There is so much to talk about in Destiny 2’s Bungie 30th Anniversary mini-expansion. There’s a fantastic new dungeon, tons of interesting new guns, and sweeping balance changes to the sandbox. Fuck all of that. For now we are talking about the horse because it’s taking over Destiny and it’s just as amazing and absurd as it sounds.
Bungie teased a phantasmal blue steed a week ago. Now Starhorse—yes, that’s its honest-to-god name—is here, and it’s spent the last 24 hours transforming not just the traveling merchant Xur, but every Destiny 2 player with a heart and a pulse into horse girls. See, Starhorse isn’t just there for show. It’s not just Bungie’s writers having some fun as 2021 fades into memory. It is the game’s newest vendor, and the bizarre ringleader behind its latest loot grinding mode. As one player wrote on Twitter, “I expected the Starhorse. I did not expect the Starhorse to be *in charge*.”
Dares of Eternity is a new six-player activity where you spin Xur’s giant compass and fight enemies and bosses from whichever symbol it lands on. To hone your Guardian skills? Earn sweet loot? Save the galaxy? No. You do it because Starhorse demands it. You are performing for the hoofed paraversal god, which eggs you on after each round with giant whinnies and neighs that ripple through space time. Sometimes it even pops up in the hallways between arenas. And of course it’s there at the end to let you bask in its majesty as a waterfall of rare engrams and strange coins spouts up from the final treasure chest in compensation for your toil.
The weirdest part? The whole thing is structured like a game show that Xur hosts for an unseen audience, quoting Whose Line Is It Anyway? and The Price Is Right. “Was my performance of the ancient ritual of ‘hosting’ to your satisfaction?” he asks after you complete your first run. “It pleases the horse when I speak those sacred words...though I do not understand all that the horse asks of me.”
When Starhorse was first teased, some people wondered why Xur had a horse all of a sudden. Some even wondered if he would ride the horse, or if the horse was a new type of mount that players could ride. May Starhorse forgive us for our ignorance. Like Xur we are still learning its ways.
In addition to being in charge, Starhorse also gives you special bounties you need to complete in order to rank up with it and unlock new treasures from other dimensions, celebrating 30 years of Bungie development history. I have never been so ready to serve.
But seriously, why is a horse made of blue space dust asking me to shoot a hundred Cabal with a pulse rifle? That’s the best part of all this: nobody freakin’ knows. What do the reams and reams of Destiny lore say about horses? Absolutely jack shit. As Polygon’s Ryan Gilliam pointed out, we’ve seen the horse once before back in the final loot room for Destiny 2's retired Trials of the Nine mode. It would appear briefly for those who loitered too long.
Now it’s here for real, and I can’t help but feel like it has a plan. Some players are worried Starhorse is just too out there for the otherwise extremely solemn and dramatic proceedings of a game about worshipping a giant alien orb, but so far it feels like a perfect mix of the most fun and fantastical bits that make up Destiny.
Here’s one of the few new bits of lore about Starhorse we do have: The sound of clopping hooves plays through your mind, and you feel as though you are being nuzzled on a molecular, almost mathematical level. Yes. Yes I do.