‘Destiny 2': What Do the Ending and Post-Credits Scene Mean?

“Destiny 2” teases future threats in the final moments of its story, and also makes a major change to the state of the video game’s persistent world

(Note: This post contains spoilers for the ending of the story campaign of “Destiny 2”.)

The story campaign of “Destiny 2” shakes up the status quo, at least for a little while. After a sneak attack on the Last City, a Cabal faction called the Red Legion very nearly destroys the Guardians, the alien-fighting superheroes “Destiny” players have been controlling for the last three years.

But because “Destiny 2,” like its predecessor, is a massively multiplayer online game that will continue with new story expansions and other content for years down the line, eventually everything gets fixed. In fact, the ending of “Destiny 2” does more than fix the problems — it pushes the story forward in a way that will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the game going forward.

At the end of “Destiny 2,” players fight Dominus Ghaul, the Red Legion commander who led the attack on the City and trapped the Traveler, the huge moon-like robot from which all the game’s players get their power. In the world of “Destiny,” the Traveler has been a godlike benefactor. It showed up centuries before the game’s story started and ushered in a Golden Age for humanity, helping to terraform the solar system and usher in an age of prosperity — and, eventually, being the reason the Guardians exist.

In “Destiny 2,” Ghaul tried to take the Light for himself by force, while also cutting off all the Guardians from it. The main power Guardians have in the game, thanks to the Traveler’s Light, is that they’re immortal — even if they die, their Ghosts can always resurrect them.

For Ghaul, his driving motivation is not just power, but the recognition that he’s worthy of the Light. Only a special few are chosen by the Traveler to receive its power, and Ghaul believes that he deserves it by merit as well as through his evil will. Throughout the game, we see him interrogating the Speaker for the Traveler, the person in “Destiny” whose job is to represent the Traveler, almost like a religious icon. The Speaker tried to convince Ghaul of what he could do to be chosen by the Traveler, but eventually, Ghaul pushed on with his plan to take the Light by force, and the Speaker died during the interrogations.

The final fight with Ghaul sees him using the Light he’s forced out of the Traveler against you, the player, but despite his newfound powers, you still manage to defeat him. He finally infuses himself fully with the stolen Light, becoming a giant glowing liquid Light person, demanding the Traveler take notice.

But the Traveler has other ideas. Before Ghaul can become some sort of all-powerful Light being, the Traveler reacts, blasting a huge wave of Light across Earth. The Light reacts with Ghaul’s goopy Light body and vaporizes him, then continues to spread, restoring all the Guardians throughout the solar system.

That’s actually a huge moment in terms of “Destiny” lore. The Traveler has been dormant for years, which has meant that only the Guardians could fend off threats to humanity and its allies. It’s been a mostly losing battle, with alien invaders taking over whole planets in the solar system.

But the wave of Light means, according to the characters in the story, that the Traveler is finally awake once more. The huge robot was responsible for so much prosperity in the past, and though it’s damaged, it’s sure to have a big impact on the story going forward as well.

After the credits of “Destiny 2,” there’s one last scene that teases what could happen in the future. The wave of Light from the Traveler doesn’t stop at the edge of the solar system — it keeps expanding outward, eventually flowing throughout the entire Milky Way Galaxy and beyond. And eventually, the wave crosses the space between galaxies, where it flows over a group of huge black ships shaped like pyramids. As the music becomes foreboding, those ships apparently start to come alive in reaction to the Light. A new threat approaches, it seems.

It’s the first time we’ve officially seen those pyramid ships in “Destiny,” but it’s not the first time Bungie has mentioned them. They originally popped up in concept art for the first game way back in 2013 — which you can see pictured at the top of this post.

As Mashable reported, “Destiny” writer Joseph Staten and Art Director Chris Barrett showed off the concept art during a presentation at the 2013 Game Developer’s Conference, before the launch of the original game in late 2014. When this particular piece of art popped up, Barrett called them “giant onyx pyramid ships,” but then said, “but … I’m not allowed to talk about those yet. Maybe someday down the road.”

Concept art from 2013 also hinted at five alien races, instead of the four in the game: The Hive, the Cabal, the Fallen and the Vex. There is technically a fifth enemy faction in “Destiny” and “Destiny 2” now, the Taken, but those are technically corrupted former members of the other four races. So a fifth evil alien race could still be in the offing for the future of “Destiny.”

The lore of “Destiny” spends a lot of time talking about the Darkness, an evil force that pursued the Traveler across the universe and eventually attacked the solar system. It’s believed the Traveler basically sacrificed itself to drive away the Darkness in an event called the Collapse, which is why the huge benevolent robot has been dormant ever since. But the “Destiny” lore never explains what exactly the Darkness is, or where it came from.

“Destiny 2” doesn’t include discussion of the Darkness at all, a big change from the previous game. In an interview with Game Informer in June, Game Director Luke Smith said that removal was intentional, since the Darkness isn’t essential to the story of “Destiny 2.” It was probably a response to criticism of the first game’s story, since concepts like the Darkness were opaque and never fully explained.

But Smith also said Bungie does know it owes players an explanation about the Darkness — just not in this game.

So details on those pyramid ships are pretty thin, but fans are already speculating that these pyramid ships could actually be the Darkness, and the burst of the Traveler’s Light seems to have reawakened it, or them. That will undoubtedly be a serious problem for the Guardians in the future.