Sometimes good games become great because of their post-launch activity.
And on rare occasions, that post-launch content makes a product essential. Like Shadowbringers did for Final Fantasy XIV, and Wrath of the Lich King for World of Warcraft.
The Witch Queen is an absolute game-changer for Destiny 2. Which might be a surprise to many outsiders looking in who feel the game’s best years are surely behind it.
Following such an industry-shattering acquisition just weeks ago, there’s more vested interest than ever in making sure this expansion takes things forward following the flat Beyond Light and the lacking Shadowkeep.
Not only is this a return to form for Bungie’s looter shooter, it is, without question, the highest point the series has ever reached. This is the expansion that finally makes Destiny 2 a must-play whether you’ve dipped your toe in the water before or you’ve never felt the urge.
There’s several reasons for this. Probably, most importantly, is the narrative driving through each chapter. Being completely honest, I’ve found myself tuning in and out of the story over the course of the years, but more than once, The Witch Queen snaps its fingers and forces you to pay attention. Particularly in its final third.
The events of The Witch Queen will fundamentally change everything coming next in Lightfall and beyond, making this the most exciting and intriguing period in the franchise’s history. Bungie have finally found a rhythm for their story-telling and I am so excited to see where they take things in the months ahead.
With Savathûn, at once Bungie have found a challenging opponent and compelling adversary that makes every bullet fired and inch of ground covered worth it.
And, of course, it’s still all beautifully cast and voice-acted with the brilliant Lance Riddik and Morla Gorrondona returning for another go-around, capped off by a suitably chilling performance by Debra Wilson as Savathûn themself.
The mission structure feels well-paced this time out. There’s some tough missions to tackle and plenty to team up with and combine together with friends, but there’s a wealth of side missions that lead you to some fantastic armor, lots of exploration and plenty of plot building, all while you fire endless rounds into the Hive.
One new addition this time out is a ‘Reveal’ mechanic where you can peer into a Darkness Rift to see Savathûn’s Throne World. This pushes many of the major story beats along as you witness key memories, but it also brings elements into the world, like temporary platforms and symbols to open up hidden entranceways so you can progress.
I did find that the game did over-rely on this a little bit during some sections, which led to some occasionally frustrating sections as the timer on platforms runs out a bit too quickly and switches are in hard to find places which often leads to multiple retries.
There’s also one section in particular where you have to find the right portal to walk through in order to find a weak spot to defeat a boss. The problem is there’s a ton of doors to choose from and it’s not always clear how to find the right one. Interestingly, for a game that has so often called things out to make it easier on the player, on this occassion, Bungie have decided to let players figure things out on their own. For better or worse.
The Witch Queen is a stunning expansion to gaze at, looking sharp, bold and bright on PlayStation 5 with its vibrant outdoor planetary excursions, grand, open-planned structures and blackened corridors, briefly illuminated by pockets of light. It’s hard to believe a five year old game can still look this good, better than ever.
And, of course, Destiny wouldn’t be complete without its epic sets of gear and weaponry, and Witch Queen has plenty to choose from as you build out your collection of light. Though there are a lot of hand cannons, to the point where it always felt like I had one in my arsenal.
And of course the multiplayer is still as sharp and solid as ever, with Gambit still as much of a fan-favourite and the Crucible a fantastic way to build up your standing within each season. It makes for a great diversion from the story-beats, particularly if you’re finding some sections overly challenging and your armor isn’t quite up to the task.
Speaking of seasons, these will continue well throughout the year, continuing the story of The Witch Queen and filling the gap between the next Destiny 2 expansion. This has often been where we’ve seen some of the game’s best writing, so we’ll be sure to keep a close eye on how that develops.
That said, there’s still questions around the game’s payment structure and how it impacts progression. But perhaps, most importantly, that missions can just be lost entirely. It’s something Bungie still hasn’t figured out how to get quite right, especially with the cost of each of these annual expansions.
The Witch Queen is, without doubt, the best Destiny 2 expansion. The things it sets in motion, the flow between missions, the beautiful setpieces, epic battles, and wonderful voice acting marry up beautifully to create an unmissable expansion, even if some questions still remain about Destiny 2’s treatment of its content and how to access all of it.
+The best Destiny 2 expansion yet
+ A really compelling story that sets things up wonderfully for the future
+ Great missions and strikes to take part in
+ Stunning visuals and fantastic voice acting
– Seasons can feel a bit of a chore and content is quick to move along
– Some sections were a tad frustrating / certain tpes of weapons felt more common throughout
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is now available on Xbox, PC and PlayStation
Played on PS5
Code Kindly Provided by Bungie