Destiny is not the first of its kind, as it borrows heavily from MMO’s and RPG’s that came before it. When first announced, Destiny promised players a first-person shooter MMO hybrid, that would drastically change the way we experience video games today. At its launch, Destiny proved to be a shell of what was promised. With a story smaller than the plot of a Teletubbies episode, and a resource grind that would make you question if it is even possible that a game could disrespect your time, even more, Destiny was a hot mess. For those of us who were there since Alpha and remember the dark days of Destiny 1, you will also remember the moments of clarity, and the faintest light that was present at all times. As I said before, Destiny had a spark, a small shimmer of hope that was always there every time you stood toe to toe with Atheon or went on your daily Relic Iron walks. The potential of what is outside our solar system and beyond the confines of time itself is what Destiny constantly reminded us of existing. For many people, Destiny would be a simulated adventure beyond the stars, and Bungie was to be our tour guide.
That doesn’t seem like a long time ago, but a lot can change in three years. Since its conception, Destiny has drifted further away from its original promise, for the betterment of both the business and the franchise. Aside from mechanical changes, Destiny’s tone has shifted significantly in order to appeal to a wider audience. Vanilla Destiny 1 brought in millions of fans, only to see a quick drop off due to the lack of content and ridiculous grind. It wasn’t until the release of “The Taken King” when the franchise saw a surge of new and returning players. This was mostly in part due to the increase in content and structural changes to core gameplay mechanics. Despite this, it is important to note that much of the fandom that spawned from this DLC was partially due to Cayde-6’s reintroduction as the comedic relief contrasting Destiny’s dark tone. Since then, Cayde-6 has become the poster boy for the franchise, and while I am a fan of Cayde-6 like most others, this is where I believe Destiny began to lose its magic.
For the sake of this article, the magic that I am referring to regarding Destiny is strictly lore based. I understand that there are many aspects of the game that can be considered broken by the community, and while I certainly agree with most all of them, the biggest problem that this game is facing is the departure from its lore. This is entirely a subjective argument, but I believe that without the foundation of a riveting backstory, Destiny is doomed to be forgotten. The original game set up this foundation fairly well, despite the majority of it having to be collected and pieced together by the community. In fact, the community itself is a key component of the magic within Destiny because we are the glue that held everything together. Among many things that departed with Destiny 2, the lore was sadly one of them. That’s not to say lore is not present in the game itself, it’s the fact that it is present that hurts the experience. There is no more chase or searching for its identity anymore. What we have in Destiny 2 is what we are going to get. The simulated adventure beyond the stars that Destiny 1 promised was now belittled down to a vacation, complimented by a brochure of everything we would be seeing on our journey, thus eliminating to spectacle and allure of the unknown.
For this article, I’m not going to meticulously detail the faults within Destiny 2 because at this point you can’t look anywhere without seeing someone rant about aspects of the game. Instead, I’d rather focus on where Destiny lost its magic, and see if we can rediscover for ourselves what made Destiny great. The lack of secrecy and mystery surrounding the history of the Destiny universe has left the community in shambles. Despite lore being what I believe as the core magic of the franchise, the community itself is what fueled it. Meticulously searching the raids locals for secrets, and spending unprecedented hours theorizing and piecing fragments of history together, is what allowed us, guardians, to take a peek into the unknown, and hypnotizing us by what was found. By removing our ability to do this in Destiny 2 the fans are left to simply play a game that is repetitious and redundant. That’s not to say the first game didn’t share these qualities, but at least then we had the magic to keep us coming back. Let me take this moment to state that I’m not saying that the answer to Destiny 2’s problems lies in the past with Destiny 1. It is common knowledge that history has a tendency of repeating itself, and Destiny 2 surely shows signs of this. While taking the initiative to dial back the lore in favor of humor, Destiny 2 still finds a way to tread along the same lines as the original game. Both vanilla versions of the game suffer from either lack of content or significant content droughts. With the original Destiny, everything that was told to players was new and mysterious. This prompted fans to search for the answers themselves, crafting greater adventures along the way. That right there is the magic.
With the aggressive marketing push that Destiny 2 received, it became apparent from the beginning that the tone of this game would be far more light-hearted. Almost all marketing material featured Cayde-6 at the forefront, wit and all. Fast-forward to September of 2017 and we are finally given Destiny 2, with the promise of being a significant improvement over the original. What we got in reality, is a story that is vastly more enjoyable than its predecessor, but a game that is far more shallow. Gone is the dark tone that represented the despair and severity of the situation our Guardians found themselves in with Destiny, and in its place is a story of triumph and humor. While a welcome change at first, this departure left fans desiring more only a few months after its initial release. Bungie responded to these pleas with its first expansion titled: “Curse of Osiris”. Feeding coal into this hype-train, Bungie talked-up this expansion to greater heights than any that have come before, and almost instantaneously after its release, fans realized how easily they were duped.
Curse of Osiris took the light-hearted foundation that was established by the vanilla game and sent it skyrocketing. The introduction of Sagira allowed for a sassier Ghost who wouldn’t shy away from landing any sarcastic comment she could. On top of that, the gameplay additions present in this expansion felt as if Bungie had collected all the leftover food scraps from our previous meal and served it to us as an evening special. Osiris was originally introduced as a legendary Warlock in Destiny 1, who was as badass as they come. In this short storyline, he is reduced to a damsel in distress. What’s worse, is that our guardians weren’t given any answers about his backstory or what he represents whatsoever. Once again, Bungie chose to distance itself further from the magic that was present in Destiny 1. Instead of diving into one of the most fascinating characters in Destiny lore, they chose to reduce him to a footnote.
Now we are approaching the eve of “Warmind”, Destiny 2’s second expansion, and I can’t help but get the feeling of déjà vu. With its reveal, Bungie promises us that we will uncover the truth and backstory of our new ally, Ana Bray, daughter of Clovis Bray. Anastasia Bray is a legendary Hunter who fought in the battle of Twilight Gap, and up until now, was thought to be dead. The Warmind expansion, like its predecessor, will add a new story to Destiny 2 and seeks to prolong endgame play. Don’t let this fool you, however. While I do believe that Warmind will be a better addition to Destiny 2 than Curse of Osiris was, it still won’t solve many of its issues. Giving us answers about the lore is always a good thing, but without the tools to hypothesize ourselves, Ana Bray’s story is likely to fall into footnote territory as well. What I don’t understand with this situation, is that Bungie had already handled new characters perfectly in Destiny 1. Take Eris Morn for example. She was introduced in the first expansion “The Dark Below” and remained relevant after the story had concluded, even becoming a major NPC again in a later expansion. What’s even more important is that we were only told snippets of Eris’ backstory, allowing guardians to debate just how trustworthy she really is. Destiny 2 has a problem with its introduction of new and exciting characters that fans have been eager to meet for years, only to dispose of them shortly after use. I hope that the Destiny 2 revitalization that we are being promised will address this concern, breathing more life into this game. If Warmind can do this with Ana Bray, I know Bungie is on the right track.
Now I don’t claim to have the solution for this problem, but if you ask me, Bungie needs to create more opportunities that encourage players to explore the realms of space without their hand being held. One such way this could be done is by bringing back the dark tone displayed in the original Destiny. No matter what we did during those three years as guardians, we were constantly reminded that The Darkness is coming, and we might not be successful in stopping them this time. We saw a hint of that in the post credit scene of Destiny 2, where the reactivation of The Traveler awoke The Darkness hibernating on the outskirts of our galaxy. This, however, was the last we heard or saw of them. That is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, the community at its core, is what made Destiny stand out in the first place. The love and comradery that was formed throughout that game’s lifetime rivals some of the greatest relationships I’ve seen. There are countless content creators that spend their days crafting all sorts of media revolving around Destiny for the community to consume. Creators like My Name is Byf, Mtashed, and Datto have all been around since Destiny’s release, and each creator has a specific role to play in representing this community. I know that if I need to freshen up on some lore to provide context for what is happening, I go watch a Byf video. When I’m in the mood to watch crazy plays and professional competitive content, Mtashed is my guy. When I want to know what the best way to is min/max my character, or how effective my loadout will be in certain situations, Datto never fails me. Of course, there are many more that I could go on about, but these three creators provide context as to how high of a regard the community can be held. With the state of Destiny 2, even Bungie cannot ignore the influence these content creators have on the game’s reception. Last month Bungie hosted a community summit that saw the majority of Destiny content creators and Bungie developers all come together to discuss the state of the game and where it could go. Unfortunately, almost everything that was discussed is withheld under embargo, meaning that we probably won’t be hearing about any of it until July or August. Regardless of that, the creators were able to tell their followers that Warmind will be good, but not special. Those who want to remain Destiny fans need to look no further than the fall to have their faith in the franchise restored. That is when I believe we will feel magic once again from this franchise. Magic that will breath new life into the community and allows guardians of new and old to forge new relationships and embark on greater journeys.
Warmind will not save Destiny 2, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the nail in the coffin either. For those of us who are among the first guardians, you will remember the magic that was introduced by the original Destiny. No, I’m not only talking about the space magic but more importantly, the magic that came from walking into Atheon’s throne room for the first time seeing the time vault that he currently resides in. The magic that came from staying up till 5 am trying your hardest to shove Crota’s sword where the sun doesn’t shine so that you could banish him from our solar system. Most importantly, the magic that was present as you stood toe-to-toe with The Taken King himself, Oryx, ultimately proving your might against a God. From these moments we as guardians were given a key to the unknown, granting us the ability to forge our own legend. With Destiny 2 and the content provided post-launch, it’s as if we are no longer forging our own legends but role-playing in the one that Bungie has designed for us. Warmind could potentially be their first successful attempt at righting that wrong, but that all depends on how they handle Ana Bray and her addition to the current Destiny lore. More importantly, however, is the fall expansion that is said to be the true sequel to the original Destiny. With the launch of that expansion, Bungie is not only looking to recapture the spark that brought fans to this game in the first place but light a fire for the years to come.
For updated patch notes and info surrounding Destiny 2 form the developers themselves, head over to Bungie’s official site. For more news on Destiny 2, check out our article on the “Go Fast” update. Gaming Historia is a website where you will find reviews, podcasts, editorials and news articles all written by like-minded individuals who share the same passion as you do.