This Destiny article contains spoilers.
Destiny 2’s season 11, Season of Arrivals, continues to tease a new Hive villain: Savathûn, the Witch-Queen. A master of lies and reality-bending magic, she’s the sister of Destiny raid boss Oryx, the Taken King. Depending on who you talk to, the Hive species to which both belong are either over-used or the game’s best enemies. They lend themselves to puzzles, swordplay, and a Gormenghastian story of an ever-crumbling dynasty. Savathûn herself has appeared in Destiny lore since 2015’s The Taken King expansion and has been the subject of rumors ever since.
Soon, Guardians may even get to meet her in person. In Destiny 2‘s current storyline, Savathûn’s transmissions have been playing havoc on Eris Morn’s attempts to research the Darkness’ weaknesses. Season 11’s key item, the seasonal artifact Seed of Silver Wings, is connected to this story.
Savathûn is also slated to appear in a big way in 2021’s major Destiny 2 expansion. Titled The Witch Queen, its Hive-green logo strongly suggests Guardians will have fight back against this latest Hive threat to Earth.
So, who really is Savathûn? What does she want? And why is fighting her probably going to look differently from anything else in Destiny 2 so far?
Savathûn and the Origin of the Hive
Savathûn is one of the leaders of the Hive, the vaguely bug-like aliens ruled by necromancers. They follow the Sword Logic, a might-makes-right ethos that ensures power trickles up from the lowliest warrior to the leader of the species. Hive were once a more varied species called the Krill, but as far as Destiny is concerned, pretty much everyone you’ll see is a combatant. The Hive codify that in that their species has been transformed into an army with the sole purpose of feeding the Sword Logic. At the real top of the food chain are the Worm Gods. In Destiny lore, they’re the worst of the worst. One of them, Xol, appeared in Destiny 2 and was destroyed by the Guardians.
Savathûn and her siblings have been alive for millennia. She used to be a child princess who loved her sisters and only allied herself with the worms because they promised a way out of a planet-wide cataclysm that was going to drown her species. She wanted to live long enough to make a difference for her sisters, whose largely absent father was too addled to protect his kingdom. In order to save her people, she and her siblings ended up corrupting them.
Now, as the Hive, their entire goal is to gain more power through killing for their gods. Of course, the Guardians stand in the way of humanity becoming the next course in this bloody intergalactic meal. Player Guardians are particularly resistant to Hive magic for lore reasons too esoteric to get into right now.
The Witch-Queen herself is getting tired of the Sword Logic. Instead, Savathûn follows Imbaru, an alternative take on the Sword Logic where she gains power every time someone is wrong about her true nature or plans. Since she’s yet to appear in Destiny, there’s a lot of speculation surrounding Savathûn, and she feeds on that.
“I’m going to refinance my entire existence. I’m going to move from an existential economy based on the accumulation of violence to an existential economy based on the accumulation of secrets and the tribute of failing-to-understand-me.”
That’s an excerpt from Truth to Power, a lore book released during 2018’s expansion, Forsaken. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Truth to Power. That’s the idea. It’s a weird, twisty story in which the narrator makes up false stories for canon characters, directly addresses the player, and calls out theorizers.
“Wherever a falsehood is repeated about me, have I not displayed cunning? I shall gather tribute from every false prediction, misguided theory, fearful rumor, and ominous supposition which derives from the thought of me.”
This is a reference to in-universe speculation about Savathûn, but it’s also perfectly addressed to gamers themselves. Savathûn is one of a handful of characters who seems to maybe know she’s in a game. Meta-fiction like this certainly isn’t revelatory in games, but it is fun.
Truth to Power isn’t the only reference to Savathûn peppered throughout the last few seasons. The most overt reference to the Witch-Queen is the Strike “Savathûn’s Song.” The Hive are stealing Guardians’ Light and sealing whole fireteams away as crystal batteries, and your fireteam’s job is to get them back.
You don’t. The first time you try to thwart one of her schemes, you lose. The mission quickly becomes a last-ditch effort to control the fallout of that failure with the help of a dead Guardian’s last action. All is not lost, as “Savathûn’s Song” offers a bit of new information about the Witch-Queen: she’s working on ways to turn the Light to her advantage.
Her name can also be spotted attached to a scannable, an orb of dark energy that seems to be sending out a signal. She seems to have gained her brother’s ability to corrupt people into Taken, single-minded and ghostly enemies.
Savathûn also created the time loop that plagues the Dreaming City, a major plot point in Forsaken. And “The Festering Core,” a Strike added for 2019’s expansion Shadowkeep, pits Guardians against one of Savathûn’s envoys.
Besides bringing back the Hive as headliners, there are a few things we can extrapolate about The Witch Queen expansion. For one thing, Savathûn will probably toss a lot of tricks and puzzles at players. Destiny 2 has already experimented with visions and trickery in “The Last Wish,” The Dreaming City’s raid and throughout recent seasons, so I expect that to be turned up to 11 when Savathûn finally arrives.
Since The Witch Queen is set after this fall’s Beyond Light expansion, which introduces a new Darkness ability called Stasis, Guardians will have their own Darkness-adjacent powers to fight the Witch-Queen when she arrives next year. And who knows what other Darkness abilities Destiny 2 might add to the fold by then.
Look out for Bungie breaking the fourth wall, too. The era of true ARGs, which Bungie employed regularly during its Halo years, sending players scrambling across the real world to find narrative clues about the games, might be over, but if there’s any time to bring ARGs back, the Witch-Queen’s rise might be it.
But be careful: questions just make her more powerful.