In 2021, Destiny 2 conceived what it wanted to be.
Granted, this wasn’t the year of the biggest content releases for Bungie’s MMO shooter – the Beyond Light expansion was out late 2020, and The Witch Queen is expected to release in 2022. Destiny 2 was mostly seasonal content last year, with new activities popping up and stories told in series for weeks. The year saw another raid come to Destiny 2, but it was a revamped version of Destiny 1’s Vault of Glass. The biggest influx of new stuff came with the 30th Anniversary content, with its hilarious Grasp of Avarice dungeon and Dares of Eternity event, but even that was a fraction of what players are used to seeing when Bungie goes all out with a new one. expansion for the game.
But in 2021, Bungie discovered how to go beyond just a series of new content drops and expansions. The developer refined the approach he’d been working on since the launch of the Forsaken expansion, and for the first time, Destiny began to feel like a connected, connected world. The vision for Destiny 2 was finally starting to match the reality of Destiny 2, and the game, at least for me, is more engaging than ever before.
It can all be traced back to one major addition: Destiny 2 got a protagonist in 2021.
For most of Destiny’s run, the game has played as if you, the unnamed Guardian, were the main character. That’s fine for jumping on the Dreadnaught to defeat Oryx or diving into the Pit of Heresy to discover the secrets of a pyramid ship, but the reality is that the player character says little and feels less. To some extent you make the story your own, but the only real way to deal with Destiny 2 is to shoot stuff. So the stories the game could tell were somewhat limited, mostly deploying you to kill a random evil alien monster before it could do anything bad.
The best of this approach came from Forsaken, a story campaign about tracking down the killers of the old comic character Cayde-6. That story evoked quite a bit of emotion and got you into a revenge fantasy, but even then, it couldn’t get particularly deep. The story’s success depended on your investment in it, and since you can’t talk to in-game characters like Petra Venj or your Ghost, it couldn’t really explore the nuances of giving up your Guardian duties to go on a quest. go for revenge. That doesn’t say anything about the fact that you didn’t even really get around to it Select to take revenge – it was the story quest that lay before you.
In 2021, Destiny 2 turned to be more about the stories of other people, of which you are an essential part. The year was mostly dominated by The Crow, the resurrected Guardian who was Uldren Sov, the man who killed Cayde-6. Throughout the year, we saw Crow’s story expand and evolve, creating real character conflicts and emotional moments from scenarios that used to be all about finding the new evil alien monster and eliminating it.
The addition of Crow has been enormous, as his perspective helps bring a ton of nuance to the Destiny 2 story. The themes of the story in Destiny 2 in 2021 revolved around forgiveness and redemption, rethinking enemies and understanding their points of view. Crow stands as the embodiment of those ideas – a former enemy the player actually killed (probably; whether the fatal shot was fired by you or Petra remains, technically, unknown), now returned to the world.
Throughout 2021, Crow struggled to hide his identity; he knows that the person he was in his past life is hated, but he doesn’t know why. In addition, through the player’s interactions with him, he has come to see you as a friend, not knowing what happened between you and his former self.
We’ve seen Crow struggle with what it means to be Guardian, an immortal superhero tasked with protecting humanity, a role players have played for years. We’ve seen other characters struggle to decide how to deal with Crow, who is basically a new person with the face of a hated enemy. We’ve seen Crow’s influence change the opinions and personalities of other primary characters as they rethink their long-held beliefs. And we’ve seen Crow’s presence act as a potential spark that could fuel the fires of new conflicts, conflicts that threaten to turn everything previously familiar and static in Destiny 2 for now on its head.
Crow’s arrival gave Destiny 2’s story a point of view. He is the person who has feelings about what is happening, and those feelings go beyond the hunch of a new threat looming in the distance. He is a person who not only follows orders, but also brings decisiveness into the story. His choices and perspective have led to changes in other characters, which in turn are fuller and more concrete due to his presence. It’s certainly part of an overall shift in Destiny 2’s narrative approach, just look at the Splicer’s excellent season, which focused on conflicts between Saint-14, Osiris, Mithrax, and Lakshmi-2, with Crow largely on the background. but Crow has mostly functioned as the heart of the story all year.
And that change has made Destiny 2 much more engaging, much more emotional, and much more interesting than it has been in the past. The game needed a character to focus on who wasn’t the player, who always followed orders and never really spoke. The presence of an outsider, one who questions, sees things differently and worries about his own identity, has caused ripples that spread throughout Destiny 2. handing out bounties and the occasional chatter has gotten not only more screen time, but more nuance. They feel like more people, and the stories the game tells are richer because of it.
There is much to be said for the narrative work that has brought us to this point. Much of what made 2021 such an exciting year for Destiny 2’s story was in the foundation built years ago, the bricks being placed one by one over the course of the game and now becoming a full-fledged building, with which they finally deliver on their promise. But it’s the characters who made these revelations, and Crow in particular. What would otherwise just be interesting lore moments have become emotional beats that have changed characters, for better or for worse.
This is the most involved I’ve ever been with that world. This is the most I’ve ever anticipated what’s to come and how things will change. This is the most I’ve ever cared about Destiny’s characters. There may not have been as much to do or see in Destiny 2 this year as in the past, but 2021 has been Destiny 2’s best year so far as it is the most empathize the game world has ever felt. It raises the bar for 2022 and beyond, as well as for the live games like this one.