Bungie confirms Commander Zavala is staying in Destiny 2, with Keith David taking over the role from the late Lance Reddick

Keith David arrives to the 54th Annual NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 25, 2023 in Pasadena, California.
(Image credit: Aaron J. Thornton (Getty Images))

Bungie has announced that actor Keith David will assume the role of Commander Zavala in Destiny 2, taking the place of Lance Reddick, who died unexpectedly earlier this year.

There was some question about how Bungie would handle the character of Zavala in the wake of Reddick's death: Would it write the character out somehow, or move ahead with a new voice actor? There's precedent for both: The studio has previously recast both Ikora Ray and Cayde-6—the Warlock and Hunter counterparts to Zavala's Titan Vanguard—but it also killed off Cayde-6 in the Destiny 2: Forsaken expansion.

Today Bungie confirmed that Zavala will be sticking around. 

"Commander Zavala has been central to the story we have been telling since the original Destiny, and we have plans to continue his journey," the studio said. "Keith David, a prolific actor on the stage and in television, film, and games, will assume the English language voice of Zavala in The Final Shape and beyond. Separately, Lance’s existing lines in-game will remain untouched for the upcoming release."

David does indeed have an extensive list of credits, which includes memorable roles in films including The Thing, They Live, Platoon, and Pitch Black. He's also appeared in some very noteworthy games: He voiced Captain (later Admiral) Anderson in the Mass Effect series, Vhailor in Planescape: Torment, Sergeant Foley in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Vice President Keith David (yes, the same Keith David) in Saints Row 4. He's also previously worked with Bungie, appearing as the Arbiter in the Halo series. 

"I am honored to continue the great work of Lance Reddick as Zavala," David said. "Lance captured the character's sense of integrity so wonderfully. It is my intention to continue that work."

He also introduced himself to Destiny 2 fans, saying that he is "honored to continue the great work of Lance Reddick as Zavala."

It was undoubtedly a difficult call for Bungie, but I think this is the right move. Commander Zavala is essentially the linchpin character in Destiny 2, and anything less than a perfect send-off could land as crass or disrespectful to the character and Reddick. And while Reddick's voice work was iconic, David is very much a guy who can deliver at the same level: He has a distinct, commanding vocal presence of his own, and he takes the work seriously.

Destiny 2: The Final Shape isn't expected to arrive until February 2024, but it's possible we'll get our first glimpse of David in the role of Zavala much sooner than that: Bungie will reveal details about the expansion during a Destiny 2 Showcase livestream on August 22.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.