Here’s where we left off – in my part 1, on the title track from Destiny 2 – Shadowkeep.
Yesterday, the Destiny 2 – The Witch Queen – Season of Plunder dropped, and we’ve got a wealth (heehee) of new tunes to get into, so better continue with what we’ve already grown to love first!
Speaking of title tracks, here’s the very first from the Destiny 2 base game, Inner Light. To set the scene, it’s been a while since Destiny  concluded, and we know that some huge shake-ups are on the way. Our home, our enemies, our purpose are all about to change. A new Big Bad has arrived, and as Guardians we’re going to stand up to them – perfectly reflected in the rousing brass in this track.
And on the brass, there’s a lovely comment on Bungie’s upload of this track:
My Dad was the conductor of the brass section. His name is Tom Gibson for anyone that cares. He plays Trombone in some parts too. It feels nice to be in the tower or anywhere else and hearing him play. 🙂
Update: I still show him ALL of your nice comments and they make him smile EVERY TIME!byce. (2020, YouTube)
So, thank you, Tom Gibson!
Warmind! A season that probably doesn’t get as much love as it deserves, but we do all remember having our ears blasted off every time we opened the game by the opening of this title track, A God On Mars. That ‘god’ is in fact a supercomputer called Rasputin (yeah, I know) – a Warmind – who was built to defend Earth and its colonies across the system. It’s been isolated since the Collapse, the Hive also buried under ice with it on Mars.
Now, the Hive are waking and we’ve found what seems to be the last of the Warminds. But it’s a hugely advanced AI – what do we really know about it? Time to find out if it’s even still on our side. One of the rockiest tracks there is in either game!
Change of pace and forward to Beyond Light’s Reflection. Obviously not only referring to the vast fields of shining ice on Europa, but also the guardians’ need to contemplate their purpose and fundamental qualities now we’ve encountered the Darkness.
What does it mean to be ‘good’ (or, indeed, evil), and how affected are we by the tools we use to achieve our goals?
Sticking with Beyond Light, on to Athanasia, from the Greek, ἀθανασία or immortality. So named because a central part of the story in this expansion is the discovery of how one of the types of humans – the Exos – came to be. Self-aware humanoid machines with the consciousness (or some of it) of a former person.
Turns out a highly unethical scientist did a lot of very questionable, unpleasant and dangerous stuff to create them (there’s always one…). We journey through his old facilities to uncover these truths, with guidance from his living descendants, one of whom is an Exo herself.
The track plays both in the open world of Europa, as well as in the raid for the season, the Deep Stone Crypt; the birthplace of the Exos. I love the lilting electronic sounds; like Reflection, introspective.
Back to Destiny  now to meet another of the human forms in the game, the Awoken. One of the three character types you can choose to be at the very start (along with human and Exo), the Awoken are “a people touched by both Light and Dark”, who came to be during a clash of these forces – from our Traveller, and the Darkness – while out in the expanses of space on a colony ship.
Instead of dying, they were transformed, in consciousness and form, into an entirely new and somewhat magical new kind of being. We’re never quite sure what their Queen’s motives are or where her loyalties lie.
Another raid track from Beyond Light’s Deep Stone Crypt, Security Breach. In this encounter, we’re desperately trying to co-ordinate different roles in the team to bypass the Crypt’s security measures and access the lower levels.
Two teams of three work together to pass roles around and communicate the order tasks must be completed in, all while under assault from the Fallen. I really enjoy the addition of the industrial percussion that heightens the urgency in the track, which builds on the motifs from the rest of the ST.
Staying with Beyond Light, Frigid Tomb is another track you’ll hear while exploring Europa’s ice fields and caves. Laced with the sadness of all those subjected to terrible experiments, those desperately hoping for eternal life, and the prices paid. One man sought fame and recognition for his genius… all while tinkering with what perhaps should have been left untouched.
Those who made it now don’t even remember what came before… only glimpses.
Back to the Taken King, an interlude in the form of Traveler’s Promise (Reprise) – asking what the Traveler has really given us, and why, turns out to be a recurring theme.
On to another top boss fight! The Fallen S.A.B.E.R. from the first game ends up being reprised in D2 and I’m so happy about that. This is a three-phase boss punctuated by periods of invincibility where you have to clear additional enemies, the boss’ phases mirroring our own three major Light damage types (Solar, Void and Arc or red/purple/blue at a glance) and the arena shifts as damaging electrical circuits are exposed.
It’s just a great little tune, with echoes from another Fallen boss, Sepiks prime – covered in pt. 1.
Well, it is the Season of Plunder now, and the Grasp of Avarice dungeon (a three-player series of encounters culminating in a boss battle) turns out to have been a little preview of that! Released as part of Bungie’s 30th Anniversary celebrations, this D2 dungeon is a nod to a beloved part of the first game known as the ‘loot cave’ in an area of the Cosmodrome, where enemies would continuously spawn from… yes, a cave.
In Grasp we return to the cave to find mysterious stacks of engrams and follow the clues through, discovering that a very greedy guardian met an unpleasant fate within. One commenter calls it “an inside joke that went too far” – it’s a very fun, swashbuckling theme with echoes of another Bungie franchise, Halo, shining through. We love it.
From the light-hearted to the literal dark; the soundtrack to our Acceptance of the Darkness as perhaps a necessary evil – or maybe not an evil at all? A means to an end, or at least something more complicated than we had thought.
Maybe the oldest struggle is just over-simplistic. Lots of trepidation in the style of the themes here, ominous and on-edge with the strings compounded by the choir, a stress that… might be resolved?
I also introduced the Iron Banner in pt. 1, but this is the theme for this recurring event in the Crucible, the player-versus-player arenas where guardians practice their skills on each other. Eyes Up is a common refrain amongst guardians, particularly coming from our Crucible overseer, Lord Shaxx.
But Iron Banner is Lord Saladin’s domain (now Valus Forge, for those who’ve been playing!) and this is his time to test our mettle. Rousing, exciting, almost procession-like, punctuated with crescendo – fitting for a remembrance event that’s a great challenge with rewards to match.
For us Day 1 players who joined the adventure at the beginning back when it was just… Destiny, this is one of the most skin-prickling short pieces. The first time you popped the disc in the drive, loaded in to this promise of exploration with your friends, greeted by the shining Earth and… whatever that is above it. All mysterious and wonderous. Much nostalgia.
To wrap up this part, then, we’ll end on Young Wolf. Another Iron Banner track whose stings play for each match. It’s Lord Saladin’s nickname for our guardian, given in the excellent D1 expansion, the Rise of Iron. There have been no Iron Lords – the first of the guardians – for centuries.
But then we helped Saladin face his past. And we periodically honour the fallen in the Banner (or banana, as affectionately and disrespectfully named by players), with some of the best tunes from the game.
They’re all the best.
And that’s why there’s still more to come!
All rights with Bungie and their excellent composers.
Cover image: Noodlemaz’s Titan Guardian on Europa, moon of Jupiter, doing the moping emote (pushing an empty swing back and forth as raindrops fall) while wearing purple/void glow armour – I called this screenshot ‘Drops of Jupiter’ and thought that was very clever.
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