Destiny 2’s latest season is a real-time countdown to the arrival of the Darkness

BY ALEX WAKEFORD

Destiny 2’s ‘Season of the Worthy’ is a countdown to Armageddon. It’s the gap between Mass Effect 2 and 3, leading to the Reapers’ arrival, experienced in real-time!

Those ‘pyramid ships’ glimpsed at the end of the Red War campaign back in 2017? They’re coming, and every week we’re seeing them get closer.

Here’s why this is awesome…12-04-2020_13-42-27-maurc0juOn February 1st 2010, just four days after it released, I completed Mass Effect 2.

I had witnessed the death and revival of Commander Shepard, been tasked with investigating mysterious disappearances on human colonies, recruited a team (and ensured their loyalty) to go through the Omega-4 Relay to the centre of the galaxy, and destroyed the Collector Base that was the heart of their operation to build a new Reaper out of the hundreds of thousands of abducted humans.

I had also done an inordinate amount of planet scanning, resource-grabbing, side-questing, krogan headbutting, geth friendship-making…

A decade on, and even countless replays later, I still remember it as four of the most incredible, unforgettable days I’ve ever put into a game.

But at the very end, we were left with an ominous cliffhanger.

Though we had thwarted the Reapers’ latest plan, they were on the galaxy’s horizon.

The Reapers were coming.2020-04-15 (11)And that’s where the story ended, for a time. Mass Effect 2 saw an incredible amount of post-release DLC, bringing us new squadmates, new missions, weapons and armour – it felt like it was as much an event as a game.

To this day, ‘Lair of the Shadowbroker’ will often be in the ‘top five’ lists of many peoples’ favourite DLCs, and for good reason.

But it wouldn’t be until March 2011, over a year after Mass Effect 2’s original release, that we’d get a DLC meant to bridge the game into its sequel, which was itself another year away.

‘Arrival’ is a story about the Reapers being on our doorstep, close enough to a Mass Relay (the galaxy’s means of interstellar travel) that acts as a ‘shortcut’ into the galaxy where they can enact the cycle of wiping out all advanced organic life once more.

There’s even a real-time countdown clock throughout the DLC, which the player can actually let run to zero for the ‘reward’ of seeing a brief flash-forward cutscene where everybody dies!2020-04-15 (14)This was, of course, some incredible storytelling for its time, and remains so today, but we live in the age of the live service game now – we jump into persistent online worlds with our friends.

Technology has changed the ways in which we’re able to tell stories in games and the scale at which these things can be experienced.

Destiny was a landmark title in making this possible on consoles, pioneering the ‘shared-world shooter,’ and so the way long-term, overarching stories are delivered looks very different now to what was possible back in 2010.

Enter ‘Season of the Worthy.’

The primary story of this Season is to do with preventing the Red Legion from crashing their superweapon – the sun-killing Almighty – into our home, leading us back to the AI Warmind Rasputin. We have been tasked with rearming Rasputin’s defensive systems, by travelling to his various bunkers across the solar system in order to reactivate his arsenal.

At the same time, however, Rasputin has been keeping an eye on a much bigger threat that is now imminent – no longer beyond the heliopause.

“My sight will stretch to the edge of this system and beyond. Never again will a threat go unseen. From this day forward, I will defend humanity on my own terms. I am Rasputin, guardian of all I survey. I have no equal.” [Rasputin, Destiny 2 – ‘Warmind’]

14-04-2020_19-25-42-v1lb32opYesterday’s weekly reset didn’t just move the pyramid vessels (represented by the red dots on the right) a bit, it’s been made abundantly clear that we’re going to see this wall become full of the things over the coming weeks.

Rough calculations from Forbes writer and Destiny fan Paul Tassi have resulted in this outline:

Come the weekly reset of June 23rd, spanning a period of twelve weeks, leading up to the due date for this Season’s conclusion on June 16th, assuming a regular rate of movement, the Darkness will be coming up on Saturn – home to the moon Titan, which is one of the regular destinations players can jump to in Destiny 2.

The major expansions for Destiny typically release around September/October (‘The Taken King’, ‘Rise of iron’, and ‘Forsaken’ have followed this model, while last year’s ‘Shadowkeep’ saw a minor delay to October 1st to kick off Halloween festivities), but by the looks of things it’s not going to be much of a wait until the next Season rolls around to bring this story to its crisis point as the countdown timer reaches zero.

Whatever happens next, this is the story that Destiny has been building towards – more than six years in-the-making!

As with the continuous save feature across three whole games in Mass Effect, from 2007 to 2012, this is exactly the kind of emergent and immersive storytelling that will define this generation’s leaps forward in what was possible for games to achieve.

Eyes up, Guardians!

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