After 8 long years, we’re finally at the precipice of dealing with the Darkness – the main reason why we became Guardians by the Traveler. The Witch Queen is not only the best expansion, but it is the expansion that flips our understanding of Destiny’s universe; the power of these forces is not so black and white. Bungie crafted a package so complete – you’d be hard pressed not to be excited for the franchise’s future. Everything from narrative building, pre and post raid content, legendary campaign, shaping your weapons and more, is beyond exceptional – a new golden age for Destiny is here.
Deepsight to the Pyramid
The Witch Queen continues right after the events of the epilogue in Season of the Lost, where Mara Sov free’s Savathun from her chrysalis and revealed that Osiris was with her all along. Mars mysteriously returns and Ikora Ray helms the operation to figure out how. Her Hidden members establishes a base called the Enclave, which houses a new Darkness ruin. Soon after, Empress Caitl caught wind of the return of Mars and prepares a cannon to point towards a newly revealed Throne Ship – commanded by Savathun.
Soon after landing in the Throne World, your exploration will lead to newly designed Hive variants – and with excellent pacing, you’ll meet a new threat that looks like moths; they will hurl at you and cause an explosion, but they will also over-shield Hive with the Light. Yes, Light – the biggest mystery is why did the Traveler grant the Light to the Hive – or did Savathun use Hive Magic to steal the Light, as once the Cabal did with brute force?
Those who are entirely aware based on Bungie’s reveal trailers won’t be shocked; but eventually you’ll fight a Hive Knight who possesses a Hive Ghost – giving it Light abilities. After taking it down (thanks to the Crucible) you can crush their Hive Ghost for perma-death. A satisfaction that’s never-ending.
It’ll take players some time to get use to the Lucent Moths because although you can see their new over-shield bar in the heath meter, the new animation of how they disperse and reanimate can easily be overlooked. You can shoot them as they fly to the next Hive for AOE damage, which is easy enough after your initial training against them but can still be a pain if you’re in the heat of battle.
Lucent Hive’s is a Guardian variant that possess all Light subclasses – on normal mode they’re easy enough to handle (again, thanks to Crucible) but Legendary campaign they’re a problem. If you’re over-leveled, you’ll be hard capped at a certain point and being prepared can be hugely beneficial – meaning, having all the right mods, understanding the new Void 3.0, seasonal mods and god-roll weapons. I was able to solo Legendary which netted me a choice of 2 new exotic. The balance was never unfair, and it was an incredible experience from start to finish, one I am happy to replay. If this is the new standard, I can’t wait to see how Bungie expands on it.
Bungie’s methodical campaign is traditional by nature – you are jumping from mission to mission with cutscenes and excellent objectives to tackle. The pacing is designed to feel as if you are participating in a detective story. An expertly crafted Throne World had me constantly question whether the environmental and design team is made up of Guardian’s themselves – it is such a sublime experience to walk and ride through this huge environment with multiple, meaningful layers and looking over-the-top gorgeous in the process.
The campaign would take the average player about 8hrs to complete, which is sufficient for players trying to experience a structured story. Post-campaign unlocks several elements like an investigation board for additional missions that expands the understanding of the Throne World, a 6-player activity called the Wellspring that rotates daily for Throne World gear, Weekly Campaign missions, additional Memory missions, an NPC to level and unlock new layers in the Throne World, secrets and of course, the Vow of the Disciple raid that also unlocked an excellent post-raid mission. Destiny’s content is structured in live service which unlocks content over time, a design choice that makes the world feel alive; when the raid was completed by the first team, the Pyramid in the distance started to glow, changing up the environment a bit and making everything feel reactive. It’s an element I adore greatly since Forsaken, and I’m glad Bungie stood by that design choice.
One of the biggest draws of this expansion is the new first-person melee weapon called The Glaive; it is a 3-hit combo machine that can also shoot long range projectiles. You will be task to craft one in the new Darkness-themed weapon bench called Shaping. It requires new materials from dismantling legendary weapons and ones that can be obtained by weapons with Deepsight Resonance embedded; by using these weapons (outlines with a red boarder) you’ll be able to choose one of 2 elements (randomly assigned) to use to craft new weapons, and even get new patterns (blueprints) for certain weapons. As of right now, only a few world weapons and all of the Throne Weapons, including the Glaive from the raid and some exotic Glaives can be crafted.
For the most part, this is a hugely welcoming element to Destiny and one that we wanted since the beginning – but there’s a few caveats that I feel are entirely unnecessary, and that is the need for capping these shaping resources; I will never understand why that had to be placed – players like myself will just store Resonant weapons in the vault – which is a cascading event of existing issues, and I can’t wait for Bungie to find a solution (meaning, remove the cap).
Additionally, this would have been the best time to add all of vanilla Destiny 2 weapons back into the Shaping pool so it can give far more variety and motivation for players to grind for Shaped weapons. I can see why that they didn’t to incentivize future content, but it would have served greater if they were available today. With the cap, limited weapons to craft, it just makes the grind tedious.
Vow of the Disciple
By far Vow of the Disciple is the deepest and most structured raid in the history of Destiny – and easily the most visually impressive one, period. From riding the strange floating objected, geometrically swirling sporadically through a swampy environment – getting swarmed by Scorn, to the final jump right before the Upender device where Rhulk awaits. The amount of visual storytelling and secrets is astounding, more so than anything before it. The Last Wish had plenty of excellent secrets regarding the last Ahamkara, but Rhulk is the only boss we fight face to face filled with dialogue.
Each encounter felt very challenging – but once the team figured out the mechanics the flow of each phase felt natural and organized. I don’t remember any raid before it feeling as streamlined and intellectual. Even with Shuro Chi in The Last Wish with the blights and puzzle mechanics, the possibility of total wipe was really high. Similar to the Gauntlet in Leviathan. But in Vow of the Disciple – Exhibition is by far the most complicated segment, and even then, people caught on beautifully. The Caretaker encounter’s stun mechanic and runners works so well – nothing in Vow of the Disciple felt overly complicated; it is truly a work of art from start to finish.
Visually, you will notice an enormous bone affixed on a huge structure with a background of a beautifully designed, unknown worm-god that is feeding a strange beam into a floating structure later known as the Upender. This sort of design is established throughout the entirety of Vow of Disciple. It’s these kind of visual set pieces that makes you wonder:
What is the Darkness?
You will see murals describing events that happened millions of years ago regarding the Traveler, Rhulk, Savathun and even the Witness. Soon after the raid completion, a new mission that dives deeper into the mysteries unlocks which expands on the story of the Darkness, Rhulk and even the creation of the Hive. No raid up until this point was designed in such a way as Vow of the Disciple – and with each encounter being meticulous in structure that was challenging but not impossibly unfair made my experience one to remember for a long time.
The True Golden Age
Since Forsaken, I’ve been telling everyone who finds interest in Destiny to jump into the universe because it’s only getting better. Even though Bungie has had missteps with Shadowkeep and still with their PVP content, Destiny couldn’t be in a better place. The Witch Queen is both a testament to the love Bungie has for Destiny and hope for a much better future.
REVIEW SCORE: 9/10