I’ve now played through the story content in Destiny: Rise of Iron on two of my three characters, and I’m starting to really be excited for what comes next. I know that seems really shortsighted of me, like I’m moving away from Rise already. But that’s not exactly what I mean here. Instead I’m talking more generally about how ever since The Taken King, Bungie has fundamentally changed how they’re approaching telling the story of Destiny.
In-game, that’s meant scrapping the amorphous story direction in favor of quests that tie together story missions with a coherent thread between them. That, combined with the better writing in the lead-ins to the missions along with new cinematics that advance the story and you’re starting to see player being able to better connect with the world. It’s not just players who go out and read the Grimoire – which we’ll talk about in a second – who have an understanding on the story now. Playing the actual game will get you enough of the story to know what’s going on. I don’t know if they changed writing staff for in-game work, but it certainly feels like it over the last year as it’s gotten less reliant on cliches and every character actually feels grounded, even the somewhat over the top ones like Eris and Saladin. Cayde-6 and your Ghost have emerged over the last year as the real standouts of the cast, mainly thanks to the strength of their voice actors. Rise of Iron continues that with Saladin and Shiro-4 both actually having character. With this most likely being the last big addition to the first Destiny game, Bungie has been doing a phenomenal job of doing as much as they can with the current framework. It’s night-and-day from how the game looked and felt at launch. And over this last year, it’s gotten me more excited about what Bungie could do with a new game.
One of the biggest things that I want to see in the sequel has to be an in-game way to read the Grimoire. That desire comes from just how damn good the Grimoire cards are. Much has been made about how threadbare the story is in Destiny, especially at launch. Where that doesn’t ring true is in those cards – they’re written incredibly well and flesh out the world so incredibly well. Things that seem like they don’t matter in the long run like Rasputin’s role in the grand scheme of things turn out to have much deeper ripples. Reading his cards in particular paints an interesting picture of just how the Traveler came to rest where it does now – there’s a very real chance that Rasputin shot down the Traveler to prevent it from leaving humanity behind for the Darkness. Why would Rasputin think that the Traveler would do that? Well keep reading the Grimoire and you see that it has a little history doing that – that is how the Fallen came to be Fallen; and beyond that, the Traveler has a intricate relation with the Hive and their Worm Gods going all the way back to the very beginning. Because the story is so well told in those cards and helps create a really interesting world to play in, that’s really why it has to be in-game in the sequel. There are way too many players who won’t read the cards because they don’t live in-game. I would love to see something like Mass Effect‘s codex – that would be the best way to do it I think. If you take that ability to dive deeper into the lore of the game, combine it with the more focused in-game storytelling along with the inevitable steps forward in gameplay and I think the series will be where we always wanted it to be. The future is super bright for Destiny and to me, Rise of Iron is a great step in the right direction.