Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal: Let’s talk about the removal of the Grimoire

Forbes reported that Grimoire cards are no longer a thing. You’ll find the entire article here and this is the relevant quote:

So I asked Bungie’s World Lead, Steve Cotton, if Grimoire Cards would play a role in the game and he came back with a resounding “No.”

“The answer to that question is ‘no’ and the reason it’s ‘no’ is because we want to put the lore in the game,” Cotton told me. “We want people to be able to find the lore. All the story is told through the Adventures, it’s told through the characters in the world, it’s told through the campaign and it’s told through scannables you find throughout the world.”

This is, I think, both good and bad. We know from Jason Schreier’s wonderful piece on the making of Destiny that the Grimoire cards come from the lore created by Joe Staten’s original team of writers. Ultimately, the Grimoire became a replacement for the in-game story rather than a supplement. While this was a mistake, the Grimoire itself wasn’t inherently bad. The fact that it was outside the game, walled off from all but the more dedicated – or the more curious – players, was a problem. Who would bother to visit to read through a collection of cards (however well written) to piece together the many little stories that Destiny had to offer?

A number of websites – most notably the Ishtar Collective – sprang up to address the problem. Instead of collecting all the grimoire cards yourself, you could simply hop on to a website and read through the cards, helpfully sorted by category and keyword. The first Grimoire site I found was actually Destiny Grimoire. It was there that I first read The Books of Sorrow, after which I promptly took a bunch of screenshots and sent them to friends who weren’t gamers, but who I knew would appreciate the writing.

This card is my favourite; it has been ever since I read it:

Those last two sentences give me goosebumps every. goddamn.time.

“This is my inheritance, my estate: eternity, infinity, the whole universe beneath my sword. This is what I rule: forever and a blade.”

If Bungie was going to do anything with the Grimoire in Destiny 2, they should have addressed its accessibility. It should have been in-game, there should have been a journal, or some sort of Vanguard library where you can go to sit and read when you need a break in between shooting things. (A Vanguard library should also have spontaneously combusting Warlocks in the middle of all sort of crazy experiments, with Titans sitting in safety bubbles with alphabet books and learning how to read, but that is another matter entirely.)

But Grimoire should not be entirely removed from Destiny 2. Putting lore in-game is fine, it is good, it is required for a game like Destiny. But in-game lore and the grimoire don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Let’s consider the lore as it may exist in adventures. We know that they’re sub-quests/side-missions/whatever you want to call them. There will be quest givers, there will be a few lines of dialogue, there will be a cutscene or two (maybe) and a boss with loot. So whatever lore we get will be dependent on the VO budget (which determines how extensive adventure dialogue is) and the quality of the dialogue itself – how well it was written and how well it was delivered. Additional snippets of information will (probably) come through scannable objects that trigger little bits of Ghost dialogue, first introduced in The Taken King. These things are development time and budget intensive.

The Grimoire, on the other hand, is not. It would make a lot of sense for these things to exist together. We run through a Vex dungeon as part of an adventure and kill an Overmind? Not only do we learn the story of the dungeon, the Mind itself, and a little bit more about the Vex, but we also unlock Grimoire that add more depth – either through stories of Guardians who went into that dungeon and never came back out, or still more information on the Vex and their purpose on the planet.

Cutscenes and dialogue don’t necessarily mean all players will get to enjoy the game’s lore. People who care only for the gunplay will always skip dialogue and cutscenes if there’s an opportunity to do so and those who faithfully watch and listen to everything will undoubtedly want more. The Grimoire has the ability to satisfy that need.

So, honestly, I’m all for the inclusion of more in-game story. More cutscenes, more dialogue, more fleshing out of a universe that I’ve come to love with a fiery, burning passion. Those are all good things. But I don’t think the Grimoire needs to be removed to make that happen.

Also, one last thing – scannables? Fuck. After Mass Effect Andromeda, I never want to have to scan another bloody thing again.

Trevor Coelho

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