Iron Banter: This Week In Future 2 – Sympathy For The Emperor
Nearly each week brings one thing new to Future 2, whether or not it is story beats, new actions, or fascinating new combos of components that allow gamers devastate one another within the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly have a look at what is going on on on this planet of Future and a rundown of what is drawing our consideration throughout the photo voltaic system.
We have had a pair weeks now to delve into Duality, the primary of two new dungeons Bungie beforehand introduced would come to Future 2 this 12 months, and like many, I have been having fun with getting stepped on by Caiatl for the final week (…not like that). What’s particularly impressed me in regards to the new dungeon is how Bungie has deployed it in service of its narrative. We actually soar into the thoughts of Calus and shoot his private demons to determine what his complete deal is. It is type of sensible.
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I have been speaking extensively about how good Future 2’s story has gotten within the final couple of years to only about anybody who will pay attention (apologies to the video games journalists who made the error of getting a beer with me after a latest in-person preview occasion). I do it on this column principally each different week. However the Season of the Haunted is setting a brand new bar for what Bungie’s narrative group has performed and continues to do. It is taking us straight into the internalized trauma of main characters like Crow and Zavala in a method that is actually hanging. (Learn merrit ok over at Fanbyte about how Future is in some way on the reducing fringe of the dialog on trauma; this season’s writers additionally lately mentioned taking up these subjects throughout a gaggle interview I received to take a seat in on).
However the season is not simply bringing that depth to the heroes. It is also doing so with Calus, the exiled Cabal emperor, in a method that is explaining his historical past and detailing his motivations to make him a very compelling goal for our shooty sensibilities.
That is one thing that deserves a better look, as a result of the eye Bungie is paying to Calus feels indicative of a comparatively new strategy. We have talked lots about how cool the buildup was to Savathun, large dangerous of Future’s The Witch Queen expansion–it actually grounded the sport to have a reputable risk working on this planet of Future for a very long time earlier than we lastly met it and defeated it. The sport felt prefer it was constructing towards one thing and that the actions of characters and villains had been tangible and highly effective.
What I am realizing I like much more than being spooked by a Hive god enacting horrors all through the sport for years, although, is how a lot time we have spent recently coping with villains as characters. We have been getting nice characterization among the many heroes in each the lore and on screen–but Season of the Haunted, and The Witch Queen earlier than it, have centered antagonists in a method that makes them really feel like extra than simply new enormous monsters to shoot. All of the runway spent main as much as The Witch Queen was wonderful, however I am much more within the moments we have gotten since then which have allow us to peer into Savathun’s thoughts and perceive her as greater than only a scary drive that can in all probability kill us.
Savathun was spooky as an unseen manipulator, however she’s extra fascinating as a (considerably) current character.
An entire lot of Season of the Haunted is about Calus. The previous emperor was a part of Future 2 from simply in regards to the starting, and we have spent fairly a little bit of time with him over time; there’s a complete lot of Calus lore for those who care to go learn it, from vanilla Future 2, the Leviathan raid and its smaller “raid lairs,” and the Menagerie occasion that got here with the Season of Opulence that adopted the Forsaken growth. However Season of the Haunted is doubling down by making Calus extraordinarily current as we discover the Leviathan and attempt to undermine no matter plans he appears to have. Duality is an exploration of Calus’s motivations, however the Sever missions every week have us speaking with the emperor, and he is an ambient presence inside the Leviathan if you full public occasions or patrols. He is simply at all times round, and whereas we may be at odds with him, we’re getting an actual sense of not solely what he desires and why he desires it, however what makes him who he’s.
Duality supplies a bunch of appears at previous occasions from Calus’s perspective and provides new insights on quite a lot of his relationships. We discover out lots about Calus’s best disgrace: the truth that his daughter, Caiatl, betrayed him, which he acknowledges was his personal fault. Future had beforehand proven us that Calus and Caiatl had been ideologically opposed, however in Haunted, we discover out that even Calus’s monumental love for his daughter could not outshine his jealousy–in his narcissism and big insecurity, he drove her away by absence and cruelty. He nonetheless cannot overcome that narcissism, nor can he fill the void Caiatl’s betray left in him, and that is what’s driving his actions because the season’s villain. We discover out in Duality that Calus desires to “transcend,” in keeping with Eris Morn–he desires to grow to be one thing else, one thing higher. He is operating from himself, hoping the Witness will lastly make him the good man he at all times believed he ought to be, with none of the burdens of his previous failures.
Having all that perception into a personality we have beforehand fought and appear destined to struggle once more does an enormous quantity to raise Future past the surface-level gameplay of wandering into unique area locales and capturing whoever’s there. And it looks as if an strategy that is sticking, given how a lot time we have spent studying about and investigating Savathun in The Witch Queen growth. Although the Hive god of crafty was vanquished, the sport continues to be educating us about her by memetic messages she left behind, and all of that stuff solely deepens the sense of antagonism we get from Savathun.
We even noticed this strategy with Rhulk, the boss of the Vow of the Disciple raid. Rhulk is lively all through the raid, speaking to you about what is going on on, and a bunch of further voiceover within the Preservation mission fleshes out his backstory. Though we solely encountered the character for the span of the raid and solely truly noticed him within the struggle by which we killed him, Bungie nonetheless took time to attract him out as a personality, and to place that characterization in entrance of gamers in a method that is accessible within the recreation.
Rhulk type of got here out of nowhere within the Vow of the Disciple raid, however lore and audio logs within the Throne World retroactively helped fill out his character.
Duality is a enjoyable dungeon, however I loved exploring it a lot extra due to the work it does to construct out the character of Calus. And his presence is making spending time on the Leviathan very fascinating, since you may hear from him throughout Sever missions and even on patrols. These moments fill in backstory, however in addition they appear to be doing a shorter model of ramping us up towards an eventual reveal of what Calus’s complete deal is now. Final week, Calus talked about how he has grow to be one with the Leviathan–he claims that he’s actually a part of the ship. He additionally mentioned some gross stuff about the way it feels to have us operating round inside the enormous vessel, capturing issues and crawling throughout the decks.
Calus may be very a lot part of the Leviathan in a narrative sense this season, and it is working wonders to make him an antagonist who feels worthy of our consideration. I am hoping we be taught extra about his relationship with Ghaul, his betrayer, and what he thinks he is gaining from the Darkness, and all of the ways in which the Witness is preying on his pained, damaged psyche and flawed persona.
Most of all, although, I hope we ultimately get to see Calus, and he is some type of fleshy, fungal, half-mechanical Cronenberg nightmare, fused into the bridge of the Leviathan. I’ve some sympathy for Calus, however finally I wish to see the type of terrible, disgusting monstrosity his hubris and narcissism has created. Be at liberty to share your grossest Calus boss struggle concepts within the feedback beneath.
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