Returning to Destiny 2 after a near two year hiatus

Let me be clear from the outset – I am a big Destiny 2 fan. Ever since the game debuted in 2017 and I dived into the Red War campaign on the PS4, I have been pouring hundreds of hours and thousands of Rands into a franchise that has ebbed and flowed in terms of satisfying it was.

During the peak of the pandemic, however, my interest began to wane. I stuck it out, playing up until two years ago and bowing out just before the Beyond Light expansion was launched.

In recent months I have been getting that itch again, partly down to having a PS5 on hand to play and review games for this publication, but also because 2021 felt like a rather lacklustre year.

To be fair though, 2022 has started off strongly, with Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring and Gran Turismo 7 all delivering some great moments.

Having got access to the latest Destiny 2 expansion, The Witch Queen, I can firmly say that the franchise is fun again.

This is not a review of The Witch Queen, for that you can read what my fellow Guardian Brendyn Lotz had to say about it here, instead this is an explanation as to why this is the best time to get back into Destiny 2 if it’s been awhile, or simply how the storytelling in this latest chapter has me wanting more.

Taking up arms again

Let us begin with where I had to.

To clarify I became so enamoured with the grind of Destiny 2, not to mention the “new content” which used mysterious pyramids and The Darkness to try to refresh things.

It left me feeling very dissatisfied, and while I stuck things out for a little longer given the aforementioned time and money I had poured into the game like many other players, eventually I could not be bothered.

I decided to forego the Beyond Light campaign, choosing instead to hear what others had to say. From that I had heard the new Stasis gameplay mechanic was interesting, but other than that, the grind continued.

As such, when I booted up The Witch Queen, and played through the opening mission, I decided to dip back into Beyond Light, just to get access to Stasis.

That effort only took around three hours and while Stasis has been my go-to for Supers in-game since then, there was not much to keep me on Europa, outside of essential missions and Quest steps.

Fresh and exciting

It therefore left me very surprised to see the stark difference in storytelling between Beyond Light and The Witch Queen. While I understand that the former helps to setup plot points in the latter, with The Witch Queen, the narrative team at Bungie has found a way to suck players in again.

The last time I had such a feeling was in Forsaken when Cayde-6 was killed. It raised the stakes and meant you were not just playing to finish the expansion, it was about vengeance.

Taking on the role of a planet hopping detective with a Ghost in early stages of The Witch Queen has proved rewarding. As did the challenge of the Lucent Hive, newly imbued with Light and assisted by Ghosts.

Yes, when things are shiny and new it can create a false sense of excitement, but to date Bungie has delivered on a captivating story that warrants further exploration. At several points during the past two weeks I remember telling myself one more hour or last mission, only to continue playing well past midnight before I even realised yet.

That, for me, is the sign of a good game. One that does not drain you of time, but one that makes you crave more of it.

Not all perfect

This might seem like I’m simply waxing lyrical about The Witch Queen, and it is certainly deserving of praise, it is still far from perfect.

To that end there are a few elements that have proved perplexing. Here I’m referring to the new weapon crafting elements added in the Enclave on Mars. When I first heard of this mechanic, the prospect definitely intrigued me, and getting a newly shaped Glaive in-hand was great.

That’s where the fun ends though, as gathering materials, acquiring patterns and the necessary components brought back painful memories of crafting Darkness-combating weapons and armour on the Moon in Shadowkeep.

As such, it is yet to yield the reward I was hoping for, especially as new weapons on offer in The Witch Queen seem more than adequate.

That said, I’ve only been playing the Classic difficulty mode and have not been brave enough to venture into Legendary.

Where to from here?

Without spoiling the story of The Witch Queen, which is great, the next big question I have for Destiny 2 is where to from here?

The past few expansions and seasons have been teasing a continued ramping up of the war between the Light and Darkness, with our Guardian slap bang in the middle of it.

We now find ourselves in a grey area – is there really a light and dark, good and bad or are we simply two sides of the same coin?

While The Witch Queen ties up several lose ends and is the great culmination of bread crumbs, hints and story threads that Bungie has been carefully crafting for some time, I do have to wonder whether the studio is willing to smash it all and start again for some sort of Destiny 3.

Perhaps we will continue in this ebb and flow, with some expansions hitting their marks better than others.

Either way The Witch Queen has me hooked on this franchise again, but the coming years will prove critical as far as to how Bungie plans to keep a fiercely loyal community happy and engaged.


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