Destiny 2 received a massive update this week with the launch of The Witch Queen, one of the franchise’s biggest expansions to date. Here are our 5 favourite new features.
After a shake-up to its traditional scheduling, Destiny 2‘s next expansion pack has arrived at last, and it’s been worth the wait. As both the follow-up to Beyond Light and a spiritual successor to 2015’s The Taken King, The Witch Queen continues the campaign’s foray into darkness and shakes up the game’s paradigms for the better.
While our review is in progress, here are the top 5 features of the new expansion that have us excited:
5) Weapon Crafting
Destiny 2 dabbled in weapon crafting before, back in Forsaken with the Black Armory, but The Witch Queen takes the concept to a new level. Guardians will “shape” their first weapon, a glaive, early in the campaign, selecting its perks and features. Granted, it will take most of the campaign, and some grinding afterwards, to truly unlock its potential, but what’s here is already a much more compelling system than the Black Armory.
Crafting helps mitigate some of the need to grind for “god-rolls” or even a complementary set of perks. It’s also exciting to see the different weapon “Patterns” you can learn from things you pick up, and enhancing them adds a long-term goal. Furthermore, it adds a solid layer of player investment in their tools. Forging your own weapons imparts a sense of ownership, above and beyond using the best shiny thing you’ve picked up so far.
Fairly early in The Witch Queen‘s campaign, you cross paths with Fynch, a Ghost who happens to be a “Conscientious Objector” to Savathun’s plans. He functions as the Vendor NPC for the Throne World, like Eris Morn on the Moon—giving out bounties and regional rewards. Just ignore his dead Hive Guardian, who lays discarded nearby, waiting for a revive that will never come.
However, it’s his character that truly stands out. Voiced by Ian James Corlett—a veteran Canadian voice actor who previously voiced Goku in FUNimation’s Dragonball Z dub—Fynch brings back some of the humour Destiny 2 has been missing since Cayde-6 was recast and killed off in Forsaken. The absence of Nathan Fillion’s lovable rogue is still palpable for some players, but Fynch earnestly helps to fill the void. Be sure to idle near him for a few moments to hear some of his best dialogue
3) Enemy Guardians
Destiny veterans have been fighting the Hive for a very long time; I remember hunting them for hours in the subway below the EDZ before the very first expansion dropped. The Witch Queen shakes up those familiar reflexes, however, by empowering certain champions with the Light. I still feel a pang of excitement every time I see a Knight retaliate with Titan-esque powers.
Again, this addition impacts not only the gameplay, but the thematic elements of the overarching game. Destiny 2 has always had issues telling its story—whether through hard-to-read, lore-dumping, supplementary materials, then by cutting off newer players by vaulting older content. But as the players encounter enemies with the same powers, the philosophical debates raised help explain the stakes clearly for those who need to catch up, while also pushing the thematic elements.
(However, I must admit that I didn’t feel the same squeamishness that Ghost and Crow express when I started crushing enemy Ghosts with my bare hands. It’s strangely the most satisfying finisher I’ve used in the game so far.)
Even though I’m a devoted Sword user, I was a little hesitant about the new weapon type, glaives. But my apprehensions were assuaged as soon as I crafted one after the first mission of The Witch Queen‘s campaign. The melee attack style feels really fresh, and it proves effective even against higher-tier enemies, if you can withstand being in their melee range long enough. To my surprise, the ranged attack is powerful too, albeit held back by a long reloading animation.
When it comes to kinetic and energy weapons, I’ve been set in my ways for a long time, alternating between a couple weapon types. But the glaives spice up the formula with an adaptive strategy, and work surprisingly well for the game’s first first-person melee weapon.
1) The Throne World
As the closest thing we’ve seen yet to a “home world” for the Hive, the Throne World is perhaps the most invigorating new aspect of The Witch Queen. Beyond Light‘s Europa was well-made, but inherently a little flat, as a frozen world. Savathun’s Throne World is rich and varied, from structures that appear to be made of bone or cartilage, to rotting swamps, and dark ritual chambers. All the best Lovecraftian elements of the Hive come to life vividly in this new destination, and it’s truly exciting to explore.
(And the new Resonant Splinter public event helps too. Public events desperately needed a new type to shake things up, instead of repeating the same handful we’ve had for years.)
There you have it, the five features added to Destiny 2 with The Witch Queen which have made the biggest impact on us. There are two more expansions to come before Bungie closes the current “Light and Darkness Saga,” and at this rate, Bungie’s signature shooter is going to be nigh-recognizable—but in the best way. In the meantime, keep an eye on CGMagazine for our full review, Guardians, or get your hands on some stylish new gear.