Destiny's Story Is, Uh, Hard To Explain

There's the Traveller, and you're supposed to be fighting the Darkness, and also there's something named Rasputin that speaks Russian and, uh, look, let's just shoot things ok?

Critical reactions to Bungie's slick new MMO-shooter have varied drastically, but there's one thing we can all agree upon: the story is a mess. Comedy group Mega64 captures that well here. Meanwhile, we'll all keep shooting things and hoping for a more coherent narrative in the sequel.

You can reach the author of this post at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.


    I think you mixed up 'hard to explain' with 'hardly explained'. It's pretty simple it's just sort of scribbled down on napkins scattered throughout the game.

      That are only available outside the game. And also the actual narrative of what you are doing is just terrible

        It's always struck me as bizarre that they put so much more effort into writing things that you have to leave the game to read than they did into writing stuff that went into the game

          Yeah it's pretty strange. It's like you're playing co-op and your partner keeps skipping the cutscenes.

          If you believe the rumors, it would seem someone was hired in the last seven months of development to write the grimore cards. The lack of presense in the game seems to validate the claim given the lack of time to add it.

          Instead we get. "The Vex, an evil so dark it hates other evil"

    The first line of this article makes me feel uncomfortable. The story is actually really simple and you go out of your way to act like some kind of ignorami who can't understand like four significant plot points - which i'm pretty sure is its biggest criticism, if you've been listening.

      Four plot points -- and only four plot points -- does not a good story make.

      While you're right on the plot not being difficult to understand, I think that's not what people are (poorly) trying to articulate as their problem with it.

      There's a difference between having a simple story and a good story. A difference between letting players discover a story and telling it poorly. Destiny's story feels like it's been chopped apart, revised, butchered, and stitched back together by someone incompetent. It goes half-way in on the typical exposition+cinematics front, then lazily relies on grimoire cards (only accessible on a website) that don't actually add to the narrative one bit but provide little vignettes. (PSN TSquare82 look at my grimoire score, I've unlocked most things, I've got a pretty decent read on what's available. There is no extra story there, just little tidbits of other stories barely related to the narrative).

      The narrative is deeply flawed in its supposed attempt to make the player feel like a legend. The handful of characters encountered are never developed, in-game or in-grimoire. They have little to no reaction to the player character. Little to no motive is ever provided or responded to as the driving force behind humanity's resurgence. There are no emotional stakes at play, no bonds formed. There are no characters as such. There is no interplay. There is a nameless and might as well be faceless soldier who is raised, wins the day, and is not credited with such.

      It's a terrible story, told poorly. It's not that it's incomprehensible as much as the pieces which would make it compelling are missing entirely. It's their absence which is incomprehensible. When people are being told to go here and do this or 'bad things will happen', they're wondering where everything else that would normally invest them in the story is. Because it's sure as hell not in the game or the cards.

        It's not just that, it's the lack of characters. While it wasn't a groundbreaking or spectacular story, Halo had a competent character driven narrative. You could pick your favourite character out of Halo, people could have liked Sgt Johnson more than Cortana or their favourite was captain Keyes or 343 guilty spark.


        When I finish a vanguard mission and the ghost says something like "The arach will appreciate this", I have to remember which one the arach is, all because the game basically has no characters. The closest is the speaker who, rather tragically, goes out of his way to lampshade the fact that he's NOT going to tell you a story when you first meet him. It's really a bad omen for the way they're treating the narrative of the game and turned out to be spot on.

          The kicker for me was when the "Exo Stranger" as she seems to be reffered to as, said:
          "I don't have time to explain why I don't have time to explain" It made me cringe and to make matters worse she continues to waffle on with a little bit more useless dialogue before vanishing, invalidating an already terrible assertion.

    This clearly means that the author did not play and listen to the narratives in game. Probably rush type players that skip all in game chats then complains game is lacking story.

    Here is a summary:
    Traveller is found in weakened state.
    Ghosts started to appear from Traveller.
    Each Ghost chooses a champion to assist in the Traveller's recovery.
    Kill bad guys and save the traveller.

      The Traveller was found in a perfectly healthy state, it provided technology to humans to start colonising the solar system. Then the Darkness came and it used itself as a final shield to push it back, putting it into a weakened state, using its last bit of energy it provided the ghosts then went dormant.

      Yeah but why were you found dead at the start of the tutorial? IT NEVER EXPLAINED WHY YOU WERE DEAD.

    The evidence is mounting that the story was absolutely gutted near the end of development with certain members leaving. Characters, plot, factions and other content were completely obliterated and hints and strange dialogue have been left behind.
    The grimore cards for example were apparently drawn up in the last seven months if the stories are true.

    There is a Bungie employee AMA that popped up on reddit that speaks about the changes but it hasn't been confirmed as an official employee as far as I know.

    Either way, something clearly went wrong with what they promised and what we recieved.

      Bungie have officially disowned that AMA saying it totally wasn't a Bungie employee.

      Of course their rebuttal was somewhat less believable than the anonymous 'employee.'

      Yeah, it's quite true that Bungie lost a lot of their writing talent during the development of the game. Joe Staten (who was credited as the game's designer as well as lead writer) went back to Microsoft around this time last year, senior writer Dave Mongan left in April and Joshua Rubin left last month to go and work with Telltale on their Game of Thrones stuff.

      Though honestly I'm not sure if any of those departures would really have a huge impact. Staten was the earliest and that was a year ago. The game's been in development for a lot longer than that, and the writing etc. is usually done fairly early on.

        I read that AMA and it seems to place the blame squarely on internal conflict over the game's direction or 'vision' and that the story-as-written didn't match the 'new vision'. And had to be butchered to fit. Given the horrible state the narrative is in, I'd buy that explanation pretty quickly.

          It'd certainly explain why people seemed to be jumping ship as well. Maybe that's what happened to Marty? Backed the wrong horse in the race?

          I still don't think the story is terrible though. There's a lot of interesting threads and hints there. I think they've deliberately left some parts vague because that's what Bungie always used to do. Their stuff in Marathon was so ambiguous that there's bits of it that are still a mystery. Story-wise Destiny feels a lot more like Marathon to me than Halo did. All it needed really were some terminals to read in the story missions, but I guess that the grimoire does a lot of that.

    The story is, the search of the promised land, the great and fabled cove of treasure. Can you find it?

    Personally I didnt even feel I was playing along with a story line. Just killing a bunch of mobs to get to a place to release my ghost and have him tell me what's going on.

    I think the thing that really nailed home that the story is terrible, for me, was going to choose and faction and then realising I had no idea what the motives or ideals behind any of the factions even are. Why do they even exist?

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