Much of Destiny’s story exists anywhere but the main game. The version you get from playing through its campaign today is very different from the one that existed only a year ago, and it’s also very different from the one you’ll get having played Destiny for hundreds of hours, soaking up its lowkey ambient world-building from gun flavor text, random menu screens, and Bungie’s own website. Now the studio’s found an even weirder place to unveil new story twists by putting Season of the Chosen’s big bad on Twitter.
This week, Bungie handed over the reins of its Destiny account to Caiatl, Empress of the Cabal. What might have been just a weird fourth-wall-breaking publicity stunt turned into something else by virtue of just how much the game’s developers committed to the bit.
“Guardians! Your Commander has you fighting against those who could be your allies,” Caiatl wrote on Monday. “Join me in the fight against our shared enemy.”
In Destiny-land, Caiatl is trying to make players bend the knee as part of an alliance to take on their shared enemy, the Hive. While they haven’t joined her in-game, they have joined Caiatl on Twitter to tease out her end game and to ask the giant alien warlord to step on them.
Here’s an example of how that’s been going:
Caiatl: Join me in vengeance.
DrLupo: Walk on me please
Caiatl: You address an Empress, commander of legions, and ruler of the Cabal. You are beneath me already.
But the empress, whose dad was a year one raid boss, isn’t just trying to meme with people. She also spilled some important beans regarding this week’s assassination attempt on Vanguard daddy Commander Zavala. In excellent day-time soap opera fashion, he was hanging out on a balcony about to be shot by Psion Flayer when Crow, former Destiny 2 villain turned amnesiac sad boy good guy, appeared before him just briefly enough to make him aware of the intruder. The big reveal? Caiatl claims she didn’t order the hit.
“If I wanted to kill Zavala I would look him in the eyes when I did it,” she wrote in response to one player’s tweet asking about the attack. “A warrior deserves no less.” That certainly puts a different spin on things! Destiny often prefers to tell stories through big, blunt allegory—Achilles dragging Hector around outside the gates of Troy-type stuff—rather than leaning on intrigue and conspiracy. Season of the Chosen has stood out in that regard so far. The politics of Destiny’s universe are deepening and becoming more three-dimensional. Of course, you’d have to continually replay missions for rotating dialogue soundbites to get the full picture, and now, also be on Twitter hanging out in Caiatl’s menchies.
The players who have showed up have gotten quite into it, though.
“You have missed every shot you have taken, [Caiatl],” tweeted one player. “The greatness of your weaponsmiths’ works seems rather dubious at best. Meanwhile, the pile of Cabal bodies we’ve racked up speak volumes, Empress. But please, do continue with your sales pitch.”
Caiatl responded: “Every challenger you slay paves the way for stronger commanders. Every battle you wage against us teaches us your tactics.”
Bungie probably couldn’t have staged it any better.
Some player comments have even led the character to wax poetic. “Do you ever regret betraying your father, Calus,” asked one. “Life is a chain of decisions, triumphs, and regrets. Do you regret failing to save Cayde-6?” She wrote back. (If you live under a rock or just don’t play Destiny: Cayde-6 was Nathan Fillion, who Crow killed back in 2018).
Ideally, exchanges like this would be featured in the game, not just as lore dumps attached to loot drops or animated shorts, but as normal scenes rendered in-engine. For a whole host of reasons which probably include a lack of time, money, and resources, that type of fleshed-out storytelling has never been in the cards for Destiny. Still, turning fans into reply guys to help build out this season’s characters is one of the more creative solutions Bungie’s come up with since the series launched, and it’s certainly is better than nothing.