Price: $39.99, $79.99 (Deluxe)
Release date: February 22, 2022
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia
Genre: First-person shooter
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is the newest expansion of Bungie’s 5-year-old title, which has increased in popularity and scope since its introduction. This DLC includes a host of improvements, new gameplay mechanics, quests, and weapons to sink hours into. The new weapon crafting system alone should keep you entertained for a very long time as you work to build your perfect gun.
But The Witch Queen doesn’t do much for me in regards to its writing quality. While it’s certainly better than Shadowkeep or Beyond Light, I didn’t find the story or dialogue compelling, especially given how much build-up we’ve had up to this point. And if you’re coming in for the first time, I don’t think Destiny 2 is any friendlier than it’s been previously — a huge complaint many, myself included, have levied against the game.
So what does this expansion offer for the Destiny 2 experience? Read on for our full The Witch Queen review for my thoughts.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen review: Gameplay
The Witch Queen keeps the core Destiny 2 loop basically the same. Some weapons got buffs to make them more competitive, while others received nerfs to bring them back in line. But new in this expansion is the glaive, a melee/ranged/defensive option in the Special slot. It’s actually surprisingly fun, especially since melee attacks don’t consume ammo (like they do on swords).
The other major change is weapon crafting. Since its inception, loot has driven the Destiny grind as you work for the “godroll” (the ideal set of perks) weapon. But now you can craft your own godroll, granted you put in a lot of effort. I’m talking multiple hours to fully unlock everything on a particular weapon.
Guns with red borders will randomly drop. You can attune these weapons by using them to slay enemies and while you complete activities. Once you’ve attuned the weapon, you can extract crafting resources from it (which is currently the only way to get those resources).
You’ll repeat this process with every red-bordered gun until you unlock a pattern, which lets you craft a weapon, like a blueprint. You’ll have a limited set of perks available with more possible once you level up the gun. This can take a very long time and it requires a lot of kills with the weapon. You can “reshape” the weapon at the crafting table, but that requires additional resources.
Some were worried that weapon crafting would break Destiny 2’s core gameplay loop, but that is very much not the case. You still need to grind for red border guns, and there are other new weapons that aren’t craftable, thus encouraging you to grind for a godroll if you’re not happy with what you can build.
Overall, I think crafting is a fine addition. That said, it can be incredibly time-consuming and tedious, and getting some red border guns to drop can be very frustrating. And changing out perks on something you’ve crafted is very expensive, prohibiting you from trying new combinations without putting in a lot of effort. I hope Bungie increases the red border drop rate and reduces the costs for changing perks. (I would love to see perks that you’ve already paid for on a particular weapon get an unlocked status, letting you swap back to them at any point for free.)
Also with The Witch Queen comes Void 3.0, a rework of the Void-based Light subclasses. They’re now in line with the Stasis subclasses introduced in Beyond Light with streamlined supers and powers. That means you can combine different aspects, abilities, and fragments to create a perfect build. This is a big change from the previous locked trees we had to choose from before. And every Void grenade is open to all three classes. Arc and Solar will get the same treatment later this year.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen review: Story
The Witch Queen represents the culmination of stories years in the making. Savathûn, the Witch Queen and Hive god of cunning, has reappeared wielding the same Light power that your Guardian does. The working theory is that she has somehow stolen the Light from the godlike Traveler, the being that has blessed and protected humanity.
But as the story progresses, you’ll tap into Savathûn’s memories to unravel her plan, including discovering a bombshell moment in Destiny’s lore. You’ll tear apart Savathûn’s Throne World, a place where she rules supreme. The landscape reflects her thoughts and memories, from the beautiful keep to the murky swamps.
Destiny has wonderful lore, even though the writing hasn’t historically been all that great. The Witch Queen is fine story-wise, though I didn’t find it gripped me as thoroughly as the first major Destiny 2 expansion, Forsaken. Even Destiny’s pivotal The Taken King proved more interesting to me. The Witch Queen certainly piqued my curiosity a few times — definitely more than the previous Shadowkeep and Beyond Light expansions did — but most of the time, I had to force myself to keep playing the campaign.
Considering the hype and lead-up to The Witch Queen, I found myself ultimately disappointed in the writing quality. The dialogue wasn’t that great, either. Honestly, I was more excited to hear my Guardian speak again (which is one of my favorite parts of any Destiny 2 expansion). It took me about 10 hours to get through the main story, so from that standpoint, The Witch Queen has a lot to dig through.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen review: Visuals and audio
Starting with Beyond Light in 2020, Bungie really started upping Destiny 2’s visuals. In The Witch Queen, the new Throne World destination looks incredible. Sweeping vistas, grungy swamps, and better character models all enhance the experience. Even the new cutscenes seemed to have gotten an upgrade.
As for sound design, The Witch Queen keeps things subtle and eerie. I don’t play with the music very loud most of the time, but I enjoyed having it going in the background while I explored or uncovered some new mystery.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen review: Verdict
Reviewing a Destiny expansion is a challenging task because there’s so much more than just the campaign. There are new exotic quests, busywork, and sandbox changes to play with. Not to mention the seasonal content that dropped simultaneously with the campaign, plus the raid coming on March 5. In short, The Witch Queen has a lot to offer right now.
Aside from the disappointing story, The Witch Queen is a solid addition to Destiny 2. If you’re a new player, there’s almost an overwhelming amount of stuff to do — even for a veteran like me, there’s a ton to juggle. The new player experience is also still not that good from what I understand. If you’re thinking about jumping into Destiny, I encourage you to find some companions who know the game and can show you the ropes. Luckily, there are a lot of people who play Destiny 2. It's just a bummer that the game won't be coming to the Steam Deck.
For $39.99, this is the most expensive expansion to ever launch in Destiny’s history. But you get a lot for your money with a long narrative and a heaping bunch of content.