Keith David speaks his first words as Destiny 2's Commander Zavala: 'I used to think I'd give anything to bring him back'

Destiny 2 - Commander Zavala portrait
(Image credit: Bungie)

The untimely death of Lance Reddick in 2023 was felt throughout the entertainment world. For Destiny 2 fans, the loss was especially acute: Reddick had provided the voice of Commander Zavala, Vanguard Commander of the Last City, since the release of the original Destiny in 2014. The character's fate in the wake of Reddick's passing was unclear at first, but Bungie opted to keep him around, with Keith David, another widely-respected character actor, stepping in to fill the role.

Eight months after David's casting announcement, we've finally got our first look—or, more appropriately, listen—at his take on the character, and I have to say, it hits the spot.

I'm a very lapsed Destiny 2 player but even so, this clip lands just right. It's Zavala—a little more gravelly, maybe a bit deeper, but with inflection and intonation close enough to the original that I don't come away feeling like Bungie hired an imitator, they hired a new Zavala to carry on the role. And even though it's not a reference to Reddick, the fact that Bungie chose this particular quote for David's debut really comes off as a touching homage. 

The reaction from fans is widely positive too. Many replies on Twitter express the understandable sentiment that you can't replace Lance Reddick, but that David's take—based on this very brief clip, at least—is right on the money. Several people say it sounds like Zavala has simply aged a few years, and that his voice is more timeworn; one apt description said David's voice in the role is "like a different but familiar feeling."

Prior to Reddick's death, Zavala was actually the last of Destiny 2's Vanguards to still have his original voice actor: Nathan Fillion, who voiced Hunter Vanguard Cayde-6, was replaced by Nolan North (although he eventually came back to the role) and Gina Torres, original voice of Warlock Vanguard Ikora Rey, was swapped out for Mara Junot. 

But those cases were essentially business decisions made by Bungie; the need to replace Reddick came under completely different and far more sensitive circumstances. That made choosing the right new voice for the character essential, and I think they nailed it.

The clips of Keith David as Zavala, assembled by fan account Destiny Bulletin, comes from a new vidoc taking a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming expansion The Final Shape, which will conclude the 10-year Light and Darkness saga that's provided the narrative backbone of the series since the very start. 

You can watch the full vidoc below.

In addition to the vidoc released today, Bungie also dropped an exotic armor tuning preview that contains a nerf to Cenotaph Mask, which our non-lapsed Destiny 2 expert Tim Clark described as "ridiculous". It's fair to say that the reaction to the exotic armor changes has been disappointing, particularly from those who had hoped more rarely-used exotics would get a touch up. (Spare a thought for the gorgeous but useless Blight Ranger.) Yesterday, the studio also published an abilities tuning preview, in which Warlock's OP Well of Radiance ate several swings from the nerf hammer.

Lest you want still more official info to read, there's also the regular weekly blog post. The most notable announcement in there is that Bungie is going to dramatically buff the drop rate of those limited edition 'Shiny' weapons with the fancy animated shader: "Starting on May 28 at 10 AM PT, we will be doubling the drop chance of limited-edition versions of BRAVE weapons. So that, combined with the increases we made to weapon and token drops, will give you a lot of opportunities to grab a few more pretty guns with pretty rolls." And if you're wondering what god rolls to go for, don't worry, we've got that covered in our guide

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.

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