Before we begin, a little bit of history. The Witch Queen is the sixth expansion for Destiny 2 since launch, and takes the game into its fifth year of extended content, called Seasons. The launch of The Witch Queen coincides with the Season of the Risen beginning. Prior to release, Bungie had gone on record saying that The Witch Queen was on track to becoming the most pre-ordered expansion in Destiny 2 history. So, has it been worth the wait? Let’s check out what is on offer, shall we?
It should come as no surprise to anyone with the slightest interest in Destiny 2 lore to hear that this new expansion revolves around Savathûn, the titular Witch Queen of the game. A sister of Oryx (him from the Destiny 1 expansion The Taken King; something that in my mind is still the best expansion Destiny has ever had), Savathûn has spent a very long time infiltrating the Tower by pretending to be Osiris first of all, and then has weedled her way into freedom by manipulating everyone who came into contact with her. But, Savathûn being free wouldn’t be too much of an issue, as a few Gjallrhorn rockets to the face will drop her like any other Hive.
No, the problem here is that Savathûn and a select few of her most powerful sidekicks seem to have acquired the Light. You know what that means – kill them, and unless their Ghost is destroyed, up they pop again a few minutes later as if nothing had happened. And, as a little bonus, the various Lucent Hive, as they are known, can also use Guardian style super attacks to really hurt you. Knights get the Void Captain America style shield, but with one in each hand, Wizards, the Warlock Tickle Fingers electric ability, and the Acolytes get the Hunters flaming knives to throw about. And Savathûn? Well, she can use whichever one she fancies.
The story follows our attempts to figure out how Savathûn got the Light (no spoilers here) and how we can best get it off her again. On the way through the campaign it promises to be a rollercoaster with a cast of returning characters, ranging from Mara Sov to Eris, Zavala to Ikora, and all will play a role in the fight to come.
So, the story promises to bring to a conclusion the arc that was begun way back in the mists of time, and I have to say it does it very well indeed. But what else do we get for our hard earned pennies? Well, it’s the usual kind of deal with these expansions – what Bungie giveth with one hand, it taketh away with the other. There is a whole new world to play with, set on a reappeared Mars (don’t ask) which is Savathûn’s Throne World. This is apparently a manifestation of her personality, and has an interesting vibe to it. When we are seeking hidden secrets, the environments are old, decrepit and not very nice, but when we are seeking Savathûn, the place is much nicer, almost shiny; the contrast between the two parts of her mind is really well suggested.
But what do Bungie take? It appears that most of the Forsaken expansion has fallen prey to the Vaulting process, This includes the whole of the Tangled shore location and its activities; they are just gone.
The Strike playlist has undergone an overhaul, and the Battlegrounds activity has been folded into the general playlist, so you’re never quite sure whether you are going to be doing a quick Strike or a twenty minute Battleground; something that feels like a backward step. If I want to do a Strike, I want to do a Strike, after all.
Other new stuff includes two new Strikes, both of which take place in the Throne World, a whole new raid called Wrath of the Disciple (which was subject to the usual race to be the world’s first completion) and a new weapon crafting mechanic. This uses a Relic found on Mars, and various blueprints and crafting materials in order to not only make weapons, but also change the way they work after they have been created. The first time we use the Relic is to make a new weapon archetype, the Glaive, which seems quite overpowered quite honestly. The Glaive can be a melee weapon, as you’d expect from a blade on a stick, but it can also fire powerful projectiles, along with deploying a shield to stop you from being harmed. Truly all things to all men.
The presentation of Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is up to the usual standard; much as we have come to expect. The game has always been a good looker, and now, running on an Xbox Series X, it is truly beautiful. The voice acting and music that go with the expansion are also brilliant. There are again, however, no new achievements tied to The Witch Queen, which makes things a little bit pointless as there is nothing to work towards, at least in my eyes.
All in all, The Witch Queen expansion for Destiny 2 is one of the better ones that Bungie has produced. With promised new content still to come, the new Strikes and Raids and the whole culmination of the Savathûn story, it is worth the price of admission. It’s still a nice time sink for when you don’t want to think too much about what you are doing. The new gear, the new missions and the new Light cap and Seasonal Activities all add up to be a bit more than the sum of its parts.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen can be downloaded from the Xbox Store