A bristly researcher taking a one-way trip into an ancient alien cave. A gruff warrior making one last stand against the odds. A fanatical cutlist watching the abyss stare back while trapped in a time maze. A brilliant engineer set on rescuing Earth’s last, most advanced artificial intelligence from cyber-death. The unifying thread? Some of Destiny 2’s longest-standing side-characters are getting the send-off they deserve in the game’s latest lore dump.
(Warning: stop reading now if you haven’t completed Destiny 2's Exodus quest and want to discover its lore for yourself).
For the past several weeks in Season of Arrivals, players have been on a mission to help defend the planetary zones under attack by an invading army of mysterious black pyramids. After this week’s update, that quest switched from preparation to retreat, as players were tasked with helping to evacuate each of the zones by completing missions for their resident vendors. For their troubles players received a year one sidearm, Traveler’s Chosen, revived as a new exotic with some pretty good perks. The real reward, however, has been seeing the stories of Asher Mir, Commander Sloane, Ana Bray, and Brother Vance expanded in one of Destiny 2’s most satisfying lore books to date: Duress and Egress.
The 12-entry book has been filling up since players first embarked on this season’s Exodus questline, but this week’s activities brought it to its tragedy-tinged and mysterious conclusion. Despite players endlessly mopping the floor with the alien hordes surrounding each character’s home base, they’re finally being overrun as Bungie prepares to “vault” their respective planets. It’s sad to see, but also finally making me care about characters I spent most of the past three years ignoring between grinding bounties and completing quest checkpoints.
The lore book has been great for helping to build up the mood and atmosphere around the ominous changes sweeping through an otherwise very story-light season, and also for building out the identities of each of the characters in how they react to the invasion. On IO the grumpy warlock Asher tries to shoot down one of the pyramids and marvels with morbid glee when it remains unaffected. On Titan, meanwhile, Sloane locks herself in her office, staring out at the methane seas to contemplate the solar system’s future in silence. Dread has a way of imbuing even the most ordinary details with weighty meaning, and with the help of some excellent writing Destiny 2’s characters channel it well.
Duress and Egress tells of a meeting between Asher and Eris in which the two share drinks. “I need to know that things will be taken care of,” he tells her. She responds, “To the best of my ability.” Zavala and Ana share a similar moment of tenderness that turns philosophical. While Ana mourns the apparent loss of the warmind Rasputin, Zavala tries to find the silver lining. “Ikora told me back then that an object in motion stays in motion,” he tells her. “I’ve always admired the phrase, but I must admit, it can be difficult to adhere to.” Zavala continues, “We find the footholds we can, and make the best step given the ground we have before us.” Moments like these, off-screen though they are, help make Destiny 2’s world worth toiling in for hours on end.
IO, Tita, Mercury, Mars, and other locations were originally set to disappear this month, but Beyond Light’s expansion has delayed their departure until November 10. Not their chief residents, however, at least in the game’s lore. While the planetary vendors will remain for the duration of the season, Duress and Egress has already sealed their fate.
The lore book tells of Asher going deep into the Pyramidion players have adventured through on countless strike missions to sabotage its Vex architecture and bring it collapsing down on itself before the black pyramids can uncover its secrets. Sloan, meanwhile, dons a golden age mech suit and makes her last stand in the storm that’s been waging on Titan since the pyramids arrived: “She laughed then, and the suit interpreted it as a battle cry and amplified it; broadcasted it. The sound echoed off the discarded shipping containers on the rainy landing pads, echoed through Siren’s Watch and up toward the Pyramid.”
In Ana’s entry she prepares to abandon Mars with the remnants of Rasputin, which are heavily implied to have been worked into the chassis of an exo, Destiny 2’s race of sentient, humanoid robots. Finally on Mercury, Brother Vance, consumed with the need to understand and predict the future through prophecy, wanders into the infinite forest. He’s not a guardian, not a fighter, just a human looking for answers.
Instead he finds a version of himself from another reality:
And the original, the true Vance, felt his infinite parallels erupt from him. He felt them bear him up as they passed. Thank you, he said wordlessly, unable to breathe from joy, and felt a hundred thousand touches of reassurance. He found he was weeping.
Vance begins to wrestle with himself and it’s unclear what the final outcome is, just as it remains unclear what new shape Destiny 2 will take as large chunks of the game are vaulted and pieces from the original Destiny are newly cycled into it. What I do know is it’s the first time I’ve cared at all about what happens to the cryptic Osiris fanboy.
Last season ended with a big explosion in the sky that every player got to witness in-game simultaneously. It was stunning, but short, and ultimately anticlimactic. Season of Arrivals hasn’t had anything nearly as flashy, but Duress and Egress has already left a much bigger impact on its world and left me excited to see what the game’s next chapter brings.