Video games are pretty cool, right? They offer a way to experience epic stories, fun challenges, gorgeous visuals, and plenty more. When you look at a game, you know—or at least have a pretty good idea of—what kind of game it’s going to be. The theme. The mood. The art style. You get the picture. But there are some things in games that aren’t there to fit with the established rules. They don’t really serve the character’s journey or struggle. Some things were just placed there by a developer who wanted to have a little fun and share that fun with the players.
In honor of the holiday that millions of people are observing today, I’m taking this opportunity to share my favorite gaming easter eggs. There’s no candy to be found here, but there are plenty of treats to be enjoyed tucked away in some of the darkest corners of the games I love.
Arkham Asylum’s Secret Room
When Batman: Arkham Asylum was released, not many people expected it to be the masterpiece it ended up being. Why would they? Licensed video games didn’t have the best track record. Yet Rocksteady managed the seemingly impossible and delivered one of the best Batman experiences ever. Players loved it for its innovative mechanics, great graphics and voice acting, respect of the source material… and its tendency to reward those who wandered off the beaten path.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues I, along with many others, have with the game is that it relies so heavily on the detective vision that most players spent the majority of the game with it activated. After all, it allows good ol’ Bats to spot things like enemies, weak walls, and other points of interest with ease. It comes in handy helping the player spot secrets—such as Riddler trophies—as well. But it’s about as useful as a lighter underwater when it comes to finding the game’s ultimate secret—one that went undiscovered for nearly a year after launch (and that’s impressive in the age of the internet).
Within Arkham Asylum warden Quincy Sharp’s study is a room completely undetectable by any Waynetech available to the Caped Crusader, and you have to know exactly what to do to access it. There’s a wall that can be destroyed to reach it, but it isn’t just a matter of slapping some explosive gel on that sucker and blowing it up. You have to place all three charges of the stuff in a very specific spot on the wall. This often takes several attempts even if you know exactly what to do, but the payoff is worth it. Inside the room are blueprints and other items outlining Sharp’s (and Rocksteady’s) plans for Arkham City.
The Talkative Grunts of Halo
Anyone who has played Halo knows what the grunts are. They’re the walking, talking cannon fodder that act as the common, well, grunts of the enemy ranks within the Covenant. Often getting scared at the mere sight of the Master Chief, they typically run around screaming their annoying yet hilarious lines of dialogue. However, if you simply bee-line from one objective to the next in the campaign, you’re sure to miss the funniest grunts in multiple titles throughout the series.
At the end of Halo: Combat Evolved, you find yourself racing against the clock to get the hell off of Halo before it’s destroyed. Because of this urgency, you’d be forgiven for not hopping out near the end and trekking down a small maintenance hallway to find the fellow pictured above, surrounded by dead bodies. Approach him, and he excitedly says the following. And I quote:
“Good thing that food nipple’s waiting for me at the starship, ’cause man, have I worked up a big, grunty thirst!”
Not to be outdone by, uh, themselves, Bungie added a similar grunt into the final Warthog run in Halo 3. Just before the slope leading to the final ramp, hop out of the driver’s seat and check a little nook off to the right. You’ll find a grunt who lays down some serious smack talk:
“Hey, Demon! The jerk store called, and they’re all out of you! Poor you, stolen at the age of six and conscripted into the military, waaaaaah! Okay look, if you let me live, I got the Fist of Rukt. Look, I’ll be at the bottom. I’ll polish your boots. I’ll polish your helmet! It’s the gas, haha! When I’m on the gas, I don’t know what I’m doing half the time!”
These aren’t the only little fellas with special dialogue in the series, though. Halo 2 has a cowardly grunt, whereas a carefree singing grunt can be spotted (and killed for a skull) in Halo 5: Guardians.
Dead Space’s Chapter Names Spoil the Twist
Dead Space is a game about fighting off grotesque humans-turned-monsters on a derelict mining ship in deep space. It stands out in the horror genre for its truly creepy atmosphere, perfectly timed jump scares, and creative twist on combat. Instead of just shooting things in the chest or head until they die, the most effective way to survive is by dismembering their limbs. This makes sense within the plot, as you play the role of engineer Isaac Clarke, who uses tools he’s familiar with (like a Plasma Cutter) rather than shotguns and assault rifles to kill his nemies. He volunteers to check out this space ship because his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, is one of the crew members.
Now, in case you missed it in the section header, I’m about to drop a major spoiler in the next paragraph.
Still with me? Good. At some point in the game, you actually find Nicole. She tells you what needs to be done to defeat the infection that’s caused all this terror, and helps you accomplish it. The thing is, once you emerge victorious and escape with her, you’re greeted with one final scare. As Isaac breathes a sigh of relief, he looks towards his girlfriend to find a decayed corpse of her getting ready to pounce (a scene that is hilariously referenced at the end of the sequel). This is when the credits roll.
“But, Brett, isn’t this post about Easter Eggs?” Yeah, I’m getting to it.
A very few eagle-eyed gamers probably weren’t surprised by this late-game twist. Dead Space is broken up into twelve chapters, each with a unique title:
Into the Void
Search and Rescue
Dead on Arrival
End of Days
Take a look at the first letter of each chapter.
Perfect Dark Scolds You for Being Immature
We never got a sequel to N64’s Goldeneye, and I’m fine with that. The bar was set high, and there was no source material to pull from. What we did get was this spiritual successor to the wildly popular Rare title. The shooting and mission structure was familiar, but there were cool sci-fi weapons, alien enemies, and—get this—voiceovers!
Also like Goldeneye, there are a few hidden gems off the beaten path. For example, there’s a piece of cheese hidden in each mission. The focus of this entry, however, is a little tougher to find… unless you have the immature impulse to break everything that can be broken in a video game (I’m one of those people). Early on in the campaign, you find yourself at your boss’s villa. The bad guys are holding him in his wine cellar, so you pass plenty of shelves filled with fragile glass bottles on the way to your objective.
Wouldn’t it be fun to break every… single… one…?
If you’re like me, you commit and break ALL THE SHIT. If you break all the shit, you hear the scolding voice of your boss saying “Act your age, Joanna.”
Far Cry Primal Features a Familiar totaled “Car”
Ubisoft’s foray into 10,000 BC was a huge gamble. The Far Cry series was known for its arsenal of firearms. Learned historians may realize that those didn’t exist ten millennia before the birth of Jesus Christ. However, it’s because of the lack of guns that Primal is my favorite Far Cry game. I loved the change of pace that resulted from using bows, spears, and other prehistoric equipment.
Speaking of prehistoric, there’s a pond in the western part of the world map that has a familiar-looking piece of “machinery”… if you’re at all versed in pop culture. At the bottom of the pond—but sadly not quite at bedrock—is what looks suspiciously like the Flintstones’ car.
Yabba dabba doo!
Borderlands 2’s Jack wants to know what it means
The Borderlands series is filled to the brim with easter eggs and pop culture references. There’s the side quest where you fight the knockoff Ninja Turtles, the villainous duo Pain and Terror voiced by Pen and Teller, the Dark Souls bonfire… the list goes on. But some of the easter eggs manage to stick out even more than those ones—like the Double Rainbow in Borderlands 2.
For those who somehow don’t remember, January 2010 gave us one of the greatest internet treats in history. Paul “Bear” Vasquez, a quirky ol’ fella living just outside Yosemite, uploaded a video of a double rainbow. But the rainbow wasn’t the interesting part. This video went viral because his reaction to the phenomenon was pure entertainment gold. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, causing him to marvel at the sky like he had just discovered heaven itself.
Okay, okay. Back to Borderlands. When you find yourself in the Highlands, you may come across a small campsite on an unassuming cliff. Approach it and look off into the distance, and you’ll witness two rainbows. It’s at this moment that you hear Handsome Jack’s voice uttering things like “Double rainbow all the way across the sky!” and “What does it mean?”, phrases expressed by Vasquez in his video.
Dying Light’s Super Pipe Dream
Dying Light is the game that everyone wanted Dead Island to be (at least the latter has a better trailer). It’s filled with zombies, parkour, and tons of pop culture easter eggs. Many of them are gaming-related, and the best one pays homage to Nintendo’s (first) masterpiece.
Since you spend a huge portion of the game jumping across rooftops, there are plenty of goodies to be found, one of which is an itsy bitsy green pipe that looks a lot… like… no way!
If any curious souls decide to jump on top of said pipe, they can somehow fit into it, at which point they’re transported to the weird-ass area pictured above. It’s a first-person, Dying Light-ified version of World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros.
Fallout 4 Channels Edgar Allen Poe
Fallout 4 is jam-packed with easter eggs. Sure, not all of them are strictly about pop culture, but there are things peppered all over the Commonwealth that tell small stories. There’s a getaway car in an alley just outside a blown-open bank vault. There’s a vault that once housed residents who were all addicted to caffeine, if the hundreds of coffee cups scattered around are any indication. The game also has a weird fascination with teddy bears, but that’s a story for another day.
I could go on and on listing the small details that were crammed into the game to tell stories of its pre-apocalypse citizens, but the one that sticks out to me might betray my fascination with horror literature. If anyone enjoys the works of Edgar Allen Poe enough to read more than The Raven and The Telltale Heart, they’ll discover what I consider one of his best works. Well-known to most of his fans, The Cask of Amontillado tells the horrifying story of a rich man who lures a friend into his wine cellar under the pretense of sharing a newly purchased bottle of Amontillado with him. Once there, he chains him up and proceeds to build a brick wall that is effectively this poor guy’s tomb.
In Fallout 4’s Commonwealth, there’s a location on the eastern side of the map called The Castle. In one of the rooms, you’ll find a hole in the brick wall that reveals a chained-up skeleton. While similar to the predicament the victim finds himself in at the end of the aforementioned short story, it’s not a definite reference to it… until you notice a literal cask of Amontillado on the floor nearby.
Mass Effect 2’s Anus Joke
There’s a lot to do in Mass Effect 2. You can recruit team members, fight aliens, solve political conflicts, and explore the galaxy. We’re going to focus on that last item. Part of exploring the galaxy involves scanning planets for resources that are used to upgrade your ship and other equipment. When you open the scanning mini-game, it’ll tell you if the planet is rich, moderate, or poor in resources (or completely depleted), a stat which updates in real-time as you gather. When you launch a probe to collect these resources, your ship’s AI, EDI, will proclaim, “Probe launched,” with all the emotion of a dead tree stump. Unless, that is, you’re scanning a particular planet in humanity’s own solar system.
Mass Effect 2 may be rated M for Mature, but that doesn’t stop it from having its less-than-mature moments. If you take the time to scan Uranus, you’ll find that it’s rather mediocre in terms of resource abundance. But if, for some reason, you still send a probe to the surface, EDI says, “Really, commander?” Now, that’s funny enough, but send one more probe, and you get a line of dialogue that’s drowning in defeat: “Probing Uranus…”
Halo 2 Gives you the Ultimate Weapon
Remember the Scarab tank that devastates the city of New Mombasa in Halo 2 (before a slipspace jump really devastates it)? Aside from smashing everything it walks over, it shoots a huge beam of energy from its… face? Mouth? It shoots a huge beam of energy from the thing on the front.
The best thing about this Scarab’s “gun” is that you, the player, can get it and give the Covenant a taste of their own medicine. The process to do so is simple, too! All you have to do is get a Banshee to follow you through a tunnel that it was never meant to go through, make sure it avoids every obstacle, protect it from getting destroyed, board it at the exact moment the next area loads, and fly onto the top of a bridge way off in the distance. Simple!
On top of this bridge, you’ll find a traffic cone with a relatively innocent-looking Plasma Rifle floating above it… except it’s not a normal Plasma Rifle. This sucker shoots the very beam that comes out of the Scarab’s head-face-thing. Did I mention it has infinite ammo? You can blow up as many Covies as you want before the end of the mission (unless you’re playing the Master Chief Collection, which has a skull that turns all your weapons into this super ‘sploder no matter which mission you’re playing).
The interesting thing about this weapon is that it wasn’t ever meant to fall into the hands of the player. Throughout the mission, the Scarab is off in the distance blowing shit up left and right during scripted events. You can see the beam coming from behind buildings and such. The thing is, the Scarab isn’t actually there in these instances. To achieve the effect, a developer used a modded plasma rifle, making sure they hid it somewhere inaccessible. They also forgot to remove it from the game once the scripted events were completed.
If you made it through this list, props to you. I had a blast revisiting these games and I was sweating bullets trying to narrow the list of contenders down to ten. Hopefully you learned something, but if these items were prior knowledge to you, we’d probably get along really well.
If you’ve got some more time to kill, check out our previous post covering all of Kevin’s favorite GameBoy Color games. Happy Easter!
Honorable Mention: Forza Horizon 3’s Warthog
This is a minor detail that I found amusing. Forza Horizon 3 gives you the opportunity to race Halo’s warthog. Using the default configuration for the vehicle, find a straightaway that will allow you to reach top speed. Hit it, and you’ll notice it’s sitting at 117, which is Master Chief’s Spartan designation.