The instance I loaded into was empty. The tower was not busy. It was just me, a rarity. I walked up to him, his icon flashing like it always does because I never pick up my engrams. When I reached him, he turned around.
That voice. That voice. There is only one. And will always be only one.
Lance Reddick, prolific actor from Oz, The Wire and John Wick, died at the age of 60 on Friday, reportedly of natural causes. But Destiny players know him from his nine years as Commander Zavala, the longest and most used voice cast member in the series, and one who is simply irreplaceable. Unlike almost every other major role in the game, he was never recast over the years. He appeared season after season, expansion after expansion for more story developments and had a special relationship with fans, Bungie and the game itself.
Now the players try to honor him as best they can.
All day yesterday and probably through this weekend, there have been hundreds of vigils held at Zavala’s station in the Tower by thousands upon thousands of players. Only 16 people can fit into a Tower instance at any given time, but now you’ll often see most of them clustered around Zavala, feeling different ways in an effort to honor Lance Reddick and the character that he played.
The emotes I’ve seen that best represent the concept are simple greetings, guard with swords and shields, raising the Titan flag, or a Halloween-era emote that places candles on the ground. I actually got choked up watching all these streams in and hearing Zavala speak when I went back to him myself for the first time since hearing about Reddick’s passing.
While Lance Reddick is of course known for many roles that add presence and weight to any project he’s been a part of, it’s truly a truly unique connection he has with the Destiny community given the nature of the game, an ongoing series that has lasted nine years using him pretty much every year as the voice of the lead NPC throughout the saga. There was no indication that he would ever stop being Zavala, and with Destiny planning to move into animation and live-action projects, everyone always assumed he would be the one playing Zavala there as well.
This death has hit me personally harder than any other celebrity death I can remember. Of course never know these actors themselves, but I’ve been listening to Reddick’s voice as Zavala in some form for more than a quarter of my life, almost every day, given how much I play Destiny. And what’s so strange now is that he wants to Continue to be heard in the game. Even if Bungie is writing Zavala out, and I expect they will, he’s embedded all over old content, strikes, battlefields, and expansion missions. And I don’t think he does ought to get scrubbed out of that content, he deserves to have that performance live forever, even if he can’t keep Zavala going from here.
All the best to Lance’s family and friends. The entire Destiny community is with you.
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