What Destiny 2's Characters Are Saying When We Aren't Paying Attention

By Ben Griffin on at

I want you to try something. Unplug your chat headset, turn down the music, and listen, because the NPCs in Destiny 2’s social hubs are absolutely full of talk. I spent an evening walking around The Traveler endgame area with the aim of snooping on the conversations of AI characters. This proved difficult, because characters don’t actually speak to each other. They merely blurt out brief non-sequiturs as you pass.

There’s a good reason for that though. These characters are designed to be heard on the fly as you’re en route to the Gunsmith, Cryptarch, or Postmaster. They’re devices to deliver rolling exposition like a videogame version of the classic Aaron Sorkin walk-and-talk — only you’re the one moving. No-one has time to spy on a five-minute exchange when there are Engrams to decrypt! That’s why Bungie wisely removed the lore-explaining Grimoire from the game, after all.

Although never more than two lines long, Destiny 2’s incidental dialogue is always worth hearing. Some offer fascinating insights into the universe, some subtly reference the original game and its expansions, and some just humorously riff on recent happenings (like sniper Devrim and his amazing cakes).

To trigger it, simply walk past an NPC. Their audio resets whenever you do, so if you fancy hearing a different quote, walk past again. Whether it’s in the landing area, marketplace, or hangar, you’re bound to hear some choice lines. Here are a few of my favourites.

“I have this recurring nightmare about the Traveler falling on us. You don’t think that could actually happen to us, do you?”

This line ties into the essential mystery of Destiny’s giant floating gumball. No one really knows why it’s here, where it came from, or what it plans to do. While it’s apparently benevolent, bestowing Light and powers upon the people of Earth, such an action also looks suspiciously like it’s raising a personal army. Hmm. Also, Grimoire texts tell us that malicious force the Darkness has been chasing the Traveler for countless years so, well-intentioned or not, the Traveler led it right to us. There’s always doubt lingering over the City, quite literally, in the form of the Traveler.

“I thought there’d never be anything as bad as Twilight Gap.”

Here’s one for more clued-in Destiny fans. It’s a call-back to a fierce battle taking place between amassed houses of naughty aliens the Fallen and the City. Eventually, Lord Shaxx managed to rally the City’s forces and repel the Fallen’s assault. Twilight Gap, as it happens, is also a Destiny Crucible map located on the City’s heavily fortified perimeter.

“A pack of Hunters got ahold of the new mail shuttles and they’re racing them in the vent.”

Well, this is just plain awesome to imagine. When you’re not partaking in something badass, Destiny 2 still feeds the imagery into your brain. It also speaks to the personal brand of the Hunter class: they’re cheeky chappies at heart, just as liable to unleash a solar flare at your head as stage an impromptu grand prix.

“I just got a nice message from Devrim. He seems safe enough. He needs more tea though.”

Even when they’re not around, characters continue to have a presence in the game. It makes the world feels more persistent. When we leave Devrim’s church-based sniper nest and travel across the Solar System, he doesn’t cease to exist. He’s always there, sniping. And craving tea.

“The War Cult are lunatics, let’s face it.”

The Future War Cult, or FWC, are one of three factions in the City. They’re in a constant state of military readiness for when the Darkness eventually strikes, and maintained a presence in Destiny’s Tower. An Exo called Lakshmi-2 sold various FWC-branded weapons, emblems, and armour. They return to Destiny 2 for Faction Rallies, a feature in which you pledge allegiance to either the FWC, Dead Orbit, and New Monarchy, and complete objectives to earn loyalty rewards.

“Is it true what they say about Europe?”

Here’s an example of Bungie saying a whole lot with very little. Wait, what do they say about Europe? WHAT DO THEY SAY.

“Kids in the corridor are playing Cabal and Guardians.”

No longer do children play Cowboys and Indians, or cops and robbers. In the world of Destiny 2, Cabal and Guardians are the forces at loggerheads. Despite the war raging at large, it’s nice to see kids turning chaos into play.

“If Dead Orbit got approval to launch a colony ship, would you go?”

Another of the City’s factions, Dead Orbit’s whole spiel is wanting to leave Earth and venture off to pastures new. It’s clearly divided people: should they stay and fight, or cut and run? Jalaal was the faction’s representative, an Awoken in Destiny’s Tower selling Dead Orbit-branded weapons, emblems, and armour. You can now find their presence in the Traveler’s hanger.

“You’ve never had any of Devrim’s cake? I’ll get you the recipe.”

Devrim is clearly a fan of life’s finer things: you know, tea, cake, shooting aliens in the face. Funnily enough, he’s never offered us so much as a dry slice of sponge when we visit him. He’s probably just hoarding it all for himself. We don’t really want to know what’s in it though. Probably leaves, rainwater, and bits of bark.

“I know some Guardians better than I know my kids.”

In the world of Destiny 2, Guardians are rockstars. Does the man who said this line lie in his bed at night, lovingly stroking his framed of picture of Zavala while listening to his recorded teachings on an audio device? Does he tell tall tales of Cayde-6 to his bored wife over dinner? I like to think so.

“Tell me, Guardian. When you whisper to the void, does it whisper back? *sigh* For me either.”

It’s not just random no-name NPCs that have incidental dialogue. The Traveler’s Cryptarch, Master Rahool, is a chatty chap. This line captures the difficulty of his day job. Even Earth’s most learned scholars have no idea what’s going on. Rahool doesn’t have some magical predisposition to higher knowledge. He’s learned everything he knows the hard way, slowly. And what he says reveals that he’s still got plenty more to learn.

“A Hunter found this in the EDZ. There’s only like ten of them in the city.”

As well as being rock stars, Guardians are also the magpies of the universe. They’ll head to areas regular people can’t visit and liberate it from its vast treasures. Anything they don’t want gets sold to people back at the City. Everyone wins.

“Did you hear the commander’s big speech last night?”

This is how we like to picture Destiny 2’s social hubs. Every night, Commander Zavala takes to the stage and delivers a rousing speech to everyone, lifting spirits and giving the amassed crowds a reinvigorated impetus to continue the fight. You know, like Disneyland’s nightly parade or something. Sadly, I play Destiny 2 every night and I haven’t seen a single one of Zavala’s public addresses. But maybe tonight's the night!

These were some of the many lines in Destiny 2, and that’s just in one of its two secret-stuffed social hubs. I don’t want to spoil anything, so why not go out and have a hunt around The Traveler or The Farm? You’re almost guaranteed to hear something cool.