The benefit to not having a clear story in a game is that we get to make up our own. My Destiny play through is actually very clear – Guardians are white cells (leukocytes), and the Fallen and Hive are various diseases. It all happens as a visualization of a 5 year old, after hearing how white blood cells fight disease and infection from his doctor. The “ghost” is a pill the doctor gave him to help the white blood cells fight the bad diseases. The various settings are different parts of the body. The earth is the heart, Venus is the lungs, the moon is the butt, and you don’t even want to know what the tower is. This will all be revealed at level 30, when the camera zooms out from inside the boy and to a tree top, over looking his backyard. It’s a huge plot twist!
We’ll call the above story “Dinkelaging” and whoever has played Destiny will get the value attributed to anything Dinkelaged.
Jack-assery aside, in the most obvious of impressions, Destiny has some pretty religious undertones and themes running through it. I am not even religious in the traditional practicing sort of way and even I recognized them. The hard part to sort with the quality of the writing invested is if it is so obvious because the writing was just uninspired, or if there is a much larger plot at work. I am guessing the former but will be absolutely ecstatic if we are pleasantly surprised throughout the life of this IP. I am not holding my breath. I am going to walk through the base premise of the game using the only lore available. All of the below quotes are directly from Grimoire cards that reflect each topic. The Grimoire cards are the out of game lore bits that you have to have an app or webpage to reference.
First off, there are high level themes of light and darkness.
Here is the Grimoire card for the Darkness – it’s long.
Something hit us. Killed our Golden Age. Nearly wiped us out. Only the Traveler saved us, and at a shattering cost.The Speaker tells of a cosmic force that swept over us and caused the Collapse. Legend calls it the Darkness, the Traveler’s ancient enemy, which hunted it across space. All we have left are questions. Centuries of debate gave birth to competing arguments on the nature of the Darkness and the Collapse. The Pujari Position describes the Darkness as a force with both physical and moral presence, an actualization of evil. Pujari art depicts the Darkness as a great storm, or as a change in conduct, a corruption that emerged from within and poisoned the Golden Age. Saint-14’s Position argues that the Darkness was an invading armada, an alien force of incredible – but tangible – power. Some adherents believe that this armada sprang from species rejected or discarded by the Traveler for their sins. Ulan-Tan’s Thesis considers the Darkness a necessary symmetry to the Traveler in a cosmic balance. In this view, the Traveler’s goodness led it to sacrifice for others, and it is up to us to return this goodness by healing the Traveler. The Monist Position, or the Deflationary Position, considers the Darkness as a technologically sophisticated force, perhaps a post-Singularity intelligence. Adherents invoke information theory or contend that the universe is a simulation, allowing advanced intelligence to gain weakly acausal powers by bending the rules. The Acataleptic Clause claims that we are intrinsically unable to understand the Darkness. In many respects this belief parallels the Praxic Creed, which suggests that we should stop worrying about the nature of the Darkness and focus on resisting and defeating it. Certain positions – often labeled heretical – imply that the Traveler itself triggered the Collapse, or that it knew the Darkness was coming for it and hoped to use the Solar System as a sacrifice or a proxy army. The Binary Star cult is one notable example.
It’s odd that the enemy that threw the universe into a tizzy isn’t something tangible or something anyone can agree on. I’d understand an army (or whatnot) but just a premise, a theory – how does that “attack”? None of this is really clear. Does it even exist or it is an evil inside each of us? Something hit us. Not an army, not a force to be reckoned with. Philosophy hit us and it hurt! How do we have a collapse and not know our enemy? At least we have a clear hero! The Traveler. Our lord and savior.
Everything changed with the coming of the Traveler. It gave us gifts that transformed the solar system and the nature of human life. It ushered in the Golden Age, a time of miracles. But it never shared its deepest secrets. Where did the Traveler come from? Why did it offer us so much? Did it know it was being hunted across the stars? And why, when the Darkness came, did it choose to stay and fight for us? Now the Traveler hangs, silent, above humanity’s final sanctuary. It may be healing. It may be dying. It gave everything it had to save us. And now its power lies with us, its Guardians.
The Traveler, graphically, is a giant ball of light hovering above the last city on Earth. It doesn’t communicate through itself per se, but through The Speaker.
There has always been a Speaker, an anonymous high priest with a mysterious and powerful connection to the Traveler and its Ghosts. In all the centuries of the City’s history, the Speaker’s great work has never changed – to guide new Guardians, heal the Traveler, and raise our crippled protector from its slumber.
Here the speaker is described as a high priest. So we have a savior that doesn’t directly communicate to us who sacrificed itself to stop an attack by a theory or premise on all that we hold dear. The Traveler’s gift to stop the attack? Zombies! (aka – Guardians)
Guardians are warriors forged in the Traveler’s Light, a final hope in a universe falling into Darkness. Chosen from the dead by the Traveler’s Ghosts, Guardians are those rare few able to wield the Light as a weapon. For centuries they have defended the City. But that defense cannot hold forever. Now, with the Darkness rising again, the time has come to retake our lost worlds. The Guardians who lead the way will save humanity – and become legend.
That’s right, the good guys are raising the dead to kill the uh, bad guys. Who don’t raise the dead. But you aren’t just any Zombie, you are one who was at a Russian spaceport! For some reason. Maybe shopping.
And so you rise again. Who you were before or how you ended up at the wall of an Old Russian spaceport is a story for another time. You have been chosen by the Traveler as one of our Guardians, gifted with the power to wield its Light in the coming battles of a timeless war. Trust this Ghost. It will guide you on your path.
Oh, the “Ghost” – I forgot to explain that part. The “Ghost” brought you back from the dead and you need a “Ghost” to be your guide. A mechanical creature that (unlike you) cannot be replaced if it is killed.
Built from machinery and the Traveler’s Light, Ghosts guide their Guardian companions in the quest to reclaim our solar system. Every Ghost seeks out its Guardian among the ancient dead. The Ghost serves as scout, librarian, and mechanic, waking ancient machinery and cracking alien codes. In the right situations, a Ghost can even save a Guardian from death. But Ghosts are not immortal. Every loss is irreplaceable.
So the Guardians are completely replaceable but the machines that Jiminy Cricket us are invaluable. I’m confused a bit. Who are the good guys again? The “light” zombies (Warlocks, Hunters, Titans) or the aliens that represent “darkness” (Knights, Wizards, Captains, Legionnaires). Maybe we have it all wrong. Maybe the “Darkness” is actually the good guy – trying to wipe the space zombies from the universe. That makes far more sense than what we have been given so far. I am feeling shades of Oblivion.
So there you have the base story for Destiny. Are you really surprised that there is so much lashing about the provided story (google it, too many links to choose!) in a game that has some solid FPS mechanics in a beautiful backdrop. It’s so very Zoolander.