Bungie's narrative team reveals why SIVA never came back in Destiny 2

The SIVA storyline in Destiny revolved around its corruption of the OG Iron Lords. (Image credit: Bungie)

Destiny 2 is building towards the conclusion of its current overarching story with next year's The Final Shape. But Destiny is also a game that weaves its story out of many dangling plot threads. How strong is our alliance with the Cabal? What's the Hive god of war up to? How's Osiris feeling now he's been woken from an almost year-long coma with help from a cup of tea brewed from the desiccated body of a disciple of the Darkness?

And those are just a few of the stories from The Witch Queen's seasons. Across Destiny's almost nine-year history, there's an absurd number of ideas and concepts. There are mysterious planetary anomalies, wish-granting dragons, and even the Nine—eldritch consciousnesses formed from loops of dark matter created from the gravity of the planets of our solar system. It's a wild ride.

But no dormant plot thread is as oft-discussed among the Destiny community as SIVA—the self-assembling, self-replicating nanotechnology that formed the basis of Destiny 1's Rise of Iron expansion. The tech was designed to accelerate humanity's ascent, specifically intended for use in easily constructing new colonies off-planet. But, as tends to be the way, SIVA ended up as a weapon used against us by a sect of Fallen known as the Devil Splicers.

SIVA nanobots in Destiny.

The Devil Splicers were a sect of Fallen who weaponised SIVA. (Image credit: Bungie)

It's been over six years since SIVA was an active part of the game's story—it's never received more than a few passing references in Destiny 2—but you'll still see regular subreddit threads hoping it'll appear in future seasons. It's a common enough occurrence that you'll also regularly see threads asking why the hell people are so into SIVA.

The SIVA enjoyers kicked into overdrive shortly before the current season launched, after it became clear that we were returning to the story of the Warmind Rasputin—an AI who's intrinsically linked with the tech. But Season of the Seraph makes no mention of SIVA. In a recent Q&A, Bungie's narrative team was asked why it didn't return, and the answer is going to be bad news for fans of the black and red bots.

Whenever the Warmind comes up... SIVA has been a part of the conversation narratively. We talk about it, we kick it around.

—Nikko Stevens, snr narrative designer

"We always talk about every related story thread whenever we bring something up," says Nikko Stevens, senior narrative designer. "So whenever the Warmind comes up, whether it was back in Season of the Worthy or now, SIVA has been a part of the conversation narratively. We talk about it, we kick it around. But ultimately, I think SIVA is a story that was told in Rise of Iron, and was finalised in Rise of Iron.

"While narratively it's possible to upend those stories and bring them back, I think seasonally one thing that we have to do is make sure that we are focused on the story the season is telling—and that we aren't indulging ourselves on pieces that don't necessarily push that story forward. I think SIVA, while it's cool, it would be looking backwards. And we were trying to build up to Neomuna and Lightfall and making sure that that story had room to breathe—has room to flourish—before players set foot onto that new destination.

"So it is a consideration. It's something that's always in the back of our minds. We definitely have people in the studio who want to do things with older elements of Destiny. And whenever we find an opportunity to bring them in that makes sense, we do our best to make sure it happens."

[Below: Although it doesn't sound like Destiny 2 has plans to bring back SIVA as a major plotline, the art team regularly creates SIVA-themed ornaments for exotic weapons and armour.]

So, hey, it's not impossible, but it seems unlikely that SIVA is coming back anytime soon. A confession: I am fine with this. I never really got the obsession. Yes: SIVA gear looks cool. Fine. But I never really understood the nostalgia for the Rise of Iron expansion overall. To me it felt like a big step down from The Taken King—a side story to give players something to do while Destiny 2 was being made. Sure, I spent plenty of hours grinding Archon's Forge, but overall SIVA just doesn't seem that interesting compared to what else is going on in the story. Again: there are wish dragons.

Still, Stevens is quick to point out that the events of Rise of Iron—and the Devil Splicers who unleashed SIVA upon the Guardians—are still important to the timeline of the story. "You do get to see the ripples and the effects of Rise of Iron, whether it be in Zero Hour and how Eramis tried to use her connection to the Devil Splicers to break in there … or even in Season of the Seraph, when we're talking about how it's Splicers on the side of our enemies who are accessing Seraph Station. The ripples of events, they still exist in the game. They still matter, because without Rise of Iron, you don't have Eramis and the Devil Splicer contingent that are working on taking over Seraph Station. All of those events would be different."

SIVA super fans jumping in to the comment thread when they see Bungie's quotes. (Image credit: Bungie)
Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.