Bungie went ahead and announced Destiny 2 yesterday, after the last few weeks have had several leaks that confirmed what we all knew was going to happen anyway. The sequel to the shared-world shooter will have Guardians traveling the cosmos after losing their powers, fighting a new enemy and all that good nonsense. But who cares about that? It’s time we talk about Cayde-6, the snarky, sometimes secretive Exo we’ve come to know over the past three years.
Like most characters in vanilla Destiny, he had nothing to him besides being voiced excellently by the ever reliable Nathan Fillion. He was literally just a robot in a hood that gave you assignments, and we all knew that. Fortunately, The Taken King did of course correct on the many parts of Destiny, with characters and story being chief among them. Cayde-6 ended up being a vital part of the story and a much needed humorous contrast from Oryx covering the cosmos in darkness. He officially became The Man, and many were hoping that trend would continue with Destiny 2.
Fortunately, that appears to be the case, because the trailer for Destiny 2 has Cayde-6 just being himself. Or more accurately, he’s pretty much just being Rocket Raccoon; he can’t remember the name of the bad guy Ghaul, he embellishes the role he played in the destruction of the Tower, he’s forcing the remaining Guardians into a plan that’ll most likely leave a lot of them dead, and he’s mainly concerned that all of his stuff got blown up. This is a man (machine?) who shouldn’t be rallying the troops, let alone being a Vanguard. But times are dire, and he’s all they’ve got in the Last City. (Ikora could totally do the job better than him, but she’s probably getting some amusement out of watching Cayde try and fail to inspire these people to fight.)
Every sci-fi story has a set of character tropes that they work with: the swarthy rogue, the strong-jawed military type, and the spiritual type. All three Vanguards in Destiny fit this to a T: Zavala has the strong jawline, Ikora is certainly in tune with the Void, and Cayde is definitely rogueish. A big problem with the original game was just how much it took itself seriously, and what laughs there were came less from the script being funny and more from the delivery of it. The Taken King letting our robot friend bust Eris Morn’s chops at any chance he got was a step in the right direction, and of the many characters in the series’ fiction, he’s definitely in the top for a lot of players. It seems like Bungie quickly realized for Destiny 2 that he just needed to be more in the spotlight, which he definitely is.
Destiny 2’s trailer has been regarded by many as tonally jarring for constantly cutting back between the different speeches Cayde and Zavala provide. While that’s a fair statement to make, it can also be viewed as what Bungie wants for this series going forward. It wants to be the big, rousing space epic that draws players into this war between the battles of good and evil… while also acknowledging that, yeah, you’re really just in this to shoot some bad guys in the face and get tons of (hopefully better) loot.
Zavala is the player that’s big on lore and into the story, but Cayde’s just given up on trying to figure out what anything in this world means besides going around and getting cool stuff. This is a character who couldn’t be voiced by anyone but Fillion, who’s made a living out of being the guy that’s somehow weirdly competent at his job despite seeming like he’s actually a detriment to the better-suited members of his group.
Our Hunter Vanguard is like Trevor in GTA V; he’s the true representation of what players in the game are. Sure, he cares about the destruction that Ghaul and the Red Legion have caused because he’s a hero, but he doesn’t care like Zavala and Ikora. He just wants to go around traveling the stars and shooting ugly things in the face. There’s truly no better way for Bungie to have gotten that point across than with these two Vanguards. Ending the trailer with Cayde finally winning over his group of Guardians with the promise of loot is the developers just up and admitting, “Yeah, we know why you’re here.” The studio knows how they’ll continue to keep this game in the spotlight, and there’s no one who represents that more than him.