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What the Destiny 2 Trailer's Tonal Shift Might Mean

Jack Gardner



It can be easy to forget the hype machine leading up to a potential big release. When Destiny was first announced, the excitement was palpable. Bungie's promotional images and appearances played up how big the Destiny universe would be. It was a bold new frontier full of alien threats, unknowable constructs, and visually striking heroes. The story seemed larger than life, promising the kind of broad space opera that captivated the world with the release of Star Wars.


Accordingly, Destiny's initial trailers adopted a tone fitting those expectations. The first gameplay reveal from E3 2013 offered glimpses of the game Bungie had so carefully crafted, backed by a reverent voice over with a building orchestral score. We saw broad vistas that offered adventure and imposing enemies that threatened us. This experience would surely be something monumental; it would change games forever. 



Of course, that's not what happened. Destiny turned out to be a highly polished game with some glaring flaws that couldn't deliver on the full promise of what our minds had imagined (as few games truly do). Over the years, Bungie has slowly worked to claw back that dream, adding features, fixing flawed systems, expanding the story, and more. This ongoing development helped Destiny retain its player base.


I suppose that's why the drastic shift in tone in the reveal for Destiny 2 has me scratching my head. Revealing a new game in a series not known for its comedy with a joke trailer is unusual to say the least. The trailer and its accompanying teaser are fine and functional, but the tonal shift is something I think warrants a little bit of a think. 


The trailer for Destiny 2 is a very far cry from how Bungie had initially pitched the franchise. Nathan Fillion reprises his role as the Hunter Exo named Cayde-6 in both the teaser and the trailer proper. Fillion adds a comical punch to what had once been played very straight and earnest. I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of Destiny taking a more tongue-in-cheek approach to its previously self-serious lore, but it does seem rather at odds with the story and tone thus far, especially given that Destiny 2's inciting incident sees humanity all but wiped out and its last line of defense scattered throughout the system.



If we continue to see this style of marketing in the lead up to E3 and beyond, it is very possible that Bungie and Activision have decided to steer Destiny's sci-fi epic into more of a Borderlands-like jaunt for loot and humor. If that's the case, it's entirely possible that the developer and publisher have been seeing the reach of Destiny-related social media. We could be seeing an entirely different type of game from what Destiny's player base has come to expect from the quality of life adjustments and expansions to the original Destiny. How that potential revision of the Destiny brand might go over with long-time Destiny fans remains to be seen.


Destiny 2 releases September 8 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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