Destiny 2

By on on Reviews, 5 More
close [x]

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen – Review

Destiny 2 has entered year 5 of its life cycle and they have certainly started it off with a bang for their latest expansion, The Witch Queen. Given that this has been the longest time in between major expansions for Bungie’s MMO/RPG, and with the recent purchase of Bungie studios by Sony, it’s safe to say that all eyes are firmly fixed on this space. For this review in progress, I will mainly focus on what the Witch Queen expansion has brought to the table, how things have changed, and what to expect in the coming year.

The Witch Queen Savathûn, a Hive God that has been lurking behind the scenes and causing unspeakable turmoil, has finally come to the forefront. For Destiny veterans, seeing the sister of Oryx, the Taken King, is enough to send shivers down your spine, and for new players, her imposing presence and demeanour immediately sets the tone for the new big bad. Savathûn is more than just a threat on her own, she has managed to harness the power of ‘The Light’ from ‘The Traveler’ and bestowed it upon her Lucent Broad followers, creating Hive that can use our own powers against us.

With so much riding on the success of these new revelations, the question will fall on how to engage with veterans, returning players, and bringing in new guardians as well. Typically with MMO’s the major gatekeeper is the levelling system and players feeling like they will be left behind if they started now. To account for this, Bungie has continued their previous major expansion plans of bringing everyone’s weapons and armour up a standard base power across the board and a new soft and hard cap limit has been set in place. While it may seem that this idea diminishes the hard work put in by long-standing players, the difference is those players will still have a much more diverse arsenal to pick from, but the new players will be able to keep up with them as they forge their own destiny.

To get an army of excited players ready for battle, a new revamp of the void subclass has been introduced which brings its customisation in line with the recently introduced Stasis from Beyond Light, the previous major expansion. Being able to install artefacts and fragments for specific abilities, such as the Titan now being able to drop a class ability shield and give an overshield to anyone behind it, has breathed new life into a long-standing subclass. Being able to create volatile rounds with a match void weapon has opened up opportunities for some devastating builds and I can’t want to see what players uncover.

For an oversimplification of events, Savathûn has manifested her own Throne World and is now free from the Hive worm parasite, leaving us no choice but to wage war on her home turf. A new campaign set across eight missions will be available with a normal edition and the newly coveted legendary difficulty. For those familiar with Destiny, this is similar to contest mode on day one raids or Grand Master nightfalls, in that you cannot over level as your level is capped to provide the intended difficulty.

Players will still need to level up, but thanks to a generous loot system, especially on Legendary, you should organically reach 1500 in no time. In the past, the campaign experience for Destiny has admittedly been a hit-and-miss situation. While the story may provide exciting cutscenes or particular set pieces, they ultimately just felt like a checklist to get through.

The level design and Legendary difficulty system in the new campaign has far exceeded previous iterations with life improvements and ingenuity. Bungie has gone back and forth on how to make a game fun without tipping the scale between unfair and unbalanced sandboxes. In the Legendary campaign, there will be certain sections that give each player a single revive token if playing in a fire team, with a 30-second timer to revive a fallen player before your attempt will fail and cause your team to restart. It was a solution that is present in other sections of the game, but something so simple gives new life to the campaign formula.

For players that don’t have two players to join their three-person fire team, the game will dynamically scale down the Health of a boss and enemy density for solo or duo teams. This implementation is a welcome one but did present a few notable difficulty spikes with more team members, and in some cases, was actually easier to play solo rather than bring in reinforcements. I did find the campaign much more engaging with certain boss fights such as the “The Ghosts” mission feeling like a Dungeon encounter that you might find in ‘Pit of Heresy,’ and this has given more than a few guardians a deep sweat trying to complete. The playing experience was only half of the fun though. The story has jumped forward in leaps and bounds and was full of shocking twists and some major plot points revealed for the remainder of Destiny 2’s life cycle.

So when the campaign has been successfully knocked out and you are looking for the next thing to scratch that itch, where do the players turn? A new 6 player activity, the ‘Court of Thorns,’ continues on the fight in the new playable area, ‘The Throne World,’ which gives ample opportunity for players to engage in the new weapon crafting system. After years of static roles on weapons to randomised perks, either giving players a headache or drive to keep farming, now we can make use of that farming in a more productive way.

There is still an element of RNG to get a weapon frame, but now weapons can drop with a red border around them, and after simply using them and banking the resources from them, you can then build your own version. Building a base model then lets you level them up to reshape with better perks, and time will tell how tedious this may become, but at the moment, it seems very manageable compared to previous grinds with no real direction.

Two new three-player strikes directly tie into the ongoing campaign with dramatically different aesthetics. The Throne World, an imposing set of stone structures with an insect-like infestation of Hive growths overtaking the world, also houses some of the monolith-inspired factories inspired by the Darkness for a host of secrets to be uncovered. The previously Vaulted Mars has also been rolled back to an extent for some red sand-covered inspired Cabal infrastructure. Let’s see if any Destiny 1 players will recognise anything when they unlock the ’Vox Obscura’ exotic mission.

Last but definitely not least, the brand new raid, Vow of the Disciple, launched to universal applause with an absolutely brutal contest mode in one of the most intensive raids since the Last Wish. The entire setting of the raid set in the heart of Savathûn’s throne world, diving deep into the monolithic structure built by the darkness instilled a sense of impending doom and dire straights. It had the scope of the Leviathan raid in terms of exploration and secrets, the complexity of the Last Wish with a huge emphasis on communication between your fireteam, and the most engaging arenas to move through during an encounter. All of this led to a final showdown with Rhaulk who after diving into the lore is one of the most unique and devastating characters to ever be seen on screen in a Destiny game. 

The Witch Queen expansion has rivalled the hype of the ‘Taken King’ expansion back in Destiny 1 and is arguably the stronger of the two with a dynamically fleshed-out Villain, huge story implications, and Campaign, weapon, and player ability overhaul. Destiny 2, has never been more accessible and entertaining. Bungie has raised the bar to unthinkable heights, this is the definitive vision of Destiny and I can’t wait to see what other secrets are hiding just beneath the surface. 

The Good

  • Vow of the Disciple raid is an instant classic
  • Weapon crafting offer a focus goal
  • Campaign is the best iterations to date
  • Dynamic villain and new setting are a perfect fit
  • New enemies wielding the Light are a great edition
  • Unique and fun new exotic weapons
  • Void 3.0 is a game changer
  • Amazing value in terms of content
  • Accessible for new and returning players

The Bad

  • RNG can still be a cruel mistress

Written by: Shane Fletcher


A lot of the crew here at MKAU Live Stream over on TwitchTV. Be sure to check them all out via the links below.

Bigfoot NZ





Keep up with everything gaming with the MKAU Gaming Podcast.

Available on the following platforms:

Google Podcasts
Pocket Casts