Destiny 2: My Last Night With “The Witch Queen”

Players of Destiny 2 have been on a short count for the new Lightfall expansion, fighting their way through “Season of The Seraph” while making a mad dash for craftable weapon patterns and last minute triumphs. Being fair, I came back into the game comparatively recently, starting with the “Season of Plunder,” the space pirate themed season where you fight against the Fallen pirate queen Eramis, recently broken out of her icy prison on Europa.

It was a bit of a slog, making my way through the Shadowkeep, Beyond Light, and Witch Queen content, but that’s what I get for walking away from a game for a few years. And when this last Sunday rolled around, I had plans. There were things I wanted to do, weapon patterns I wanted to obtain prior to the great restructuring of crafted weapons, maybe squeeze out a few more triumphs somewhere. It didn’t quite work out like I’d planned.

“Play some Dares of Eternity, have a few laughs with a space pony. Sure…”

The Guns of Never Owned

It’s not possible for a Destiny 2 player to own every piece of gear ever made. They may have had it at one point and dismantled it. But you’ve only got 600 slots of shared bank space across three characters, and each character can hold a maximum of 120 pieces: ten weapons in each of the Kinetic, Energy, and Power slots, fifty pieces of armor, ten emblems, ten Ghost shells, ten Sparrow ground vehicles, and ten spaceships. All told, assuming every slot is filled, 960 pieces of gear. Prior to Lightfall, there were more weapons and armor alone than that, not counting exotics. Those who’ve played Destiny 2 know the harsh demands of managing bank space.

With the advent of the “Deepsight” mechanic and The Enclave zone in The Witch Queen, it was possible to craft certain weapons and later rebuild them with new and different perks. It was a bit of a slog, particularly since not every Deepsight weapon was craftable and there were “pre-built” versions of craftable weapons which did not have Deepsight on them (thus making it impossible to derive the craftable pattern from it). Still, there was something satisfying about finally being able to build your own version of a weapon and watch it get better the more you used it. My own favorites since I got back into Destiny 2 have been the Syncopation-53 pulse rifle and the Ammit AR2 auto rifle (they’ve gotten well up there in terms of levels earned), with the exotic Osteo Striga coming in a very close third.

The chase for craftable weapons in The Witch Queen was excessively torturous. While you could mitigate it to some extent for season-specific weapons with the seasonal artifacts (which I didn’t exactly understand how they worked until late in “Season of Plunder”), others like dungeon and raid-specific weapons, as well as those tied to activities like Wellspring or Dares of Eternity, felt like a crapshoot. It wasn’t until about a month or so before the end of “Season of The Seraph” that Bungie loosened the Deepsight purse strings. And even then, some weapons just were not dropping often enough. It was a minor miracle I got even an ordinary Other Half sword from Dares.

But I persevered. I had most of the weapons I wanted, but I was short a few and figured Sunday would be the day to make a final big run. It was going to be a lot of Dares, chasing after the elusive Other Half. To my credit, I did unlock the patterns for Half-Truths and Wastelander M3 (a lever-action shotgun) which had stubbornly refused to drop prior to this. But most of the day, I got skunked.

As I was relaxing before supper, my buddy Kris messaged me on PSN. And he had a proposition: “Let’s do Grasp of Avarice!” And that was where everything went wrong.

Yes, it could get worse than this. And did.

The Deadest Rich Man Alive

Kris and I have been friends for years at this point, and I foresee us being friends for many years to come. So when he suggested Grasp of Avarice, it was with the hope we’d actually be able to get through it. We’d tried a couple of times previously and could never get past the infamous “Sparrow Race” portion of the Dungeon. Or at least I hadn’t; he’d LFG’d his way to one completion already. That said, I did have the quest to obtain the Gjallarhorn rocket launcher (an old favorite of the original Destiny) and crossing it off the list would be cool. Also being fair, we had just finished up the Legendary version of the campaign missions for The Witch Queen the night before, of which we’d essentially cheesed our way through a grinding fight with Savathûn by not getting the timed damage buffs. Still, we were at or close to the hard cap for Light Level, so we were feeling that we could knock out the dungeon in a couple hours, tops. Much better than our first attempts at it, surely. We had better gear. We had our seasonal artifacts unlocked. We could do this! Heck, we’d whacked Savathûn just the night before. And we’d done Pit of Heresy (another dungeon) fairly quickly. This would be a bit of a challenge, since another friend we ran with for dungeons was unavailable, but two people should be doable. After all, if there’s achievements for doing dungeons solo, this shouldn’t be too awful, right?

My optimism and enthusiasm were apparently badly misplaced. According to database site, the people who have a certain emblem commemorating a solo and flawless run in Grasp of Avarice are of a select group. Only 9% of the entire player base has that emblem, which means only 9% of players have done that run solo and without dying once. I’m not a hardcore raider. I’m not a hardcore dungeon runner. I’m also not a complete novice when it comes to Destiny 2. And I was taking my best gear into this thing, so I was feeling reasonably confident of my ability to get through quickly. I figured the real slowup would be the “Sparrow Race” section, since I hadn’t gotten past it before.

Well, I wasn’t wrong about the “Sparrow Race” being an impediment. We must have burned the better part of an hour trying to get through that damn thing, mainly because I kept getting my Sparrow shot out from under me (and subsequently getting killed for my pains). And, perversely, I remembered the course fairly well up to a certain point. But we spent longer on the first boss fight (didn’t wipe, despite almost an hour and a half), and even longer on the final boss fight (also didn’t wipe, but took almost three hours for two people to finally bring down the boss). Would it have gone faster with three people? Almost certainly. Did we perhaps fail to spec ourselves out properly? The thought occurs. Most comments you’ll see on forums and social media is that the dungeon normally takes about two hours. It took Kris and I well over five. The tale of the tape was clear that, at least with the final boss, we had a very equal division of labor: he was clearing adds, I was mainly doing boss damage. And being fair, we did have a rhythm going, though there were certain spots on the maps (particularly with the final boss) which seemed like they were a good way to instantly kill yourself. Still, five hours is way too damned long.

The practical upshot: I ultimately completed the quest for Gjallarhorn and its ornament. Missed the last chest for the catalyst. And burned up too much time to try and make a last run at Other Half. Still, it’s Gjallarhorn, a damned fine rocket launcher even now. And from what I understand, Grasp of Avarice will still be around for me to snag the last catalyst piece.

And no more dealing with Shaw Han’s dead ass. Bonus.

The Cleanup

The recommendation had been circling around that it was probably a good idea to go through one’s gear and clear out any existing mods which had been socketed. Theory being that, with the new loadout systems Bungie’s been talking about, it could potentially reduce headaches if nothing was already in place. And honestly, with the likelihood of server issues, login queues, and player volume smashing instances flat, anything which even vaguely suggested a smoother experience was probably worth the effort.

The good news, such as it was, happened to be that of the more than 900 pieces of gear my characters were holding on to, a large percentage of it didn’t have mods in place. On the other hand, I’m a terrible packrat and I’ve got a number of pieces from Destiny 2‘s first year. The “Prophecy” weapons from the “Curse of Osiris” DLC were a slog and a half to get originally, and even if they’re ostensibly able to be redownloaded (since they were never randomized gear), I like having them around. They’re trophies of a simpler time in Destiny 2.

I also checked to make sure there weren’t any pieces of gear I was feeling sentimental about. Some armor sets, I will defend unto the death to hang on to. Others, I can’t stand to look at them anymore and I’ve only missed them in the vault because I was too busy looking for something else. I’m sure I’m going to be pinched for space when Lightfall starts the ball rolling. But for now, I’ve got a little breathing room at least.

Every time I pull the trigger on one of these, I add to Rasputin’s samadh.

It’s probably going to be a while before we have to do this ritual again. In the meantime, there’s a whole new adventure awaiting, a new world to explore, and new stories to experience. I don’t really regret my last night in The Witch Queen. And I don’t expect I’ll regret my first night in Lightfall.

What all did you do on your last night before the Lightfall launch?  Let us know in the comments below!

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