Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for the final boss of Destiny 2's new Warmind campaign. The campaign's only about five missions long though.
I hate bugs. Maybe the phobia spawned from camping a lot while growing up, or from that time I accidentally jumped in a hornets' nest, or found a spider nest burrowed in my bed when I went back to my hometown for a week while in college. I've had a lot of bad run-ins with bugs over the years, even though I understand their obvious benefits to nature and the world at large. Nonetheless, I don't like having bugs in my vicinity.
This fear has carried over into video games too. In the first Jak and Daxter, I remember nope-ing out of an area after seeing that the primary creatures you fight within it are giant spiders. In Skyrim, one of the first monsters you raise your sword against are giant spiders too. You can bet your ass I'm never touching the Earth Defense Force series because, well, giant ants. In both Destiny games from Bungie, bug enemies appear in an unglamorous way. And yet, they're unfamiliar bugs, having the most in common with bees due to their elaborate hives.
And oh, how I unexpectedly love them.
The Hive in Destiny are known to be a bug-like foe. They burrow themselves onto planets, breed incessantly, and overrun it. In Destiny 2's latest expansion Warmind, the Hive have infested the planet Mars so much, that they morphed into a new subspecies: the Frozen Hive. (Just kidding, according to lore they were actually a dormant Hive sect called the Grasp of Nokris who were recently awakened by a Worm God named Xol.) The Frozen Hive, somehow, are even more threatening.
The Hive are arguably actually the second best enemy kind in Destiny 2, right behind the Taken. The Hive are basically bugs, even if they don't take the form of any bugs in our current world. (In fact, Destiny 2: Warmind's primary ally calls them bugs pretty much every waking moment.) Their skin looks like paper, as if they're about to wilt at a moment's notice. The tougher foes wear a husk-like body armor and are formidable. The Hive act like the bugs we know; they're aggressive and scramble quickly. If they attack you head on, an icy vignette appears on the screen and movement slows slightly. When a dozen or so Thralls are headed your way zombie horde-style, it's easy to get overwhelmed if you don't have a gun with good auto or spread at your behest. Sometimes, if you enter a dark room in Destiny, you can hear the pitter patter of dozens of them running towards you in the black abyss.
In Destiny 2: Warmind, the Hive are of a different breed on Mars. Their new icy paint job make them a little more interesting, but largely they're still the same ol' Hive. It's not all bad though—the expansion puts the spotlight on the bug foes, where often they've felt neglected in the Destiny canon outside of the game's lore and the original game's very first expansion The Dark Below.
In Warmind, the Guardian battles the Frozen Hive of the Grasp of Nokris army who are seeking destruction of Mars' Warmind (basically, an artificial intelligence being) core, named Rasputin. (That's a whole lot of words that will go right over your head if you don't play Destiny.) Along the expansion's short campaign, you run into the ancient weapon of the Valkyrie: a giant red spear that you can throw and slam down to shatter enemies around you. It's kind of like the sword Power Weapon, if you could throw the sword too.
The campaign hits its peak when you fight a literal Hive God—a Worm God, to be exact. This is a familiar being for folks well versed in Destiny lore, but Destiny 2: Warmind is the first tangible appearance of a giant worm God. This Worm God, named Xol, is a menacing monster. When you finally battle it, sometimes Hive spawn around it as it sprays a laser at you from its mouth that unfolds like a dozen suicide doors facing inward.
While the boss battle itself is disappointingly simple (the Valkyrie spawns, you throw spears into Xol's glowing mouth hole, leap in the air when the floor starts glowing purple, and take out any Hive that get in your way in the process), Xol itself looks very cool. It's the only moment in the Warmind expansion that got me snapping away with the Share button on my DualShock. Xol is a symbol of what makes the Hive so interesting compared to the other enemies in Destiny—Xol's a giant ass worm, like the worms we see wiggling around soil in our everyday lives. Except, Xol's obviously more Hive-like and threatening, unlike most earthworms.
The Hive, overall, are emblematic of what Destiny does best. Every enemy type in the series follows familiar archetypes—the big guys who shoot things, the smaller guys who run at you, and so on—but each species has its own unique characteristics. The Taken teleport around. The Cabal are broad shouldered and easy targets, but most of them have jetpacks that allow them to fly in the air to complicate things. The Hive are fast on their feet and vicious, and are easily overwhelming as a result. They're like a swarm of bees protecting their honey, because in reality, they do have hives to protect as we see in the caverns they often dwell within.
As I've spent the last few days playing Warmind, it feels like Destiny 2 is finally fun to play again. I'm leveling up fast, getting new gear at every turn. I know that wall will hit me come 350 Power Level or so, but for now, I'm at 340 and thriving. I will happily blast away any bug on Mars in my way to continue thriving, even if the sights aren't really pretty for this particular expansion.
I won't say Destiny's Hives have allowed me to completely conquer my fear of bugs, but it at least helped me conquer it in video game form. Bugs are nothing against my Sweet Business, my Sunshot, my Void grenades. Maybe one day I can conquer my fear again without wincing in Jak and Daxter, Skyrim, and even Earth Defense Force. But if I find a spider in my room again, I'm still calling upon my partner to put it outside or whatever humane thing he does.