Play Destiny for long enough and you start to notice patterns. You notice how Bungie always says the next expansion will be the one that really changes the game. You notice overpowered weapons getting nerfed left and right, rather than weaker ones being brought up to par. Now I’ve noticed a new trend — that of Destiny 2 girl bosses.
Today we got our first look at the next arc of Destiny 2, Season of the Chosen, with extended information about a new foe. Some leaked images the night before implied it was a lady Cabal (only female members of the space frog race have tusks). Players quickly surmised it was specifically Caiatl: the warrior princess who betrayed her father, Emperor Calus, to help flip the Cabal from a socialist party state into a military dictatorship. She was preceded by Dominus Ghaul, the lead villain of Destiny 2 at launch, and another warmongering battletoad. Caiatl has been mentioned in the lore before. Though this is the first time she appears onscreen.
The princess was also preceded by Eramis, the big bad of the recent Beyond Light expansion. Despite hardly any screen time Eramis was a very dope villain, poorly handled. She was also a slightly more sympathetic rehash of several male Fallen villains before her. Eramis united her species, the Fallen, under a single house. Instead of talking to her (unlike most Fallen Eramis could actually communicate with the player) we shot her a whole bunch. Just like every Destiny bad guy. Even though there’s zero fictional reason humans and the Fallen shouldn’t work together against the more existential threats of the Destiny universe at this point.
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After just one trailer, Caiatl already represents a similar repeating issue with the game’s storytelling. She offers an alliance with Zavala, the de facto face of the good guys (or so it would appear). It’s a scene we saw teased in the promotional material for Beyond Light. Zavala, lit by a glowing war table, stands shoulder to shoulder with Cabal soldiers, apparently working together to bring down a “pyramid ships” that represents the all-consuming force of Darkness. It makes perfect sense! We’ve worked with Cabal before. They’re just big, buff people — not Darkness worshippers like several other Destiny factions. Why wouldn’t we work together?
Except Caiatl tells Zavala to bow before her… Zavala says no and we apparently go off to murder more Cabal. Again. Some old missions are getting remastered I guess.
There should be more women with agency in the Destiny universe. But that doesn’t feel like what’s happening. Feminine voices are instead applied to old, usually masked archetypes to set them apart from their forebears. Their decisions are as bound by fate as Ghaul before Caiatl, Skolas before Eramis, and Oryx before Savathun (the sister of the Taken King whom Bungie has been building up as a major threat for years). New characters bring interesting possibilities to Destiny every season. Yet they all funnel back into excuses to shoot them to death.
I do hope Season of the Chosen is good. I fell heavily off of Destiny 2 last season. Not because I didn’t get to team up with Eramis (though that was certainly part of it). My day-to-day issues with the game are more mechanical. “Sunsetting,” where most weapons and armor have arbitrary expiration dates before they become useless, is a huge turnoff. I don’t love how gear mods are distributed and the increasing focus on competitive multiplayer isn’t my thing. But I’m still invested enough in ~The Lore~ to check out what happens with Caiatl and company. Maybe there’s another bait and switch coming. Maybe this pattern will end after all.