Bungie created another high point in Destiny 2 with The Witch Queen expansion and one that will be remembered by Destiny fans overall.
When something is teased for a long time, the expectations that have grown up until that point tend to make the culmination seem weak, but this was not the case with Savathun, who has spent years as a background presence in Destiny 2. The Witch Queen proved to be a triumph for Bungie as the team delivered a campaign worthy of every praise sung to it.
Story and campaign
I've always maintained that storytelling is pretty weak in Destiny 2. The best parts tend to be hidden behind lore entries of individual items and pages hidden in lore books on the Triumphs tab while we only get a small campaign and a forgettable encounter with boss Whatstheirface. It is with great pleasure that I can inform you that Bungie turned my expectations upside down and delivered what I can see as one of the best campaigns in 2022, even though many games are still to be released since WQ launched on February 22.
The final boss of the campaign was not an unforgettable creature that just came and went as we went through the motions of dealing with trivial enemies. Bungie pulled this off largely thanks to two key points - a buildup that resulted in an epic resolution and the addition of the Legendary campaign.
As I previously mentioned, Savathun's appearance was hinted at years ago and she kept messing with Guardians in different ways but we never managed to come face to face with the master manipulator. With such a long buildup, the culmination can end up feeling epic and go down in history as a major win but it can also nosedive easily if the execution isn't good enough.
This is where the Legendary campaign came in. A simple difficulty setting drastically changed the campaign setting for me as Bungie hit the nail on the head by creating challenging battles without resorting to a cheap cop-out that are hard-hitting bullet sponges. Enemies in The Witch Queen are stronger than what you meet in the open world but a decent build can see you through the Legendary campaign without major issues.
Just having to focus and pay full attention to each battle in order to win it went a long way as I found myself invested in the story, which ended up being a first in Destiny 2. Yeah, not even the Forsaken campaign did it for me, despite losing a beloved character.
Now that I could no longer brainlessly shoot up enemies and see them drop like flies, I truly felt like the big bad here was a proper threat to the existence of the Guardians.
All in all, the fantastic story missions are easily the strongest point of The Witch Queen for me as I just struggle to find faults in it. Kudos, Bungie.
Destiny 2 gameplay has always been top-notch, owing to the amazing gunplay Bungie created. This is the driving force behind the Guardians' endless desire to acquire more guns and then more of the same guns with different perks. However, this gunplay is sometimes pushed into the second row when abilities take over. This was the case in Beyond Light where Stasis was absolutely broken in PvP and pretty much ruined it for anyone who enjoyed going up against other Guardians.
Thankfully, Void 3.0 overhaul was handled much better at the start. Bungie created a way for players to enjoy their subclass in a new way without making it overpowered. Vortex Grenade, for example, now pulls enemies in slightly but this change is only strong enough to offer new tactics on the battlefield, rather than dominate the way Duskfield did in Beyond Light. It can't yank a Guardian out of cover and then keep them in place until you shoot the helpless target down.
On the other hand, Void 3.0 is extremely fun in PvE, which says that Bungie managed to strike a balance for the ability influence in the game. The subclass changes are not giving players immense fun in one mode while ruining another, which is a huge step up from Beyond Light.
That said, Hunters could have used more creativity as their Void comes down to spamming invisibility, which becomes annoying in PvP. Then again, they can't do much on that front because Bungie didn't give them any other tools to work with. I would still rather have annoying stealth in PvP any day of the week instead of overbearing freezing effects.
One peeve I have with the current state of Destiny 2 is that changing mods on armour becomes a chore quickly if you play both PvE and PvP. Mods that are effective in PvE only are pretty much a must-have but they are useless in PvP, meaning you will be at a disadvantage when facing properly built opponents. As such, one can easily find themselves switching mods out several times in a single play session, which just begs for the introduction of loadouts.
Unfortunately, this is a sore spot that has not seen any improvements. Just like before, Destiny 2 will cost you $80 a year if you want to access the expansion and the seasonal content but the moment you stop paying, you are cut off from a significant portion of the game.
Furthermore, there is still no talk about stopping the vaulting of content people pay for so keep in mind that if you buy the expansion or any season along the way, that content has a high chance of becoming unavailable in the future.
What's worse, some parts of the game are becoming locked behind past expansions even if they were available to you before. For example, Chaperone is an Exotic shotgun that was introduced before Beyond Light but now you need to buy the expansion if you want to get the weapon. In a somewhat similar fashion, Dead Man's Tale used to be tied to a season pass activity but now requires Beyond Light or Xur won't sell it to you.
FOMO is still very present in Destiny 2 and even if you buy something in order not to miss out, you will still be in fear of having your content removed in the future.
While this monetisation model is not directly tied to The Witch Queen, it is influencing the player's experience too much and simply can't be glossed over.
Graphics and performance
When Beyond Light launched, Bungie changed the way shading works in Destiny 2, which resulted in people's characters looking weird at times. More importantly, they ruined the performance on PC as machines that could previously keep running the game at smooth framerates would now struggle with 30 FPS or sometimes even less.
Once again, this was not the case in The Witch Queen. This expansion added a lot of cool-looking special effects through either Void 3.0 explosions or the Hive that wield the Light but none of them have had much of an impact on my frame rates. That said, the rig I played the game on is somewhat above the recommended settings but my options were also tricked out, allowing me to play on constant 75 FPS while the dips weren't severe enough to interrupt the game flow.
I found The Witch Queen to be the best Destiny 2 expansion thus far, with the only real contestant being Forsaken, which is considered the golden standard among the community of what a good expansion looks like. As such, I would highly recommend getting the expansion.
The Witch Queen is an exceptional piece of content that will be regarded as the good old days in Destiny 2's future.ay