No joke. I’m going to talk about a very specific thing that happens at the end of Destiny 2, and you don’t want to read any further if you’re not caught up. I’m not here to explain, I’m here to nerd out.
Once more, with feeling: Destiny 2 SPOILER ALERT.
OK. So let’s talk about the end of Destiny 2. Not the bit where you save the day and everyone’s happy. I mean the scene that plays after it’s all over and the credits have run.
This scene. Don’t mind the brief cut at the 46-second mark. I accidentally went into the map screen for a few seconds while the scene was playing, but snipped it out of this clip to avoid spoilers.
The whole clip is significant, but let’s talk about the last bit first. Clearly, the scene is communicating that those black, pyramid-shaped ships are going to factor into a future version of the game — whether it’s a Destiny 2 add-on or Destiny 3 remains to be seen.
The question remains, however: What are these ships?
There’s no definitive answer to be found in a surface reading of Destiny 2‘s story. It’s possible, even likely, that hints are scattered across the game’s lore, waiting to be found. But there’s no explicit reference to anything like this in the story’s text.
All that said, this isn’t the first time Destiny fans have encountered black, pyramid-shaped space ships. There’s a very early piece of concept art featuring ships that are almost identical to the ones seen here.
Take a look:
It’s often mistakenly identified as Hive Tombship concept art, but that’s not accurate. In fact, the image surfaced with a proper explanation during a talk at the 2013 Game Developer’s Conference, roughly a year and a half before Destiny launched.
The art appeared alongside a series of other pieces that Bungie’s Joseph Staten and Chris Barrett — who both led the talk — used as they discussed the studio’s approach to mapping out the art direction in Destiny. Check out what Barrett said when this piece of art popped up.
“And of course, a good game needs giant onyx pyramid ships, but … I’m not allowed to talk about those yet. Maybe someday down the road.”
Later on in the same talk, Barrett and Staten turn to focus on the enemies of Destiny, which spread across four distinct alien races: Fallen, Vex, Cabal, and Hive. And yet here, more than a year before Destiny launched, we see a “mood board” from the game’s pre-production days that maps out five alien races.
Now, it should be noted: Destiny eventually came to feature a fifth race, the Taken, and that race appears again in Destiny 2. But the Taken aren’t technically a species; their ranks are filled out by Fallen, Vex, Cabal, and Hive beings that have been corrupted by a force known as The Darkness.
We’ll come back to that. For now, look at that mood board. The four known races are easily identifiable, from left to right: Vex, Fallen, Cabal, and Hive. But there’s a fifth race shown, on a yellow backdrop, with a bunch of black triangles floating above the head of a humanoid figure.
Check out how Barrett described the mood board:
“We wanted this place to feel exciting, with lots of different characters to fight. We wanted them to feel harmonious as well, like puzzle pieces, to carve out different thematic buckets for them.
“So what we did was line them up and created a mood board. And here, just really quickly, you are able to explore color palette, silhouettes, size relationships, primitive shapes, what their characters and vehicles look like [and] how they might form up, just through this quick study.”
That’s all. The specifics of each race aren’t discussed, which means the use of yellow and the meanings behind the imagery on the card for “Race 5” are subject to debate. But it seems highly likely that both of these images from the 2013 talk connect to Destiny 2‘s post-credits scene.
But who are these aliens? We know from Destiny and Destiny 2 lore that each player’s Guardian derives his or her power from the Traveler, which is the spherical, white spacecraft that’s parked over Earth in the first game and captured by Ghaul in the sequel.
We also know that the Traveler came to Earth while evading an unknown force. Destiny 2‘s opening cinematic describes it as an “ancient enemy” as the stylized image of a triangular shadow creeps toward the Traveler.
This is where we come back to the Darkness. Destiny framed it as a mysterious enemy that pursued the Traveler to Earth. With humanity on the brink of destruction, the Traveler is believed to have sacrificed itself in a final battle that drove the Darkness away.
Earth’s so-called Golden Age came to an end after that, but humans lived on while the Traveler — silent and unmoving — remained in the sky. Guardians continued to derive their powers from its Light, until Ghaul came along and messed everything up.
Now, the Darkness isn’t mentioned by name in Destiny 2. That was an intentional omission; it was never fully detailed in the original Destiny and, as game director Luke Smith explained to Game Informer in June, “we wanted to carve off other things that we didn’t think were important to the release, such as words like The Darkness.”
Destiny 2, he said, “is a game about Light, and what happens when it’s taken from you, and the lengths that Guardians will go to get it back. We’re exploring the relationship between the player and the Ghost in terms of Light, and Ghaul’s coveting of the Light.”
In the same interview, Smith also admitted that “we do owe our players a story” about what the Darkness is, “but that’s not this game.”
It’s an easy leap to suggest that the Taken are the Darkness, but I don’t buy that. The Taken are beings that have been corrupted, not a source of corruption. In the same way that Guardians derive their power from the Traveler, so too do Taken derive theirs from the Darkness.
Destiny 2‘s post-credits scene seems to very clearly be pointing to what’s been hinted at as a fifth race of alien antagonists. It seems equally clear that this mysterious race is the same ancient enemy that chased the Traveler to Earth, and that they were drawn out again at the end of the game.
Remember: the pyramid ships in the post-credits scene appear only after a long, drawn-out visual of the Traveler’s light spreading out across the solar system and beyond the boundaries of the Milky Way galaxy. This fifth race — which is likely the Darkness of legend — is from outside our galaxy. It’s a safe bet that the Traveler is as well.
Destiny 2 answers many questions but raises a load of new ones in the process. The Darkness might have been written out of this sequel, but that post-credits scene makes it clear the evil, unknown force still looms large over Destiny‘s broader story.