Easter eggs in video games
Easter eggs have a long tradition in games, and it’s safe to assume that they were created primarily out of programmers’ passion for certain subjects – and sometimes out of boredom. They can be references to other titles, movies, or other aspects of pop culture. Sometimes they’re just inside jokes, and sometimes they hint at hidden machinations in the game world or even tease a sequel.
In short, Easter eggs are bright and colorful discoveries that surprise and entertain every time – so they live up to their name perfectly. Just in time for Easter, this list features ten of the the most surprising Easter eggs in the game’s story, in no particular order.
Diablo 2 and 3 – The cow level
How about an absolute classic to start with? Blizzard Diablo is known for its dark atmosphere, which places players in a desperate fight against hordes of demonic forces. At the same time, it hosts one of the funniest Easter Eggs in video game history, the so-called Cow Level.
A certain portal in Diablo 2 doesn’t just lead to the next area, where demons and other horrors await – no, there you’ll encounter endless hordes of cows armed with hatchets who want to flay you for your leather. What a twist of fate!
This easter egg was created because there have always been rumors among Diablo community that repeatedly clicking on a certain portal would take users to a secret level. In the second game, the developers actually included this one in response to that. In Diablo 3 this easter egg has reappeared, but in addition to cows, you are attacked by pink unicorns. Really diabolical!
Doom 2 – John Romero
Since we are talking about games, where you fight through hordes of demons: in Conviction 2, a final Easter Egg appears at the very end of the game. Once you shoot the final boss – an oversized demon skull – using a rocket launcher, followed by entering the cheat code “noclip”, a hole will appear in that same head. Cross over and you’ll encounter another head – that of John Romero, the creative mastermind behind the Loss series. He’ll talk nonsense to you, but it’ll turn into “To win the game, you have to kill me, John Romero!” when played upside down. It works too! Shoot him a few times and you’ll really beat the game.
Battlefield 4 – Megalodon
DICE has taken some time liberties with the development of the water maps of Battlefield 4 by including a gigantic prehistoric shark – a megalodon – on Nansha Strike. The giggling devs have been giving hints about it for months, sparking hunting fever among gamers. They finally found the solution to the riddle: if ten players rally at a certain buoy on Nansha Strike, a huge megalodon will burst from the waves – once you see it happen, you’ll be glad to avoid any vacation near the sea for quite a while, that’s for sure.
Assassin’s Creed – Historical Accuracy
Ubisoft knows a bit more about the story than DICE, because the developers of Assassin’s Creed make sure all historical people in games die at exact place and time as in real life. Sequel after sequel of the series has done it – most impressively for a series whose very nature is to present an alternative point of view on our history. Well, there is a half-exception to this sequence: Rashid ad-Din Sinan, the Old Man of the Mountain, actually died two years later than described. The location, however, is still okay. Of course, the cause of death – a certain hooded assassin with blades tucked under his wrists – isn’t particularly historic…as far as we know, anyway.
The Witcher 2 – The Unrewarded Leap of Faith
Assassin’s Creed is the subject of an Easter egg in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The programmers at CD Projekt RED took aim at the Ubisoft series’ Leaps of Faith, which sees the games’ assassins surviving impossible jumps from tall buildings by landing on haystacks and the like. Point Geralt towards the Porte de la Bastille and you’ll find a would-be assassin in a white hooded robe with a red cloth belt, who indeed looks very familiar, lying in a pool of blood next to a boot of hay. Safe to say there are no leaps of faith in fantasy-Poland.
The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 – Ciri’s cyberpunk adventure
There are so many Easter eggs hidden in The Witcher 3 that the last secret wasn’t discovered until years later. Much earlier, a reference from Ciri, one of the game’s main characters, caught fans’ attention. The young princess talks about jumping into a world where people had metal in their heads, used guns and traveled in little floating metal boats instead of horses – yes, she’s referring to Cyberpunk 2077, which was announced in 2012 and was already in production at CD Projekt RED at the time. The circle then closed Cyberpunk 2077 himself, where Ciri appears on a magazine cover. Pretty cool.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – Carbonite Jar Jar
The developers of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed don’t seem to have been big fans of Jar Jar Binks, one of the most annoying and unpopular characters in all of movie history. So, as you explore the galaxy as Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, you’ll have the satisfaction of finding Jar Jar Binks frozen in carbonite as a decoration on a wall. Surprisingly, but welcome. Did he deserve this fate? “Mesa day starten pitty okeyday witda brisk morning munchen. Boom Boom ! Be scared of the berries, and grab that Jedi, and pow – mesa here. Yes, yes he did.
Batman: Arkham Asylum – Arkham City
Of course, it’s never guaranteed that an Easter egg will actually be found or understood by players. In most cases, that’s not a problem, because they’re just optional jokes. It was different in the case of Batman: Arkham Asylumwhere an Easter egg was actually supposed to serve as a marketing stunt for the sequel – for six months the developers waited anxiously every day for players to discover the secret room in which they had hidden a teaser for Batman: Arkham City. This piece contained a grand plan for an expansion of Arkham into Gotham City, so it was an extremely clear clue to the sequel’s title and content.
Eventually the patience ran out: the developers took matters into their own hands and revealed the Easter egg themselves. They had simply thought of too good a hiding place for such a marketing measure.
Grand Theft Auto V – X-Files
For a game that’s supposed to be about big city crime, car chases and police shootouts, GTA 5 has a lot of mysterious and almost frightening undertones that are rather reminiscent of X files. Ghosts and Sasquatchs roam the forests, aliens and UFOs are useless, and you may even find frozen alien corpses underwater, staring spookily at you.
Rockstar had already included a super weird Easter egg in grand theft auto 4 with the infamous Heart of Liberty City – literally a massive chained heart still beating inside a statue. What exactly is happening in this world? One has to wonder what they will have in store for GTA 6.
Metal Gear Solid – Psycho Mantis Mind Reader
To round things off, a fun classic from Konami, featuring Metal Gear Solid’s Psycho Mantis. This rogue boasts he can read your mind – and to everyone’s amazement, he actually could, listing a number of games you’ve saved alongside Solid metal gear. The rascal accessed your memory card and thus incorporated the titles that remained there into his dialog box. If they were Konami games, he even commented on them additionally. A really cool and annoying surprise once upon a time.
Written by Marco Wutz on behalf of GLHF.