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Destiny 2's storytelling has improved dramatically, and I'm here for it

Destiny 2
Destiny 2 (Image credit: Bungie)

Ever since its debut in 2014, one of the Destiny franchise's biggest problems has been the presentation of its story. While there are plenty of excellent moments of character development and exciting plot development in the series' lore books, much of it never actually felt present during the player's gameplay experience. For years, the series has had a distinct lack of meaningful voiced character dialogue, and there hasn't been much in the way of interaction between the characters either. On top of this, cutscenes have been few and far between, and the ones that have appeared have generally felt insignificant to the narratives being told.

Ultimately, while Destiny's stories are fun to play through and feature excellent settings and backdrops, the narrative content within them has typically been disappointing because of the lack of important storytelling mechanisms. Recently, though, Bungie has significantly improved the quality of storytelling within Destiny 2, and I'm here for it.

Source: Bungie The final cutscene in Season of the Chosen showed Zavala accepting Crow, despite the fact that in his previous life, he killed the beloved Cayde-6 as Uldren Sov. (Image credit: Source: Bungie)

In recent seasons, Bungie has added and improved several storytelling mechanisms that have directly strengthened the connection players have to the game's writing. These include the following:

  • Weekly missions where players, through gameplay, slowly unravel the mysteries of the story over the course of each season.
  • Significantly more character dialogue from (and between) characters during gameplay, providing context about what players are doing, why they're doing it, and how it might affect the wider Destiny universe.
  • Locations like the Eliksni Quarter that give players the ability to directly see how plot threads impact story characters and factions.
  • Characters directly interacting with each other in the H.E.L.M. hub area, discussing the current happenings of the story with both dialogue and body language on display.
  • Characters addressing the player directly and confiding in them, adding personal and sensitive flavors to the story.
  • New audio logs on a weekly basis that show players how characters are interacting with the worlds around the player and hint at future plot threads.
  • A wide cast of characters each season in general, with Zavala, Ikora, Eris, Lord Saladin, Osiris, Crow, Saint-14, Miithrax, Lakshmi-2, and more each providing unique perspectives to the story.
  • More cutscenes overall, with each season featuring a mix of both in-engine and 2D animated cutscenes that give context to the narrative or accompany significant plot points.

Source: Bungie The "Monster" cutscene shows how the Fallen of the House of Light see Saint-14, giving fans a close look at their perspective. (Image credit: Source: Bungie)

It's clear that Bungie has invested a ton of time, effort, and resources into making the story of Destiny feel more present and nuanced in-game, and it's working. Players on Reddit, Twitter, and other social media platforms are gushing about how invested they are in the story and its cast. Developments such as Zavala's pursuit of peace after countless years of conflict or Crow's hope that the people of the Last City can forgive the Fallen as well as himself are strongly resonating with fans. There are threads upon threads of players discussing the latest story developments and theorycrafting about what could be coming next. Instead of dragging my feet with the story content like I used to, engaging with it is now the first thing I do during my Tuesday afternoon once the game's weekly reset hits and there's more to dig into.

Ultimately, Bungie has done a phenomenal job of improving Destiny 2's storytelling over the course of the last year, and it's exciting to think about how the studio will continue to evolve the franchise's narrative moving forward. Will Bungie continue to host real-time in-game events like the Traveler healing itself? Will a character "take over" the official Destiny 2 Twitter account again like the Cabal Empress Caiatl did? Or will Bungie try out some other new ideas? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure; the days of Destiny having poor storytelling are over, and the future looks bright.

Your thoughts

Do you agree with me that Destiny's storytelling has improved vastly in the last year? How would you like to see Bungie evolve the narrative further? Let me know.

The latest Destiny 2 expansion, Destiny 2: Beyond Light, is available now for $40 on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC. The base game is free, so if you're looking to try Destiny 2 out before paying for expansions or season passes, you can do so. It's one of the best Xbox One shooters available right now, so I recommend giving it a shot. If you do decide to try the game, don't miss my beginner's guide on how to get into Destiny 2 in 2021 as well as my guide to the best Destiny 2 builds, and how to make your own. Don't miss my roundup of the 10 best Destiny 2 weapons you need to farm in Season of the Splicer either, as new and veteran players alike will want to get their hands on them.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

4 Comments
  • I've always loved the story even in the beginning. It was a little shallow but let your own imagination take over and tell your own story of who you were and where you fit in. With that said I was always hungry for more lore and I think Destiny 2 has stepped up their game and is doing a great job. It's still one of the best FPS of all time thanks to its excellent movement mechanics. There is still lots of story to be told about things that happened in the past and how it relates to today that need to be told or played in flashback style. Maybe some graphic novels would help like Halo has done.
  • I don't think I could hate a character more than I hate Lakshmi right now. And they picked perfect voice actor for them too.
  • If only they didn't lose me right after launch of D1. It was supposed to be on the same level of story as Halo right off the bat. And it was far far from that. Was not looking for a 4-5 map MMO. Was looking for a looter/shooter with Halo story. Which is what they appeared to be selling. What a bait and switch. Not spending money on anything Destiny any time soon. Sorry Bungie. I really wanted to love Destiny, but it just reminds me of things I liked better in other games. Halo, Borderlands, Mass Effect.
  • I think the storytelling could be even better if they dropped in a text-to-speech function for all of the lore. I think it would really add to the game to have it read back to you. I have been playing Destiny for about six years.