Bungie responds to Destiny 2 fourth wall theorycrafting: "let the game speak for itself"

Update: I reached out to Bungie to see what the folks there thought of all this wild Destiny 2 fourth wall speculation, and after hearing from community manager David Dague (AKA Deej), I'm somehow less certain of what the future holds. Here's Dague's full response: 

"You’re asking questions that cut to the heart of what we’re hoping to achieve, so I thank you for following along so enthusiastically. At this point, my colleagues would prefer to let the game speak for itself and leave all other considerations to mystery."

Does that confirm anything? Nope. Does it debunk anything? Nope. Maybe Bungie is going to have a little more fun with the fourth wall than I thought. Here's hoping the mysterious Penumbra DLC holds some answers. 

Original story: 

For the past few months - and arguably ever since launch - Destiny 2 has been teasing a rift in its storyline. It's unclear how exactly it will play out, but you can bet the Darkness will be involved somehow, and the Drifter will probably be smack in the middle of it. Before that, though, some players believe we're due for another revelation - one that's been looming for years, and which a new cutscene allegedly highlighted. 

Last week, the fifth bounty in the line of Destiny 2 Invitations of the Nine whisked players to the Realm of the Nine for a short cutscene, which you can view at the end (10:45) of this video from of Hikewne. In it, the Emissary of the Nine speaks to the nebulous Nine on our behalf. Here's their full conversation: 

Nine: What does it want?

Emissary: Power. 

Nine: Like you? 

Emissary: No one is like him. 

Nine: We don't understand. 

Emissary: He has agency like you wouldn't believe. He can leave this place. 

Nine: This plane? We can leave this plane.

Emissary: Think bigger. He can leave this game.

Nine: We don't understand.

Emissary: Then I'm afraid it's impossible to explain. 

It's important to note that if you view this cutscene while playing as a Guardian woman, the Emissary will say "No one is like her" and "She has agency like you wouldn't believe" and so on. Seeing as how her dialogue changes to match the player's sex, it can safely be assumed that the Emissary is referring to the player when she speaks of "agency like you wouldn't believe." That line, coupled with the bit about leaving "this game," has led some players to believe that the Emissary of the Nine, and potentially other factions and characters in Destiny 2, are aware of the existence of the real-life players who control the in-universe Guardians. Not in a 'true AI' kind of way, but more of a 'maybe that cute fourth wall break is more than just a joke' kind of way. 

Reddit user BC1096 covered the basis of this wild theory in a Reddit post with over 6,000 upvotes. Put on your tinfoil hat for this one. The thrust of this theory is that the Emissary of the Nine is acting as a liaison between characters in the game and real-life players, who are effectively gods in the Destiny universe. 

BC1096 and other players have pointed to two lore entries referencing the "player" in support of this theory. The lore for the Otherside sparrow speaks of "a player on the other side—a perfect enemy, just as powerful, just as smart, just as experienced" and says that "Right now, someone out there is waiting for you, and they know you so well they practically are you." In a similar vein, the lore for the Skull of Dire Ahamkara Exotic helmet teases that "This world around you, the people you meet—they're a little thin, right?" and insists that "together we can burn our way back there. Can't we, o player mine?" 

Players have also proposed some other theories in the Reddit thread above and a previous thread from BC1096, ranging from the Vanguard trying to cover up the existence of players to Riven the Ahamkara plotting to escape from the game. In any case, many people believe the Emissary's perceived fourth wall-breaking moment is teasing a plot twist down the line. 

This is all fun to think about, but to be honest, a lot of these theories lose me pretty quickly. Does Destiny 2 break the fourth wall on occasion? Sure, tons of games do. It's always been a running theme with the Ahamkara and their wishing motif. Is the Emissary's conversation the most obvious fourth wall moment yet? Yeah, it feels like it. But does that mean Bungie is going to go full-blown meta-narrative on us with players themselves being woven into the lore and plot of Destiny? Ehh, I don't know about that one. 

Nearest I can tell, the fourth wall is just something Bungie likes to have a little fun with. Even if the Emissary cutscene is more than an Easter egg, there are plenty of outcomes that aren't 'BECOME AS GODS,' if you see what I mean. I don't get the impression that this is going to affect Destiny's future all that much. 

But screw it, we're here now and it is fun, so for the hell of it, I reached out to the folks at Bungie to see what they have to say about all this speculation. I'm still waiting to hear back, but if I do hear anything curious, I'll be sure to update this story.  

Seriously though, all manner of lore points to a Darkness-fueled storyline which could connect to Destiny 3. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature.