Destiny has always had campaigns – linked sequences of missions telling a single (mostly) coherent story which can be played solo. But they’ve never been its purpose, or even, really, much of a highlight. With Destiny 2’s next big expansion, The Witch Queen, Bungie is looking to change that, and has even been so bold as to invite comparisons with some of the best single-player shooter campaigns ever made.
“We’re putting extra care into the campaign for The Witch Queen,” creative director James Tsai says in Bungie’s big 2021 showcase earlier today. “If you like games with standalone campaigns like Doom, Titanfall 2, God of War, and Halo, then The Witch Queen is for you.”
It’s a bold statement for Bungie to make, given that Destiny 2 has always benefitted from not having to deliver the same kind of campaign as these games. As an action-MMO, Destiny is built to keep players engaged with its repeatable post-campaign content such as strikes, PvP, and Gambit, or dungeons and raids for the hardcore. A relatively shallow campaign experience compared to dedicated single-player shooters is the understandable price of this shift in focus, much though it’s always disappointed those who wanted Bungie to make another Halo.
So how exactly is Bungie planning to elevate The Witch Queen’s campaign? The headline feature is the return of difficulty settings:
“In addition to our classic, normal mode, Legendary is our tougher, aspirational version of the campaign, where the enemies hit harder and respawning is heavily restricted. Every battle is a gut punch, and every boss is a worthy adversary. It’s gonna hurt,” Tsai says. “But if you persist, your time will be well rewarded.” You’ll be able to play solo or with a fireteam, with the difficulty scaling accordingly.
Project lead Blake Battle adds that “every one of the missions has its own unique fantasy, like what does it feel like to storm a castle? Or go straight into the depths of Hell?”
As a huge fan of single-player FPS games – especially those Tsai cites – whose expectations for Destiny campaigns are usually pretty low, colour me sceptical but excited. There’s plenty else from Bungie’s big showcase on the site, including a look at the rest of The Witch Queen, the expansion after Lightfall, and the return of Gjallarhorn.