The New 'Destiny 2' Expansion Doesn't Fix The Game's Shoddy Storytelling


#1

Spoilers for Warmind story and end-game below.

The Warmind expansion for Destiny 2 released yesterday and I played through it the moment work was over. There’s a lot of things to like in that campaign: The main character of the campaign, Ana, is a smart, witty guardian who always seems to see the big picture. She calls you to Mars in an effort to fight the Hive, who are attempting to destroy the AI “warmind” Rasputin—which is apparently the strongest weapon in the solar system and the only thing capable of hurting the Traveler. I’m not 100% sure on that: The storytelling was a bit all over the place and it’s hard to keep up while mid-battle with hordes of Hive. But that’s the gist, of the first part at least!

THEN. THEN… Zavala shows up as you’re finishing the first part of the story—which felt to me like the end of the campaign altogether—and there’s a loud roar. Ghost asks, for lack of better word, “What the fuck was that?” and Zavala responds with, “Rasputin was not the only thing to awaken on Mars.”

OK? Okay, so what was the other thing, Zavala? Any help?

I’m used to not catching all the details and references in Destiny 2. I didn’t play original Destiny. When I picked up Destiny 2, it was mainly because I had enough friends playing through it that I felt I didn’t need to be fully versed in the earlier story, know much about the characters, or be up to speed on the lore. During my initial playthrough of Destiny 2, I didn’t feel like the game expected me to know much about the previous game or its lore. Ghaul’s story was fresh, and despite it being hit or (mostly) miss, it was a story I didn’t feel lost in.

While playing through the first Destiny 2 expansion, Curse of Osiris, I didn’t feel lost so much as bored. Old Mercury was beautiful, the past and future enemy designs were cool, but I didn’t feel invested. Osiris as a main character was lackluster and didn’t hook me, and when I realized how small and limited Mercury was after beating the expansion, it overall just felt like a waste of time. Still, though, I felt excited for Warmind. I wanted it to be good. I wanted it to help get me back on the Destiny 2 bandwagon.

But Warmind is the first time I’ve felt like not knowing my Destiny history made the game almost meaningless. And a big part of that is because of where Warmind puts the most important exposition in the entire game.

A word of advice if you haven’t played through the story and are reading this spoiler-loaded piece: DO NOT SKIP THROUGH THE VENDOR INTERACTION WITH ANA RIGHT AFTER THE LOUD ROAR CUTSCENE. That’s right: The entire explanation (which isn’t much of an explanation) of the final boss in Warmind, is told to you as you’re choosing your reward weapon in a completely normal vendor interaction with Ana. I love auto rifles, so I chose my gun and that was it. Next mission opens up, we’re going after some Hive god named Xol. I was confused through the end of the story.


Here's the cutscene and vendor interaction in question, courtesy of MKIceAndFire on YouTube.

I checked in with some of my clan members to see if I was the only person who felt like part of the story, or potentially an entire mission, was missing, and they all felt the same way. It’s not hard to find people within the Destiny community who feel the same way. Digging into things a bit more, I eventually learned that Rasputin and Xol were both pretty important parts of the Destiny Grimoire, as well as minor parts of the third original Destiny expansion, The Taken King. Trouble is, the Grimoire is gone and has never been a part of my Destiny experience.

The game could have given the player some backstory in a cutscene, be it an extra few lines about Xol, but they chose to put it in what was seemingly a regular vendor exchange. Those scenes usually have some forgettable flavor dialogue that’s mostly filler you can click through. Warmind, as a whole, is fun to play through, and Mars is an incredible planet with loads to explore, but unfortunately this new expansion doesn’t fix the ongoing shoddy storytelling in Destiny 2. In fact, it might be some of the weakest storytelling yet.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint’s forums to share them!


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/a3awp5/destiny-2-dlc-warmind-story-boss

#2

Ran into the same problem with finding out about Xol in the shard mission. After that mission I literally felt so tired I had to leave to wake myself up and haven’t gone back since. Dunno if I will, maybe if my friend pushes me.

The start was just sooo bad. Like, it didn’t answer any goddamn questions. Who the hell is Ana Bray? Woah how do you know about your past? I know this because I’ve watched videos, but my guardian didn’t and I couldn’t ask any questions about her and her life. I couldn’t ask anything about Rasputin either. Also how the hell did Zavala get in there???

It doesn’t help that apparently the writing team is now retconning a bunch of their own game’s lore. E.G. Rasputin being now apparently the only Warmind ever, and everything else was actually just subminds. Or the whole exiling of Osiris. Even now going as far as calling the Grimoire, where the lore everyone liked about Destiny, just folklore and distancing themselves from it…

It’s just… incredibly frustrating…


#3

I was really excited for destiny 2. I never had a current gen console but had a gaming pc so the option to play destiny 1 wasn’t there, however I’d played a lot of bungie games in the past so all through destiny 1 I consumed destiny articles like they were going out of fashion. I checked in with the dad’s of destiny (one example!) and loved the love they had for the game and the community they were building.

So when destiny 2 was announced for pc, it was a day 1 no questions for me. It sounded like the best bits of old wow but with a more manageable individual time commitment ask.

So I fired up destiny 2 on launch day. And the game looked incredible and handled like a dream! And that’s the last opinion I remember having about destiny 2. Because the story is utterly unengaging, as a new player I had no idea what was going on, the factions were never explained and I didn’t care about the stakes because it never felt real. The missions were utterly disconnected from the few bits of non radio dialogue/ cutscenes we got. It was just a series of shooting galleries. And don’t even get me started on how bad the dialogue itself was, cheesy doesn’t begin to cover it. I can only imagine what Lance reddick must’ve felt like having to go on and on about ‘the light’ (I began cringing when he did!)

Still I’d paid for the expansion (oops!) So I returned for Osiris . Game handled great as ever but there was no context to the game, they did such a bad job selling the story. The game felt like a bunch of execs brain storming what a destiny like game should be, utterly without soul .

I still haven’t played destiny 1 so the love so many people have for the story is utterly bewildering, which is a great shame because me and people I know really wanted to be on the destiny train.

And that’s disappointment isn’t even touching on all the gross extraneous shit going on, it’s just a sad chapter all the way round


#4

destiny 2 didn’t have a story, it just had a bunch of hoary whedon archetypes and a lot of proper nouns. doesn’t sound like much has changed.


#5

As someone who put in 600 hrs into Destiny 1 and quit Destiny 2 as soon as we beat the raid 1 time…the story is very very very far down list of problems Destiny needs to fix.

I dont disagree with anything the author says, but the story isn’t the reason why engagement is so pathetically low right now. The problems are systemic. The weapon system is worse than D1, the crucible is worse than D1, the entire loot system is broken and not engaging, and the game feels completely dead next to games like fortnight, which seemingly changes every day.

The extent to which Bungie has Eff’d up the # 2 selling game of the year with such a dedicated hardcore fanbase (which formed despite D1’s problems) is mind boggling. The story has always been varying degrees of “meh” but it has much bigger problems it needs to fix first.


#7

I didn’t feel like playing Destiny 1 helped much with the story here.
In the original Destiny 2 campaign, having played destiny 1 meant that the demo/tutorial level was was more impactful. You knew the tower. You knew the characters. This is where you spent countless hours, but exploding and on fire.

I got all my characters to cap light level at launch, despite my friends quitting much sooner. It was a podcast game. Log in each week, do the Flashpoint, the PvP, get some powerful rewards, log off. Repeat. It was repetitive. The game feels good to play, but it doesn’t feel rewarding or engaging. I can’t work towards something, aside from the light cap, which I can only put an hour or two per character unless I’m moving slow, each week. Log in, get everything, log out.

When Osiris hit, I was excited that it’d feel new and fresh. Instead, I lost all meaningful progress, getting upgrades beyond the cap I’d eeked out over months, in half an hour. There was a new zone, but it was tiny. Welcome to Flashpoint Mercury, there’s one event here. Hope you don’t - oh, you do flashpoint on 3 characters? That’s too bad. Hope you like this event.

I didn’t hit light cap on my main in Osiris. My Titan didn’t finish the campaign. Hunter just barely did, before another Mercury flashpoint popped up, and I just stopped cold. No raid lair. As I type this, I’m 65% of the way through the Neesus flashpoint. Every spawn in every event known. Every reward earned time and time again. But the numbers are higher now!


Destiny has always been garbage at telling a story. It’s been good at promising a story, and sometimes delivering on epic moments. To that end, I think this expansion went about as well as I could articulate hoping for.

Vanilla game ended by showing a giant triangular ship lighting up. One matching the brief description and image in the intro video, which spoke of what the traveler fought and fled from. Which got me super excited for where the story would go. Then at the end of the vanilla raid, Calus suggests that we don’t understand, and suggests we may be ‘on the wrong side’ of some larger conflict. That gave me hope that they were actually going to tell the story of Destiny this game.

Then Osiris came and… happened? I guess?

This was yet another DLC which didn’t tie into that original promise again, but feels like it might be relevant to a larger story. The closing comments Rasputin made, the unleashed AI protector, “I am” speech was fantastic. I loved that moment.

But it’s side quests. It’s all been side quests. We aren’t dealing with the traveler, or the darkness, or anything. We’re collecting kobold candles for Rasputin to get a slightly better sword. That’s what Destiny has always felt like to me. (Except maybe that time we teamed up with the queen and fought Oryx.)

…I just hope they get around to actually telling that bigger story they keep hyping up before I give up on ever caring and stop buying the games. Because so far this DLC just really hasn’t changed much. Oh, last event to finish the Neesus flashpoint on this character this week. Again.


#8

I also didn’t play Destiny 1, but I found myself muting Destiny 2 a few missions into the main campaign because I couldn’t stand the dialogue. When the DLC rolled around I gave the stories a chance only to be disappointed again. I feel like Destiny has a cool world with interesting concepts that are never delivered on in the form of a satisfying plot for the sake of maintaining mystery, or more often just bad storytelling. It probably doesn’t help that key details are delivered through audio messages from incredibly hollow and unlikeable characters in between terrible banter and bad jokes, but I just can’t help feeling like good ideas are wasted so often in this game. For example in Curse of Osiris, the concept of some ancient robot race turning an entire planet into a super computer is cool as hell, and yet the only way we ever interact with that is by running through the same hallways in a game that assumes we feel some sense of urgency or importance.

Honestly, it’s a really big wonder to me that I personally still find the game itself fun, despite not liking the level design, plot, or meta game very much at all.


#9

I love Destiny and I love Destiny 2. Mainly this is because I have a core fireteam of two of my closest friends which goes along way in glossing over all the story problems and the lack of meaningful endgame content. Added to this, I love the art design of the game and the way the game feels. The problem with it all is that it is a shooter and so can only drop you story beats through voices talking to you in mission, the odd cutscene, or grimoire included on exotic drops. I’ve played the campaign so many times to level up the three characters, it all just feels so pointless. A generic ‘end of all life in the universe scenario’ because I don’t know that’s what the audience wants I guess.

I can’t help but feel the way to do a campaign in Destiny is not to have some huge domesday plot. What if you were tasked with exploring this brand new planet. What if you were on a mundane survey plot that uncovered a bigger threat or mystery. What if these ‘missions’ are actively hidden from you and it takes other mechanics than shooting to figure out. If Destiny had the same level of development as World of Warcraft, it would probably be amazing. If there was a monthly subscription and more variation in content, I’d easily pay it. I was expecting Bungie to at least start bringing back the patrol zones from the first desiny, the raids too - that’s what Titanfall 2 did with it’s MP maps and these were all free updates.

At the moment you sort of know what you are getting with each DLC. Some more story missions, a new patrol area, a new raid lair, heightened level cap and expanded power level, some new MP maps. Everything feels so gated, this is how much you get for the price of one DLC. This is how much content the dev team had time for, this is how much content is realistic to serve to you. I really hope the September expansion brings about some Taken King styled enhancements.


#10

I’ve been utterly fascinated by the Destiny lore since I got the first game, but unfortunately it’s at times frustratingly cryptic and rarely used by the game itself. Ishtar Collective has all of the grimoire, but you still sort of have to know where to look.

In the case of Warmind, I’ve been having a good time with it so far but it’s annoying that they still have this gap between all the really cool lore they have and the game itself. Based on these two expansions and rumors it seems like they’re building up for something really interesting in September. Savathun, Oryx’s sister, seems almost certainly the antagonist, and might make an alliance with the Fallen. Finally introducing Osiris, Ana Bray, and ‘waking up’ Rasputin makes me believe they’ll be primary characters as well.


#11

I played a fair bit of Destiny 1, if only at a pretty casual level, and a little bit of Destiny 2, and after a while it seems to suffer badly from MMO plot. I love the world and fluff and the presentation, but it is entirely window-dressing. Your actual interactions with the game are kinda vanilla fps/arpg with no real consequences, however beautifully presented they are. Every so often you get an expansion that kicks the plot down the road a bit and hands out some scripted missions, but the game is unwilling or unable to live up to the level of imagination in the setting.

It’s hardly alone in this - as I mentioned, it’s pretty common in MMOs, and the elder scrolls games have a similar feeling a lot of the time, but it’s more annoying when the setting has so much potential. There just seems to be too big of a gap between “atmospheric, cryptic and mysterious worldbuilding” and “shoot thing til head goes pop”. Plus, they need to focus some of that writing talent on dialogue, because some of the exposition is rough as hell.