'Destiny 2' Is Brilliantly Doing Exactly What 'Mass Effect 2' Did
Kill the hero to bring them back greater than ever.
Rarely does a direct video game sequel explain exactly why the main character has to start from square one in each new adventure; it’s something gamers have to just sort of shrug off most of the time. But Mass Effect 2 famously opened with a thrilling sequence that led to the death of its protagonist, Commander Shepherd, effectively wiping the slate clean for a fresh gaming experience after his inevitable resurrection. It was the boldest thing developer BioWare could do with its budding flagship franchise, and they absolutely nailed it.
Now, based on the full first mission included in the Destiny 2 beta, Bungie hopes to pull off a remarkably similar narrative choice. We knew from the very first Destiny 2 trailer that your character’s loot from the first Destiny would be destroyed in the attack on the Tower, effectively undoing a lot of your time spent hunting down weapons. But something much worse happens at the end of Destiny 2’s first mission:
You actually die.
At the start of Destiny 2, your character rushes back to the Tower to defend it from an unprecedented Cabal attack. It’s the same attack we saw in the Gameplay Reveal trailer back in May. You battle your way through the ruins of the Tower, fighting beside Cayde, Zavala, and Ikora along the way. You even successfully board and disable one of the command ships in the invading fleet with the help of pilot Amanda Holliday. For fans of impossibly epic, thrilling pace of the Halo games, this “Homecoming” mission presents some action sequences better than most of what Destiny presented.
Before you can leave the command ship, the Cabal leader Dominus Ghaul finishes hacking the Traveler with a massive device. He effectively steals the Traveler’s Light that powers your floating Ghost companion and your character’s own powers, which includes resurrection.
Without the Light, your Ghost dies and you fall to the ground sans space magic, immortal no more. Before the player can even wonder what all this means for your character, Ghaul straight-up kills you by shoving your ass right off the edge of the ship:
The last image included in the story portion of the Destiny 2 beta is your body plummeting hundreds of feet to the ground. There’s no way you could survive, but it’s also obvious that your Guardian’s resurrection is as inevitable as Commander Shepherd’s. All the same, Bungie’s sequence is just as horrifying as the one BioWare delivered back in 2010.
Considering the Strike mission also included in the Destiny 2 beta, it’s clear that this new permadeath won’t last very long. You regroup with Zavala and the rest of the Vanguard after what seems like a short amount of time. But the game still presents players with an exciting soft reboot that coherently fits within the universe. There’s really no indication of how or why your character is able to come back, but it’s bound to be linked to the discovery of a new kind of Light. It’s entirely possible that your character is out of commission for weeks or months, considering previous hints in the main story, your old comrades are scattered about the solar system.
Ghaul steals the old kind of Light, which also happens to explain why Destiny 2 players will discover different subclasses than those in the previous game.
Destiny has always had a practical in-universe explanation for just about everything, including how and why Guardians can die in battle and be resurrected moments later. The enigmatic and now-dormant white orb they call the Traveler gifted humanity with various technological advances powered by its Light, including the Ghosts that actively revive the Guardians.
It’s brilliant that Bungie has committed to this conceit so thoroughly that the Destiny sequel starts by reintroducing a more permanent kind of death. Dying had become meaningless from endless repetition, and the next game looks to present something new that will change the fundamental experience of Destiny for the better.
The Destiny 2 beta ends on consoles July 23, and the game will be released for PS4 and Xbox One on September 6 and on PC October 24.