The most shocking moment in this week’s PlayStation showcase was undoubtedly the return of Destiny’s deceased Hunter Vanguard, Cayde-6. A teaser trailer for next year’s Destiny 2 expansion, The Final Shape, reveals that Ikora will reunite with Cayde on the other side of the portal Witness carved into the Traveler at the end of the Lightfall campaign. Cade’s mysterious return, more than five years after his execution at the hands of Uldren Soff, is a big surprise, and Destiny fans will no doubt have mixed feelings. I didn’t want Cade to come back from the dead, but I’m so happy he’s back.
If you asked me a week ago if I thought bringing Cayde back would be a good idea, I would have said a flat no. For Destiny fans, losing Cayde was a devastating moment in the ongoing storyline and a plot point that became even more influential over time. Destiny’s evolving narrative is one of the main things that sets it apart from other live-service games, and the death of Cayde-6 remains a pivotal moment in its far-reaching narrative. Bringing him back to his final form detracts from the significance of his death and lowers the stakes of other deaths in the future, but I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing.
As a lifelong comic book fan, I know how character deaths can leave a lasting impression. It’s a cliché when superheroes die because everyone knows it’s just a cheap way to temporarily boost book sales. In DC or Marvel, nobody stays dead long, so their death never feels sad, and their sacrifice feels great. This has been happening in comics since The Death of Superman in the 90s, and it continues today. Kamala Khan was just killed off in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, but we all know she’ll be back before the end of the year, so who cares.
When Cade was killed in Forsaken, I was devastated, but I also knew it was one of Destiny’s boldest and most successful storytelling decisions. Killing one of Destiny’s most beloved heroes was Bungie’s heartless decision, and they had to honor it, even if they didn’t like it. People have speculated that Cade had to be killed off because Bungie could no longer afford Nathan Fillion to play Cade, but I always suspect it was a deliberate choice. I saw it. His death allowed Destiny to explore grief and loss in a way that games about immortal superheroes couldn’t, and set the stage for Uldren/Crow’s Salvation story. Although his life has been erased by the Content Vault, Destiny never quite moved on from Cayde’s death.
I’m not a fan of content vaults, but one thing I can say about it is that it made Cayde’s death all the more real and meaningful. Other games have had heartbreaking deaths too, but they’re not really gone because the stories still exist. You can always replay The Last of Us to see Joel or spend some time with Aerith in Final Fantasy 7, but Cade is completely gone from her Destiny 2. You can neither see him nor hear him in the tower. You also won’t be able to replay old missions from when he was still alive. He was actually gone when Cade died. All we have left of him now are our memories and the people he influenced in his life.
But now that he’s back, what did this mean? By bringing him back, Bungie fell into a cartoon trap. If death is only temporary, there is no weight of loss we suffer and no way to create real tension. Why should we mourn the loss of Amanda Holliday or fear the last life of Osiris when we know we can undo it all with the stroke of a pen?
These are the claims I would have made before the trailer for The Final Shape was released, but I’m so happy to see Cade again that I don’t mind compromises. not. I really thought he was dead, so it was a real relief and joy to know he was alive. By burying Cade and resisting the urge to give us any hint that he might return for the past five years, Bungie has explored grief and loss and still managed to find this surprising and delightful fact. was able to clarify Part of my heart is mad that it didn’t take hold, but I can’t be mad that my favorite character is alive again.
I’d like to think that Bungie planned this all along, and while the circumstances of his return are still unknown, we’re at a point in the story where something as monumental as the return of the Savior feels appropriate. As far as we know, the Traveler’s portal could be the afterlife, or a world where memories become reality, or perhaps he’s an illusion created by Witness to manipulate Ikora. During Lightfall, we came to understand the forces of Light and Darkness as a relationship between the real and the metaphysical. Cade’s return probably means more than just a resurrection. Just because Cade is here doesn’t mean he’ll be back in the story for good. Despite my misgivings about Lightfall’s story, I still believe he will handle this story with care and responsibility at Bungie.
But if Cayde just returned and was somehow resurrected by the Traveler’s spatial magic, I still wouldn’t complain. His death has already served its purpose, so in the end, I’d rather him live than die. We all experience great loss throughout our lives, but it’s just part of being alive. So while I appreciate Destiny for expressing their grief through Cayde’s death, I’m not complaining if they want him back to us.
Next: Too Busy Fishing to Hear Destiny Players Complaining