Going back as far as Shadowkeep and even beyond, Destiny 2’s expansion reveal trailers have always done a wonderful job of setting the scene, establishing the new threat and showing off a few cool features like armor sets, weapons, and locations. Usually, though, they are either narrated by one of our many allies, or at least feature them in the cinematic, hinting at which of them will be largely involved. But in the Lightfall trailer, the Vanguard and our various allies are conspicuously absent.
Whether it’s Eris Morn narrating the Shadowkeep trailer, or her and Drifter meeting back up with the Exo Stranger in Beyond Light’s reveal, there’s always a presence. Most recently, The Witch Queen reveal showed us glimpses of Ikora Rey, as if only to remind us that the Warlock Vanguard was still around. There always seems to be at least one well-known friendly face or voice present in these reveal trailers.
In Lightfall, we’re treated to an exceptionally cool encounter between a Strand-wielding fireteam and Calus’ new Shadow Legion, yet the only ally we see is a mysterious Cloud Strider, a denizen of Neptune’s Neomuna, who takes a pot-shot at a pyramid ship with her huge cannon. The narration is all delivered by Calus and The Witness.
With this in mind, could the Vanguard and other allies be incapacitated somehow, or laying low as they were through much of the Red War campaign? It’s a safe bet that Empress Caiatl will feature in Lightfall’s narrative as we once again face her degenerate father. She’ll likely bring Saladin Forge with her, maybe Crow, too. And interestingly, Osiris features in Lightfall’s artwork on the official site. Though he’s still recovering from his time in Savathun’s “care”, this detail suggests he’ll play a very prominent part. However, none of these characters feature in the reveal trailer at all.
And what of Zavala and Ikora? Could one or both of them have joined ex-Hunter Vanguard Cayde-6 six feet under by the time our Guardian reaches Neomuna in the Lightfall campaign? Is it possible that the Tower is once again off-limits, and the Guardian is working out of Neomuna? We haven’t had a second social space in Destiny 2 since the Farm in Year One, which was underwhelming compared to the Reef and Felwinter Peak in Destiny 1. And Neomuna, with its high skyscrapers, neon streets, and indigenous people, would make a perfect port of call for this campaign and beyond.
Given the popularity of the two Vanguard leaders, though, it’s unlikely Bungie would kill them off – but we’d have said the same about Cayde-6 before Forsaken. Having the Vanguard scattered, powerless, or leaderless would make a lot of narrative sense: it would give our Guardian a reason to seek out new allies in the form of the Cloud Striders. Plus, the name of the expansion itself speaks volumes.
An opening attack on the Last City might be too similar to the start of the Red War campaign, but there’s more than one way to skin a Titan. Imagine a scenario where the Shadow Legion attacks Caiatl’s fleet directly, leading to the Vanguard going to help and getting obliterated. Osiris, still out of commision, wouldn’t answer the call, explaining his involvement in the campaign going forward. It may be just speculation right now, but Bungie has pitched curve-balls at us before.
If we do get a narrative shift as dramatic as this for the start of Lightfall, then there isn’t long for Bungie to implement it – the current Season of Plunder seems far too light-hearted and thematic to dive deep into the overarching story, leaving just next season and maybe an opening cutscene for Lightfall to set things up. That said, there’s a definite sense that Season of Plunder is the calm before a significant storm.
Whatever Bungie is planning, the absence of the Vanguard leaders – or indeed any of the established allies – in the Lightfall reveal trailer hints at the grim possibility that we’re on our own, forced to wield yet another Darkness power in Strand to survive against the onslaught of Calus and the Witness.