I remember picking up the original Destiny when it first launched, and being instantly interested in this new world that Bungie had created. It had some cool designs, tons of lore, and the promise of more of both to come, as the game would continue to expand with additional DLCs.
I stuck with the game through to Destiny 2 being launched, but soon fell by the wayside as I just couldn’t keep up with the game. However, I did keep up to date with the story as it came out, and found each new DLC to be a fascinating new chapter. With The Witch Queen coming out, and promising to bring big changes and revelations to the game, I decided to see if this would be a good point at which to jump back in. It absolutely was.
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The story of The Witch Queen begins big, with Mars returning to the solar system after being stolen away in a previous story DLC. Travelling to the red planet, your Guardian learns that there are strange time rifts scattered across Mars, showing events from the planet’s past. Not only that, but the Cabal have arrived and are setting up fortifications to combat Savathun, one of the powerful gods of the villainous Hive. Using the Cabal’s tech, your Guardian is able to infiltrate Savathun’s huge ship in a moment that is pretty ridiculous but loads of fun.
Once on board the massive Hive ship, your Guardian discovers something absolutely horrific: the Hive have found a way to access the light of the Traveller, producing their own Ghosts, and giving their strongest warriors the ability to resurrect after death the same way you can. This news changes everything, and sets your Guardian out on a mission to learn how Savathun was able to acquire this ability, and to stop her if possible. This quest will take you to Savathun’s Throne World, exploring her memories, and travelling across the solar system in an attempt to stop one of your greatest enemies before it’s too late.
The story of The Witch Queen is one of the better ones that Destiny 2 has brought out. Whilst they’ve always given players interesting narratives to explore, this is possibly the most intriguing one to date. There’s the central mystery of Savathun having the power of the Traveller that you have to deal with, and this represents the main focus, but over the course of your missions you begin to learn more about the history of the character, the Hive as a whole, and get some pretty big revelations that are guaranteed to ripple out into future stories for the franchise.
As someone who’s not been playing the game for a few years, but keeping vaguely up to date with the story and the lore, the new expansion managed to be accessible enough to the point where I never felt lost. The story was complex, and relied on the player having some kind of working knowledge of the universe, but it was pretty clear that it was also accessible to people without that. It explained things as it went, and even if you didn’t know who Savathun was, you very quickly got a sense of what she was, and why her having this power was bad. So if you’re worried that you’d not be able to pick this up and play because you’d missed out on the last several DLCs, don’t worry, the story will still make sense.
But, what’s the game like outside of the story? The new expansion introduces some big new areas to explore and play in. We get introduced to Savathun’s Throne World pretty early on in the story, a place where she rules supreme and has used the Light to create a huge castle-like fortress. This new area has a big swampland, a huge cave network, a burnt forest, and the fortress itself to play through. None of these areas are small either, and thanks to having patrol objectives scattered around, you’ll never find yourself wandering without having something to do for very long.
In addition to the new areas there are some new enemies to contend with, members of the Hive who have access to the Light. These enemies are bigger, stronger, and tougher because of this. They take a lot more damage to take down, but can also dish out a lot too. These enemies are able to access some of the same abilities that players have been using, and will throw powerful attacks across the battlefield at you. Even worse, if you do manage to take them down, you’ve got to rush in and destroy their Ghost by hand, otherwise the enemy gets back up at full health. These enemies aren’t around too much, thankfully, and are instead used as mini-bosses to great effect. The fights against Light infused Hive make for some great moments, and do prove a pretty decent challenge even on standard difficulty.
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The new additions to the enemies make a group of villains that have been in the game for years feel new and interesting. You can’t just fall back on old tactics that have worked forever, and will have to try new things on the fly in order to get through the challenges. The game manages to walk this fine line where it always feels like you’re having to push yourself, like you’re just strong enough to get through but never able to just breeze through everything. You may have to re-spawn in a few times to try a boss fight more than once, but I never felt completely stuck or under-powered.
As someone who has enjoyed Destiny, but has been away from it for a number of years, The Witch Queen was the perfect expansion to get me back into the game. It felt like playing a new game itself thanks to the size and scope of it all. The story was well written and well acted, and felt like it was doing big things for this universe. Whether you’re a long time player, a lapsed player, or coming to Destiny 2 completely fresh The Witch Queen expansion makes for a great experience.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is out now for PlayStation, Xbox and PC.