Iron Banter: This Week In Destiny 2

Iron Banter: This Week In Destiny 2

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A new Witch Queen trailer has our story speculation-sense tingling, and also people are mad about *checks notes* Orbs of Power.

Phil Hornshaw

Just about every week brings something new to Destiny 2, whether it’s story beats, new activities, or interesting new combinations of elements that let players devastate each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly look at what’s going on in the world of Destiny and a rundown of what’s drawing our attention across the solar system.

With most of the major content for the Season of the Lost out of the way, we’re more or less officially in the hype period–the run-up to The Witch Queen that’s going to see a deluge of details and hints before the expansion’s final launch on February 22. It got going this week with a new trailer for The Witch Queen that included a deeper look at the locale and some fun hints about what might go on there.

So, hey, guess who’s thinking about story possibilities–this guy [points at self].

There’s a lot of room for rampant speculation, but with the new trailer, we at least have some areas on which to focus. The big thing that interests me is the broader story of Savathun and her motivations, because I think everything’s about to get a lot more complicated in The Witch Queen.

Sister Act

I spent the early part of the week pouring over the latest Witch Queen trailer and breaking down everything it included, scrounging for clues about the story that Bungie might be trying to tell in the next chapter of Destiny 2. (Relatedly and at the same time, Saniya Ahmed dug deep on old Mars story threads that seem like they’re about to become very relevant.) It raised more questions than answers, sure, but there were a couple of tidbits that play into ongoing feelings I’ve been having about where The Witch Queen is headed. The main one is this:

Check Out This Chunk Of Hive History.
Check out this chunk of Hive history.

That’s a statue of Oryx, the Taken King, fighting the worm god Akka. It’s a scene out of the Books of Sorrow, the Hive’s creation myth, which seems at least partially true but may also include its share of lies–much like everything to do with the Hive. But I think it’s more than just a cool reference to an intense lore thing (which you should absolutely read, as it’s some of the best story stuff in the Destiny universe).

I’ve been cultivating the opinion for a while that Savathun wants to be friends. That idea was somewhat born out with the Season of the Lost, when Savathun revealed that she had been impersonating Osiris and claimed that her (admittedly evil-seeming) manipulations of events had actually been tuned toward a helpful purpose. She claims she wants to be allies, even though she can’t help being super-creepy about it, and while The Witch Queen marketing seemingly paints Savathun as the villain of the expansion, the impression cultivated with trailers and hints so far does more to suggest that Savathun is guiding or pushing us in a particular direction through the course of the expansion, rather than just trying to kill us like the Hive usually do.

Let’s pause for a second and acknowledge that Savathun is the Hive god of deceit, so anything could be a lie or a machination to confuse and obfuscate because she literally feeds off tricking people into believing her lies. That said, Savathun’s actions over the course of more than a year have backed up the feeling that she really has switched sides and is now an active enemy of the Darkness, the evil power in the Destiny 2 universe, and the worm gods, which have empowered the Hive for eons. Her own sister, Xivu Arath, is hunting Savathun and seemingly intent on killing her in service of the Darkness. And in past seasons, Savathun has worked to keep us Guardians away from the Darkness’s influence. Whatever other lies she’s telling, given the events we’ve seen and the fights we’ve actually fought, that Savathun is actually fighting the Darkness seems to be a truth.

So okay, take it as proven that Savathun doesn’t want to be a slave to the Darkness or the worm gods anymore. This statue then might just be a cool piece of art with which Savathun commemorates Oryx’s battle against Akka. It could be a tribute to family, or a monument to the first defeat of the worm gods, since Savathun isn’t a fan anymore. But it could also be something more.

Perhaps Savathun'S Ultimate Deception Is That She'S Mean.
Perhaps Savathun’s ultimate deception is that she’s mean.

There’s been something of a fan theory floating around for a while that a burgeoning Hive goal is to resurrect Oryx. After all, we left a vacancy on Oryx’s throne when we killed him back in Destiny 1 and nobody has filled it–something that was a major theme of Forsaken and all our visits with Toland the Shattered in the Ascendant Realm. Shadowkeep is about factions trying to rise to take over the Hive hierarchy and dissent about Hive leadership. And though Savathun might be lying to us, something she said that actually rings true in the Season of the Lost was about her dedication to family. While the Hive gods warred on each other countless times over the millennia, they always considered these attacks to be love meant to strengthen one another–to force evolution through what is essentially their religion, the Sword Logic. I think it’s true that Savathun feels for her siblings even now.

So maybe this monument isn’t just tribute to past deeds of Oryx or historical recollection of a worm-god ass-kicking, but some reverence for the Taken King. I think it’s possible Savathun wants to bring Oryx back–through, you know, some kind of weird Destiny space magic–and if that’s the case, I think Savathun wants not only to free herself from the Darkness, but Oryx too.

So that’s my big fun fan theory of the moment. The truth we’re going to learn about Savathun is that she wants to resurrect Oryx and release the Hive from the worms altogether. The Witch Queen expansion sees Savathun gaining the power of the Light, and while we’ll stand against her, Put me on record as seeing that as another manipulation–by the Darkness this time, not Savathun herself. We’ll see the error of our ways eventually.

Ultimately, I think, it won’t be the forces of Light that stand against the Darkness, but the forces of life. We’re already finding allies among the Eliksni and the Cabal, alien races who were our enemies for years (if not, in the story sense, centuries). We’ll join with the Hive eventually too, I think, and probably the Vex. It’ll be life fighting against death, with all of us living beings demanding a right to exist.

I mean, what if they resurrected Oryx and the Taken King was our friend? How sick would that be?

Would You Like To Hear About My Orb?
Would you like to hear about my Orb?

Orbs of Atrocity

In the This Week at Bungie blog post this week, the developer outlined a relatively minor change that has kicked off the outrage that the Destiny 2 community sees from time to time. Venture over to the r/destinythegame subreddit to see what I mean. It boils down to this: Guns aren’t going to generate Orbs of Power through Masterwork anymore. With The Witch Queen, you’ll equip certain mods to your armor, which will cause guns of a specific type to generate Orbs for you.

The ostensible reason for this particular change is to remove the requirement that players must gather Exotic catalysts for certain Exotic weapons. If you’re unfamiliar, catalysts are certain items you can find or earn in Destiny 2 that equip to Exotic weapons, and once you’ve completed whatever their requirements are, amp up that particular gun. They also generate Orbs of Power. A bunch of catalysts are only available through random drops in certain activities, which means a lot of people don’t have them, and it can take a long time to get them. Sometimes you get lucky. Often you don’t. Until you do, that spiffy Exotic that you like doesn’t generate Orbs. This new mod solution remedies that.

We don’t have all the details about the Orb situation, it must be said, because Bungie is dropping additional details later. However, it sounds like Orbs will factor into the new weapon crafting system and that more alterations to the Orbs system altogether are likely happening.

But this is one of those things that has players pretty upset, and it’s possible to see why. Currently, you can generate Orbs with all three guns in your arsenal, provided you either Masterwork them or have their catalysts if they’re Exotic. And Orbs are very useful in gameplay, since they help you gain your Super faster and can give you additional benefits, like health or ability energy regeneration. When you build a current Destiny 2 loadout, you think about Orbs.

With the mod change, it sounds like instead of having three guns for Orb generation, you’ll have…fewer, most likely. Each mod is tied to a certain damage type for Orb generation, so it seems like you’ll have to equip a mod to make your Arc guns generate Orbs, or your Void guns, and so forth. That has players annoyed because it’ll hinder the ability to swap guns on the fly. Instead of just going from Arc to Void as the situation dictates, they’re seeing the need to swap mods off their helmets to make sure they’re still generating Orbs, or worse, swapping the entire helmet for another one with preset mods ready to go.

The Idea That Masterworked Weapons Might Not Produce Orbs Fo Power Anymore Has A Lot Of People Annoyed.
The idea that Masterworked weapons might not produce Orbs fo Power anymore has a lot of people annoyed.

I’m usually at odds with the community reaction to changes like this, because personally, how my guns generate Orbs of Power is not a thing that gets my blood up. It’s a minor mechanic to me that barely affects how I play the game 99% of the time and thus I don’t really care. I feel that way about a lot of things in Destiny 2, to be honest. This just isn’t really that big of a deal.

And I do think a lot of these reactions are, in fact, over-reactions. Most activities in Destiny 2 just aren’t that difficult and don’t require that much care or attention for loadouts or build-crafting. That’s by design–the game is largely accessible and you can breeze through it with some challenge but not min-maxing-level attention to detail. The places you might have to care about whether your guns generate Orbs in all situations are those highest-level activities like Raids or Grandmaster Nightfalls. In most of those cases, where the game is so hard that every piece of armor, weapon choice, and mod attachment matters, well, you’re probably going to be equipment-locked anyway. You’re not going to be making weapon swaps or mod adjustments. So the scenario in which you’re swapping to make giant switches to your loadout to make sure you’re still generating, again, Orbs of Power, is just not one I think is realistic.

Maybe the Orb change is going to make a drastic difference to how Destiny 2 plays, or maybe it’ll just make things a little more annoying; it’s tough to speculate at this point. We’ll find out more soon as Bungie drops more details and when The Witch Queen actually drops. But I’m doubtful this is a change that anyone’s really going to be thinking about in roughly two months.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong. Feel free to argue with me in the comments below–I’m interested in some reasonable takes about the situation, for sure, especially because while I pay some attention to build-crafting, I know there are a lot of people out there who are much more expert. That said, I’d rather talk about your Witch Queen predictions, your Hive lore deep-dive thoughts, and your Oryx friend date dream scenarios.

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