Destiny 2 is here, kicking off a new chapter of Activision‘s wildly popular shared-world shooter. A lot has happened in the universe of Destiny since the original game launched three years ago, including four (soon to be five) expansions and countless tweaks to the form and function of both the game’s over-arching narrative and various other fundamental elements. So much has happened, in fact, that a reminder might be in order for anyone wondering what’s going on in Destiny these days.
The upcoming expansion, Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris, is actually the seventh chapter in the Destiny saga, depending on how you count. Developer Bungie released Destiny in September 2014, followed by four major expansions: The Dark Below, House of Wolves, The Taken King, and Rise of Iron. Most recently, Destiny 2 kicked off the series’ second arc earlier this year.
Destiny has taken some flak over the years regarding the accessibility (or rather, inaccessibility) of its deep, layered mythology. Much of the first game’s detailed lore was stashed outside of the game in the “Grimoire,” a website players could access if they wanted to dig into the game’s mythology. Though Destiny 2 has rectified this issue, Destiny’s story is a long, winding tale set in a massive universe. Even within the game itself, a lot has happened: Whether you started playing on day one, or plan to pick up the adventure for the first with Destiny 2, chances are you could use a refresher course on the world of Destiny if you are planning to jump back in.
The story so far
A long, long time ago, humanity encountered a mysterious alien entity known as the Traveler. A tremendous, floating sphere, the Traveler helped humanity usher in its Golden Age, sharing the knowledge that let humans explore the galaxy, colonize far-off planets, and develop the sort of technology that let us evolve rapidly as a species.
All good things come to an end, though, and the Traveler was eventually followed by its enemy, the equally mysterious and entirely destructive entity known as the Darkness. Things went bad quickly, and after the Traveler seemingly sacrificed itself to drive off the Darkness, there was precious little left of the human species. Various alien races began to move in for the kill, colonizing former human settlements and making humanity’s continued existence uncertain at best. Everyone refers to the end of the Golden Age as “the Collapse.”
Fortunately (for humanity), the Traveler had taken one last action before expending its energies. After fending off the Darkness, the Traveler dispersed its life force – referred to as “Light” – in the form of small, seemingly sentient “ghosts” that sought out the greatest, deceased defenders of humanity and reanimated them as “Guardians.” They were tasked with protecting humanity and the remains of the Traveler. The base of operations for Guardians is “the City,” the last remaining stronghold for humanity, located somewhere on Earth in the shadow of the Traveler, which is now a floating, lifeless sphere. the Traveler apparently isn’t dead, but has been dormant for centuries.
In the initial Destiny storyline, players – in the role of Guardians – fought to re-establish humanity’s foothold on key outposts on Earth and other planets, while investigating rumors of new alien races and the possibility of yet another threat from the Darkness. Over the course of that first story arc, the Guardians battle the alien armies of the Fallen, the Hive, and the Cabal, while dealing with the android-like Vex, recovering a piece of the Traveler, and extinguishing an entity with ties to the Darkness.
Along with their own solo adventures, Guardians joined forces to explore the Vault of Glass, the game’s first team-based “raid” activity, which eventually pits them against a massive, time-manipulating Vex leader named Atheon. This raid on the Vex stronghold was the culmination of the game’s first chapter, which also featured the introduction of a mysterious stranger who seemed to know more about the future than she was letting on.
But wait, there’s more…
In the game’s first expansion, The Dark Below, the Guardians investigated the re-emergence of Crota, a powerful “Hive Prince” summoned from another dimension.
You learn of the Hive’s plot to bring Crota into this world from Eris Morn, a former Guardian who is the only survivor of an earlier, failed mission to stop the Hive’s ritual. Your actions in the original game indirectly resulted in Eris being freed from the Hive’s underground lair on the moon, and despite being horrifically affected by her experience both mentally and physically, she serves as the resident expert on the Hive.
Over the course of The Dark Below, your Guardian thwarts the Hive’s attempts to bring Crota into this dimension, culminating in the Crota’s End raid, which has you descend into the depths of the Hive’s lair with a team of fellow Guardians on a mission to eliminate the threat posed by Crota. After a climactic battle, your team destroys Crota using his own sword against him.
In House of Wolves, the second expansion to the Destiny universe, the Guardians quell a rebellion staged by a group of Fallen who had previously served Queen Mara Sov of the Awoken. The Awoken are a species of blue-skinned human descendants whose genetics were altered during The Traveler’s battle with The Darkness generations ago, and now live in a far corner of the galaxy known as The Reef.
The rebellion is led by Skolas, the leader of the Fallen sect known as the “House of Wolves,” who attempts to use Vex technology to create an army composed of his most powerful allies from various timelines. Your Guardian eventually thwarts Skolas’ plan, and hands him over to the Awoken Queen to imprison in the fortified “Prison of Elders.” Things don’t stay quiet for long, though, and Skolas begins to build an army within the prison. Your Guardian is then tasked with going into the prison with a three-person team to put a permanent end to Skolas.
So what about that ‘Taken King’ guy?
Remember Crota? Well, it turns out the Hive Prince has a father – and he wasn’t happy about the Guardians killing his son.
The third expansion, The Taken King, introduced a new major threat to the world of Destiny: the Hive’s god-king Oryx. It also introduced an entirely new species of alien known as The Taken. The storyline has your Guardian investigating the return of Oryx, who travels through the universe in a massive ship known as The Dreadnaught. He commands the Taken, an army composed of twisted versions of creatures from our dimension, tainted by his influence and given strange new powers.
After a failed attack on the Dreadnaught by the Awoken — an attack that costs them the lives of both Queen Mara Sov and her brother, Prince Uldren Sov — the Guardians are forced to contend with the threat posed by Oryx and his army.
In order to face this terrible new threat, your Guardian embarks on a quest to unlock new powers that give you an edge in your battle against Oryx and his minions. Equipped with these new powers — the solar-based Sunbreaker class for Titans, the arc-based Stormcaller class for Warlocks, and the void-based Nightstalker class for Hunters — you take the battle to Oryx himself on his Dreadnaught, where you manage to not only infiltrate his lair, but seemingly kill him.
You soon discovered that getting rid of Oryx isn’t that easy, however, and your Guardian is forced to head back to the Dreadnaught in another six-person team to take down Oryx once and for all in the King’s Fall raid. The raid culminates with your team blasting the Hive’s god-king into deep space, bringing an end (you hope) to the reign of Oryx.
Fighting off a techno-plague
In Rise of Iron, the final expansion for Destiny, your Guardian discovers that sinister things were afoot on Earth while you were busy saving the galaxy from Oryx.
Back on Earth, one of the groups of Fallen called the House of Devils managed to stumble upon a dangerous technology locked away years earlier. That tech is called SIVA, and it’s referred to in the game as a “techno-plague.” It’s essentially nanomachines, a swarm of microscopic robots that can affect matter at the molecular level.
When they aren’t trying to kill you, the Fallen worship technology and use it to modify themselves, so SIVA is a bad mix with these guys. They go crazy with the stuff, modifying their bodies and releasing it on Earth, where SIVA even starts to reshape parts of the landscape. Years earlier, some of the earliest Guardians revived by the Traveler went rogue and tried to subjugate what remained of the world. The Iron Lords, a group of powerful but flawed Guardians who predated the Vanguard, banned together to fight them.
When SIVA was unleashed soon after the Collapse, the Iron Lords banded together to stop it. They weren’t able to destroy the stuff, so they sealed it away underground. Lord Saladin, the Iron Lord who runs the Iron Banner multiplayer event, was the only one to escape the battle alive. He created the Iron Banner tournament to prepare a new generation of Guardians to fight SIVA in case it ever got free again.
To stop SIVA, the Guardians travel to the Plaguelands on Earth and fight their way into the storage facility where SIVA was originally sealed. After fighting the corpses of three other Iron Lords reanimated by the virus, players destroy the SIVA tomb, taking the rest of the virus with it. That stops any new SIVA from leaking out or being manufactured, and Saladin declares that the victorious Guardians will serve as the first of a new generation of Iron Lords.
The story concludes with the “Wrath of the Machine” raid, in which players have track down the SIVA-modified mastermind behind the whole debacle, a Fallen named Aksis. Using SIVA, Aksis has turned himself into a huge cyborg with spider legs.. Taking out Aksis finally ends the SIVA threat.