Of all the characters in the universe of Destiny, Cayde-6 has been one of the series’ most popular. The wise-crackin’ Hunter Vanguard has been one of Bungie’s most recognizable faces (and voices, thanks to the inimitable Nathan Fillion) for years — so why did they just kill him off during our E3 2018 Showcase?
We caught up with the project lead on Destiny 2: Forsaken, Scott Taylor, to get some answers.
PlayStation.Blog: Tell me about the internal discussion about killing off Cayde-6. Who pitched the idea first, and what was the room’s reaction?
Scott Taylor: There wasn’t a single lightning moment where someone unveiled a grand design about killing Cayde. It was much more organic than that and developed from a series of ideas we were trying to explore. We wanted to tell a story with huge stakes, but have those stakes be really personal to the player. We’ve done aliens trying to destroy the universe with the consequences of failure resulting in catastrophe. What if we could get that feeling with something closer to home, and more relatable? That was appealing.”
We started discussing what we cared about as Guardians, and it became clear that the Vanguard had really come alive as characters for our fans. So each of the expansions over the last year have focused on them: Ikora in Curse of Osirsis, Zavala in Warmind and now Cayde in Forsaken. We haven’t taken a player off the board like this before, and we realized that the loss of Cayde would mean more to the Player than any other possible external threat we could think of. All the ideas came together and formed what became Forsaken.
Reaction to this has been all over the place across the studio. Some people are mad, sad, frustrated, excited. We think that’s appropriate. It’s a big deal, and we’re taking it seriously.
PSB: Is this going to be the main thread that carries us through the story of Forsaken?
ST: Cayde dying sets everything into motion. The Player wants revenge and as they seek it out they begin to blur the line between what is right and wrong. The Player makes alliances they normally wouldn’t in order to wipe out their enemies. You see who killed Cayde – all of them, from the Barons to Uldren – and now they’re on your list. As you check the names off you learn more about Uldren and what he is looking to achieve.
PSB: This feels like a pretty big shift for Uldren — in the first game we knew he was kind of a jerk, then he kind of disappeared after the events of The Taken King… now he’s made quite the reappearance. How long has the team been planning for this to be where he returns?
ST: We’ve been working on this direction with Uldren for awhile. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s more going on with him than meets the eye. He’s the hero of his own story. You learn a lot about what’s motivating Uldren, and where he’s been, as you play Forsaken.
PSB: Any word on his sister’s status / whereabouts?
ST: I don’t want to get involved in the family affairs of the Sovs. You saw what happened to Cayde.
PSB: Were any other characters on the chopping block initially when the Forsaken story started heading in this direction?
ST: Cayde always felt right once we landed on this story. His death sets the table for the journey we want to take players on. I can’t imagine any other character hitting with as much impact. It’s striking to me that we’re leading with a character death for a Destiny game, because I think it shows that we’ve established characters that are meaningful to people. It’s sad to say goodbye to Cayde, but this raises the stakes for everything. This is a living world and we are pulling Cayde out of the Tower forever. Now we have to challenge ourselves to bring in new characters that can flesh out the universe even more. We need to be taking chances with our storytelling and not playing it safe.”
PSB: This may be the darkest, most personal premise we’ve seen in Destiny thus far. Why did the team decide to take the story in this direction?
ST: It’s important to grow and stretch different muscles. We need to be able to surprise players and evolve the universe. The stories of Uldren, Cayde and the Player came together in this really powerful way that felt like it could only be told by getting personal. Grittier than before. We are excited to embrace it and we hope our players are, too.