With its latest raid, Vow of the Disciple, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen finally does something that other loot games have been doing for decades: it actually lets me loot the boss’ weapon.
Rhulk, Disciple of The Witness and final boss of The Witch Queen’s raid, is beloved for a lot of reasons (notably, he steps on people, which has spawned a host of debaucherous memes). However, I love Rhulk for the giant glowing glaive that he carries into battle. Because when he dies, he leaves the glaive behind for some lucky players.
I was one of those lucky players during Vow of the Disciple’s opening weekend, when it was still extremely difficult to complete due to Bungie’s Contest Mode modifier. And for the first time in my near-decade playing Destiny, I decided to make a scene. I popped on my new raid gear, displaying Rhulk’s massive weapon on my back as I just stood in the square and flexed. I scrolled through my phone to pass the time, and whenever I’d look back at my monitor, a new Guardian was standing nearby, gawking at the unfamiliar item hanging off of my back. It’s the most shameless I’ve ever been about a Destiny accomplishment, and it made me feel great — I was one of only a few hundred players who could cosplay as the new raid boss.
Destiny has a long history of Guardians turning bosses into guns. In The Taken King’s King’s Fall raid, players used various pieces of the boss to create the Touch of Malice scout rifle. But building something new out of the broken pieces isn’t as exciting as picking up the wholly-intact property of your fallen foe and using it to beat its ass again the following week.
World of Warcraft has understood this thrill since its early years. Illidan Stormrage dropped his warglaives (a different kind of glaive than Destiny) years before the Demon Hunter class — which is inspired by Illidan and his weapons — entered the game. Garrosh Hellscream drops a version of his corrupted axe, Gorehowl, in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid. The functionality behind a goopy purple axe with a bunch of eyeballs on it doesn’t actually matter. All players like me care about is the ability to embody the boss you’ve just beaten the pulp out of.
Using a boss weapon is the essence of the loot-game fantasy. It’s impressive in those first few days, sure — and as the weapon ages, it serves as a reminder of not only an accomplishment, but of a great fight. Whenever I use Rhulk’s glaive, I think about the Vow of the Disciple raid. Its neon glow already brings memories to mind.
Looking at Destiny’s history, it’s easy to pinpoint some clear missed opportunities for evocative boss weapons: Oryx’s Taken sword, Atheon’s massive gun, one of Riven’s claws, etc. But ruminating on what could’ve been isn’t as exciting as imagining the next boss weapon that could end up in my hands. Bungie has given players their first real taste of boss vanity. As a Guardian, I’ve felled plenty of gods in plenty of raids, Strikes, and dungeons — but picking up a boss’s weapon is the first time I’ve ever felt like one myself.