For all of Bungie’s impressive tricks shown in the reveal of Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, the addition of Hive Guardians is likely the biggest. While monumental from a story perspective, Hive Guardians will also shape each fight in which they’re present. Like the Guardians that players control, Hive Guardians can use Supers, and they can resurrect — they can fight like us.
In an interview with Destiny 2 game director Joe Blackburn and general manager Justin Truman, we spoke about the challenges that Hive Guardians bring to the field.
“We want it to feel like you’re fighting you,” said Blackburn. “We want it to feel like you’re fighting something that you understand. The playing field has been leveled in a bunch of interesting ways.”
In the trailer for The Witch Queen, we see a Hive Guardian throw what looks like Titan’s Sentinel Shields. We see a Hive Guardian leap into the air and Blade Barrage a human Guardian. But like real Guardians, their powers don’t stop with throwing the Light back at us. Persistency is the name of the game.
“When we think about a Hive Guardian going down, you can see some of that [leveled playing field] with a Ghost orbiting around there,” said Blackburn. “And you know that like, ‘hey, that thing is gonna come back alive if I don’t deal with it. [...] I have a rez timer in PvE. Mine might say 30 seconds; I don’t know what theirs say. But I know that they’re going to be smashing the X button soon to get get back alive, right?’”
In the same reveal for The Witch Queen, we see a Guardian kill a Hive, grab the Hive Ghost, and smash it to pieces in their hand. While potentially horrifying for lore nerds — Ghosts are precious, and we’ve only really seen one die on-screen before — it’s clear that Guardians must disable the Ghost if they want the Hive to stay dead.
In talking to Blackburn about the new Glaive weapon, he spoke about the pressure players will be under to reach a Hive Ghost once they kill its Hive Guardian. Guardians will need to expose themselves to take care of that Ghost as soon as possible, before the resurrections happen. Glaives, Blackburn said, let you brave that journey a bit more easily thanks to the weapon’s mobile shield.
All that said, the exact gameplay aspect of defeating a Ghost is unclear. Truman and Blackburn said it’s something they want players to experience for themselves. Based on what we’ve seen, it looks like killing a Ghost will function similarly to using a Finisher on an enemy combatant.
Finishing off a Hive Guardian’s Ghost will likely be a player’s biggest priority in combat, as even when enemy Guardians aren’t casting Supers, they’re doing other things Guardians do. “The first time you see a Hive Acolyte throw a Solar grenade that you’ve seen before at you, it’s like, ‘Holy shit, why is this tracking me around the corner?’” said Blackburn. “[Hive Guardians] immediately elicit this response that’s like, ‘Hey, this is a threat, and I need to take care of it.’ Right? It’s like an invader in Gambit coming out. ‘Oh, OK. Guardian on the field.’”
More than anything, Bungie wants players to fear Hive Guardians. Truman spoke about Destiny’s long history of enemies fearing a Guardian when they show up — something Bungie started back in Halo, when enemy Grunts would panic once Master Chief killed their Elite. The design team wants players to experience that same level of dread when a Hive Guardian interrupts an otherwise routine encounter.