The videogame Destiny was released by Bungie (the company famous for games like Halo and Marathon) last year in 2014, and received mostly positive reviews for its gameplay and multiplayer. Destiny‘s story on the other hand suffered much more criticism than Bungie’s previous games which are usually famous for their in-depth plots, intricate settings and casts of characters. The main complaints about Destiny were that the story was too short, and that there was hardly any story to begin with. But what if Destiny‘s story is actually meant to be more intricate than was revealed in the game?
The basic plot of Destiny is that some point in the near future, humanity encounters the Traveler, a large spherical object hovering over Mars causing large rain storms. The Traveler enables humans to colonize the Solar System and ushers in a “Golden Age,” until the “Collapse,” which saw humanity’s empire crushed by the Darkness and the last survivors residing in the City, which is protected by the Traveler and is the last safe city on Earth. Eventually humanity attempts to reclaim what it lost, finding that four alien races have since taken over the former colonies on Venus, the Moon and Mars and are attempting to take over Earth. The player takes the role of a “Guardian,” a warrior who is granted the Traveler’s power in order to fight the Darkness and the aliens encroaching on Earth.
The story is meant to be a combination of science fiction and mythology, so the backstory is purposefully vague. However, the campaign which the player takes part in is also very vague and very short, which is where the criticism comes in, since the campaign does little to fill in any gaps or explain anything. In particular, the largest aspects of the story, such as the Traveler, the Darkness, the Collapse, etc. are what the player knows almost nothing about. However, since the game’s release the has been much speculation that the nature of the Traveler and the Darkness are not what they appear to be.
The Traveler is a giant spherical being which appears to artificial and yet is described as having an intelligence of its own. The player doesn’t ever speak to the Traveler, but an individual named the Speaker relays information supposedly from the Traveler to everyone else. The Speaker is voiced by actor Bill Nighy, an actor who has appeared in numerous films. Oddly, Bill Nighy’s characters in films tend to be individuals who are more than they appear, such as in Underworld when he betrays the main character, Valkyrie where he helps betray Adolf Hitler, and in I, Frankenstein where he portrays one of the fallen angels who betrayed God. Perhaps there is a reason why Bungie selected him to be the sole conduit between humanity and the Traveler.
However, the Traveler is associated with the Light and goodness, and reportedly made one last effort to defend the City from the Darkness during the Collapse. How is not explained, as the Traveler is relatively immobile, has no apparent weapons but appears to be damaged from the ordeal. The Darkness is not seen or elaborated upon, and the four alien species the player encounters, the Fallen, Hive, Cabal, and Vex, are not a part of or aligned with the Darkness, merely moving in on humanity’s ruined cities like vultures to a carcass. This has led to many to theorize that the Darkness is not actually what the player is led to believe it is, or that certain factions are not as malevolent as it appears.
Take for example the Fallen. The Fallen are described as having once been a great society themselves, but having suffered a collapse of their own and being reduced to mercenaries and pirates, living on their space ships and existing as nomads (hence the name “Fallen”). Was it the Darkness that caused the Fallen’s downfall? One player posted to Reddit.com that he was attempting to ambush some Fallen, but was spotted and caused one Fallen to say “It’s the Darkness!” It appears that the Fallen have at least encountered the Darkness before, and are clearly opposed to it. However, the Fallen also have a presence on Earth and would be aware that the Traveler is protecting the City and bestows the Guardians their power, so the Fallen must believe that the Traveler and the Darkness are either related or one and the same.
Oddly, the Fallen, the only alien species that supposedly suffered their own rise and fall, are supported in battle by spherical, flying robots called Servitors. The Servitors have a small circle on one side that fires at the player, and shares an uncanny resemblance to concept art of the Traveler prior to the release of Destiny. This also reinforces that the Fallen possess very advanced technology for a species of nomads.
The Hive species are notable for appearing similar to zombies or the undead. This species is particularly associated with the Darkness by players, due to having the most evil appearance and living underground inside the Earth and on the Moon. The Hive supposedly worship death, and claim to have seen the Darkness take many other worlds prior to the Collapse. This is interesting, as it shows the Hive have only witnessed the Darkness’ actions before, not actually taken part in it or fought alongside it. However, on some levels the Hive are shown worshipping a spherical deity. This could either mean that the Hive are worshiping the Traveler, or that the Darkness has a counterpart to the Traveler.
There is also the Vex, a race of alien beings that are supposedly living beings that have replaced almost their entire bodies with machinery. The Vex terraformed Mercury into a machine-like planet, and attempted to do the same with Venus. This is strange, as the only other entity to terraform planets is the Traveler. The Vex are also opposed to all other species, and are described as being so evil that they hate other evil. The Vex also have a presence on Mars, where they guard the entrance to the Black Garden which is where the Vex are supposedly born.
The Darkness itself is not seen at any point, but is described as having followed the Traveler across space and arrived in the Solar System shortly after the Golden Age began. The nature of the Darkness is debated among players as some believe it to be a physical entity of some kind, or a fleet or species or collection of species who had been passed over by the Traveler for sinful behavior. The Darkness may also be a nonphysical force, which uses its influence to control other creatures and use them to fight as a proxy army, similar to the entity Sauron from The Lord of the Rings series which spreads his influence and uses others to fight for him. Of course, this would be very similar to the way the Traveler gives its power to the Humans, Awoken and Exo (the playable races in Destiny) in order to fight the Darkness. There is also the theory that the Darkness is not an entity or species at all, and is merely a representation of entropy, or the eventual death of all stars.
One important aspect of the story is the player character, who is a warrior that died during the Collapse defending colony ships at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Old Russia, who is revived at the beginning of the game (for that matter, why would humans be fleeing Earth if the Darkness had Earth surrounded?). The player is revived by a Ghost, a small A.I. that is created by the Traveler. The Ghost easily raises the player from the dead at the beginning of the game, and yet it is not explained why you are chosen. For example, your character does not appear to say or remember anything from the Collapse despite being present, you do not possess any information or secrets that had been lost to time, and you do not possess any special powers. Why would the Traveler have the Ghosts raise Guardians from the dead when there is an entire City of living individuals?
The Exo species is very mysterious, and are a race of robots designed for war. However, they were not designed for the Collapse, but rather a war prior to the Collapse. For some reason though there are both male and female Exos, a totally unnecessary feature for a robot. The Exo were also intended to protect their creators (who are not specified), and are stated to have been designed by humans. Is it possible that the Exo are actually cyborgs? According to a Grimoire card (cards written to help illustrate Destiny‘s backstory), the Exo possess human brains. The fact that the Exo can be both male and female and possess human brains suggest that they are cyborgs, or humans resurrected as machines. The same card suggests that someone had wanted to live forever, so were the humans attempting to replicate the Traveler’s ability to raise the dead? There is also how the Exo cannot remember why or when they were created, and since they are robots it wouldn’t make sense for an Exo to simply forget, implying that their memories were purposefully erased or blocked, although by who is unknown.
The Awoken species are very strange, as they are supposedly humans who fled Earth during the Collapse and colonized the Reef, at the edge of human space. However, the Awoken were mutated by some strange force turning their skin and eyes different colors than average humans. The Awoken claim they are above “Light and Dark,” although everything else the player is told seems to reinforce that there is only light (the Traveler) versus the Darkness. The Awoken Queen is also guarded by the Fallen, which is odd since the Fallen are opposed to the Hive and the Vex.
The climax of the game’s story occurs when the player must enter the Black Garden and destroy its heart, which will allow the Traveler to heal by removing the shroud of Darkness (reinforcing that the Darkness may not be a physical entity). The portal that leads to the Black Garden is on Mars, suggesting that the location may be within Mars. This is also reinforced by how there is no visible sky in the Black Garden, and it appears to be within a planet or artificial construct similar to a Dyson Sphere. However, concept art from prior to the release of Destiny shows the inside of the Traveler, which bears a striking resemblance to the Black Garden, suggesting that the Black Garden is possibly located within the Traveler.
There is also a Grimoire card in which a Guardian had a vision he was inside the Black Garden, and a Ghost told him that “You are a dead thing made by a dead power in the shape of the dead. All you will ever do is kill. You do not belong here. This is a place of life.” It’s strange that the Ghost would know that the Traveler is raising Guardians from the dead, while describing the Black Garden as a place of life. The Ghost’s quote does make sense though as almost all side quests in Destiny involve killing the aliens, sometimes to acquire parts but sometimes simply for the sake of killing them.
Supposedly Destiny‘s story underwent major changes shortly before the game’s release, with the original story being much more different than the final one. According to one individual, he played a pre-release version of Destiny which featured a very different story. At one point the player meets a character named Crow, who left the City and the Traveler. Instead of the Speaker, the Guardian would be working for Crow and would discover that the Hive were attempting to revive the Traveler in order to destroy humanity. In the final game, there is no character named Crow, although there is a cutscene shown prior to the games release (there are very few cutscenes in the final version of Destiny) with an individual who may very well be the Crow. There is also how a character named Exo Stranger (who reportedly appeared in the early version as well) in Destiny helps you a few times, and claims there is more going on that she can’t explain. It’s possible that the story was gutted in order to help lengthen Destiny‘s story for future games and content.
In Destiny, there are some individuals and groups who believe that the Traveler either brought the Darkness with it, or knew that the Darkness was coming and decided to use humanity as a proxy army. However, these people are labelled as “heretics” by the Speaker. However, it seems like the Traveler would’ve had to have encountered the Darkness at some point in the past.
Despite the criticism towards the short and extremely vague story, Destiny‘s story may actually be much more complex than it appears, and the Traveler’s origins and motives may be much different than what is described in the game. It remains to be seen how much the story progresses through downloadable content, or if gamers will have to wait for future Destiny sequels.