It started with nothing more than a mysterious symbol and a fan community that’s receptive to puzzling through epic riddles.
Destiny 2 players have discovered a secret geocache location in upstate New York. They were led there by an in-game puzzle, discovered by chance and solved thanks to a large crowdsourcing effort.
The fun started shortly after Destiny 2‘s latest expansion pack, Warmind, launched on May 8. Players discovered a mysterious symbol featuring what appeared to be a lock surrounded by three keys.
See it right here.
The symbol, found in the bunker of the expansion’s titular warmaking AI, Rasputin, quickly sparked a far-ranging conversation on several of Destiny‘s popular subreddits. Players theorized that each of the nodes surrounding the lock amounted to a different clue, and that assembling all of the clues would lead to answers.
That is indeed the case. One node ties to a symbol that appears in various locations. Another features a reference, in Braille, to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Another seems to relate to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
Here’s an excellent post on Destiny‘s raidsecrets subreddit that details each of the six nodes in the symbol, pointing back to the many individuals who helped crack the code. The whole thing turned out to be a cipher, as this other post explains.
Players who cracked the code were greeted with an all-text message, in English:
thank you for taking the time to piece together this message, friend. the time of our final conflict is drawing closer and you and ana have an important role to play in the events to come. so watch over her, guardian. i would have no life without ana or the exoprogram. i regret that we have become strangers, but we each have a path that we must walk. and, ironically, there never seems to be enough time. tell her, rasputin’s first attempt was in the right location, but the wrong moment. look here: 43.549573, -73.544868
Here’s a helpful visual of the symbol with each node fully solved. It’s still hard to follow if you’re not a cryptography nerd, but it should be readily apparent that this is a cool and unusual way to stage an in-game puzzle.
Pay particular attention to those numbers at the end of the above message. They’re coordinates. Real life coordinates, here on Earth. They point to Sleeping Beauty Mountain in upstate New York, not far from where Vicarious Visions — the studio that led development on Warmind — is based.
One player ventured to the location indicated by the coordinates and made a surprising discovery: A replica of Warmind‘s “Valkyrie” spear weapon, a box of collectible coins, and letters of congratulations from Vicarious Visions.
You can see the haul in the imgur gallery below.
Destiny has often presented players with riddles to solve that focus more on real-life ingenuity, book smarts, and observational skills than they do on shooting virtual aliens inside a video game.
The original Destiny‘s exotic-tier Sleeper Simulant weapon could only be found by cracking a series of passwords that related to the number and types of enemies that spawned during a particular mission. The Outbreak Prime exotic quest featured a similar exercise.
Destiny 2‘s Rasputin puzzle amounts to a new chapter for the game’s non-digital life. Community has always been central to the Destiny experience; from the challenges mentioned above to the game’s puzzle box raids, the most popular activities tend to be the ones that get groups of people nerding out together.
Now we have a quest that centers less on providing in-game benefits and more on community. This puzzle ties to a real-world outdoor activity known as “geocaching,” which involves tracking down hidden containers in the world using coordinates and GPS devices.
Destiny 2 is still in a rough place after Warmind‘s release, but moments like this are always a reminder of why the game is still so fundamentally cool and easy to love. Few games out there foster this kind of enthusiasm and group problem-solving like this one does.