As Bungie reveals the first details of Destiny 2’s first expansion, Curse of Osiris, in a number of dedicated livestreams, we sat down with the studio’s art lead Dave Matthews and project lead Sam Jones. The talk offered insight into Bungie’s artistic design philosophies and goals when creating the expansion’s characters and locations.
Osiris: tracking a Warlock’s story through his look, his moveset and his badassery
“We had a lof themes we were tugging on,” muses Matthews of creating the background and look of the studio’s notorious Warlock. The seeds of his appearance has been planted in the original Destiny’s Grimoire, but the studio had a clear idea of how to shape the character, as his ties to an iconic Guardian, the Crucible and one of the galaxy’s deadliest threats meant he was already entwined with the franchise’s story already.
His origins – commander of the Vanguard, mentor to Ikora – and backstory – exiled to wander through time researching Vex – mean he’s been around, if unseen, for some time.
“What’s he been doing all this time?” Matthews asks of those years in exile.”These are the kind of questions we ask that we ended up solving visually.” And so eagle-eyed Destiny veterans can speculate were his travels have taken him to date from the expansion’s debut trailer.
“If you watch through it, step through it little bit by little bit, you’ll start to see elements that are very familiar to people that have seen older gear, different outfits,” Matthews continues. “”There’s a strong separation in time from when Osiris was exiled to present day. So if you look closely at what’s been released so far, you will notice there are some Destiny 1 themes. But Osiris has spent his time in exile tinkering and modifying, so some of these themes will hark back to Destiny 1 more than others.”
There was a conscious choice by the studio to make his look, his presence, distinct, “unique” says Jones, to differentiate him from previous Destiny characters.
“We always want to make sure he comes across confident,” continues Matthews of how the Warlock carries himself, either when exploring or in the middle of a firefight. “We always want to make sure every motion, every action he does, even the garb he wears speaks to him being seasoned, a veteran… all these things speak to an elevated presence, an elevated character.”
“A badass,” Jones emphasises. But echoing the tagline of the original Destiny’s pre-launch campaign, there’s a sense players can become as much as legend as Osiris, as his abilities are rooted in the moves Warlock players will be performing day to day across EDZ, Titan and more.
The picture postcard that helped define The Infinite Forest
Orisis goal to stop the Vex brings him – and eventually you – to the The Infinite Forest, a “simulated version of reality that the Vex has created that sits outside space and time,” says Jones.
As with the other evocative sci-fi landscapes of the franchise, the Forest’s conception comes from the studio’s defining a trio of pillars that’d capture the locale’s atmosphere, that result in a series of concept art pieces Matthews calls “picture postcards”.
“We go through [those] concepts to identify the one that we believe epitomises ‘boots on the ground, what you see’. We use that as our primer to build the landscapes, to build palates, which is how we assemble the whole world, we use that our touchstone. we come back to it at various times throughout development to make sure we’re still heading in that right direction.”
And even in the wider sandbox of Mercury, the Vex architectural palette that’s used is given “a slightly different spin” to differentiate it from Nessus and emphasis a new mystery is afoot.
The Vex: creating unique looks for a mass-produced race from across the entirety of time
“We like to give ourselves a challenge,” Matthews jokes of the need to create multiple versions of an enemy streaming into Mercury from across the entirety of time. Along with the more familiar foes encountered on Nessus, you’ll tackle Vex from beginning of time (“what we call the Precursors of the Descendants”) and cybernetic war-machines from “deep into the future”.
“What did they look like?” Matthews asks rhetorically, teasingly, of Bungie’s futuristic terror. Come next month, when Curse of Osiris releases on PS4, the studio will give us its answer.