In a surprising but frankly smart move, Bungie has today made The Witch Queen expansion free to all players. Not in perpetuity, though: You only have until February 27 at 9 am PST to play through the missions and grind out some of the 14 pieces of exotic armor and weapons that it includes. Here’s the spiel from Bungie:
“If you want to check out its amazing Legendary campaign, the Vox Obscura Exotic mission, a few Wellspring runs, or try the Vow of the Disciple raid, you totally can. All the loot you earn will be yours to keep, by the way, and you don’t have to download any additional content. The Witch Queen Standard Edition will just unlock on your installed game.” Note that the base game is free to play on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
Obviously, this is an exercise in building excitement for Lightfall, the next expansion, which is out on Tuesday, February 28. But even if you’re not planning on picking up Lightfall and taking a trip to Neomuna, if you’re an enjoyer of shooter campaigns, The Witch Queen is well worth your time. In his review last year, my fellow Destiny 2 veteran Phil Savage said the expansion was “a massive step in the right direction” and that “the campaign alone is worth the price of admission.” Now that the price is zero, that argument is all the more compelling.
The Witch Queen tells the story of how Savathûn, the titular villain, and how she “stole” the power of the Traveller, which is normally only granted to guardians. It sees you exploring her Throneworld, a blighted land of verdant swamps and bonelike architecture, while mowing down enough aliens to fill a colosseum three times over. There are also some juicy story twists regarding the origins of the Hive race, and how exactly Savathûn got her claws on the Traveller’s Light. All in all, it’s some of the series’ best storytelling to date.
Aside from rock solid level design combined with Destiny 2’s always comfy gunplay, The Witch Queen campaign was also notable for its “Legendary” mode, which was significantly harder than previous story missions. That was achieved in part by forcing players to fight below the power level of the enemies they faced. The experience was so widely praised that Bungie is now applying the same ethos across much of Lightfall, where player power will be capped in many activities. More on all that here.
Beyond getting the campaign clocked, you can also play through any other activities locked to ownership of The Witch Queen for free. I would probably prioritise grabbing the Dead Messenger exotic grenade launcher from the Vox Obscura mission and completing the questline for Parasite, which is also an exotic grenade launcher. The other standout weapon to look for is Osteo Striga, which you can craft at the Enclave on Mars after finishing the main story. It’s an absolutely baller Hive-themed SMG that poisons enemies thanks to being a Weapon of Sorrow.
Other things you might look to pick up are pieces of exotic armor you’re missing from the daily heroic Lost Sectors. Loreley Splendor and Hoarfrost-Z are great for Titans, Warlocks should hunt down Osmiomancy Gloves and Secant Filament Boots, while Hunters are… kinda boned, actually. Both Blight Ranger and Renewal Grasps are bad. I do not recommend farming for the exotic glaives from the Wellspring activity, as those are also trash tier currently. Glaives are going to feature in next season’s selection of artifact mods, but I think using legendary ones will be more than fine.
Speaking of the seasonal artifact, the blog post announcing the free period also details every single mod coming next season. Suffice to say that you might actually want to equip Firebolt grenades for the first time since the Solar 3.0 rework, but I do have some concerns about the new unlock system still leading to lots of fannying around in menus.
There’s also talk in the article of better damage scaling based on fireteam size for the Lightfall Legendary campaign, and changes coming to the Crucible PVP mode, most notable of which being that you’ll no longer be able to hot swap your exotic armor in Trials or Competitive matches. As ever, I will enjoying reading the furious responses.
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