clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Destiny was born dull, and Destiny 2 wants to fix it

But is the trailer’s tone a bait and switch?

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Destiny lacked a soul at launch.

There you were, fighting for the survival of ... stuff. But who were you? Who were all these enemies? It was mysterious to the point of being off-putting, and precious to an unnecessary degree. With so much lore to communicate, the best way to learn about the world of the game was through a companion app.

Poor Peter Dinklage got raked over the coals for his moon wizard schtick, but those screaming about his flat acting missed the point. He was doing the best work possible without a lot of explanation of why anyone cared about any of this.

Destiny was born dull, and it didn’t begin to fix that kind of major issue until a few DLC packs were released. But today’s trailer for Destiny 2 shows me that Bungie understands the problem, and it displays a commitment to solving it from day one.

Destiny 2 is emphasizing the humanity of its player characters for the first time. Guardians have faces. It sounds like such a simple thing, but now your character gets to be a person. Sure, they might be an ancient being or a spiritual successor from a time long gone trapped in a new vessel or some other form of happy horseshit. But I, as a human being, want to see someone’s face. That’s how I’m going to grow attached to them.

Destiny 2 is also doubling down on the goofs. Today’s trailer all but mocks the original game’s tone, positioning Nathan Fillion’s Cayde-6 front and center to take the piss out of the original game. And, at his side, his faithful sidekick … er ... comrade, rather, warlock vanguard Ikora Rey. But she may as well be Zoë Alleyne Washburne. Bungie is clearly trading on the chemistry between the two actors, and their history with fans of the Firefly series. And why not? They’re two of the most charismatic characters in science fiction history.

And that, my friends, is what’s getting me back on the hype train for Destiny 2. I’m here for the story now.

A post-post-apocalyptic world? Glossy heroes in a grim, unending battle against evil? The promise of powerful weapons, amazing armor and real-world friends at my side? This is a war I’m interested in fighting. And these are characters I’m interested in fighting for.

The only question in my mind is, how will Bungie carry over this playful tone into the final product. Is this a bait and switch? Will the final game still be a somber, obtuse study in confusion? Or will Cayde-6 and I be able to crack a smile while sharing ammunition in a muddy trench? We’ll find out later this year, and thanks to the writing in the first videos announced I’m actually looking forward to it.