Just about every week brings something new to Destiny 2, whether it’s story beats, new activities, or interesting new combinations of elements that let players devastate each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly look at what’s going on in the world of Destiny and a rundown of what’s drawing our attention across the solar system.
With a couple of weeks to spend in the King’s Fall raid, it’s fair to say that it’s an excellent addition to Destiny 2. Though a lot of players will find King’s Fall familiar from its original release back in 2015, the whole experience feels slightly tighter and cleaner. King’s Fall was always a great raid, and this feels like the best version of it.
I also want to thank Bungie for obviously taking my previous complaints about Exotic drops to heart, since the King’s Fall Exotic, Touch of Malice, dropped for me on only my fourth run. In fact, it seems like someone at the developer might have thrown an RNG switch on my behalf on Thursday, because damn.
Running a few new people through King’s Fall, though, I can’t help but feel sad about what the raid is missing. It starts by dropping you onto the Dreadnaught–one of the coolest locations in Destiny history–with nothing approaching comment or context. You go about exploring the ship’s strange rotting interior, ripping through Oryx’s court, and finally, destroying the Taken King himself. There are some gorgeous visuals, some hard-fought victories, and some incredible moments. But there’s no context.
When it launched in Destiny 1, King’s Fall was the culmination of events, the finale of the story campaign of The Taken King. Players had already spent hours battling Oryx’s influence around the Solar System before teaming up for the raid to take him down once and for all. They’d spent time on the Dreadnaught, uncovering its secrets and coming to understand its threats. And they’d watched the story unfold in which Oryx destroyed the fleet of the Awoken, an event that gave the expansion and its villain a huge amount of frightening gravitas.
In Destiny 2, King’s Fall is mostly just some fun gameplay, a cleaned-up look at Destiny’s past the way you might enjoy a painting or a statue in a museum without knowing anything about its origins or its creator.
That’s unfortunate because King’s Fall specifically and The Taken King in general are, even today, huge influences on the story of Destiny 2. A big part of the story campaign of The Witch Queen deals with Oryx and his place among the Hive’s pantheon of warlord gods. Knowing about the Hive’s past informs you greatly about the plans and personality of Savathun, The Witch Queen’s primary antagonist. There’s a lot of history here, and it’s still relevant to the game even today.
Before Bungie released King’s Fall, when players were still in the dark about which raid would be reprised from the original Destiny, I wrote about how I hoped we’d see Wrath of the Machine make a comeback because of the possible story considerations it would bring with it. And when Bungie announced that Vault of Glass, Destiny’s very first raid, was being revamped and re-released in Destiny 2, I also got excited largely because of what returning to that space might bring to the game’s story. In the cases of both King’s Fall and VoG, though, the raids exist almost as parallel universes, bubbles unto themselves. They’re extremely tight looks into Destiny’s past, like peering through a keyhole and seeing only what’s directly beyond the door in front of you.
It feels like a sadly missed opportunity. Bungie has been doing some killer stuff with Destiny 2’s story lately, especially in ways that it has dipped into various aspects of the game’s lore to find cool story hooks and to bring elements to the forefront that have been lingering for years. Destiny 2 is an extremely dense game, especially when it comes to its story, and King’s Fall is something that could have added massively to the experience and understanding of Destiny 2 for players who weren’t around in the first game or who have joined mid-stream over the years. It’s already difficult for new players to really know what’s going on, and King’s Fall could have been an opportunity to catch them up.
All of this comes with the caveat that it’s impossible to say from the outside what kind of effort it would take to bring King’s Fall (or Vault of Glass, or Wrath of the Machine) into the story in a way that feels good and makes sense. You can imagine how, without the Dreadnaught or the story from The Taken King, it can get messy trying to shoehorn old content into the game in a way that makes sense. So for that part of it, Bungie’s position is understandable–and I’d rather have great old raids available in Destiny 2 in this form than not at all.
But I do wish that the reprised raids could be made to feel more important to contemporary Destiny 2, not just as a fun thing to revisit, but as history or current story beats. There’s a lot to potentially be gained from playing through The Witch Queen and then popping into King’s Fall to understand the relationship between Savathun and Oryx, but it’s just not in the game. Like a lot of Destiny 2’s story, getting that context requires a whole lot of additional work by players to find and read lore, watch videos, and otherwise not play Destiny 2. As good as King’s Fall is, I wish it could also function as part of Destiny 2’s current world, rather than just as a look back at the past.
What’re your feelings on King’s Fall, its place in Destiny 2, and the way original Destiny content is folded back in the game? Feel free to sound off in the comments.
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