Destiny 2 “Rally the Troops” Trailer: Bungie’s in on the Joke

After what seems like industry-standard leaks, last week Bungie officially announced Destiny 2, the follow-up to its ambitious online shooter. The game will release on Sept. 8, 2017 with a beta available some time before that.

Revealed last week with a series of cinematic trailers, Destiny 2 shows a more self-aware Bungie. This is most apparent with the “Rally the Troops” trailer, which addresses some of the issues players have had with the first game in a fun, meta way. But will this transfer over into the full game or is this just a marketing strategy?

Where Destiny Has Been

When the original Destiny came out it showed a lot of promise. Bungie’s vision for a MMO-lite shooter was there but not fully realized. Despite excellent gunplay, the game lacked a strong narrative and often resembled a MMO in the worst possible ways with repetitive missions and a reliance on grinding.

However, Bungie has improved the game considerably since its 2014 launch. While many of the expansions just added more – not better – content, The Taken King expansion showed that Bungie could provide a fun, narratively-compelling adventure for players without sacrificing the camaraderie of  multiplayer gameplay.

Serious upgrades. Photo credit: Forbes

Rallying the Troops

With an estimated 30 million players in Q1 2016, Destiny was still going strong. The game’s core audience is still there, but with the release of other online shooters like Overwatch and Battlefield 1, the game’s audience has dipped a bit.

The “Rally the Troops” trailer is a direct call to arms for Destiny 2 players. It’s Bungie’s way of proving to the audience that they know what players want.

The trailer has two of Destiny’s more memorable quest-givers, Commander Zavala and Cayde-6, giving radically different speeches to their troops. With Earth apparently lost to enemy forces, both leaders try to inspire their soldiers to go out there and take back their home. The stoic Zavala inspires with generic talk of how his soldiers (read: the players) are the best of the best. Whether they’re new or old, his soldiers have a duty to fight the enemy.

Heard this all before. Photo credit: Mic

If Zavala’s speech was the only thing in the trailer, it would be a little worrying. His portion of the trailer is the self-serious, boring story of the original Destiny.

Also There Will be Tons of Loot

However, that’s only half the trailer. Bungie cleverly juxtaposes Zavala’s speech with Cayde-6’s off kilter, ego-driven monologue. Driven by Nathan Fillion’s roguish charisma, Cayde-6 injects humor and personality into the trailer and the original Destiny. Cayde-6 fails to inspire his troops, instead going into detail about his own achievements and even forgetting the main villain’s name. It’s not until he shouts “Also there will be a ton of loot!” that his soldiers get excited.

That’s more like it. Photo credit: Dualshockers

Cayde-6 was a fan favorite in the first game, mostly because he gave players a character to care about. He’s also Bungie’s way to address some of the issues players had with the first game. His failure to even remember the villain’s name proves that Bungie’s aware of how little players cared about the narrative. And his appeal to players with promises of loot, shows that Bungie is in on the joke. They know what brought players back again and again. Part of it was the camaraderie of a fire team. But loot – bigger loot, better loot, more loot – was the most important thing for a lot of Destiny players.

The “Rally the Troops” trailer is a clever way for the developer to embrace the off-putting contrast between what players wanted with the last game: serious story-driven content and lots of loot. More importantly, this could be a sign that Bungie can balance the two. By putting that contrast front and center with its own characters, Bungie proves that they’re in on the joke. Hopefully they don’t just leave it there and instead take the time to improve Destiny 2 in really meaningful ways.

Cody Mello-Klein
Cody Mello-Klein is a writer, gamer, part-time baller, and full-time shot caller from Boston. He's a sucker for a good story and is still waiting for another Cormac McCarthy novel. He has worked as a narrative designer and has an interest in the ways games can tell unique, emotional, and provocative stories. Follow him on Twitter @Proelectioneer for occasionally witty remarks.

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