I’m well and truly back into Destiny 2 this month, which means I’m back to grappling with the weird dissonance between the game’s lore and its mechanics. It feels like the two are at war, sometimes — especially when you receive wonderfully-written stories about the complexities of the various enemy factions as rewards for mowing down hundreds of them. Alas, that’s video games. Destiny is far from alone in this friction between its narrative and its mechanics, but the sharpness of its writing and gunplay makes it especially hard to ignore.
What I’m saying is that I feel bad about killing aliens in Destiny sometimes. I can’t help it, especially given that most of a Guardian’s foes never have a chance against them. This is what happens when you paint me a beautiful word picture of your vivid world, Bungie. And this is how bad I feel about killing each of the game’s various factions.
They’re basically space zombies who are either controlled by some malicious force or else just causing random violence. A few of them retain their personalities after getting got, but I’m pretty sure even then they’re mostly concerned with the ruination of all that is good. I could shoot Taken all day and not feel a thing. As a matter of fact, I have.
An extradimensional networked intelligence interested only in converting the entire galaxy into one giant supercomputer, the Vex aren’t the most sympathetic of foes. That said, Harpies are kind of cute and Goblins just kind of stand around most of the time without looking terribly threatening. I don’t think they can feel pain or die in the conventional sense, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a twinge of guilt when I see a Goblin collapse into a mess of radiolarian fluid.
The Cabal are tricky. On the one hand, they’re space Romans on an intergalactic mission of conquest, which is a dick move. On the other, when you get past the whole Battletoad vibe, they’re basically just normal dudes. They didn’t ask to fight immortal demigods, and yet here they are, trying their best not to die to a Guardian who’s just blown up an entire tank with her mind powers.
There’s some lore where the Cabal describe Guardians as “foraging for equipment, dancing, and performing acrobatics with light vehicles” after a battle. From their perspective, they’re at war with superpowered lunatics who unleash God-granted hell first and ask questions later. Any Cabal who actually survive an encounter with a Guardian are coming out of it with some kind of psychic damage. I hope the Red Legion has good benefits.
I know what you’re thinking: the Hive are a merciless swarm of killing machines who serve the Darkness and crave only the end of all things. And sure, that’s true. But look at their backstory! Long ago, three sisters made a pact with ancient worm gods to save their doomed people, but at a terrible price — they found themselves bound to feed their worms through subterfuge and conquest, lest they be devoured instead. Fast forward to Destiny 2 and one of the sisters — now a dude, it’s a long story — is dead, another has fucked off to parts unknown, and the third is just lurking somewhere.
Hive society is kind of falling apart. At this point, some of them are starting to question the Sword Logic that’s governed their culture since the sisters made that pact so long ago. Some clearly feel affection for one another. It’s becoming more and more apparent that — aside from Thralls, who are basically animals — the Hive are people. They’re fucked up people who can do magic because of how superior they believe they are to the rest of the universe, but still, people. Obviously they don’t give Guardians much of a choice in how to deal with them, but maybe that’ll change as the incipient cracks in Hive culture widen.
Their god abandoned them and they chased it all the way to Earth, only to encounter its new chosen people. War ensues, which is a shame because humanity really has no reason to fight with the Eliksni beyond the Traveler’s fickleness. Sure, The Fallen are in some accounts vicious baby-eaters who are as ruthless to their own people as they are to their foes, but they’re also a tragic people desperate to regain the favor of their unknowable, supernatural benefactor.
We’ve worked with a few Fallen before — Spider, Mithrax — and I don’t see why a bigger alliance with the Fallen shouldn’t happen in Destiny 2‘s future. I mean, look, this is a universe where we’re dealing with the intelligent embodiment of entropy, time-traveling robots, and space Battletoads. You’d think humanity and the Fallen would have bigger things to worry about than Glimmer mining rights in the EDZ. Until such an alliance happens, I’ll continue to feel bad every time I murk a Dreg who’s just trying to make it through another day.
While you’re here, check out the rest of our Destiny 2 coverage, including guides, features, tips, and more. Want to find Exotics? We’ve got your Exotics! Want to know what’s up with the world of Destiny 2 before you jump in? Take a look at our Lore Primer. Don’t know where to start? Check out our guide on Getting Started in Destiny 2 Shadowkeep. Getting to grips with the Season of the Dawn? We’ve got an Armor Mods guide for you. Good hunting, Guardian.