Destiny 2 The Witch Queen Review – Destiny's Greatest Expansion so far?
Bungie’s most ambitious expansion for Destiny 2 has been out for a good 2 weeks now. The Witch Queen marks the 5th year of Destiny 2’s life span. Bringing us a new story and villain alongside a new season that takes us into the mind of the enemy. And I have got to say. They have done a really impressive job here.
SPOILER WARNING. I will be discussing many plot points, characters and other pieces of content in this review. So, beware of spoilers.
The Best Story in Destiny So Far
Destiny 2 The Witch Queen puts us against the God of Cunning herself. Savathun. Who has managed to obtain the power of the light. We must dive into Savathun’s Throne World, and discover the truth for ourselves. With two weeks passed, I am sure most of you have completed the story. So, I am going to discuss some of the points a little bit, but not too in depth.
It is definitely worth playing too. The Witch Queen delivers the finest story telling seen so far in the Destiny franchise. Exploring the web of lies that have been set out by our opponent, discovering new truths behind our greatest threats and allies.
You really get to understand every character's motivation and you begin to see them in new ways that we didn’t see before. Even at the end I was questioning if fighting Savathun was the right decision. But it all leads up to darkness. The story here not only does a great job as to building characters, expanding the story and pushing us to fight, but it sets an excellent foundation as to what comes next. The Witness.
The entity behind the darkness finally has a name. And a face. That face being a really goofy one too. The Witness was a villain regularly discussed as we explored Savathun’s memories. The embodiment of darkness itself. And as the campaign closed, we got our first look. The design of the Witness is very odd. If you haven’t seen it, imagine Megamind. The build-up to its arrival begins now too, and I cannot wait to see what happens.
This is definitely the best story that has come out of Destiny so far. And I am so hyped for not only the upcoming seasons, but also for the release of Lightfall in 2023 (hopefully).
Test Your Metal with a Legendary Campaign
The Witch Queen is the first expansion in Destiny's history to feature a legendary difficulty. A way for players to truly test themselves in this incredible story. Having done this myself, I did not find it as difficult as I would have hoped it to be.
True it was significantly more difficult than the normal mode, it didn't really push the limits as I expected it would. I am not saying it is bad, in fact I found it quite enjoyable. If you are expecting a huge challenge, you won't find it here. It is at a sort of middle ground where it is difficult, but not to the point where you are constantly in a struggle.
And there are a few reasons why I believe this. First is that the light level difference is not that huge, and if you are at the right level you aren't that far from your enemies. Second is that the gear that we have available simply shreds. With weapons like Gjallahorn and over powered fusion rifles, enemies and bosses are hardly a struggle. And third is the new void 3.0 system.
Devour Your Enemies with Void 3.0
Void 3.0 has arrived and it is the first of the light subclass reworks. With arc and solar reworks making their way in the next few seasons. And I have got to say, void is truly exceptional now.
It has never been easier to take down opponents. Void 3.0 makes it incredibly easy to apply constant debuffs and high damaging effects, to the point where enemies hardly get the chance to hit you. The fact you can easily throw one vortex grenade and watch all of your surrounding enemies get sucked in like a black hole before getting disintegrated is just awesome.
And each class has their own strengths. The hunters ability to regularly go invisible and avoid enemies, before applying suppression or weakness makes it easy to take down Lucent hive without being spotted. The warlocks incredible ease to activate devour and regenerate on kills along with applying numerous debuffs. And the titans ability to wipe out hordes using volatile abilities is simply outstanding.
Void 3.0 feels truly extraordinary and brings a level of power that cannot be ignored. Just from the success of this void update, I cannot wait to see how arc and solar are upgraded too.
Exploring a Realm of Light and Dark
The gateway to Savathun’s Throne World is open. And what a world it is. You have the twisting and enormous castle that embodies the mind of our opponent, combined with a dark and murky swamp that is riddled with secrets.
Though there are only three public areas, the Throne World is brilliant. Visually the world is excellent and has some areas that really create a thrilling atmosphere. Full of little secrets and additional foes to face. And throughout the story you will get to visit and explore some incredibly exciting locations. Sathona’s temple was a favourite of mine. The dark underground and menacing appearance that is shows, along with the enemies hidden inside are excellent.
I think the Throne World reputation is a good change too. Instead of gathering materials to rank up the vendor, you will be automatically given reputation based on the activity you are doing. For example, a public event will give around 120xp. And as you level up with Fynch (the new Throne World vendor) you will unlock new rewards, upgrades and activity options. A nice change for sure. Though it can feel a little slow to rank up, it is a far better system than before.
While on this topic, I want to say that I think the new public event “Resonant Splinter” is just bad. If you haven’t played it already, it is essentially just escorting the payload but it stops the payload twice through the event so that you can clear out some enemies and destroy some cubes. It’s just really boring. The same applies for Wellspring attack too, but I’ll take about this later.
New Strikes to Play
Two new strikes have made their way with the Witch Queen. The Birthplace of the Vile and the Lightblade are both new entries and take us into some really exciting locations. With Birthplace of the Vile taking us deep into the heart of the Dark City in search of a great power. And the Lightblade opening the Temple of Oryx to us, and returning an old threat that many of you will recognise from the Darkblade strike from the Taken King.
These strikes are really cool. With both being very fascinating and full of incredible sections that really help to build up the world and Destiny universe. When these two become available as grandmaster nightfalls, I just know it is going to be a blast.
Storming the Wellspring
One of the new activities introduced with the Witch Queen was the Wellspring. There are two different versions of this mode, Wellspring attack and Wellspring defend. The mode rotates daily between the two as well.
Starting with Wellspring attack. Wellspring attack is designed to make it feel like you are storming a castle. And for the most part I think the objectives in this mode are boring. Just like with the resonant splinter public event, Wellspring has a very similar escort the payload objective. You escort the splinter through an area to blow up a gate. Escort the payload as a whole is just a boring objective. It isn’t very enjoyable to sit on a small pyramid for several minutes and destroying crystals. And then it is followed up by a mind-numbing defend the plate/objective encounter.
The boss fights in Wellspring attack are fine. The final encounter is very simple and easy to do. Though it was affected quite greatly by bugs from launch. Sometimes in the boss fight, the wizard you need to kill could fall underneath the floor making it unkillable. Or the orb that the wizard drops would fall under the floor making it unobtainable. And neither the wizard or orb respawn. So, if it happened, you would be forced to leave and start again. Which was very frustrating. But thankfully these issues seem to have subsided, so there’s no longer a need to worry.
Now onto Wellspring defend. I don’t find defend as boring or tedious as attack, but it isn’t perfect either. Wellspring defend starts with another boring defend the objective. Where you just have to stand around the Wellspring for about 3 minutes killing enemies. Again, just an uninteresting encounter. The rest of the activity is fairly decent though. The room clearing section right after the opening feels very fast paced and is very enjoyable, and the boss at the end keeps that feeling going.
For the most part though, I do think the Wellspring activity falls a bit flat. Mostly due to its unappealing objectives. The exclusive drops I feel are also too low, but I will take about this a bit more under weapon crafting.
Delving into the Deep in the Vow of the Disciple Raid
Now onto the biggest part of the DLC in my opinion. The raid. If you are an experienced player, or even a new player, you know how big of a deal this is. Destiny 2 raids are the pinnacle of the game. Providing a challenge that will test most teams. And last Saturday, the world’s first race kicked off. And the Vow of the Disciple raid opened to us, throwing us deep into darkness territory.
Taking place in the sunken Pyramid ship in Savathun’s Throne World, we get to see some truly devastating opponents. This is a Scorn raid first of all. So be prepared for some heavy hitters if you are going in.
Another Strong Raid Experience
I have got to say, they have done a really great job once again with this raid. The encounters and bosses have some quite complex mechanics that not only test your skill, but your ability to work as a team. There is hardly a point in the raid where you feel relaxed. Every player is put on their toes from the very first encounter. But it only gets more intense as you head further in.
The final boss, Rhulk the Disciple of the Witness, is a true badass. His move set, abilities and the mechanics tied to him are all a challenge. Requiring a level of precision that will take you quite a bit of time to master. It isn't like the previous raids where you could sit in a well of radiance and dish out a load of damage without the worry of dying. Rhulk forces you to be constantly on the move with his rapid movements, massive area of effect attacks and devastating close quarter blows, all of which in a small enclosed arena. A true challenge that I am all for.
There is another boss earlier in the raid, the Caretaker. And though the fight is not as intense as Rhulk, it certainly isn't a pushover. D1 veterans will get what I mean when I compare this to the Golgoroth encounter from King's Fall. The Caretaker has a lot of health that you need drain while also switching between damage zones. I do feel like this encounter was quite straightforward, especially after the first one. But it was still very entertaining none the less.
I’m going to quickly mention the rewards too. In terms of weapons, I think they are very good for the most part. So far, I have managed to obtain the linear fusion rifle “Cataclysm” and the new stasis fusion rifle “Deliverance.” Both have been very enjoyable to use so far and have a really nice perk pool. The other weapons also look nice when it comes to design and perk combinations. I cannot wait to get my hands on them in my next run.
As for armour, it’s very hit and miss for me. I think the hunter armour looks really unique and menacing. A perfect suit for darkness you could say. I think the titan armour set looks alright. I don’t think it’s mind-blowing, but it certainly fits the theme. And the warlock armour just looks a bit underwhelming in my opinion. But this does just come down to personal preference.
I only have praises for the Vow of the Disciple. A really entertaining experience that players should definitely try out.
Following the completion of the raid we got access to a new mission named “Preservation.” I wanted to bring this up and I found it very interesting. It looks like this is going to be a weekly mission as well. After defeating Rhulk, this mission became available. Taking us back into the Pyramid to clear out the Scorn that are attempting to take over. If you aren’t willing to do the raid just yet, this is a great chance to get yourself a look inside the raid location.
The most fascinating part about this mission was its look into Rhulk. Telling us more about his past, his connection to the Witness and some other lore points that are very well done. Obviously, this is only the first week. So, there is sure to be a lot more on the way. But even from the first week, it is a great addition to have.
Making the Perfect Build with Weapon Crafting
To take down a threat as big as Savathun or the Disciple, you’ll need some pretty powerful weapons. And that’s where the new weapon crafting system comes in. We’ve known about this since its reveal in the Destiny 2 showcase. Players have the ability to pick the weapon they want, and forge it to their liking. Giving you the ability to pick the role you want, or even change another.
At first, I had reservations about this system, mostly brought up by the initial failure of the transmog system. I would not say the weapon crafting system or the “Enclave” is a failure, but it certainly has its downsides.
The Good and the Bad
I’ll start with the good parts. The ability to customise and craft a weapon to your liking is fantastic. And completely removes the RNG element that can get infuriating over time. Allowing you to create some truly amazing weapons with some really epic perk combinations. Who can say no to that?
The biggest problem, however, is that the system is a huge grind. Obtaining the resources needed for the weapons is fine. It is very simple and easy to do so. But the grind really kicks in when you have to unlock the weapon patterns. And in particular Wellspring exclusive drops.
Most of you will probably understand the frustration behind this. In order to be able to craft a weapon, you need to unlock its weapon pattern. This is done by completing weapons with deepsight resonance. The process of completing the weapon is easy, it’s as simple as getting kills and completing activities. But the drop rates in the new Wellspring activity, especially for weapons with deepsight, is just way too low. Making the process a lot longer and more tedious than it needs to be.
Obtaining normal weapon patterns from the open world is easy, as they tend to be quite common. Especially when you are opening the deepsight chests that are scattered through the Throne World. And you will find that many will drop casually as you play. Wellspring drops definitely need an increase though, and Bungie have already said that this is in the works.
Final point for the weapon crafting, and that is the levelling up system. To unlock more perks and options while crafting, you need to level up a crafted weapon. I am sure many will find this a grind too, but I don’t think it is that bad. All you need to do is get kills and use the weapon to level it up. The amount needed between levels is quite tame, and can easily be done as you play casually.
Becoming a Legend with New Weapons
Now onto what most players care about. The loot. I am going to quickly start with the legendaries, and more specifically, the glaives. The glaive is brilliant, and has rapidly become one of my favourite weapon types in the game. The swift capability to use both melee and ranged attacks is amazing, and when combined with some of the seasonal mods, like suppressive glaive, you get an extraordinary weapon. It’s just a load of fun. Granted they aren’t great for boss damage. But they make up for it in every other area.
For the most part I found the new weapons quite good. And the new weapon foundry origin traits definitely play a part in making that so. If you do not know what these origin traits are, essentially every weapon has an origin trait that is tied to their make. For example, a Suros pulse rifle will have the Suros Synergy origin trait that increases handling and reduces flinch for a short time after reloading. Every new weapon will have one of these, and is not a perk that will randomly roll.
If you have played D2, then you know what an exotic is. And boy does this DLC have some good ones.
We have seen some truly epic weapons introduced with this DLC. Starting with the Osteo Striga exotic SMG. This SMG shoots tracking toxic rounds that will take effect when hitting rapid precision hits or getting kills. It is unfortunate that this gun is locked behind the deluxe edition of the DLC, because it is an exceptional weapon. Not only is it good at clearing ads, but you can customise it how you want through the Enclave. A great weapon, just a shame it is behind a paywall.
The parasite is a new exotic grenade launcher that is available through the “Of Queens and Worms” quest that you get from Ikora after completing the Witch Queen campaign. What does it do? It shoots Hive worms. Yep. That’s right. This weapon will shoot an incendiary Hive worm. And though it seems like a joke exotic, it is actually a great weapon to use. When you get kills with another weapon, the parasite’s damage stacks upwards to 20x (based on the number of kills). Causing it to do massive amounts to bosses in a single shot. Definitely recommend getting it, not just because the weapon is good, but also because the quest is a bit of a laugh as well.
Following the world first completion of the Vow of the Disciple, the three new exotic glaives became available through the board at the Enclave. Of course, these are class exclusive. Hunters get the Edge of Concurrence, an arc glaive that fires a lightning bolt that runs across the floor and chains between enemies. Warlocks get the Edge of Intent, a solar glaive that fires healing turrets when fully charged. And titans get the Edge of Action, a void glaive that plants a void bubble on full charge. And these glaives are all really nice. They all play to each classes strengths and have some truly epic and useful abilities.
The quest to get them is very straight forward and quick, but it does require the completion of all previous reports. And given that there is one that requires the crafting of two of the Wellspring weapons, it may take you some time.
Of course, with the new raid we got a new exotic raid weapon. Complete random drop from the final encounter as usual. And this is certainly an interesting one. The Collective Obligation. A new void pulse rifle that leeches and plants void debuffs. It is a bit tricky to get your head around at first, so I will try and explain it the best I can. This pulse rifle has two firing modes. One that leeches void debuffs (suppression, weakness and volatile). And another firing mode that applies these debuffs to enemies.
So, say if I were to suppress an enemy. I could use the leeching firing mode to add that debuff to the weapon, switch firing modes and apply the suppression to another enemy. You can leech all three debuffs at the same time and apply them. So, this does seem to be quite a unique and interesting exotic. Unfortunately, I did not manage to get this on my first attempt. But I am looking forward to getting it. Hopefully it won't take as long as it took for me to get Vex Mythoclast.
Grand Overture isn’t an exotic with the Witch Queen, but rather from the Season of the Risen season pass. This gun is designed to make you feel like a Cabal colossus. With this gun there are two firing modes. The main mode is a railgun-like mode that fires arc blasts. And for every shot that lands, you get one rocket in the alternate volley firing mode. When you switch to this mode, you will release all of the missiles you have stored in the mode rapidly. Causing massive damage. Another massively entertaining weapon that packs a punch.
And the final exotic that has been released so far, the Dead Messenger. A handheld wave frame grenade launcher that you get from the seasonal mission “Vox Obscura.” What makes this gun unique is not only that you can switch between arc, solar and void damage, but the fact it fires three waves rather than the traditional one. Imagine Kargen from the Insight Terminus strike. When he unleashes his psionic blast, it fires in three directions. One ahead and two diagonally. That is exactly what this weapon does. It is a decent exotic too. Good for clearing out ads, but not a damage dealer. It’s fun I guess, but not amazing.
That is all I want to bring up for the most part. There are a lot of parts to this expansion and I feel like I have made this review long enough. So, I am going to get straight into the verdict.
In regards to this whole expansion, I think it hits pretty well. My only major complaint revolves around the Wellspring activity. I do not think it is very appealing as a game mode due to its lacklustre encounters. And the drop rates of weapons with deepsight are simply way too low.
Other than that, I think everything hits the mark. The story is definitely the best we have seen in the Destiny franchise so far and builds a great stage for the future. The weapon crafting system is nice and simple. Though some of the patterns can be a bit of the grind, I found the rest of it to be quite manageable (gathering materials, levelling up and unlocking perks etc.) Once again, the raid is a fantastically fun and chaotic experience.
Overall, I am going to give Destiny 2 The Witch Queen an 8.5/10. Just a great experience all around and I am super excited for what Bungie does in the future.