Destiny 2: The Witch Queen leans into what Bungie does best

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Savathûn is ready to take center stage. After teasing the Witch Queen for more than seven years, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen will see players face off against Savathûn, a force that has been using trickery and lies to influence major parts of the Destiny storyline for quite some time. Bungie is now providing some last-minute details on The Witch Queen and its upcoming Season of the Risen in a new video documentary published today.

Destiny 2’s latest expansion looks to be one of the biggest yet, focusing on what Bungie does best with 50 new weapons in total, six new exotic armor pieces, unique and powerful exotic guns, and a campaign that leans into everything Bungie has learned from building dungeons, raids, and other challenging content. If you’re an existing or returning Destiny 2 player, the main thing you need to know going into Season of the Risen is that Savathûn has stolen the light, and this season is all about how the Witch Queen was able to siphon the light from guardians and the battle to stop Savathûn’s and her undead army.

The Throne World looks eerie and huge.
Image: Bungie

Savathûn’s Throne World will serve as the location for the campaign mode, and it’s a land full of secrets and lies. Filled with Savathûn’s Lucent Brood of Hive Lightbearers, this new but familiar enemy type has the ability to cast the type of supers that are usually only reserved for guardians. A Hive warrior can throw Void shields like a Titan, and Hive soldiers can create Arc lightning storms just like a Warlock. There are even Acolytes that throw Solar knives just like a Hunter.

This area includes overgrown swamps, a huge palace that will surely play host to the upcoming raid, and overall, it has a very Dreadnaught 2.0 vibe to it. Savathûn’s Throne World will also include a lot of secrets to uncover throughout The Witch Queen campaign, with Bungie leaning more into the type of content we typically see in exotic missions or the mechanics found in dungeons. Players will even team up with Caiatl, a cabal villain from last year’s Season of the Chosen.

Instead of Destiny 2 players rushing through the campaign missions to hurriedly level up their power, guardians will have to think their way through The Witch Queen campaign and avoid the trickery from Savathûn, the queen of lies. If Destiny 2’s 30th Anniversary dungeon is anything to go by, be wary of where you’re walking.

Bungie is also allowing Destiny 2: The Witch Queen players to up the difficulty levels with a new legendary campaign option. You’ll face more challenging enemies, but players will be rewarded with double loot in a bid to reach the new 1560 power cap for Season of the Risen.

It wouldn’t be a Destiny 2 campaign without loot, though. Bungie detailed weapon crafting and some sandbox changes last week, and this new video documentary provides a much closer look at the new Glaive special weapons, which originated from Savathûn trying to steal a powerful weapon for her own use. The Glaive is a projectile weapon, a shield, and a melee weapon all rolled into one. This unique set of abilities sets it apart from the swords found in Destiny 2, and you wield it in first-person against enemies. You’ll need to master timing and aim for the projectile part of the Glaive, adding a new skill for guardians to learn.

The new Glaive weapon will reshape Destiny combat.
Image: Bungie

We also got a look at some of the new exotic weapons making their way to Destiny 2: The Witch Queen earlier this month. There’s a Grand Overture machine gun with up to 20 explosive projectiles that are described as “a comical amount of projectiles on the screen” by Andrew Veen, a senior system designer at Bungie. The new Parasite weapon will fire worms that have increasing amounts of damage, and Osteo Striga is a new submachine gun that has a Thorn-like toxic burst. Bungie has also created three class-specific Glaives that include abilities tied to each class.

Where things get really interesting for The Witch Queen expansion is Void 3.0. The huge rework of the Void subclasses sees a Stasis-like customization system that now allows Titans, Warlocks, and Hunters to all use suppressor grenades. These will be super useful against the new Hive Lightbearers and in Destiny 2’s crucible player-vs-player mode.

Get ready to battle Savathûn.
Image: Bungie

Destiny 2 players will be able to craft in totally new ways with this new Void system, with separate aspects to unlock new abilities and the fragment system to customize each part of the Void subclass even further. Warlocks will get a new Child of the Old Gods aspect that lets you cast a rift to create a Void soul that flies towards enemies when you damage them and weakens them for you. Titans will also get Bastion, a new aspect that lets the melee-obsessed class slam their sentinel shield into the ground to create a Void barricade.

The remaining Arc and Solar subclasses will also get a similar overhaul throughout 2022, with Bungie focusing on the healing and burning aspects of Solar and the chaining and lightning aspects of Arc.

Each class will also get two new armor exotics in The Witch Queen. Bungie hasn’t detailed all six yet, but there will be one stasis and one non-stasis per class. The Hoarfrost-Z chest for titans will replace a barricade with a giant stasis wall, while Warlocks get Osmiomancy gloves with an additional coldsnap grenade with enhanced seeking. The hunter stasis armor exotic remains a mystery for now, but this class will get a Blight Ranger helmet to pair with the Arc subclass and reflect projectiles with increased damage.

Warlocks look like they’re about to get super powerful in Season of the Risen, thanks to Devouring Rift legs. This exotic armor piece allows Warlocks to heal with their empowering rift, which will be super useful in end-game content. Now, just imagine that in PvP. Uh oh.

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen certainly looks like it will include an intriguing campaign and the type of content that Destiny 2 fans have been waiting months — or even years — for. This could be the biggest expansion since Forsaken, and it has already seen a record 1 million preorders.

It might be the best-looking Destiny expansion ever as well. Bungie has had to tackle updating its game engine and keeping the game looking visually fresh in recent years, especially in an era where you’ll find far better anti-aliasing and even ray tracing in modern games. There are some engine updates to improve the HDR experience in The Witch Queen, but it doesn’t look like DLSS, FSR, or raytracing will appear.

“A big focus of our engine updates has been making it faster for our artists and designers to create, iterate, and polish new content,” explains Nate Hawbaker, technical art lead at Bungie. “We think The Witch Queen offers some of our best visuals to date, in part because of our continued investment to improve these processes and best practices.”

While swapping to and from Destiny 2 will improve for HDR players or those with multiple monitors, Hawbaker says “other engine updates are difficult to discuss without spoiling parts of the release.”

Enemies now have their own supers.
Image: Bungie

Destiny 2 clearly has a loyal set of fans hungry for new content, but what about new players? Bungie has struggled to create a compelling experience for new Destiny players after seven years of expansions and narratives. The Witch Queen needs to help improve an often confusing experience if you’re new or returning to the game.

“The narrative themes tackled in the release are core to Destiny, and they were written and structured in a way that we believe is a great narrative onboarding for new players,” explains Blake Battle, project lead for Destiny 2 at Bungie. “For an MMO or FPS player who is interested in Destiny, my number one piece of advice would be to play The Witch Queen campaign.”

If you’re also wondering whether Bungie is going to add NFTs to Destiny 2, game director Joe Blackburn says “these are the NFTs we care about.” Like many other games, NFTs have no house in Destiny 2.

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen debuts on Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Stadia on February 22nd.

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