungie has done by far. The story is spectacular, the customization capabilities elevate the enjoyment, and the difficulty of the content is in line with the community’s skill progression.
Fans of the first-person shooter genre should give the Witch Queen a try. You won’t be disappointed.Score: 9 / 10