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Destiny 2: Shadowkeep’s story and ending explained

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The Destiny franchise’s overall story has never been easy to parse. The original Destiny hid its story in Grimoire Cards on Bungie’s website, and Destiny 2 has lore books you have to read in game to get the full picture. But any Bungie nerd will tell you the story is actually pretty neat — if you can follow it. We’re here to bring you up to speed, based on what happened in the newest expansion, Shadowkeep.

What happened in Shadowkeep?

In Shadowkeep’s first mission, you assault the lunar surface and discover the new Scarlet Keep. As you push deeper into the fortress, you discover that the Scarlet Keep is overseeing something: the Pyramid.

If you remember from the end of Destiny 2’s Red War campaign, the Pyramid ships awoke outside of our solar system when the Traveler killed Dominus Ghaul (the main baddie of that campaign). Many players assumed this was the Darkness — the Traveler’s ultimate foe — and Shadowkeep seems to confirm that suspicion.

As you approach the Moon’s Pyramid, you discover a Nightmare — an evil force that takes the shape of someone Guardians fear (like Crota from the first Destiny). Over the next few missions, you learn about the Cryptoglyph, a Hive research artifact. The Hive are using this artifact to twist the Darkness’ energy and protect themselves from the Nightmares.


Destiny 2 Dreambane armor

A full set of Titan Dreambane armorBungie via Polygon

After stealing the Hive’s Darkness artifact, you’re able to craft weapons and armor out of the Nightmare’s very essence. This is why you’re tasked with building a full set of Dreambane armor, to protect against the Darkness.

When you finally break into the Pyramid, the Darkness takes hold of your Ghost and beckons you inside. The Darkness leads you through a few battles to a strange artifact and a confusing vision. Inside the vision, you see the Black Garden — a mysterious alternate dimension — and your own doppelganger, who explains the Darkness is your salvation.

Here’s the final cutscene, courtesy of Trestial on YouTube.

The strange artifact beckons you back toward the Black Garden, where you defeat the Sanctified Mind in the Garden of Salvation raid. When you beat the raid, the artifact’s signal stops, and the Vex invade the Moon in droves.

Seriously, what is the damn Darkness?


Destiny 2 - The Drifter

Bungie

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The Darkness is pure evil — depending on who you talk to. The Guardians wield the Light against various Darkness-related forces. The Hive, Taken, and Vex all worship or serve the Darkness in one way or another, and the Darkness’ reach extends everywhere across the solar system.

We know the Darkness wants the Traveler — the source of Light in our solar system. Why isn’t exactly clear, but we also know the Traveler doesn’t want to go with the Darkness. But the nature of good and evil has been a bit confusing in the Destiny universe lately.

Back during the Season of the Drifter, you chose the side of the Vanguard or the Drifter — the Light vs. the Darkness.

We know Drifter’s playing with Motes of Darkness through Gambit, and used to roll with the Shadows of Yor, a group of Guardians obsessed with wielding the Darkness. Drifter believes you can use it for good.

The Vanguard think that dark Guardians are evil and always will be. But the Vanguard also follow the Traveler blindly, and the Drifter doesn’t trust them because of it.

The Darkness is an unknown force coming for the Traveler, and nobody knows what to do with it. But the Guardians’ ability to harness the Nightmare’s essence proves there’s a way to fight it.

So where do we go from here?


Destiny - concept art of the Traveler hovering over the Last City, seen from space

Bungie/Activision

The Darkness’ motivations are clear, but their methods aren’t. Based on the vision in Shadowkeep, thousands of Pyramid ships are traveling through the Black Garden. But does the vision show something real, something that’s to come? Is it a metaphor? Does the Darkness really look like us, sound like us? Or are they trying to make us seem like we’re not all that different? Could they be suggesting the Darkness and the Light are actually the same entity?

Based on the events of Season of the Drifter, it seems likely that Guardians will gain the power to control the Darkness — or some aspect of it — in the next few years, potentially with next fall’s release.

The question ultimately becomes, who is the main villain of Destiny? It seems to us the Darkness is the true threat against the world of Destiny, but it bears repeating that we know almost nothing about the Traveler. The nature of good and evil stands to change.

Shadowkeep finally puts the conflict of Light and Dark in motion. Destiny is building up to a war between the Darkness and the Light, but it doesn’t seem like the franchise’s final battle. We still don’t know what exactly the Darkness is, but for the first time in Destiny’s history, it seems like answers are coming.

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