Destiny 2: The Witch Queen Review – A shining light in the darkness

Has Bungie set a new bar for the Destiny franchise?

destiny 2 the witch queen season of the risen

We’re now in early 2022, almost five years since the base game of Destiny 2 was released and in that time, we’ve seen many an expansion, building on the relatively shaky initial launch to create an MMO FPS hybrid Bungie has been promising.

With The Witch Queen, the latest expansion for the Destiny franchise, it looks to enable that even further, bolstering the MMO elements with new introductions of features such as weapon crafting and in-depth ability trees alongside Bungie’s bread and butter of a compelling campaign.

This is my review of what The Witch Queen brings to the table as a whole, potentially putting Destiny 2 in its best place for some time, maybe ever.

The Witch Queen Campaign

destiny 2 the witch queen season of the risen

I won’t get too spoilery when discussing The Witch Queen’s Campaign but boy is it a masterclass in storytelling. It wraps up a plethora of story beats that have been building for some time, even since the original Destiny, while also posing more questions for the future of our Guardian’s fate. You also get to see and face off against Savathun in all her mysterious glory, an incredible sight even for those that haven’t been playing Destiny 2 and know what implications it has lore-wise.

Speaking of incredible sights, The Witch Queen’s aesthetics are second to none. It’s quite clear to see that Destiny 2 is a pretty game as a whole but Bungie’s art department this time has taken it to new heights. Savathun’s Throne World has both breathtaking vistas while also having those minute, creepy details, all adding to the dark ambiance this expansion seeks to create. 

Coupled with the jaw-dropping visuals is the soundtrack. We’re going dark here and the ambiance definitely reflects that with music that could be up there with the original Destiny soundtrack for me. The general feeling running through the Campaign is certainly haunting at times, mix that with some horror-like violin screeches and things start to get a bit too creepy…

Finally, again, not going into too much detail to allow you to experience it for yourself, but the missions within the Campaign are, in my opinion, the best Bungie has put out for the franchise. They’re long, challenging, and never seem like a chore. You can also bump up said difficulty with the new Become Legend mode similar to that of higher difficulty Nightfalls. I personally played through The Witch Queen campaign on this mode because A, I’ve always chosen to max out difficulty on activities to get more rewards, and B, I clearly just enjoy pain, especially since I ran through solo.

Gear & Weapon Crafting

destiny 2 glaive crafting

As with every expansion Bungie puts out, there are new weapons and gear to grab as you progress. There are a bunch of new Exotic weapons and armor as well as the whole new Glaive weapon archetype. These are all pretty great and have designs, both visually and mechanically, that have been well thought out allowing for usage in a few different ways.

Touching quickly on the Glaive, I personally think it is a brilliant addition to the game. It’s an interesting weapon design that can be used in a multitude of conditions and if you get a bit of time with it, can boast some solid DPS in PVE and PVP.

One of the big features Bungie has been touting with The Witch Queen is, of course, the introduction of the long-awaited weapon crafting system. This completely revolutionizes the ‘god roll’ mechanic and allows you to actually level up your arsenal through your actions. Of course, you’ll be relying on certain drops and a bit of material farming but it’s a pretty pain-free process that Guardians have welcomed with open arms.

Weapon crafting as a whole is a huge step in the right direction to make your gear matter and with some learning on your end, it could make for some very interesting PVP plays and Raid boss burns.

Void 3.0

destiny 2 witch queen void aspects

Akin to the introduction of Stasis in the previous Destiny 2 expansion Beyond Light, The Witch Queen looks to bring those important Subclass customization features to older variants, the first being Void.

Void 3.0 aims to allow for true, full customization of your abilities with your choices having quite drastic effects for your build. Not only will you be able to select different grenade types and certain effects dodging has, for example, you’ll also be able to apply Aspects and Fragments allowing for complex builds to occur.

In my experience with Void 3.0 one word sticks out – fun.

Even before getting into the nitty-gritty of the actual builds, simply having the option to further mix things up with abilities is great. Having suppression, weakening enemies, gaining overshields, and more as part of this small part of customization just adds that extra layer of thought in your gameplay. When you put the use of Fragments on top of this, however, is where it gets interesting. In-depth, complex builds can be formed both for PVE and PVP which, if you want to go deep enough, can consume you for some time.

With both Solar and Arc getting their revamps later down the line, we’ll shortly be seeing incredible levels of customizability that simply can’t be matched by any other FPS out there.

Vow of the Disciple Raid

destiny 2 witch queen raid leak

We waited to publish this review of The Witch Queen just to get a look at what the Vow of the Disciple Raid has to offer and boy does this end-game experience deliver.

The visuals, again, are simply stunning, especially once you get deep within the Pyramid and start to traverse the various zones within. You’ll be faced with not only the well-designed bosses but also the intricate puzzles that have only been going from strength to strength with every new Raid introduced. The length of the actual Raid is also nice, not too long, not too short, allowing for new players or veterans of the franchise to enjoy it.

Similar to the Campaign we talked about previously, we won’t get into spoiler territory, but as fun as the bosses are, the lore implications for the future of Destiny are where things get extra juicy and something that I’m extremely excited to see play out.

The only real gripe with Vow of the Disciple was the day one experience. It was glitchy, buggy, and incredibly awkward for the World’s First race, in which a variety of groups were banging their heads against invisible walls, hoping to get through the various encounters by getting checkpoints from other teams. This was due to a number of different reasons, the biggest one being a certain boss fight completion halting progression entirely. 

This has, however, been ironed out since and Bungie opted to extend the Contest mode of the Raid to 48 hours from the usual 24 hour period.

Does Crucible get some love?

destiny 2 patch notes

Finally, let’s talk Crucible.

At this point, PVP is almost like the black sheep of the Destiny family. It appears that yet again, there have been no real improvements made to Crucible. No new maps have been developed for The Witch Queen which is a real shame considering that the expansion was delayed, and to me, it seemed like the perfect time to intertwine the beautiful vistas of Savathun’s throne world into PVP arenas.

The only saving grace (and even that’s a push) is that two older Destiny 2 maps return – Vostok and Eternity. These are both solid maps in my opinion but not absolutely top-tier. It would’ve been nice to maybe see some remakes of maps from the original Destiny *cough* Asylum, as a small token of appreciation to the PVP community.

As for the overall Crucible experience, Void 3.0 does help it out and provides more of a fun factor but it really isn’t enough to keep it fresh. Let’s hope we see more Crucible love as more Seasons get introduced.

Rejuvinated hope for Destiny’s future

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen has certainly reinvigorated the franchise, bringing back old players, and creating an experience that newcomers can really sink their teeth into. The introduction of even more MMO style elements really helps with this, not only allowing for more longevity in this expansion and beyond, but it also enables you to truly fine-tune your Guardian, almost stamping your own personality on it.

The campaign is nothing short of incredible, boasting an intriguing story arc that again, sets the stage for the future expansion Lightfall set to release in 2023. I almost felt like I was experiencing a classic Halo-esque campaign. The missions themselves were much longer, set up progressing story beats, and provided a challenge that, aside from the Raid formula, has been missing from Destiny since its inception.

All of these components form an experience that sets a new bar for Destiny 2 and something that I hope Lightfall lives up to.

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen Review

The Good
  • Incredible campaign
  • Difficulty options
  • A whole lot to do
  • Top-tier visuals
The Bad
  • Little love for PVP
  • Some content behind pre order paywall
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0 /5

The Witch Queen showcases Bungie (and Destiny) at its best. Top-tier storytelling, eye-watering visuals, and integrating valuable additions to the game that seek to keep Guardians entertained until the next Season of content drops. Yes, both weapons and armor might need a little tuning, and PVP elements seem to have been left a little in the dark, but we expect these to be tended to in due course, elevating the full experience that bit further.

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