Guardian Gab: Sam & Bill give their thoughts on Destiny 2: The Witch Queen

Sam and Bill sit down and talk about The Witch Queen, Season of the Risen, and the state of Destiny 2 after Bungie's most ambitious expansion in the game's history.


The Witch Queen is entering its fourth week in the Destiny 2 spotlight. Now that they've had ample time to dig into both the story and end game, Sam and Bill decided to sit down and have a discussion about their thoughts on The Witch Queen, Season of the Risen, and the current state of Destiny 2. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the chat. Be sure to leave your own thoughts in the Chatty thread below.

Destiny 2 The Witch Queen Review

Bill: Well, Sam, The Witch Queen has been out for about three weeks now. The players who are in it for more than the story campaign have experienced most of what’s on offer. The pretenders are gone. We’re entering the part of the season that is a lot like February at the gym, when the real ones can actually use the machines and the New Year’s resolution crowd has gone back home. As a Destiny lifer, I’m curious to get your initial thoughts. What did Bungie really get right with this expansion, and what have you been most impressed with?

Sam: Bill, I think you’re right. Players that were in it for just the story are likely bowing out now that they’ve gotten the goods while the rest of us are just starting to peel back the layers as we discover the deeper riches. Overall, I’m continually impressed with what Bungie is delivering story-wise. I think the team has gone from strength to strength with the more focused direction of the overarching narrative. It certainly feels like major elements from the Destiny lore are starting to pay off in big ways. The game’s story no longer feels like Bungie is placing the pieces on a chessboard but that we’re now witnessing some incredible moves and repercussions of earlier decisions.

But that’s just the story side of things. On the actual gameplay side, I think Bungie has done well to refine a few areas while enriching others. The refinement of Void subclasses into Void 3.0 is a massive boon to the game. It actually makes me incredibly excited about the prospect of Arc 3.0 and Solar 3.0. Then there’s weapon crafting, which feels like it’s still in a gestation process but shows great promise.

What was your gut reaction from The Witch Queen when you rolled the credits and how do you feel now, a few weeks later, having had time to dabble with the new goodies?

Bill: My favorite moment from The Witch Queen was actually before the final credits. It’s a scene that takes place with a prominent character having a conversation with the Traveler. I thought that was great, as was the entire campaign for The Witch Queen. It’s the first time that I have felt confident telling non-Destiny players to come try the story. It’s good! No, it’s really good this time. I’m serious this time. Some did, and some are still holding out. 

But seriously, I think Bungie did a great job making the story accessible to new players and at the same time challenging and rewarding to folks like ourselves. You could hop in and just play it on the normal mode, enjoy the events as they unfold, and then get back to your other games. For you and I, we had to actually consider weapons, armor, mods, and strategies playing on Legend, and I loved that. It worked for everyone, and I can’t remember the last time Bungie introduced a campaign that I can say that about.

Outside of that, I agree with your thoughts on Void 3.0 and I’m also excited for Arc 3.0 and Solar 3.0. In fact, I dislike having to use any subclass that doesn’t have the 3.0 treatment right now. It pains me that we’re months away from seeing this vision fully realized.

I’m also going to agree with you about weapon crafting. It’s a great idea that feels like it’s about 20 percent realized. I love making my own god rolls, but I dislike the amount of red weapons I have to deal with, and the addition of three (or is it four) new materials. It’s convoluted and just a silly process I feel. You could have just unlocked weapon patterns, then leveled the weapon and unlocked perks, separate from materials. They are unnecessary, but I’m sure there are others who disagree.

Let’s shift to some of the end-game stuff. How did you feel about the Vow of the Disciple raid? Is it going to remain popular, or do you see its appeal fading away because of how complex the mechanics can be to normal or newer players?

Sam: I feel like we could talk about the weapon crafting element for an entire hour. There are certainly a lot of new materials and it’s a problem that’s made worse through the lack of information in-game. I have no idea how much Adroit or Mutable Element I have unless I go to the Enclave and start crafting a weapon. Plus, if it takes me three tries to explain how Deepsight Resonance and Weapon Patterns work, then it’s probably not clear enough for the average Destiny 2 player.

In terms of the Vow of the Disciple raid, I think it is a phenomenal experience that is just dripping with great fights, mechanics, and a whole lot of lore. Conversely, I don’t actually think it’s as complex as my Day 1 stream made it out to be. I think that it’s going to be easier for random groups of players to clear this raid than it was (or is) for them to complete Last Wish. The Vault encounter, and defeating Riven, remain some of the more demanding aspects of a raid. And don’t get me started on Garden of Salvation with its tethering mechanic.

With the addition of weapon crafting, it seems likely that more players will flock to the raid in an attempt to get their hands on raid weapons. Being able to craft the perfect raid SMG this season is worth the effort.

Bill: I will admit that my appetite to try the raid is rather low, as I’m not really in the gaming mood for heavy mechanics, or remembering symbol names for 14 different things. That’s a me thing, though, and I’ll give it a shot with you. I’ve certainly watched enough of it and read enough of it to at least know that the level design in Vow of the Disciple is A+.

Not everything was a win with The Witch Queen and Season of the Risen, though. We already touched on the silliness of the weapon crafting process, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up two things that I feel are spiraling downward. What is Bungie doing to Xur and why won’t they stop, and why in the name of the Traveler can’t they let Gambit die with some dignity?

Sam, do you remember when Xur sold items that were somewhat new? When he could be found in locations all over the Destiny universe? Then he started to only sell old items, and could be found in just a handful of locations. At least until this season Xur could sell armor with great rolls, but now he’s selling stat rolls in the 40s, which is about as painful to see as the opening of Forsaken. Xur is now selling Legendary weapons with god rolls, but from an Exotic standpoint he’s borderline useless to anyone who calls themselves a veteran player.

Still, what Bungie has done to Xur could be classified as neglect, what they’ve done to Gambit is just cruel. Gambit was cool when it was new, became less cool when they attached Prime to it, and is now awful. Playing Gambit is consistently the Weekly Challenge I don’t do. I will avoid it even if it means skipping a Pinnacle drop. It’s that bad, and the latest I heard from the subreddit was some nonsense about Guardians using a Hand Cannon to one-shot body other Guardians. No thanks. I’d like to see whatever effort Bungie is putting into making Gambit diverted to making Xur (and Amanda Holliday) awesome again.

What about you, any major pain points outside of weapon crafting, which can be excused in its first iteration?

Sam: The last time I cared about Xur was in 2014 when he sold the upgrade to increase Gjallarhorn’s power after the release of The Dark Below. Since then, I’ve got every Exotic I need from the myriad of sources they drop from and I’ve got no desire to buy one random Legendary I don’t really need. I wish Bungie could do something to make me want to visit Xur again, but once you pass a certain number of hours in Destiny, there’s not a lot of value to the Agent of the Nine. 

As for Gambit, call me crazy, but I’ve actually not minded playing it. Now, that could be because I roll with a team or at the very least a duo, but I still enjoy the PvEvP element. Obviously there are some weapons that are making it just anti-fun right now. It would appear as if the damage is being applied in an odd manner that doesn’t match how it should be applying. So things like Eriana’s Vow are just one-shotting players and Gjallarhorn is just preposterous. What I really like is the change to the boss’ health whereby you cannot just burn it down in a single damage phase, you need to be consistent with your damage and survival against Invaders.

Honestly, aside from the growing pains and the current state of Xur and Gambit, I don’t think there’s another element of The Witch Queen that had me groaning. I think the Legendary version of the campaign was excellent, and a brilliant way of increasing Power in preparation for the raid, I think the changes to the Artifact Mod acquisition are perfect, and Savathun’s Throne World is a dense and knotted environment I enjoy exploring. For a long-time Destiny player, there’s just so much good here that it excites me about what Bungie has in store for Lightfall and The Final Shape.

Bill: I would guess that at least 17 percent of your Gambit enjoyment is from having a duo or full fireteam. We’ve talked about this in the past; winning tends to make things more fun. I tend to play Gambit solo, and it’s just match after match of me wondering if my teammates are awake. They probably aren’t, and I can’t blame them because Gambit just isn’t great.

But it’s a fantastic sign that our beefs with The Witch Queen and Season of the Risen are limited to Gambit, Xur being sad, and a first pass at weapon crafting that could use some refinement. To your point, the big wins are all there. The storytelling is better than it’s ever been both in The Witch Queen campaign and the Season of the Risen campaign. Void 3.0 is a total win, even if there are nerfs headed our way. That was to be expected.

It’s funny, because I think that for a very long time Destiny was a game that outsiders loved to laugh at. It was our silly little hobby and sort of a running joke for those that didn’t play. You told people you loved Destiny and they’d kinda smirk. Now, Destiny 2 is legitimately in contention for the best shooter out there today. I think it’s been the best shooter out there for quite some time, but the big win here for Bungie is that non-traditional Destiny players are starting to see that too.

That'll do it, fellow Guardians. We're thinking seriously about keeping this discussion running every now and then as we talk about things in the Destiny 2 space. For now, you should visit the Destiny 2 strategy guide for all our content related to the game. It's a necessary resource for Guardians of all investment and skill levels.

The Destiny 2 Guys

Bill and Sam are the two Shacknews writers who handle the bulk of the Destiny 2 content. As a Hunter and Warlock main respectively, they can cover a great deal of ground with whatever is happening in Destiny 2 today. What they don't know they can find out thanks to their all-star lineup of Destiny 2 friends.

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