Destinys lore is vast and complex, but youll only be exposed to it if you go looking for it. Why? Because much of it exists in the Grimoire cards the out-of-game encyclopaedia you unlock as you play. If you actually go and read those small bits of text on bungie.net or the companion app youll find some fascinating stories about the characters, guns, enemies, and much more.
The best thing about it all? The stories are still incomplete. Players are still uncovering the mysteries of Destinys universe, piecing together weapon descriptions, Grimoire text and spoken dialogue to understand the overall picture. There is some truly amazing storytelling in Destiny and, while the hunt for Destinys tales is something every player must undertake themselves, here is just a small glimpse of the secret narrative threads woven deep into the game.
Want to read more on Destiny? Then pick up a copy of the GamesRadar+ Presents Bookazine here.
The Books of Sorrow
The Grimoire cards in the Taken King DLC give plenty of new information about the Hive. As you explore the expansion's open Dreadnaught, you can collect Calcified Fragments, which give you a Grimoire Card detailing a chapter in the Books of Sorrow - the Hive's bible. This collection of cards gives you every detail of the history and origin of the Hive, Oryx, and Crota with little cryptic messaging or holes to fill in (unlike the rest of the Grimoire).
The Books of Sorrow begins with three sisters, Auresh, Sathona, and Xi Ro, weaklings who are barely surviving the dangers and predators of their home planet. In an effort to escape the destruction of their home, the trio starts on their path to vengeance on the enemies who assassinated their father and conquered their continent, striking a bargain with powerful, godlike worms to become immortal. Auresh takes a new form, becoming Oryx the Taken King, Sathona becomes the cunning trickster Savathun, and Xi Ro becomes the conquering warlord Xivu Arath. Over several millennia, they conquer and destroy civilizations across the galaxy, encountering beings like the Vex and eventually the Traveler. There's far too much information to summarize here, but if you have some time, the full set of Grimoire cards is definitely worth a read.
The Queen's brother is alive
At the start of the Taken King campaign, the Queen of the Reef and her brother Uldren Sov lead the Awoken in an assault on Oryx's Dreadnaught. Before the Awoken fleet can get close to the Hive ship, the attackers are destroyed by the Dreadnaught's ultimate weapon. The result of the battle leaves us with the Queen's Ketch being annihilated, the Awoken fleet decimated, and Uldren appearing to have been engulfed by the blast wave.
It turns out Uldren made it out of the battle alive. He awakens on Mars still sitting in his damaged ship, which is surrounded in a protective sphere that activated when the blast wave hit him. Luckily, the Awoken had deployed hundreds of Crow drones on the planet in previous years and they are found circling his ship waiting to assist as he regained consciousness. It's still unknown if the Queen survived the battle, as Uldren tries and fails to connect with his sibling's psychic link. Regardless, he sets off to get his bearings and find his sister.
Kabr the Legionless made it possible to beat the Vault of Glass raid
Finishing Destiny's first raid was quite the team effort with it's winding paths, challenging bosses, and teamwork-focused trials. But all that cooperation would all be for naught if Kabr and his fellow guardians didn't explore the Vault first. See, there's a relic in the Vault of Glass that is essential to defeating the Templar and Atheon himself, and Kabr was the one who made it.
The Grimoire says that Kabr entered the Vault on his own, killed a Gorgon (a Vex that erases your existence from time), and crafted a light-infused shield for future guardians to use against the Vex. After he created the relic, Kabr was assimilated by the Vex and disappeared leaving only his armor to be found by other Titans.
Who the heck is Toland the Shattered?
If you've been playing Destiny, you've seen this guy's name all over item descriptions and bounties. Well, it turns out, he is a very important character. Toland is a Guardian, but not the heroic kind of Guardian. He's more of a mad scientist type. He studied the Hive, and was actually one of the Guardians in Eris Morn's (the creepy-eyed lady that shows up in the Tower with the Dark Below DLC) fireteam that attempted to destroy Crota before the rest of us got a crack at him.
Toland delved into the dark side. He studied the Darkness to such a degree that he was able to commune with it, resulting in him hearing voices, creating dark weapons like the exotic pulse rifle Bad Juju, and experiencing all sorts of unpleasant things. Because other guardians thought he'd gone too far, he was exiled from the city for his practices and considered a madman, but some Guardians thought his knowledge invaluable. Toland definitely lives in a grey area between good and evil. Hopefully we'll see him return in the future.
The Dreams of Alpha Lupi gives you a closer look at the Traveler
Who or what is the Traveler? Yeah, it's that floating moon thing hanging over the city and it somehow gives the Guardians their powers, but that's pretty much everything the in-game narrative tells you. In the Dreams of Alpha Lupi Grimoire cards, you get a little more detail on what the Traveler is through rather interesting poetic verse detailing visions of the solar system, the Traveler, and the Darkness.
There are a few details to pull from the cards. The Traveler isn't actually the floating sphere you see from the tower, but is a god that drags a moon-sized ball around that contains its memories. For untold eons it's traveled around solar systems establishing civilizations and terraforming worlds. Most importantly, it ushered humanity into the Golden Age. But all that creation work the Traveler was doing came to a grinding halt when the Darkness started chasing after it. Eventually the Darkness caught up to the Traveler, stripped it of it's power, and left a husk hovering over Earth.
Jacob Hardy makes first contact with the Traveler
When you fire up Destiny for the first time, you're treated to a cinematic showing astronauts landing on Mars and finding a giant, floating sphere. If you collect the right Grimoire cards you'll find the backstory behind this scene detailing the astronaut Jacob Hardy and his crew's discovery of the Traveler. This is the time before the Golden Age, when humans were basically living like we do now, except, they have things like lightspeed travel. The Traveler had been spotted jumping around our solar system and eventually landed on Mars. Because the alien object was coming a bit too close for comfort, humanity decided to investigate.
This event was essentially the equivalent of the real life moon landing (but in the Destiny universe). The Ares 1 crew was the first expedition to investigate the alien sphere on Mars, Jacob Hardy said the famous words, "We're walking into a rising wind," upon setting foot on the planet, and they made contact with the Traveler. What's most interesting about the tale, is that after being exposed to the Traveler's Light, Jacob Hardy inherited a longer life span, saying he felt like a young man at 90 years old.
Jaren Ward is the fastest gun in the (space) West
The next two slides are connected so pay attention. This Wild West tale is told from the perspective of a young boy living in a backwater town ruled by an abusive magistrate named Loken. One day the mysterious Jaren Ward, a Guardian, walks into the town carrying the hand cannon, The Last Word, and at some point (which isn't entirely clear in the Grimoire) rids the townsfolk of their dictator with a lightning fast draw and a bullet between the eyes. The last exchange between to two men: "Those gonna be your last words then, boy?" said Loken. POW. "Yours, not mine," Jaren replied. Pretty badass, huh?
Yup, Jaren Ward is the righteous hero. Eventually, it seems the young boy becomes a Guardian years later and joins up with the hunter Jaren Ward and his group (probably though Destinylfg.net, lol). The last time the young Guardian hears of Jaren Ward was the sound of a duel between Jaren's Last Word and something "more sinister." And without more information from the Grimoire, we're left with a cliffhanger. That is, until you read about Thorn and the evil Dredgen Yor.
Dredgen Yor the Yin to Jaren Ward's Yang
Dredgen Yor's story tells of a once great man and hero who looked to the secrets of the Hive to find a way to destroy the Darkness. But it seems, that the fallen hero lost control because of the evil magic from the Hive weapon Thorn, and got really tired of being a good guy. Once a champion of the Crucible, Yor turns to the dark side, and becomes responsible for the murder of several guardians and more poor souls that crossed his path.
The details on the character are still pretty scattered, but one theory out there links Dredgen Yor to the guardian Jaren Ward. As in, they are both the same person. Yor is said to have killed Ward in a duel, but other clues in the Grimoire cards suggest that the two are of the same body. It seems Ward was seduced by the Darkness. The Guardian ceased to be Jaren Ward and became Dredgen Yor. And when that happened, the good man that was Jaren Ward was destroyed. So, what the Grimoire tells us is true - from a certain point of view. Sounds like a familiar plotline, right (hint: Star Wars)? Even Jaren Ward's adopted son grows up to become the hunter that kills Dredgen Yor with the Last Word!
Shin Malphur kills Dredgen Yor
Finally, we get the details of how the duel between the Thorn-carrying fallen Guardian Dredgen Yor and Jaren Ward's pupil Shin Malphur goes down. After Dredgen Yor kills Jaren Ward, he has an uneasy confrontation with an unknown Guardian. Dredgen Yor inquires about Ward's apprentice Shin Malphur and tells the Guardian to give "the boy" the Last Word, as a gift - baiting Shin into a confrontation.
As the two face each other alone like two space cowboys standing off at high noon, Dredgen Yor goads his opponent with wicked taunts as Shin fills with rage over his lost master. Yor mutters the words "...here you are. This is truly the end" and without warning, Shin whips out his flaming pistol and guns down Dredgen Yor before the villain can draw his hand cannon. Victorious, Shin walks to the body of his enemy, points the Last Word to Yor's head and says, "Your's Not mine," before pulling the trigger.
Do we all just exist inside the Vex mind?
Something strange happens during The Archive mission on Venus something you probably registered once and then glossed over with every repeated Daily playthrough. When you step into the Archive, youre called Dr Shim and your Ghost brushes it off as nothing. While it could be nothing more than your Ghost using Dr Shims credentials to power up the bunker (some fans have speculated you play as a revived Dr Shim, which seems unlikely given the evidence, while others instead prefer the theory that youre Jaren Wards protg Shin Malphur), reading into Dr Shims story uncovers a great subplot involving research into the Vex that uncovered a higher definition, but otherwise complete and intact, virtual simulation of the real world inside the Vexs mind.
When four researchers discovered simulations of themselves debating that very topic inside the Vex mind, it sparked a discussion about reality versus unreality, the morality of preserving their simulated selves over pulling the plug, and whether the Warmind is capable of infiltrating the Vex consciousness and rescuing the simulations of humans. And you thought Inception was complicated.
The Future War Cult can predict, and perhaps travel into, the future
Youve seen their decals on the side of weapons and youve probably completed many a mission for this faction, but did you know that Future War Cult was formed around a machine called The Device that could predict the future? The FWC Grimoire entry records this story in detail: those who entered The Device were sent mad by the visions (which predicted the Darkness coming and the destruction of mankind), so FWC needed to employ stronger minds to help withstand these sights without breaking.
And while not explicitly clear, the inference is that FWC either created, or discovered and repaired, the Exo in order to shoulder this job for them. Which brings us to the Exo Stranger. Shes clearly an important part of the story and we havent yet seen the last of her. And consider this: the Strangers Rifle she gifts you at the end of the main questline contains parts that shouldnt yet exist
Rasputin sacrificed Earth to fight the Darkness
During the main games story and The Dark Below, we come to learn plenty about Rasputin the last surviving Warmind. Tasked with protecting humanity a mission Rasputin believed impossible when the Darkness arrived the Warmind changed his cores programming and implemented the MIDNIGHT EXIGENT protocol; eventually powering down to survive the Darkness attack.
However, analysis of the Grimoire cards points to a much darker tale during the Darkness arrival. Without official confirmation this story teeters on the edge of conspiracy theory, but throughout Destiny were told that our souls are Light and that Rasputin knew that Light must be harnessed to defeat the Darkness. After launching colony ships from the Cosmodrome to protect what little of humanity Rasputin could, the Warmind had to alter his own code in order to then sacrifice the rest of mankind on Earth to stand a chance in the battle against the Darkness, birthing the Awoken in the process.
The light will be with you. Always.
Have you been following Destiny's lore like I have? Do you have any favorite stories? Have you pieced together any interesting tales? Keep searching for those grimoire cards and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Want more from GamesRadar? Check out our list of 2015's most anticipated games.