Destiny 2 is getting a big expansion next week, and some lapsed players are thinking about coming back to the game. A lot’s happened over the past year, so you could be forgiven for not following all the story developments closely. That’s what I’m here for.
Forsaken, next week’s expansion, will introduce a bunch of new stuff to the game. It comes alongside the recent 2.0 balance patch, which significantly overhauls the weapon system and gear balance. If you’re just looking for information on that, you can find my breakdown of the new weapon system here, the 2.0 patch notes here, and Bungie’s roadmap of the coming year of content here.
If you want to know about the characters and events that paved the way for Forsaken (and you perhaps haven’t spent four years playing every single Destiny expansion multiple times), this is the place for you. Shout-out to the well-organized Destinypedia for being such a helpful reference on some of the deeper lore that I couldn’t recall off the top of my head. A second shout-out to the many people who will comment on this article just to let the world know that they hate Destiny, and Bungie, and they traded in their game months ago, and why would they want to know anything about Destiny lore anyway?
For the rest of us, it’s recap time. Here we go.
The Story Leading into Destiny 2
I already wrote a big lore explainer for anyone who’s never played Destiny and was thinking about playing the sequel. I’ll do a brief recap here, but if you want a more detailed accounting of the events of the first game, read this article.
Short version: Destiny takes place in our solar system in the far future. In this hypothetical timeline, humanity was visited by a mysterious moon-sized alien sphere called The Traveler, which was powered by a mysterious energy called The Light and the arrival of which ushered in a Golden Age of prosperity. Unfortunately, a mysterious force called The Darkness followed the Traveler, along with several races of dangerous aliens: the scavenging Fallen, the cave-dwelling Hive, the time-traveling Vex robots, armadas of rhino-sized Cabal, and eventually the Taken, which were wraith-like versions of creatures from the other four races.
At some point during the attacks, the Traveler went dormant. As it did so, it barfed out a ton of small robotic Ghosts, which possessed their own intelligence and were able to channel a small bit of the Light. Players took control of a Guardian, which was a fallen soldier that had been “found” by a Ghost and reanimated with the Light. Over the course of many games and expansions, the Guardians fought off a bunch of different alien threats.
The Destiny 1 lore you’ll most want to be familiar with for Forsaken is the 2015 House of Wolves expansion, which centered on the Awoken, a mysterious race of human-like beings who live in a tangled mess of asteroids known as The Reef. I’ll get more into specifics later, but here’s how I summarized the events of that expansion:
House of Wolves was Destiny’s second expansion, and hit in May of 2015. It got more into the relationship between the Awoken and the Fallen, who had fought a massive war a long time ago that the Awoken won, leaving the Fallen houses in disarray. The Fallen leader Skolas wound up being set free, using his power to unite the scattered Fallen clans and become a threat once more. The Awoken queen Mara Sov enlisted your aid in tracking Skolas down. You eventually captured him and then went… into an Awoken prison to kill him? While he was still locked up? It seems kinda messed up when you spell it out like that.
Ghaul, the Red War, and the Start of Destiny 2's First Year
It’s possible to just jump into Forsaken and use a level booster to jump straight in to the latest story content. If you’re dying to play the newest stuff as soon as possible, that’ll be a good way to go, though I actually enjoyed the main story campaign of Destiny 2. If you’re skipping over it, here’s what happened.
At the start of Destiny 2, a group of Cabal soldiers known as the Red Legion attacked the Traveler on Earth. They were led by a fanatical dude named Dominus Ghaul, who was obsessed with capturing the Traveler and claiming the Light for himself. He was almost successful, too. His initial sneak attack decimated the Guardian army and led to a total evacuation of The Last City, leaving him in control of the Traveler. In taking control of the Traveler, he severed all Guardians’ connection to their light, which left them without their space magic powers and unable to resurrect. It was a near-total victory, but unfortunately, he couldn’t figure out what came next.
As Ghaul struggled to crack open the Traveler, our character met up with the three vanguard leaders: Commander Zavala (a Titan), Ikora Rey (a Warlock), and wisecracking Cayde-6 (a Hunter), as well as a small cast of other resistance fighters. The player’s Guardian was summoned to a Shard of the Traveler out in the wilderness, which they used to reenergize their Ghost and re-access the light.
Together with the rest of the Vanguard, they staged a multi-pronged attack to reclaim the Last City while simultaneously stopping Ghaul’s solar-system destroying megaweapon The Almighty from devouring the Sun. The good guys won, of course. The final showdown took place on a platform in front of the Traveler, as our character faced off against a super-powered Ghaul. Right when it seemed like he was going to win, the Traveler actually awoke (!!) and emitted a blast of light that destroyed him. The Traveler’s emission left the Earth’s atmosphere and went right out into space, where it has likely attracted the attention of who-knows-what. At the end of the campaign, we saw a short cutscene teasing the imminent arrival of a bunch of pyramid-shaped ships that have still not yet been explained.
With Ghaul defeated, the City saved, and the Traveler reawoken, the Guardians and the Vanguard threw a big party and declared the start of a new Golden Age. Hooray for victory! Shortly after their victory, an exiled and oddly friendly Cabal emperor named Calus turned up near the moon of Io on a planet-destroying ship called the Leviathan. That was the site of the first of Destiny 2’s six-player raids, aptly named The Leviathan.
The Curse of Osiris and Warmind Expansions
Destiny 2 got two story expansions in 2018, and while neither one changed too much of the overarching story, both introduced new characters and plot threads that will likely continue to spool out in year two. First there was Curse of Osiris, which centered on Vex activity on the planet Mercury. Your Guardian headed out there to see what was up, and over the course of a series of events that aren’t really worth recapping in detail, you wound up tracking down Osiris, a long-lost visionary Warlock who’d been kicked out of the Vanguard for being too weird. (Basically.)
You spent most of the campaign with Osiris’s Ghost, Sagira, in place of your Ghost. She guided you along as you moved through parallel time dimensions in a Vex construct called The Infinite Forest in order to stop a huge Vex robot from, I don’t know, rewriting all space and time or something. Just another in a long line of threatening bosses that wound up being pretty easy to defeat. Curse of Osiris was pretty disappointing on the whole, though it added a cool new “lair” to the Leviathan raid called Leviathan, Eater of Worlds.
Next came Warmind, which was an improvement over Osiris. The story was brief; you could beat it in under an hour. It was entertaining enough while it lasted, though, and its brevity helped players quickly get to all the juicy endgame stuff that the developers added. The narrative told the story of Anastasia (Ana) Bray, whose family founded the Clovis Bray corporation that was responsible for many of the Golden Age technological marvels of the Destinyverse.
Ana was primarily concerned with Rasputin, a rogue “Warmind” artificial intelligence housed on Mars that was designed during the Golden Age to autonomously defend our solar system from outside threats. Ana and Commander Zavala disagreed as to whether to trust Rasputin, but Ana eventually won out, reestablishing Rasputin and working out a relationship with it. The story ended on an unresolved note, and it seems likely that we’ll re-encounter Ana and Rasputin (get the reference?) in year two.
And that brings us up to Forsaken, which means that all we have left is to go over the characters, places, and concepts that will probably be important to understand going in.
The Awoken, the Queen, the Reef, and the Prison
I haven’t played any of Forsaken, but Bungie has been drip-feeding information about the story, characters, and setting for months. Most of what I’ll talk about below are things that have already been established, but I’m basing my assumptions about the upcoming story off of trailers and blog posts. If you don’t want to know anything that happens in Forsaken, however, this is your chance to stop reading.
Forsaken is going to send us to the Reef once more, and put us up alongside (and occasionally against) The Awoken as well as their longtime enemies (and occasional allies) The Fallen. Here’s how I described both races back in my original lore post, with a couple small edits:
The Awoken are a mysterious race of blue-skinned people descended from human colonists who attempted to escape the Darkness during the Collapse. They hesitated to get involved with the Humans’ plight after The Collapse, but eventually they went to war with some of our mutual enemies. They live in The Reef, a massive ring of destroyed colonization ships. They’re kind of all jerks, but they’re very good looking. You can also play as an Awoken in Destiny, although that choice doesn’t affect the story at all.
The Fallen are a race of four-armed, bipedal hardasses who run around with big knives. Before the Traveler came to Earth, it lifted up the Fallen. They worship it, and mounted an offensive on Earth to try to get it back. The Fallen have a vaguely Nordic culture, each pledging loyalty to a house (House of Devils, House of Wolves, etc.). The first Guardians fought a long and difficult war against the Fallen as they laid siege to the First City, and won a number of legendary victories against them. That whole part of Destiny history sounds super cool and it’s too bad we’ve never seen any of it happen.
The story of Forsaken will begin with our Guardians heading out to the Reef to assist Cayde-6 on a mission. As Bungie has made clear, that mission will end with Cayde’s death at the hands of a familiar frenemy. The subsequent story will be a tale of vengeance, as the surviving Vanguard work with our Guardian to get revenge for our fallen friend.
Forsaken will introduce new characters like The Spider and The Drifter, and you know as much about them as I do. However, a few characters from the first game will also be making their Destiny 2 debuts, and it’ll be helpful to know who they all are and how they fit into the game’s grander scheme.
Prince Uldren Sov is a dick, and has always been a dick. He’s a prince of the Awoken, and made a few appearances during the first game’s main story campaign. He was always sauntering around like King Shit of Turd Mountain, though he deferred to his more reasonable (yet no less imposing) sister the Queen, whose judgment he appeared to trust implicitly. He used to lead the Queen’s intelligence service, a mysterious group known as The Crows, and tends to have crow imagery associated with him. He turned back up at the start of 2015’s The Taken King expansion, when he and the rest of the Awoken led a failed assault against the Taken King’s ship. It appeared as though he died, though of course, no one dies in video games.
Uldren has yet to turn up in Destiny 2, though players could find his crashed ship during a mission on Mars that was introduced in Warmind, which indicated that he survived The Taken King. Uldren will apparently be the prime antagonist of Forsaken, and many Destiny players are extremely psyched to take him down.
Queen Mara Sov was Uldren’s sister, and was Queen of the Reef. She helped the Guardian in the first Destiny, and returned alongside her brother to lead the Awoken’s failed attempt to fight off the Taken King’s assault. She was believed to have died in the attack, but just like her brother, subsequent missions have left hints that she’s still alive. It’s not confirmed that she’ll turn up in Forsaken, but it seems likely.
Petra Venj is an intensely loyal member of the Queen’s royal guard, and a pretty cool customer. She was players’ main point of contact during House of Wolves, and she’ll be back in Forsaken. She took the loss of the Queen hard, and refuses to give up hope that she’s still alive. She’ll likely play a significant role in the story of Forsaken and will probably hang around after the credits roll. She wears an eyepatch. Her name sounds like “Pet Revenge” if you say it out loud.
Variks, The Loyal is a Fallen scholar who switched sides and now pledges loyalty to the Awoken and Queen Mara Sov. He was a quest-giver in House of Wolves, and oversaw the Prison of Elders. (More on that in a second.) Variks had previously been a member of the Fallen House of Wolves, but he betrayed their bloodthirsty leader Skolas, who was attempting to become “Kell of Kells.” He later helped the Guardian bring Skolas down. He is famous among Destiny players for his menacing cadence and wry humor. “Destroy mines, yessss?”
Skolas, Kell of Kells was a bad MFer that Destiny players fought and eventually killed during the House of Wolves expansion. He was a huge jerk and the fight against him was really hard - a pair of friends and I were up until 7AM beating it on the last week before Bungie nerfed the fight. The moral of that story is, if something is ridiculously hard, maybe wait until it gets nerfed. I’m not sure if Skolas will be referenced in Forsaken, but it seems worth at least knowing who he was.
The Prison of Elders is an Awoken correctional facility (lol) located in the Reef. There, the Awoken keep the most dangerous prisoners from their various wars. They also decide some prisoners’ fates with combat trials, which is in accordance with Fallen traditions. In the first game, players were granted access to the Prison to fight a variety of different foes, including Skolas himself. At the start of Forsaken, Prince Uldren organizes a prison break of members of the Fallen house Scorn for unknown reasons, which draws Cayde’s attention and kicks off the rest of the expansion’s story.
There may be a few things I left out, or that the Forsaken story might still leave you wondering about, but I’m guessing it’ll explain the new stuff (The Dreaming City, the Scorn, other new characters or locations) as it goes. Something something clever final sentence goes here, article complete.