Destiny is a game about evolution, in more ways than one. It’s not just about you evolving into the ultimate space warrior fighting constantly evolving enemies of the Darkness. Bungie has been evolving the game from its original, fractured state into a complete and near perfect product for the last two years. The gameplay mechanics have basically stayed the same as they were since the original release, give or take some new materials for you to use, but the biggest change of all came to the story.
Leading up to the initial release, Bungie sold players on the idea of becoming a badass space warrior basically on par with a Jedi. Every commercial and trailer ended with the promising tagline “Become Legend,” and that their adventures would be tales that fathers would tell to their children late at night. And yet, when the game came out, it turned out that players wouldn’t be feeling that way. In fact, the story was simultaneously impossible to shake off, yet barely there. The veteran voice actors that were hired to help with the base story couldn’t save the frankly subpar writing–I could tell you about the overly flowery dialogue, and I could tell you about how I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain. What should’ve been a major feather in the game’s cap with netting Peter Dinklage as your trusty Ghost ended up being one of the most divisive parts of the game. The pieces of lore that weren’t given to you during mission briefings were instead relegated to Grimoire Cards that required you to stop playing and read about it all on the game’s website. A game where you can’t really pause this may be, but there had to have been a better way to address that, for sure.
Story may not be the most important part of every game, but when that’s a big part of your marketing campaign, it’ll be heavily scrutinized, and that’s what happened with Destiny. Even to this day, no matter the stance people take on the base game, it’s a common agreement that the story was incredibly lacking. The biggest shock about all this was just how weird it felt for Bungie of all people to skimp out on the story. Say what you will about the Halo franchise, the story for each game at least felt like the writers were on the same page with the rest of the development team. Not so with Destiny, which already had evidence of stuff being cut from the product.
Never let it be said that Bungie doesn’t listen to their community. They clearly knew that they didn’t release Destiny at the best it could be and set about fixing it with updates and DLC. Dark Below didn’t do much on the storytelling front, and neither did House of Wolves–though credit to Wolves for telling an outlaw story. It was last year’s Taken King that signaled an evolution for the game’s storytelling, most importantly by giving the player something that was sorely lacking from the base game – a proper villain in the form of Oryx. The rotating horde of enemy factions from the first game couldn’t hold a candle to a giant, three-eyed bat god who kicks off the plot by making a giant hole in the ring of Saturn.