Destiny 2: What Story Should the Sequel Tell?

Feature Megan Crouse
2/19/2016 at 8:40AM

Destiny 2 arrives in 2017. How will it pick up the story from the first game? We have some ideas...

If you're like me, you’re eagerly waiting for Destiny to come out of what looks a lot like a DLC slump. The latest events, "Sparrow Racing League" and "Crimson Days," were PvP diversions, offering some new activities and emojis but not a lot when it comes to story. For lore fans, information has been scarce.

Recently, Bungie confirmed that the next step for the game will be what a lot of fans were expecting: a "large" PvE expansion coming some time this year, followed by a full-fledged Destiny 2 in 2017. This could be good news for fans of the single-player approach to the universe, especially those who feel underwhelmed by the storytelling in the first place. Some players might even say Destiny is a well-funded game with shreds of story that should have been way more fleshed out to begin with—and that’s understandable. A sequel is a chance for Destiny to get its story component right. 

"The Taken King" came out in September, and while a six month or year update is a rapid turnaround for a full-fledged sequel, waiting a year for an expansion that might add eight hours of story content isn’t quite as palatable. There was a chance that Destiny might have gone the MMO route and never had a numbered sequel at all, too. World of Warcraft has kept up its storytelling through numerous big expansions through the years, neglecting numbered sequels since its launch in 2004. At least we know that won’t be the case with Destiny.

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Other than confirmation of its existence, official information about Destiny 2 is almost nil. An oft-referenced reddit post that correctly predicted some details about "The Taken King" suggests that Destiny 2 will be subtitled “The Shattered Suns” and focus on Osiris, an exiled Warlock. Osiris’ Lighthouse is already featured as a reward for players who complete the Trials of Osiris, and information about the character is scattered around the Grimoire cards.

The original rumor suggested that Destiny 2 would come out in September of 2016, which would indicate that the release date has been pushed back by at least a year—maybe for a major overhaul in the direction the story is going. Bungie needs to make sure it has a strong roadmap going forward. Destiny has a strong world, but seems to keep picking at its own underpinnings instead of building more story on top of them. Hopefully, the next batch of story content in 2016 will answer many of the first game's questions as well tease what we should expect in the sequel. 

The latest bit of "story," courtesy of the "Crimson Days" Grimoire card, falls exactly into the trap of saying nothing of value to the actual plot of the game in such a forthright manner that it seems almost self-aware. The card tells the story of a Hunter and Warlock who find love on the battlefield, but then it has a twist ending: even in-universe, the story is just a legend. It’s a cute statement about the universality of the love story, but it completely ruins the chance of adding more lore. The star-crossed lovers aren’t even new characters who can merit short entries on a Wiki. Instead, they’re archetypes. Destiny lore is Byzantine and bottomless, rich and creative, until you’ve dug into it enough that you realize there aren’t really any answers in the anecdotes.

There are sparks of story told so far that could drive a sequel, though. "The Taken King" did present a pretty solid plot that Bungie can use going forward. At least, the 2016 expansion could explain whether the Reef Queen is still alive and confirm whether Eris was talking to her when she retrieved the crystal from the Dreadnaught at the end of the expansion. In "The Taken King," players defeated Oryx and even offered Eris some emotional closure when she called upon her old fireteam and rescued the players’ Guardians from the Hive. With her vengeance exacted, Eris’ story could be over. 

However, from the "Books of Sorrow" Grimoire cards, we know that there are still some Hive heavyweights unaccounted for. Oryx’s siblings, Savathûn and Xivu Arath, were killed and reborn over and over during the Hive’s push across the universe. They’re still alive somewhere, equipped with their own “war-moons.” Could they sense Oryx’s death and come to finish what he started? Two Hive queens instead of one Hive king could be villains for a new plot and a new Raid, but also threaten to bore players with characters too similar to Oryx and Crota.

If the 2016 expansion uses the Hive as its main villains, Destiny 2 could start fresh with another species, either one of the enemy races we have already encountered or a brand new one. The Cabal are the least explored of the enemy races, and their presence on the Dreadnaught suggests that Bungie definitely hasn’t forgotten about the tanks that settled on Mars. The Cabal’s militaristic hierarchy is motivated simply by a desire for conquest and war. Unlike the Hive, they don’t seem to actively associate themselves with the Darkness. Instead, they just want more territory. A new Cabal-focused story and Raid would be a good chance to give them a bit more motivation and set them apart from the other races with more than just their appearance and tactics.

There have also been rumors that future content might feature the Ahamkara, dragon-like creatures with corrupting psychic abilities that have been mentioned on some of Destiny’s more compelling Grimoire cards. Ahamkara were supposedly hunted to extinction, but finding more—or the last—could make for some interesting story.

If Osiris is really key to Destiny 2, it’s more likely that the Vex will come to the forefront, since these time-traveling robots were Osiris’ favorite topic of study. We know that the Vex have made in-roads against the Guardians and hassled the Hive, and humanity never did get revenge for the Vex's invasion of the Ishtar outpost. The Vex have entirely taken over Mercury, which could be a brand new location for the game—and is also the location of Osiris' stronghold.

Another loose end is the Warminds, the artificial intelligences found scattered across the Earth. These ancient machines have a tense relationship with the Tower, which we’ve mostly seen on the missions that send the player to the Warmind Rasputin. Other Warminds are out there, though, and the exploration of the relationship between artificial intelligence and humanity is certainly within Bungie’s wheelhouse.

The next inciting incident could be something completely different, too. The Awoken Queen and her brother, who had their own, different parts to play in the early versions of the Destiny story, could be a source for court intrigue and betrayals, as players venture to the asteroid belt and the outer planets. Speaking of the Outer Planets, the mysterious Nine are also part of the big unanswered questions. Essentially there in order to provide a backstory for the magical loot store keeper Xur, the lore of the Nine is scattered throughout the Grimoire cards. The Nine might just be the “flavor” in flavor text, a part of the Destiny world created in order to explain a vendor necessary for Destiny’s gameplay and economy.

Bungie knows what PvE and lore-focused players have been looking for: more story, more characters, just more to latch on to instead of teases like the "Crimson Days" card. If the next expansion and Destiny 2 deliver, this universe could finally give us a story that's more than just almost good enough. Destiny has a great world—and Destiny 2 is a chance for Bungie to prove they can use it.

Megan Crouse is a staff writer.

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