With Destiny 2's latest puzzle, it was about the journey, not the destination--as well as the journeys this one might lead to.
Note: This opinion piece includes spoilers about what was located in the Corridors of Time and the story being presented in Destiny 2's Season of Dawn. The Corridors of Time disappeared with the weekly reset on January 28, but you can still see what was in there with our Corridors of Time guide.
Last week, a huge chunk of the Destiny 2 community banded together to pour its efforts into solving the Corridors of Time--a massive, confusing maze that required the work of hundreds of players to map and traverse. For days, players filled Discord channels and the r/raidsecrets subreddit to trade information, theories, and assistance, all with the goal of revealing what new and fascinating rewards developer Bungie had secreted away in its latest puzzle.
Moments like these are Destiny at its best. Bungie occasionally introduces secrets into the vast world of its shooter MMO for players to uncover, almost always leading to exciting rewards. Most recently, there was The Whisper, a secret mission that uncovered a must-have sniper rifle and required some serious patience and skills to earn; Niobe Labs, a lengthy puzzle combined with difficult combat to unlock new content in the Black Armory expansion; and Zero Hour, a mission unlocked only after the community worked together to solve another in-depth puzzle, with lots of secrets along the way.
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The Corridors of Time is the biggest of Bungie's opaque, fascinating brain-teasers to date, requiring the combined efforts of many people in the community to solve because of the requirement of a ton of crowdsourced data. Events like these are kind of amazing if you're a Destiny player, as you watch (or participate in) something wholly inscrutable slowly being altered to make sense through the sheer effort and brainpower of dedicated fans working together.
But when the Corridors of Time was finally solved, not everyone was especially happy about it. The reward for days of effort wasn't a powerful new Exotic weapon, like with The Whisper or Zero Hour. Instead, completing the quest in the Corridors unlocked another quest, which allowed Guardians to earn an Exotic weapon called Bastion. A lot of people were disappointed--and even angry--about this reward, primarily because it wasn't a secret; Bungie had included Bastion on its content roadmap for the current Destiny 2 season, indicating that it was a reward players should expect. All that effort from streamers and community members only served to unlock Bastion's quest a week earlier than it would have appeared otherwise.
Some disappointment on the part of players is understandable. After all, past Destiny 2 secrets have hit so hard because nobody expected them, and powering through Bungie's complex puzzles has led to really remarkable, essential rewards. Because everyone knew Bastion was coming, completing the Corridors of Time to unlock it early felt like Bungie sucking the air out of the room, and some even were annoyed that so much work had been done for a reward that players would have gotten anyway. That emotional response seems reasonable, although in the usual way of the internet, extremely overblown.
The thing about the Corridors of Time puzzle, and a lot of what Bungie has been doing lately with its new approach to seasonal content, is that Bastion wasn't the only reward. Traversing the Corridors wasn't just meant to be a means to a new gun--it was meant to be a major moment in the season, and a further extension of the Season of Dawn story. It seems like what Bungie is trying to do with things like the Corridors is fundamentally alter how Destiny 2 tells its story, transitioning away from campaigns where you get a mission briefing, go kill a thing, and then come back for another mission briefing, to making you more of a participant in story moments.
The solution for the Corridors of Time doesn't just unlock the Bastion mission. It also treats you to a short dialogue cutscene with some serious ramifications. Hidden in the center of the maze is a room called the Timelost Vault, and at the center, players discovered a strange, unmarked tomb. Only by solving the Corridors could you get close enough to the tomb to discover whose it was. A eulogy given by the star of the Season of Dawn, Saint-14, revealed the tomb's owner: all of us, Destiny 2's players.
As a continuation of Destiny 2's story, that's pretty huge. For the last year, players have been bracing for major threats to make themselves known in the game--first the Hive god Savathun, who is responsible for the Groundhog Day-like curse that befell the Forsaken expansion's Dreaming City, and now the Darkness, a race of powerful evil creatures teased in the Shadowkeep expansion. Plus, we spent the early part of the Season of Dawn saving Saint-14 from his own demise by using time travel. The tomb revealed that we too might be doomed to fall facing what's coming, and that we might have to be the instruments of our own salvation (along with some fun time-travel shenanigans).
So the Corridors of Time weren't just about the gun we got at the end. Exploring the early part of the puzzle revealed a ton of new lore surrounding Saint-14 and Osiris, the other major character of this season. It also yielded a secret emblem to show off your involvement in solving the puzzle. Sure, as tangible in-game items, those aren't especially exciting. But the point wasn't just the idea that you "get stuff" for your work in the Corridors of Time. The point is that, as a community, Destiny 2's players just worked together to broaden the world.
The reward for all the effort in the Corridors of Time wasn't just Bastion, although it would have been nice to discover some wholly secret cool new thing, as has happened in the past. What made the big puzzle so cool was the way it worked the meta world of Destiny and its players into the storytelling of the game. We just used an army of players and some time travel to uncover a huge story thread that fundamentally shifts the way Bungie has delivered the story of Destiny.
The Corridors of Time is an event that made Destiny 2 different--it's more aware of itself and denser than ever before. The thing we earned solving Bungie's latest puzzle was a world that lets you get a little more lost in it. And in terms of Destiny's story approach emphasizing "you had to be there" moments, this was a pretty memorable one.