Destiny 2’s Vanguard is made up of the best of the best. Zavala, Ikora, and Cayde-6 are the strongest Titan, Warlock, and Hunter. They are essentially living legends. And you get to work with them on a daily basis in Destiny. Yet, in Destiny 2, they aren’t as high above us as they seem. Rather, it feels like we are all on the same level due to various circumstances.
In Destiny 2’s first mission, Homecoming, The Last City is attacked. Dominus Gaul completely ravages it. He’s come from the Traveler and to take the light. Where do we all get our powers in Destiny 2? From the Traveler. Though everyone fights brilliantly, we lose. And that is refreshing, because it makes the Vanguards seem more real, instead of these leaders in positions we could never hope to attain.
The first thing that happens when The Last City is being destroyed is our Guardian works alongside Zavala. The Red Legion is coming and what are we doing? Standing inside of and occasionally retreating to Zavala’s barrier as we deal with waves of enemies. He isn’t just assigning some missions or off to the side. He’s right there with us. We also get a bit of this with Ikora, as we see her searching for the Speaker and head off on a Cabal ship she’s attacking. But the important takeaway is, they are there with us.
What happens after is equally important. We learn that everyone ends up scattered after the Traveler is taken and Dominus Ghaul wins. After all, Guardians end up so weak after the attack and light being taken, they can initially barely walk. People tend to feel helpless and lost in such situations, and the Vanguard are no exception. That each one retreats to a different world and grieves in their own way is refreshing. It shows that, while they are admirable leaders who are strong and admired, they are also like us.
That each one reacts differently is important too. Cayde-6 decides it is time to try and be a hero. He heads to Nessus to do exactly that. He’s fighting back, as best he can. Zavala isn’t sure how to define himself without his power, so he heads to Titan. He needs to think things through. Meanwhile Ikora, a Warlock who has always relied heavily on the wisdom that comes from being a Guardian, has gone back to her roots. She heads to Io, one of the worlds the Traveler touched on its journey, in hopes of finding something to help her understand.
It’s this substantial growth that is reassuring. We never saw the Vanguard rise in Destiny. They were always these leaders in positions of power. In Destiny 2, we get to see them fall to our level, then rise back up again. I believe it is empowering and will help us better understand and appreciate them as characters.