Destiny’s fourth expansion, Rise of Iron, doesn’t launch until next week. But players in the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer component, have begun seeing some strange stuff that could point to an alternate reality game (ARG) surrounding the upcoming expansion.
Earlier today, Crucible players started noticing that they were receiving new character buffs during matches. On the character screen, each perk is listed with the following description: "[perk name] has been transmitted to you. Increased XP and reputation gains for the duration of Transmission." In the game, a buff manifests as a bunch of colored particles flying around a Guardian’s head.
The perks appear to be conferred upon killing an opponent (see the notification scroll in this clip). A number of multiplayer games have used this mechanic before, in situations like giving players a unique reward for competing against a developer.
We’ve detected an unidentified foreign intrusion into your systems, Guardian. Stay calm. We will investigate.
Players have since discovered five different buffs: Brilliance 3.2, Glory 2.1, Splendor 2.6, Magnificence 2.0 and Fortitude 3.1. The perks are listed on the Owl Sector website, which is linked in the aforementioned Twitch profile. The profile also mentions the Latin phrase "vigilamus noctu," which roughly translates to "we remain awake at night."
The Owl Sector website features a world map with a growing number of tiny hotspots around the globe, perhaps corresponding to Destiny players who have been infected by a "transmission." Below the map is a 3D pie chart of the distribution of the five buffs, with Brilliance, Magnificence and Splendor being the most common by far.
If you click the "open Owl Sector records" button, you’ll see a page with chat logs of discussions for — at the moment — two of the perks, Brilliance and Magnificence. In one them, someone who appears to be an Owl Sector agent describes the situation as "a few Guardians in the field report being swarmed by some kind of electronic mite," with the Guardians engaging in "happy shouting" as a result.
The story of Rise of Iron concerns a biomechanical plague known as SIVA, so there’s a chance that these buffs are related to that. We’ll have to see what’s what when the expansion launches next Tuesday, Sept. 20. For more, check out our interview with Bungie about the third year of Destiny.