Destiny 2 May Have Just Given A Hint About What's After The Final Shape
The conclusion of the Season of the Witch's story could be setting up one of Destiny 2's upcoming Episodes.
Destiny 2's upcoming expansion, The Final Shape, marks a watershed moment for the game. It'll bring to an end the game's current, long-running story, the "Light and Darkness Saga," a story Bungie has been telling since the release of the original Destiny back in 2014. But the end of the saga isn't the end of Destiny 2, and with the conclusion of the story in Destiny 2's current season, the Season of the Witch, we might have gotten a substantial hint of what we can expect in 2024.
Though the Season of the Witch isn't over, its main story quest, The Bladed Path, came to a conclusion this week with a new mission. The final mission of that quest pointed to where Destiny 2 is likely headed next as it ramps up for The Final Shape, but it also left some dangling story threads that seem less likely to be tied off in the next season or the expansion itself.
However, Bungie has already provided an idea of where these particular threads might weave together next year.
Spoilers for the Season of the Witch's story follow, including its conclusion.
Throughout the Season of the Witch, the goal has been for Eris Morn, the resident Hive expert of Destiny 2's good guys, the Vanguard, to use the Hive's own magic against it. Players have been killing enemies in the season's activities, and by using Hive rituals, conveying the power of the things they kill to Eris. That allowed Eris to turn herself into one of the Hive's gods, her plan being to use her new power to destroy Xivu Arath, the Hive's God of War.
Destiny's characters have had trouble fighting Xivu Arath before because of the nature of how the Hive and their immortality work. As the God of War, Xivu Arath is empowered by all warfare, not just battles where she's victorious. That created a "whoever wins, we lose" situation for the Vanguard, as seen last year in the Season of the Seraph, when Rasputin--the AI that controlled Earth's powerful orbital defenses--had to sacrifice itself and destroying its weapons rather than using them to destroy Xivu Arath's forces.
Rather than fall into Xivu's warfare trap, Eris used her power in a different way: She severed Xivu Arath's connection to her "Throne World," the source of her immortality. That didn't destroy Xivu Arath outright, which was the plan for this season, but it did leave her mortal and vulnerable.
The setup of making Xivu Arath vulnerable but not destroying her leaves a plot thread for Destiny 2 to deal with later. This could be Bungie moving pieces into place for The Final Shape, providing a final showdown with Xivu Arath on the path to taking on Destiny 2's ultimate big bad, the Witness.
To me, however, this seems somewhat unlikely. Using Xivu Arath as a bump on the road to the Witness would undercut the Hive god as a frighteningly powerful villain responsible for the destruction of entire civilizations and planets, including Torobatl, the homeworld of the Cabal. Both of Xivu Arath's siblings, Oryx and Savathun, were the primary villains of their own expansions, so that also feels like a poor use of a character who has been looming over Destiny 2's story for a few years at this point. And finally, spending time on Xivu Arath as a character dilutes The Final Shape's ability to focus on the Witness and the conclusion of the story of its conflict with Destiny's benevolent space god, the Traveler.
Instead, I think Season of the Witch just set up a future story: one of Destiny 2's upcoming "episodes."
When it announced The Final Shape, Bungie also outlined changes to Destiny 2's current formula and detailed some plans for what the game would look like in 2024. Normally, Destiny 2 expansions are followed by four "seasons" that dish out content and story in smaller doses through the course of the year. Those seasonal stories eventually lead to the major story beats of the next expansion. Things are a bit wonkier this year, though, because The Final Shape marks the conclusion of the current story--but it's set to drop in February, and Destiny 2 players will continue to see content throughout the rest of 2024.
As Bungie detailed with its showcase for The Final Shape, Destiny 2 is doing away with seasons in its post-Final Shape construction. Instead, they'll be replaced with "episodes," which constitute lengthier, standalone stories. There are three episodes slated for 2024, and Bungie detailed that they'll deal with the fallout from the expansion--essentially, they're opportunities for Bungie to close plot holes and deal with elements of the Light and Darkness Saga that The Final Shape doesn't have time to address.
The image Bungie has provided for the third of those episodes, "Heresy," depicts Hive swords, suggesting it'll be a Hive-focused story. That vibes pretty perfectly with the Season of the Witch's cliffhanger--Xivu Arath is left vulnerable but not defeated and returns for her revenge after the defeat of the Witness. A full episode would provide plenty of runway for Bungie to wrap up Xivu Arath's story, and maybe the story of the Hive writ large, in a way that's fitting for some of the worst and longest-running adversaries in the game.
This read also seems to be what's suggested by new in-game dialogue that plays in the Savathun's Spire seasonal activity after completing the seasonal story. When discussing the fact that Xivu Arath is still a threat, Ikora says, "We deal with the Witness. Then, we'll deal with her."
Still, though, a lot of this is speculation, and there's an alternative character who could be the focus of "Heresy": Savathun. The Hive God of Cunning was defeated in another Destiny 2 expansion, The Witch Queen, but the Season of the Witch saw her resurrected. Savathun is a supposed ally against the Witness right now, but she could also be a loose end that needs tying off in the world that remains after The Final Shape.
Still, though, I think Xivu Arath is the better bet. As a villain, positioning her at the center of an episode provides Bungie the opportunity to give Xivu Arath the gravity she deserves. If the Hive God of War doesn't meet her end alongside the Witness in Destiny 2's big expansion, I think it's a pretty safe bet she'll come back with a vengeance in an episode all her own.