My Name is Byf has been producing videos on Destiny's lore since the beginning of the series. Here, we've asked him to tell the story of the Guardian who's had the greatest impact on the universe's recent history: you, the player. For more detailed lore dives into Destiny's story, visit My Name is Byf's Twitter, YouTube and Patreon pages.
I often use simple descriptions to describe Destiny to new players. For example: "the Fallen are an enemy alien race," or "you're a Guardian and the hero of this story". These general facts act as a guiding framework for the player's actions, but they are relatively static compared to the more immediate story told through campaign missions and activities. Destiny's best stories are often hard to find, squirreled away in lore tabs, lost journals and strange artifacts in otherwise ordinary activities.
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Over time, the pillars of this world and our understanding of it grows. The Fallen turned out to be more complex than we realised, with some even becoming our allies. Guardians now feel more comfortable inhabiting a moral grey area—less likely to be figures of absolute morality. This world is, for the most part, vastly different from the one that launched in September 2014 with the first Destiny game. There is however one part of the story which has remained shrouded in mystery, impacting the world in only subtle ways: the Vex.
That changed with the current season of Destiny 2, the Season of the Undying. Bungie's narrative team is challenging some old assumptions, lifting the veil on old characters while telling new stories about the Vex. This results in some fascinating tie-ins with old lore, and changes to the world that are more visible than ever before. Destiny's story is moving forward at a pace that feels bracingly unfamiliar.
In order to understand the way in which the world has started to shift, you need to understand what's happened already during the Season of the Undying. And in order to do that, you need to understand the Vex.
The problem is that it's hard to actually know much about the Vex. You can find commonality between ourselves and Destiny's other alien races, but the Vex are so utterly different. Realise, for instance, that the robotic frames you fight aren't actually the Vex. Their glowing cores—the liquid crit spots that you shoot—are radiolaria—a miniscule form of life suspended in fluid. This is what the Vex really are.
The Vex are fundamentally alien to us—to the best of our knowledge the Vex don't even use language to communicate. Their only goal is to create a universe in which they are ultimately victorious. Whenever we talk about the Vex, we're talking about what can be observed or learned through study, but we cannot truly understand their perspective in the way we might the Fallen or Cabal. This is why, when a lore book such as Aspect arrives to present bold statements about the Vex, the question it raises is "how do we know this is true?" The Vex are still a puzzle, but we can now see the pieces of it.
Season of the Undying starts with the Vex of the Black Garden, a contingent of Vex known as the Sol Divisive who worship the Darkness. Back in 2014, at the conclusion to the first Destiny's original campaign, we destroyed the Dark Heart of the Black Garden—a living aspect of the Darkness—and stopped the Vex of the Sol Divisive from binding themselves to its power.
A few months later, the Sol Divisive attempted to retake the Black Garden using a Vex Hydra known as the Undying Mind. During a Strike mission added with The Dark Below DLC we destroyed the Undying Mind, although apparently not for long. Now, as of Season of the Undying, the Sol Divisive has started making incursions on the Moon. According to the Aspect lore book, this is due to the return of the Undying Mind, which rose back into being when the Sol Divisive detected the return of the Darkness (presumably when the Pyramid on the Moon was discovered). Its primary function is to reclaim the Black Garden from the Guardians. Its secondary directives will apparently lead to our complete destruction.
Ikora, the Warlock Vanguard, has a plan to deal with the Undying Mind. Our goal is to blunt the Vex attacks on the Moon and to invade the Black Garden in order to buy time for the real objective, which can be seen progressing behind her in the Tower each week.
If you head to Ikora you'll see that her view over the Last City is now obscured by the construction of a massive portal, which is progressing week by week. Ikora's plan is to use this portal to assault the Undying Mind in any timeline where it has hidden itself. By doing so, we can push back the Sol Divisive, granting humanity another stay of execution. This may not, however, be the most important story in the season, because I believe there's a larger arc being moved forward—a story that began to unfold when we first discovered the Vault of Glass in vanilla Destiny.
The Aspect lore book, which was released this season, hints towards the events of the last few months being part of a much grander story. The lore book covers the actions of characters that are lost within the Vex networks. Praedyth, one of the original members of the fireteam that raided the Vault of Glass, is communicating with a cast of characters from the original grimoire cards on the Vex. These characters are each 227 simulated copies of four Ishtar Collective research team members from the Golden Age. These copies and Praedyth are trying to communicate what they've discovered about the Vex and what's been seen within the timelines to anyone who will listen—namely dark visions of the future and the possibly inevitable darkness that's on the way.
Aspect suggests that Praedyth sets one of his pieces of gear into the timestream so that he can use it to warn people of the coming Darkness. He inscribes a warning onto that piece of gear in hopes that it'll be found. The common connection that has been drawn is to No Time to Explain, an exotic pulse rifle from Destiny 1, which, according to its flavour text has the word "Soon" etched into the barrel. Intriguing enough, but it also puts the context of our mission into perspective. Defeating the Undying Mind is the first step to holding back an oncoming tide of Darkness. The story at play behind the Vault and Praedyth is starting to unravel and is clearly a part of a far greater narrative involving The Vex and the coming of The Darkness.
With the way this season and its lore are starting to unfold, it seems the Guardians of today are taking part in a larger story arc, one that has been going on, mostly hidden, for a much longer span of time. It all started with the Heart of the Black Garden, and has now found a new chapter in the Season of the Undying. Even the most static foundations of the game—such as the mysterious nature of The Vex—are starting to shift to tell that bigger story. Characters untouched for five years are now being given new stories and lore.
Destiny is changing in terms of tone and feel, and The Season of the Undying is, in a way, about those changes. The arrival of The Darkness and the resurgence of The Vex seems almost like the ending of the first act of Destiny's greater story. Where it goes next will be revealed when we defeat The Undying Mind, likely a couple of weeks from today, and when the next season—notably titled Season of Dawn—begins.