Destiny 2 trailer breakdown

Following this morning’s revelation that Destiny 2 will indeed be on PC, I’ve been poring over the trailer for hints of what to expect. There are actually plenty of nuggets in there for fans, and for those of you who haven’t played the first game but are curious to try the sequel, I’ve endeavoured to explain who the main characters are and what some of the more important elements mean. Starting with... 

That giant flaming orb is The Traveler, or at least what remains of it in Destiny 2. For non-fans, The Traveler is Destiny's mysterious flying MacGuffin. Its arrival on Earth triggered a golden age of technological advancement, which was followed by almost total disaster as angry aliens turned up to wipe out humanity. The Traveler supposedly sacrificed itself to protect us (although there’s also a strong suggestion it actually tried to bail, only to be stopped by Rasputin, one of the AI ‘Warminds’ created to protect the Solar System). Anyway, the main takeaway is that it’s in worse shape than ever at the start of Destiny 2. Both the Traveler, and The Last City which it hovers above, are in flames following a Pearl Harbor-style attack by the Cabal race.

No, the bald blue guy rallying the troops outside the shattered walls is not Dr Manhattan. He is Commander Zavala, the none-more-serious Vanguard leader of the Titans. (Titans are one of the three classes playable in  Destiny, the others being Hunters and Warlocks.) To the left of Zavala you can also make out Lord Shaxx, another senior Titan, whose day job is running The Crucible, which is Destiny’s PvP mode. The guy in the hood seems to be Xur, Agent of the Nine, better known to vanilla Destiny players as “that tentacle-faced bastard” due to his tendency not to sell the Exotic items players most wanted during his weekend visits.

As for who the Nine are, that’s a source of much speculation in the community, with one common theory being that they’re giant space worms living on Jupiter. Oh, and the Guardian on the far left is wearing the Queen’s insignia, suggesting that even though Mara Sov is MIA, the Awoken of the Reef will have a part to play in Destiny 2.

The other speech-giver is Cayde-6, who’s the Hunter Vanguard and an Exo (which are a race of sentient machines made possible thanks to The Traveler’s science.) Cayde is voiced by Nathan Fillion of Firefly/Serenity fame, and provides the main source of banter in the Destiny universe. It wasn’t always this way. Prior to The Taken King, Destiny’s storytelling was a lot more po-faced, but with Cayde’s expanded role came a more goofball tone. To his left is Ikora Rey, the Warlock Vanguard, confirming that all three mentors survived the initial Cabal attack. As a Warlock main I’m slightly bummed she’s relegated to side-piece duties for this trailer, but you do get to see Ikora wielding a shotgun (her weapon of choice) as some comfort for us floaty-jump fans.

And here come the Cabal. According to a leak earlier today, these are the Red Legion. Note the enormous shields they carry, which appear to be upgrades on those wielded by regular Phalanxes. The one in the trailer is able to ‘pop’ his shield rather than have it permanently deployed. In the first game Phalanxes were a pain to fight because you had to hit either their head or hand behind the shield to stagger them. Maybe these retractable energy-based shields will make them slightly less annoying in Destiny 2. Don’t bank on it, though. That central nub may also emit some kind of projectile, as per the Taken variant—in which case they’ll be even bigger pains in the hole.

Here’s another new enemy type. This giant brute could be anything from a regular new unit we’ll face on missions up to a raid boss, but either way those dual energy cleavers look all sorts of nasty. The Cabal are famously “800 pounds and highly militarized. They blow up planets just for getting in their way.” So nuking up our upscale apartment block is clearly NBD to them. Also take note of the colouring of this guy’s armour, because...  

...the alien dog is wearing the same stuff. Yep, these not-very-good boys are definitely a new type of Cabal enemy, rather than naturally-occurring fauna. Of course, there’s a chance that this being purely a cinematic trailer, the alien dogs won’t make their way into the main game (note that the wolves in Rise of Iron’s reveal ended up being purely cosmetic). That said,  given the prominence the Cayde vs dogs fight has in this video, it’s safe to say they’ll appear as enemies. Down boy. Forever.

This is what three year’s worth of gear going up in smoke looks like. Destiny 2 is going to be a complete reset, with Bungie having already confirmed that only players’ appearances will carry over from the first game. Which is of course good news for PC gamers who haven’t touched the game to date, as it means everyone will be starting with the same clean slate. Having the Cabal destroy The Tower, and therefore the Guardian’s storage vaults, is a handy way for Bungie to explain the loss of all your old equipment. Though the wags on r/destinythegame are already querying why our gear stored at the Reef wouldn’t be unscathed. Mind. Blown.

In this sequence a Guardian ship makes a futile attempt to play pew pew with a Red Legion flotilla. I doubt this points to any sort of aerial combat, and is likely just in here for flavour and to show how many Cabal we’re facing. With the Tower reduced to ash, it does beg the question of where we’ll store our stuff now. Perhaps our ships will come equipped with their own vaults in Destiny 2. Certainly that would be preferable to schlepping across the system (or using third-party apps) just because you forgot to pack your favourite sniper rifle.

Welcome, Gary. This is the commander of the Red Legion, better known as Ghaul to his friends, of whom he doesn’t have any. And as you can see, he has quite the thing for shoulder pads. Imagine you were casting a Destiny/Dynasty crossover. Ghaul would be the first person you called. It’s also fairly likely that the big man will be the ultimate raid boss in Destiny 2, joining the likes of Crota and Oryx. Assuming there is a raid of course, which feels fair given that Bungie would be out of their goddamn minds to release a sequel without one.

Speaking of casting, here are some generic concerned extras. I include this picture purely to note that the resistance seems to still comprise humans, Exo, and Awoken (the blue ones). There has been some speculation that the scavengers of the Fallen might perform a heel-face turn and become a playable race, much as the Arbiter was a second playable character for Halo 2. There’s no sign of that happening in this trailer though. In fact neither the Fallen, nor any of Destiny’s other antagonist alien races—Vex, Hive, and Taken—feature at all. For the sake of scope and variety, they’re almost bound to be included elsewhere. The leak promised “you will venture in mysterious, uncharted worlds from the Solar System”, suggesting whole new planets to explore. Perhaps we’ll even encounter entirely new ETs. And then melt them with Nova Bombs.

This Guardian Hunter accompanied by a cheerful-looking child is decked out in the red and white colorway of New Monarchy. From which we can deduce that factions are still going to be a thing in Destiny 2, and presumably means you’ll also be able to pledge fealty to Future War Cult and Dead Orbit. I’m not clear exactly what weapon type he’s holding is—kinda looks like a Scout Rifle, but could also be a Fusion or an Auto—but from the magazine and profile, it’s definitely made by Omolon. That means branded weapon foundries are also going to persist after the Cabal onslaught, though as with the factions, hopefully some new ones will spring up.

The same weapon is held aloft on the right after Cayde’s “sweet loot” closer. This being very much a scene setter, there’s no info on what that loot might look like, or how things like character progression will be handled (new subclasses are planned, according to another leak), but we’ll find out more as part of the gameplay livestream on 18 May.

For now, I’ll leave you with this thought: Where is Eris Morn? Everyone’s favourite three-eyed ray of sunshine is nowhere to be found in the trailer. Did she survive the attack on the tower? Or… was she the one who tipped the Cabal off? Dun, dun, dun.

Tim Clark

With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.