While there’s not an overwhelming amount to glean from the beta, there was more than enough to get my juices flowing. Theses are the five story elements I can’t wait to dig into!
5. Lord Shaxx
When we meet Lord Shaxx in Homecoming, he’s surrounded by fearful residents of the Last City. This is perhaps the most important – in my mind – story element introduced in the Beta: never before have we seen Guardians interact with non-Guardians, and it seems evident that Shaxx has led the group we find to safety.
It also appears that he’s wearing Raze-Lighter across his back. We know from The Taken King that it was Lord Shaxx who devised the plan to reverse-engineer swords of Light after the battle of Burning Lake, and that it was he who took it upon himself to train the Guardians in the ways of combat by blade. I want to know if Shaxx will have yet another song to his name, and will be remembered as a hero of the War for the City – or Red Wednesday, maybe? – just as he was for his triumph at the Battle of Twilight Gap.
Shaxx has always played a minor role in the Destiny story – at least the story that we experience – and it would be fantastic to see him more fleshed-out beyond his continued work as the Crucible announcer.
4. The Guardian
By that, I mean us. You. Me. Whatever – the apparently still-silent (yech) protagonist of this rebooted space opera. This is perhaps an unfair addition to the list, since knowing more about our Guardian means playing through the whole of the Destiny 2 story. Even so, boy, do I have questions. Why (I mean, lore-wise) are we struggling so mightily to defeat Protheon, when our first act in Destiny 1 was to defeat a Vex god of Time? There’s certainly more to the story of how we lost and regained our Light, so perhaps the answer is more complex than ‘We gotta make players re-level.” At least, I hope there is.
3. The Cabal
What are the Cabal doing on Nessus? Failsafe, seemingly the AI of the Exodus Black colony ship tells us that they dug into Nexus in order to capture Protheon, the enormous Vex Mind we defeat at the end of the Inverted Spire strike. We see numerous drills scattered across the plateaus, and we’ve heard scattered references to Cabal mining operations on Mars and Phobos. I want to know what they’re searching for – and what they had intended to do with Protheon once they captured it.
Even more than that, I want to know what the Cabal Empire is running from – what they’re afraid of. We know that they’ve come to Earth in an apparent attempt to take the Traveler’s power for their own, but we don’t know why they want or need it. Both the Fallen and the Hive have experienced their own Collapse-like disasters (the Whirlwind and the Syzygy, respectively), and perhaps the same will prove true of the Cabal. The Books of Sorrow went a long way in ‘humanizing’ the Hive – insofar as such a thing was possible – and I am sorely hoping that the Cabal prove to have more depth than the warlike space-turtle-rhinos they currently are would suggest.
2. Protheon and the Vex
The location where we first encounter Protheon is almost tomb-like in appearance – ancient, dusty, perhaps forgotten. The Mind appears from a carbonite-like frieze on the wall, and evidently manifest some control over its physical environment by way of dissolving floors or turning them to lava. Not only that, but the presence of a door reminiscent of the Vault of Glass – perhaps leading to a Lost Sector or a Treasure Hunt – suggests that there are many Vex secrets hidden on Nessus. I happen to enjoy this – I’ve always loved silly-fun adventure movies like The Mummy (the Brendan Frasier one, of course), and the idea of further embracing a life as a dashing, galaxy-faring, occasionally-tomb-robbing space adventurer has kept me excited to explore the new worlds of Destiny 2.
Perhaps the strangest feature of this new location is the rivers of “Vex milk” that crisscross the environment. When standing in it, players take damage from “Radiolarian fluid,” the fluid that, as best we can tell, actually is the Vex (and is contained within the “Bronze vessels” we perceive as enemy units). I love the mystery that this conveys: we know that the Vex are attempting, essentially, to write themselves into the fabric of space and time across all possible continua, and suggesting that parts of Nessus aren’t just Vex constructions, but are the Vex themselves, is both eerie and engrossing. Are these the physical embodiment of the “Rivers of thought” hinted at in the Black Garden Grimoire card, or is there a more mundane explanation of what we’re seeing?
We haven’t experienced the Vex since we conquered the Vault of Glass and destroyed Atheon. I’ll be very interested to see what, if any, effect we had on the grand plan of the Vex.
Oh, and apparently, Exodus Black was carrying SIVA – who knows what will happen if Vex milk and Golden Age nanites get together?
I’m betting Failsafe is number one on a lot of Guardian’s lists. She calls herself “Your friendly neighborhood AI,” as well as “[Zavala’s] favorite AI,” while our Ghost calls her a Golden Age computer core. From the glimpse of the map and interview snippets, we know that Exodus Black crash-landed on Nessus, and it seems entirely likely that Failsafe is the AI responsible for this ship. How she knows Zavala is a mystery I can’t wait to dig into.
Furthermore, at several points in The Inverted Spire, we’re referred to as ‘Captain.’ I’d like to know if that’s an official title – and if so, since when do we have titles? – or if it’s just something that Failsafe calls us, perhaps linked to an Exodus Black-focused mission or story (are we now the Captain of a crashed ship?).
More intriguingly, Bungie has a history with AI that seem helpful or benevolent but aren’t. Failsafe calls Nessus “My planet,” leading to even more questions about the role she plays on this new world, and revealing that she must be, to an extent, protective of it. I can’t be the only person thinking not just of Rasputin, but of Cortana and 343 Guilty Spark – especially with the way that Failsafe seems to flutter between personalities, alternating between chipper sass one moment and snarky, depressed Marvin-from-Hitchiker’s-Guide the next.
From the released cover art for the upcoming DLC expansions, it seems likely that we’ll be learning more about the Warminds – or at least Rasputin – at some point in Destiny 2. Based on the strange relationship these Intelligences have with other AI’s, I’ll be very curious to see how the relationship between Failsafe and Rasputin (or anyone and anything else) unfolds. Regardless, I’ll certainly be approaching every conversation with out friendly neighborhood AI with my side-eye at the ready.