After a super long delay and an even longer season, the Witch Queen has finally arrived to Destiny 2.
Who is the Witch Queen? Her name is Savathun, and she is one of the three gods of our ancient enemy “The Hive”. We defeated her brother, Oryx, in The Taken King DLC all the way back in the original Destiny. After chasing her for so long, we finally got the chance to face her directly. However… She has a strategy on her side by stealing our most precious tool, the Light. Unbeknownst to us, Savathun and her Lucent brood have somehow gained the powers of the Light and are using them against us. There are even Hive guardians who have their own supers and even ghosts! Ready to fight back and uncover the truth?
Let’s start right off with gameplay. With the introduction of the Witch Queen campaign, there is now an option to play campaign missions on “Legendary” mode. This makes the general experience way harder than normal as the enemies have much smarter AI and deal more damage. You also can’t overlevel the enemies anymore and will always be set about 20 light below them to keep things interesting. And the cool thing is that the campaign scales to the number of players you have. For most of the campaign I played in a duo and it was pretty hard, but when you get 3 players is when things start getting really interesting.
Legendary mode creates one of the most fun and challenging experiences that I have ever had in Destiny 2. The Hive guardians are some of the toughest enemies that Bungie has ever designed and they are extremely satisfying to fight against (at least when their AI works properly… looking at you, Wizards!) They feel deadly and will easily defeat you if you aren’t taking things seriously. This is honestly so refreshing from fighting against champions, as it shows Bungie can create challenging enemies without relying on oversaturated gimmicks. Fights in general can get so serious sometimes my team and I would start debating what strategies we would be using to defeat the enemies. There might be only eight story missions, but quality over quantity shines here.
Moving on to Void 3.0, (which by the way is free for everyone) it’s the power fantasy that we have always wanted from the light subclasses. Instead of having to choose from pre-built builds, you can now build craft to your heart’s content with the aspect and fragment system adopted from stasis. Aspects give you major buffs or change your abilities in significant ways. For example, the bastion aspect on Titan changes your barricade to be bigger and now provides a void overshield. Fragments are smaller buffs that are supposed to be compliments to your main abilities. For example, the Echo of Leaching fragment gives you health regeneration for you and your buddies every time you get a void melee kill. Void feels really good now, and I can’t wait for the other light subclasses to get their 3.0 rework.
Storywise, Witch Queen promised a lot, and oh boy did it deliver! After having discovered that she stole the light, we are tasked with going to her throne world (basically a kingdom inside her personal pocket dimension) to try and uncover the truth behind this mystery. You’ll get through the campaign mostly with the help of Ikora, using a new power derived from the darkness called deep sight which reveals the secrets of the throne world, giving the whole story a physic detective theme. While there is much more to be said, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything.
Moving on to weapons, Glaives are the newest weapon type to be added to the game. They are basically staffs that you can perform melee combos with but also have a cannon attached to them in case you need to shoot something. They also have a shield that you can charge by shooting enemies with the cannon which is pretty resilient and take lots of damage. The melee combo is satisfying to do and the sound effects are just so good. However, the damage you inflict with melee is a bit underwhelming and definitely could be buffed, thankfully the melee doesn’t consume any ammo. While glaives are pretty fun overall, they feel a bit clunky at times as you can’t shoot immediately after stabbing something and vice versa. I’m not sure how they will fare in endgame content such as Grandmaster nightfalls, but I’m hopeful for the future of this weapon archetype.
Next, we’ll talk about weapon crafting, which admittedly I haven’t had much experience with but seems to hold a lot of potential. After years we are finally able to create our own weapons and are free from the chains of RNG (in a way). You can create certain weapons in the game with the perk combinations and masterwork stat you desire. However, to actually even craft a weapon you need to unlock its pattern by obtaining a deepsite version of the weapon from RNG and completing challenges with it. Collecting enough patterns allows you to craft the weapon, but before you can fully customize it, you’ll have to level up your crafted weapon. This allows you to create your preferred rolls and even allows you access to enhanced perks that are slightly better than their normal counterpoints. It’s pretty cool to create your own weapons and you’ll get to craft a glaive that also serves as an introduction to the crafting system.
On to the aspect, veterans are going to want to hear about, the new raid named Vow of The Disciple (VoTD). VoTD takes place inside one of the pyramids of the Dark Fleet that invaded Savathun’s throne world. Inside lurks an ancient evil of which even Savathun is afraid. Guardians are tasked to take down this ancient evil before it poses a threat to the last city.
VoTD has hands down the coolest final boss we have ever seen in Destiny. What makes him so special is that he actually interacts with you during the fight and doesn’t just stand still shooting at you. He is constantly moving and trying to kill you by either stabbing you with his giant glaive or trying to fry you with his giant laser attacks. And when it’s time to actually damage him, he does both of these attacks and has you constantly on your toes, forcing you to be ready to reposition yourself at any moment. Fellow writers Qtip and Micman would definitely approve of this boss as he feels ripped straight out of Dark Souls and appropriated to fit a six-person shooter.
Another thing about this raid is that it requires mostly everyone to be actively doing something the whole time. You have to have at least some knowledge of what is going on and can’t just sit back doing ad clear. This will make this raid an LFG nightmare, but it’s cool to actually have a challenging raid after so long.
It also has arguably the best aesthetics of all the raids as everything is based on Black Fleet ships. Once you walk inside the pyramid ship, you are met by a dark Tron aesthetic that is accompanied by a monologue from someone simply dubbed as the Disciple. On your pathway towards bosses, various of the enemies races we have faced in the past are preserved in eerie museum-like exhibitions which show the dominance of the foes awaiting us. The walls are filled with dark prophecies that warn us of impending doom and leave you with uneasiness. All this sets the mood very well and truly feels like you are setting foot into the lair of something sinister.
Keeping this section brief, the music, like always, is a straight banger! It complements the campaign and raid well and only further establishes Micheal Salvatori as a legendary composer.
Finally, let’s get to our faith connection. Our enemy Savathun is a trickster and will use everything available at her disposal to deceive us. In our fight against her, we are in an unfair battleground, as we are forced to fight in her throne world, where she controls everything. Despite this, we still have to try and fight back against and end her reign of terror.
This is what we must do with a much more sinister enemy, one who seeks to see our downfall and ultimately wishes to see us in hell, the devil. We live in Satan’s personal battleground as our Lord tells us in the gospels. While we live, there is the reality of spiritual warfare that we must fight against the deceiver and accuser. While we may not be battling with rifles and space magic, we must fight with humility and prayer, the most effective weapons against our enemy. As St. Peter tells us, we must resist him and stand firm in our faith.
Note: (this scoring is reflective of The Witch Queen expansion, and not of the general game, however, the morality/parental warnings section is an updated version from the original Destiny 2 review and is more reflective of the current state of the game).
⭐ Games that receive this star have a score of 95% or above. This is purely from a game design perspective and is not in any way related to our morality evaluation.
Scoring: 95% (EXCELLENT DLC/EXPANSION)
Art and Graphics: 5/5
Value: 4/5 (some of the newest content requires you to have the new season or deluxe edition, which isn’t very consumer friendly considering you need to finish the campaign to unlock this stuff)
Time Sink: In Destiny, it is easy to get caught up in the “grind” because of the MMO-like elements. This can be in chasing the highest power level or the gear with the best rolls or chasing ultimately vain things such as titles that show we are better than everyone else. For new players, all the content the game has to offer can be overwhelming as you have little idea as to where to begin and it feels as if everything is being thrown at you at once. This can take away some of the fun, but as long as you pace yourself and only play a couple of times a week and actually seek to have fun rather than just complete a laundry list of tasks. I would strongly recommend staying away from the game if you already have another game that’s meant to be paid regularly like Genshin Impact or Final Fantasy 14 as it’s never a good idea to have so many games that require you to play them frequently. They could easily become idols in your life and distract you from what God is calling you to do.
There are also a bunch of vanity items such as titles or small upgrades to weapons that become very time-consuming. For new players, there is the ‘all that is thrown at you at once’ feeling, such as a bunch of campaigns and quests which can leave you playing the game to just finish the stuff rather than have fun with it. While this is a turn-off to some, I manage to play the game only a couple of times a week and find it really fun because I know I’ll always have something new to do since I don’t grind the game very hard.
Language: Destiny is a very clean game in terms of language. The worst word I can remember is the b-word, which was in a very intense scene for the characters. Other than that I can only remember someone being called a “butthole” once and ‘hell’ being used.
Greed/value concerns: The DLC situation is in the most confusing state it has ever been, and it seems like Bungie is doing this intentionally. In order for you to have access to all the content that Destiny 2 has to offer, you would have to pay $160 at a base price! If you are thinking of buying DLC outside of bundles, the newest season is no longer included when you buy the newest expansion which is killing a trend they have had going since Shadowkeep. And despite over half the content of Forsaken, they are still trying to sell it for the content they kept! It also doesn’t help that two big pieces of content, dungeons, will no longer be included as part of seasons and will have to be purchased separately. Then content vaulting, where Bungie shelves parts of old content to be able to introduce newer content feels like adding salt to the wound as players are already paying so much, and in a couple of years, they won’t even be able to go back to the content. This is not taking into account that the game has so many microtransactions, it almost feels as if you’re playing a mobile game. While you could probably pick up all the DLC during a summer sale, I would understand if someone would not want to support this deliberately anti-consumer DLC model and I hope that they learn their lesson next year or I’m not sure new players are even going to want to try out the game.
Politics: Bungie in recent years has begun to push for a more “inclusive” environment both in their game and community. This has led to two important characters being in a gay relationship when arguably they weren’t intended to be a pairing. There are also various pride and similar movement emblems up for grabs. While this has been the extent of it up to now, it could eventually lead to more content that is contradictory to Catholic belief and take away some of the fun as we will constantly have whatever new agenda Bungie is “supporting” on display. Now there is even public support for abortion from the developrs, which is no good.
Bad philosophy/worldview: While most of the time Destiny is a game about being the hero and sticking to the right path, it has begun to promote a utilitarian and pragmatic view of sorts. This is due to the fact that the game allows players to wield the powers of the Darkness (the literal celestial manifestation of evil, as mentioned earlier), which aren’t cleansed of their dark nature and are stated to still be able to overcome their user and make them fall into darkness. It doesn’t help that the many characters see the power of Light and Dark as nothing more than tools and that the only thing that determines who is right and wrong is what someone uses that power for. There is even a push by some characters that one can not solely rely on the Light, and have to use both Dark and Light if we wish to conquer the evils we face. Characters who stick to the light are somewhat persecuted for believing that we must stick to the light, being seen as backward thinking and stubborn. To give context, this is somewhat due to recent developments in the story that have us questioning the true intentions of the being who gave us these powers, however, this doesn’t change the fact that the power of the Light is still good in itself despite the intentions of one of its benefactors. The use of evil is against Christian thought as we believe that good outcomes can only come from good means.
Occult/Magic: Various characters and organizations in the game are based on magic, such as the tech witches who use magic to control machines and create portals, or ancient religions such as the Cult of Osiris which has an Egyptian theme to it. The player also heavily uses magic-like powers referred to as the “Light and Dark”.
Violence: Despite being in the future, many guns in the game have realistic sounds and models. The players use these to shoot at enemies and at one another in various game modes, however, there is almost no blood present in the game besides the small amount on the sides of the screen when the player is damaged heavily or the black oil/energy that comes out of certain enemies when defeated. There are also finisher moves that dehumanize our enemies in a way as we make killing them a sport by allowing you to eliminate a low-health enemy in a stylish and sometimes overdramatic fashion. Thankfully, Destiny doesn’t fully encourage to play through the game as if it were a mindless shooter as over the past year we have been attempting to find peace with many of the enemies we face. Some have joined us in our battle against the Black Fleet, which has led us to reflect on how characters have allowed themselves to kill others with so little charity because of how they have wronged us and from not being able to see them as nothing more than enemies. We have come to see that we are closer to each other than we ever have thought and it has led to some really heartfelt moments.