Playing The Witch Queen has been a really odd experience for me. Destiny, in a way, was the game that started it all. It introduced me to the friends I’d go on to start this website with, it defined so much of my free time back in the day. It was genuinely emotional booting the game up and seeing the little memorial slideshow, reminding me of that first triumphant Vault of Glass clear all the way back in 2014. Seeing the names of friends I still talk to almost every day, and, of course, some I’ve entirely forgotten about.
So much of this game is exactly how I remembered it – and yet, it’s completely different. In an effort to streamline the experience for new Guardians (which I basically am at this point, after all these years away) the first set of missions from Destiny have been reintroduced. Waking up in the Cosmodrome again feels like a homecoming of sorts, and yet Destiny 2’s significant evolution from that original experience quickly becomes apparent.
The Witch Queen did not introduce these changes, intended to streamline the overwhelming web of content and patchwork systems added since release for new players. But it does make for a more cohesive introduction into what can be a lot of information. I remember attempting to get back into Destiny 2 a while back – before it was all changed – and it was just a hot mess. Even for someone who had sunk hundreds of hours into Destiny back in the day.
It’s not perfect. There are still plenty of elements the game just can’t feasibly explain in a tutorial without boring the absolute pants off of you, but I had a much better idea of how the world had changed before I’d even set foot in the Tower. I was, of course, desperate to get stuck into The Witch Queen, and before too long the training wheels got old.
If you’re totally new to Destiny, it’s not going to make any sense whatsoever. I barely got the gist of what was going on before plunging headfirst into the latest conflict, which sees the Hive god Savathûn returning from… somewhere to do… something? I don’t know, the last Hive guy I remember killing was Crota. Probably hundreds of times, within seconds. And the Cabal are our friends now, but also not really? The story has never been the game’s main drawer, sure, but its presence feels more tenuous than ever. Really, it’s just a vehicle to deliver us to the next boss, the next strike, the next weapon drop. Honestly, that’s fine.
Because ultimately, at least in these early days of my Witch Queen adventures, I was having enough fun to not really care why. The environments on offer are spectacular. Savathun’s throne world (our new locale) is a fun place to be. Parts of it look like reflections of high fantasy kingdoms of light, almost like fairy tales contrasted against the harsh alien domain of the Hive. Certain enemies come equipped with Ghosts – the same tiny allies that provide us with immortality – and they require an extra step to defeat in combat.
It doesn’t sound like a huge change, but it does bring another level of intensity to battles. Downing a dangerous, light-wielding foe and sprinting over to their Ghost to make sure they can’t come back is great. Especially paired with the crunchy Ghost-squishing animation. The mystery behind just why the light has sided with Savathûn isn’t all that compelling. As always, most of The Witch Queen‘s most interesting lore is hidden behind codex entries rather than addressed in cutscenes or other dialogues. There’s no real threat or impact on business as usual. My Ghost still talks too much and brings me back to life. Who cares if the Hive get that too?
So far though, I really feel like I’ve spent more time just bopping around the worlds getting reacquainted with a game that used to be very important to me. The Witch Queen promises a lot, but so much else has changed that it’s genuinely been hard to fix my attention on just one thing. I’ve played a pretty fat chunk of story missions, and it’s a mixed bag so far. I love plunging into Destiny’s worlds. Landing headshots on Fallen and Cabal is every bit as satisfying as it was eight years ago.
This content isn’t reinventing the wheel. It’s the same Destiny formula with slightly more interesting enemies and a bunch of new environments. It comes with all the same frustrations and joys as Destiny did all these years ago, except now you have the freedom to enjoy it however you like. This can seem overwhelming at times, sure. Especially with all of the game’s reward systems jostling for attention. But Destiny 2 can be whatever you want it to be (well, except an FPS with a compelling story). The Witch Queen right now just seems like more of that.
The new glaive weapon (pictured above) seems obscenely powerful. The first one I got is is still the most powerful weapon in my arsenal, and that’s without any upgrades. The basic melee attack cleaves through basically every enemy without a yellow health bar. It has a shield and a ranged attack that deals ridiculous amounts of damage. I actually had to stop using it to make the game interesting again. Whether or not this holds up when I get stuck into some strikes again, I don’t know – but that’s for the next The Witch Queen diary!
The Witch Queen: Initial thoughts
So, this is Destiny 2: The Witch Queen. It’s confusing, obtuse, and has far too many menus. At the same time, it’s just a genuinely fun FPS I can bring my friends along on, and I can’t wait to write some more about it. I still feel like the game has a lot to offer, despite an awkward opening sequence and some story mission structures that are just played out beyond belief now. Using the glaive makes me feel like an angry god, and the new region is a brilliant mishmash of themes.
A new chapter for the Destiny franchise? Not quite. But it’s more of what we’ve come to expect, and that’s fine at the moment.
Next time: Remembering Sweepy – keeping the Tower clean since 2014. Striking while the iron is hot, and realising that none of your friends care about Destiny any more.