By Adele Chapline Smith | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — “Destiny 2: The Witch Queen” (Bungie) is the sixth expansion of an online multiplayer first-person shooter title originally released in 2017.
While it includes nonscriptural elements, these are presented in a sci-fi context sufficiently distant from reality that they are unlikely to make any kind of lasting impression on grown-ups — or teens mature enough to recognize the distinction.
Gamers take on the role of Guardians, people who died many years ago but have been brought back to life by the Traveler, a large, mysterious sphere in the sky that also grants them special abilities called the “Light.” Guardians are tasked with using these gifts to protect the Last City, the sole remaining bastion of humanity.
However, the Traveler’s power begins to manifest in known enemies of the Light, a species called the Hive who previously have only wielded the Darkness. Their leader is Savathun, the self-proclaimed Witch Queen. Appalled that she has stolen the Light from the Traveler, guardians rise up to stop her in her tracks and travel to a fictional version of Mars to do so.
As in many real-world situations, though, the truth, they discover, is not so black and white. As a result, many of their previously held beliefs are shaken.
Other threats to the followers of the Light include the strange Pyramids introduced in 2020’s “Destiny 2: Beyond Light” as well as a being known only as the Witness — a source of danger, it turns out, even more insidious than Savathun.
Players deploy futuristic weapons and special powers called supers to fight enemy aliens of various races. Friendly combat among Guardians also is available in the Crucible, the player-versus-player (PVP) game mode. The resulting violence is tame, although, when a character is injured, flecks of red appear on the edges of the screen.
The dialogue includes only one or two instances of mildly rude language. Parents should be aware, however, that young gamers can be exposed to unsavory behavior from others through optional in-game chat.
There is considerable moral subtlety to the story, though this presents a mixed picture when viewed from a Christian perspective. On the one hand, the narrative suggests that good and evil are balancing — even complementary — forces.
More in line with gospel values is the implicit idea that no one is entirely wicked. This echoes what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in his “Summa Theologiae”: “it is impossible to find one that is wholly devoid of good.”
That notion is reinforced as gameplay unfolds and the guardians gain new insights into the real nature of their long-time adversaries. Additionally, the design of “Witch Queen” consistently upholds the values of cooperation, teamwork and community.
Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia and Windows PC.
The game contains frequent stylized combat with mild blood effects and occasional crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T — teen.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.