Destiny explained: recapping the story from the beginning to Rise of Iron

The universe in the far future is not what you might expect. Monsters run amok on Earth, a darkness spreads across the galaxy, and heroes are called to protect what is left of humanity.

Destiny is a giant world filled with plenty of enemies to shoot, slash, and blow up. There's plenty of narrative mixed in as well, though, and if you're just getting started, you may be skipping right to the latest expansion — Rise of Iron. If that's the case, we've got the rundown on everything that has happened so far.

The Traveler, Guardians and The Last City

Hunter class

Destiny takes you thousands of years into the future, where humanity had traveled beyond the solar system and explored other worlds. All of this was made possible by The Traveler. When the game starts, you find out there is only one real city left for mankind, and it is known as the Last City. The Last City is full to the brim with heroes, working to bring humanity back from the brink. These heroes are known as Guardians, and they fight the darkness that has been spreading across the galaxy with powerful abilities gifted from the Traveler.

The Traveler first appeared during Mankind's golden era of space exploration. No one is sure where it came from, only that it resembles a gigantic orb, hovering over the Earth. It stayed with mankind for centuries before the Fall and was in part the guiding influence during the Golden Age. When its ancient enemy, the Darkness came, the Traveler sacrificed itself to give mankind a fighting chance. The Darkness is never really explained, nor described as a physical monster or adversary. Instead, all you know is that it is the Traveler's nemesis and it is not remotely a good thing.


Guardians are the heroes of Mankind. Men and Women who are Human, Exo or Awoken, making up the playable races in the game. You can choose to be either a Vanguard, a Hunter, or a Warlock, and your abilities are based entirely upon this choice. Guardians are charged with exploring the remnants of civilization across the galaxy, and they serve to push back against The Darkness. You'll play as a Guardian, aided by a small sidekick, known as a Ghost.

Then, there is the Last City. While there used to be cities spread across the galaxy, they have all fallen since the battle against the Darkness. Now, all that remains is the Last City on Earth. It was built slowly and painstakingly after the Fall. The Last City serves as the refuge for the remainder of mankind, giving people a place to gather. It's here that you can buy new weapons, armor, and items.

Ghosts, and a new beginning

Meet your Ghost

Regardless of which race or class you choose, Destiny's story plays out in the same way. A Ghost resurrects you in the barren landscape of what was once Russia. All that you know is that you've been dead a very long time. Or, were anyway, until your Ghost was able to find you and return you to life.

Ghosts are a small mechanoid race, spawned by the Traveler. They serve to support all Guardians. Ghosts will hack databases, give you information about nearby missions, and give you mission objectives. No one knows how the Ghosts choose who will be resurrected as a Guardian, but they are revered almost as sacred. Their birth represents the last act of the Traveler before it fell into its centuries-long slumber.

Deal with the Hive

Welcome to Russia

While searching the Russian Cosmodrome on Earth, you'll run into the Hive. They are a nasty species, previously thought trapped on the Moon. This is also when you'll find out that Rasputin, a human-built AI is still active, though not necessarily on your side anymore.

After gathering new information, you'll end up traveling to the Moon in search of a lost Guardian. This Guardian was seeking a way to get into the Hive's lair and eliminate these enemies in a more drastic way. It's during this quest that you find out that the Hive is preparing an all-out attack on Earth, primarily the Last City. Eventually, the player Guardian finds the remains and the Ghost of the fallen Guardian.

First, you'll disrupt a ritual that is being used to drain The Traveler of its remaining power. In the process, the player also destroys a powerful weapon called the Sword of Crota, while cutting off the Hive's long distance communication. Essentially, you cripple their murderous intent. Your Ghost isn't able to figure out exactly who the Hive were talking to, though, only that it was a God or King of some sort.

Infiltrate the Black Garden

The Black Garden

You're contacted by the Exo Stranger shortly after you finish dealing with the Hive, which brings you to Venus. The Exo Stranger is exactly as described. They are an Exo Guardian, a stranger to just about everyone. It's a bit peculiar, but she's intended to be a bit of a mystery. It's on Venus that you'll meet the murderous robotic Vex. The Exo Stranger implores you to find their home, the Black Garden and tells you that by tearing out its heart, you'll be able to help The Traveler.

To find the Black Garden, you'll have to jump through a few hoops, like speaking to the Awoken who reside out in the Reef, and retrieving the head of a Gate Lord for the Awoken Queen. The Awoken are a race that was born after the Golden Age had ended, and they reside out in the Reef, opting to separate themselves from the wars in the Galaxy. It's their Queen who can help you find the Vex's Black Garden. After you've jumped through those hoops, the Queen of the Awoken will direct you to Meridian Bay on Mars where you can enter the Black Garden.

To get to the Garden's Spire, you'll have to fight your way through the bulky Cabal who control Mars. The Cabal are a giant race that relies on hulking exosuits. The player Guardian ends up needing to march straight into their exclusion zone, something no other Guardian has done. During this quest, you'll charge the Gate Lord's eye, and fight to the center of their Buried City.

The Black Garden is swarming with Vex

Inside the city, you'll be offered plenty of new information, and you'll run into the Vex. Neither of these occurrences are particularly good for the Guardian. At the center of the city, you'll also run into an old human-built AI that was linked to the Warmind of Mars. Now, however, it's being controlled by the traitorous AI known as Rasputin. This is also when your Ghost tells you that the Vex are on Mars for a reason. They're being called home to the Black Garden.

At this point, you'll pass through the Vex gate and enter the Black Garden, where things go from not great to all out bad. You'll have to fight your way through to the heart of the Black Garden, and it's not an easy fight by a long shot. When you get to the center, the player Guardian finds a large, beating heart, wreathed in an alien machine.

The Vex worship it as though it's a God, and it's your job to destroy the thing. It summons three nasty enemies that you'll have to fight one by one. Defeat all three of them, and it will destroy the heart and return you to Mars. At this point, a shroud will be lifted from The Traveler, leaving it far brighter than it was previously.

When you return to the Tower, at the Last City, the Speaker addresses a crowd of Guardians talking about today's victory. In the hangar, you'll run into the Exo Stranger, and she has a different message. You may have won the battle, but the war is still waging out there, and you'll continue on the front lines.

The Taken King

Opening of Taken King

In revenge for his son Crota's death at your hands, a new enemy begins to build his army. If you don't recall having killed Crota in the base game, that's because it's part of a side quest that you can get from Eris at the Tower. Oryx is the new big bad on the scene, and he is building an army of Taken. The Taken are made up of Hive, Vex, Fallen and even Cabal enemies. All of them have gone through some changes, owing to being torn through dimensions. Everything that is set in motion during the Taken King happens because Oryx is seeking revenge on the Guardians — and the galaxy at large — for the death of his son, Crota.

If the name Eris doesn't sound familiar, then you probably haven't completed her sidequest yet. You can find her down the stairs on the Tower, just before you enter the room where you can find the faction leaders. She was a long time resident of the Moon and has been warning Guardians about Crota and his family of miscreants for quite a while. She's also the one with the most information about his father Oryx and what is happening now.

The Awoken try to attack Oryx's ship but are destroyed in the process. It's at this point that you'll follow a distress symbol to Phobos to deal with the Cabal, who happened to have appeared there. The player Guardian is quickly ambushed, at which point it becomes apparent that Oryx has twisted the Cabal to help grow his new army.

From here you'll follow a class-specific mission, to discover new skills. The quest differs depending on your class, but the result is the same. You'll get a new subclass that lets you wreak havoc on the Taken. After that, you'll have to go and find a stealth drive which is attached to Eris's ship. Eris spent enough time on the Moon in the hope that her ship would go unnoticed.

Things don't exactly go to plan, though. Oryx's ship, the Dreadnought, fires it's main weapons, destroying Eris's ship entirely. You manage to escape at the last moment, though, winding up inside of the Dreadnought itself. Once on board, the player Guardian disables its weapons, but you'll quickly realize that this is going to be trickier than perhaps anticipated.

Oryx the Taken King

To actually reach Oryx, the remnants of Crota's soul are required to pass through a Rupture portal. So it's back to the Moon where you'll request Eris's help and cloaking tech to get through Crota's tomb. Fully equipped, you're now able to pass through the Rupture. It's here that you'll have to fight your way through Oryx's guards, before coming face to face with Oryx himself. The sword he wielded crumbles at this point, allowing Eris to retrieve the crystal that was hidden inside.

The point of this crystal is seriously unclear, though. Eris takes it during an event that matches with scenes from the beginning of The Taken King. Perhaps the crystal shard will be used to control the Hive. Perhaps it's something else entirely. Unfortunately, the game never clearly explains it, leaving you to form your own conclusions.

The fight isn't over yet, though. Not by a long shot. That's because you're tasked with dealing with the Taken threat that has spread all across the galaxy. It's during these fights that you come to the sobering realization that Oryx was not in fact destroyed. He can't be allowed to live, though, so it's time to head back on to the Dreadnought.

Once again you'll have to fight your way to Oryx, The Taken King. First, you'll fight a Knight, followed by an Ogre, finishing up with Oryx's two powerful Hive Wizard daughters. Once you have managed to slog your way through all of them, it's time to face Oryx yet again. This time, Oryx is a much bigger threat.

When he goes down, Oryx is dead for good. He turns to stone and drops down into Saturn's orbit, being scorched to nothingness in the process. There is another threat, however. A Prince of the Taken, Malok, rises to take the mantle of the Taken King. You'll be tasked with hunting him down to condemn him into the Prison of Elders, a prison for the nastiest beasties out there.

After your first encounter with him, Malok flees. The player Guardian then has to seek clues to his whereabouts, before finally tracking him to the Shrine of Oryx on the Moon. It's at this point that Eris asks to destroy him, instead of bringing Malok to the prison. After another nasty battle, you'll heed Eris and destroy Malok ignoring the requests of Variks at the Vestian Outpost. Thus, The Taken King ends.

Now you're ready

The Galaxy

We know that it's a decent bit to take in, but after all of that, you're ready to dive right into Rise of Iron. The thing to remember is that this is really just a brief overview of the story, save turning this article into a massive novel.

There is more to see and learn about the world from smaller quests, and plenty of characters that we haven't mentioned here. Instead, this is meant to give you a taste, so that you don't have to play through the entire game before jumping into Rise of Iron.

Do you have any further questions about Destiny's story? Drop them in the comments below and we'll see if we can help!

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Jen Karner

Jen is a contributing writer for WindowsCentral. She's an avid gamer, especially when she gets to kill zombies, craft things, or use a bow. She can often be heard yelling about her chainsaw while playing Gears of War 4. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.