What is the greatest video game Easter egg of all time?
One Week Until the End
Most Easter Eggs are content with making a clever reference or two, but the Easter Eggs in Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear titles were typically as utilitarian as they were amusing. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Kojima included multiple paths for the player to progress, including how they dealt with patrolling soldiers and bosses. An elderly sniper known as The End was one of the most challenging boss battles in the game, since the fight could take over an hour, and required the player to employ their knowledge of camouflage and sneaking in a prolonged marksmanship competition. One method of dueling with this boss, however, required the player to simply save during the fight and reload their game after a week of waiting. When the player returned, they would find that The End had simply died of old age.
Game of Origin: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: Killing a boss using time manipulation | In-Game Location: Sokrovenno
Developer: KCEJ, Kojima Productions | Publisher: Konami | Platform/s: PS2 | Game Engine: KCEJ-built | Game Fun Fact: If the player can properly maneuever into range, it is possible to snipe and kill The End before encountering him at all.
The Shiba Inu
Many Easter Eggs are references to other franchises, but Konami’s Silent Hill has a wildly different concept of what an Easter Egg should be. Multiple entries in the Silent Hill franchise feature a complex combination of backtracking, item combination, and exploratory maneuvers to achieve a specific ending, and some of the game’s final sequences are a far cry from the story’s survival-horror overtones. One fan-favorite ending has appeared in numerous titles, and features the protagonist encountering a Shiba Inu dog (Mira) with far too much control. In Silent Hill 2, Mira sat inside of a control room that had orchestrated the entire game, and passed the time by listening to music through headphones. In Silent Hill: Origins, Mira appeared as a translator with a visiting alien. Some critics have cited these Easter Eggs as distracting to the series’ tone, but in a world like Silent Hill, some laughter is almost mandatory.
Game of Origin: Silent Hill 2 | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: A top-secret area's canine commander | In-Game Location: The Observation Room in the Nightmare Lakeview Hotel
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo | Publisher: Konami | Platform/s: PS2 | Game Engine: Konami-built | Game Fun Fact: Mira, the headset-wearing Shiba Inu, appears in several other Silent Hill endings (most notably, as an alien).
Cows from Hell
Blizzard may be a monolithic developer, but they’ve always seemed to put out passion projects, judging by the number of Easter Eggs and running gags in their games. The original Diablo was said to hold a secret cow level, but these stories were proven to be player-made rumors intended to fool newer gamers or Easter Egg addicts. In Diablo 2, however, Blizzard seemed to take note of the fanfare by implementing a secret cow level, which could only be reached by combining the proper ingredients in an obscure location. In this strange area, players were confronted by hordes of murderous bovines, which came equipped with magical staves and spells. To this day, Blizzard maintains that there is not – and never has been – a cow level.
Game of Origin: Diablo 2 | Release Date: 2000 | Easter Egg References: A supposedly non-existent cow level | In-Game Location: Rogue Encampment (requires a combination of items for portal entry)
Developer: Blizzard North | Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment | Platform/s: Windows, Mac OS | Game Engine: Proprietary (isometric build) | Game Fun Fact: Numerous high-level monsters are named after Diablo modders and developers.
Death by Ketchup
Almost every mischievous child has discovered the visual similarities of blood and ketchup, but this concept was taken to an extreme by Hideo Kojima in the original Metal Gear Solid. After the protagonist, Solid Snake, was placed into a cell and interrogated, his captors brought him a meal tray with a bottle of ketchup. If the player chose to smash the ketchup bottle rather than merely hiding under the bed, they were able to lie down on the floor and fool the passing guards into believing Snake had been killed. Once the guards entered Snake’s cell, the player was able to dispatch them and make a quick escape. This Easter Egg is a true testament to the branching possibilities within Kojima’s titles, and one of the most humorous options in resuming a world-saving operation.
Game of Origin: Metal Gear Solid | Release Date: 1998 | Easter Egg References: A clever prison escape employing fake blood | In-Game Location: Interrogation cell
Developer: KCEJ | Publisher: Konami | Platform/s: Playstation | Game Engine: KCEJ-built | Game Fun Fact: One of the game's bosses, Psycho Mantis, will read the player's memory card and comment on their saved Playstation games.
Most gamers who purchased Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 didn’t expect to get two games in one, let alone five. On the map Nuketown 2025, an updated version of an original Black Ops map, players who destroyed all of the map’s mannequins in less than two minutes received a throwback Easter Egg in the form of playable Atari games. A pixilated retro display would appear onscreen, followed by access to Pitfall 2, River Raid, Kaboom!, and H.E.R.O. These Atari gems were a perfect compliment to the map’s inherent throwback nature, and provided a unique twist in the multiplayer shooter’s gameplay. Hunting down all of the mannequins could sometimes be a hassle, since these were randomly-generated elements in the map’s design, but the moment of success was sweet (and undeniably classic).
Game of Origin: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 | Release Date: 2012 | Easter Egg References: Classic games published by Atari | In-Game Location: Nuketown 2025
Developer: Treyarch | Publisher: Activision, Square Enix | Platform/s: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U | Game Engine: IW | Game Fun Fact: Black Ops 2 was the first Call of Duty title to feature player-driven choices and endings.
The Dead Assassin
In a game titled The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, it was only a matter of time until a world-renowned assassin stumbled onto the scene. Although the game’s titular assassin may hail from the nation of Temeria, players who strayed from the beaten path during the prologue level were treated to an assassin from ancient Jerusalem. Altair, the protagonist of the Assassins’s Creed series, was known for his death-defying (and impossibly safe) leaps into piles of hay. The unlikely nature of Altair’s survival, particularly from heights in excess of 500 feet, prompted The Witcher 2’s developers to add a dead facsimile of Altair into the castle’s hay pile. Considering the game’s major selling point as a brutal and realistic fantasy, it was only a matter of time until they poked some fun at their competition.
Game of Origin: The Witcher 2 | Release Date: 2011 | Easter Egg References: The Assassin's Creed series | In-Game Location: Prologue's castle siege
Developer: CD Projekt Red | Publisher: CDP.PL, Atari, Inc., Bandai Namco Games, Cyberfront | Platform/s: Windows, Xbox 360, Mac OS X, Linux | Game Engine: REDengine | Game Fun Fact: A mining excavation area contains a note with the phrase "Fly, you fools!" in reference to Gandalf the Grey.
The Lost Island
Just Cause 2 was sprawling enough to provide players with car chases and grappling-hook shenanigans on almost every road in Panau, but some hidden gems required legwork and a bit of scouring to uncover. If a player managed to “borrow” a plane and fly to the proper coordinates, they would find an island with remarkable similarities to the setting of television’s Lost, which included a roaming smoke monster and the show’s infamous hatch. The island, known as Hantu in-game, also boasted a collection of Japanese WWII prototype items, such as an electromagnetic pulse tower capable of crashing the player’s jet. Hantu Island’s exploration value was high, since it offered a surprising amount of resources and mission content as well as some judiciously-placed Easter Egg material.
Game of Origin: Just Cause 2 | Release Date: 2010 | Easter Egg References: The television series Lost | In-Game Location: Hantu Island, in northwestern Panau
Developer: Avalanche Studios | Publisher: Eidos Interactive | Platform/s: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, OnLive | Game Engine: Avalanche 2.0 | Game Fun Fact: A mechanical shark patrols the waterways of Panau, and can be grappled onto - and subsequently ridden - if you hunt it down.
The Buried Head
Months before the release of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3, a series of viral videos were released online to introduce the game’s antagonist, Vaas. In the videos, an unfortunate hostage was buried up to his neck in sand, and tormented over a period of weeks by his captor. The iconic image of this sand-entombed victim was featured on Far Cry’s box art, but it also made a far more interactive appearance in the main game. If the player explored along the southern tip of an island, they were able to find the buried head, which unlocked the achievement titled Say Hi to the Internet! This Easter Egg was a clever and unexpected way for Ubisoft to reward fans who had watched the pre-release trailers, and provided an unsettling twist for the unaware.
Game of Origin: Far Cry 3 | Release Date: 2012 | Easter Egg References: Far Cry 3's viral launch trailer | In-Game Location: The southernmost beaches of North Island
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Publisher: Ubisoft | Platform/s: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360 | Game Engine: Dunia 2 | Game Fun Fact: Over the course of the game, the protagonist's response to violence and explosions will change from fearful gasps to excitement.
World of Zeldacraft
World of Warcraft is one of the globe’s most widespread and dedicated gaming communities, so it’s no surprise that Blizzard pandered to their audience when developing the game. Hundreds of jokes existed among Azeroth’s deserts, seas, and forests, and many of them were so subtle that players passed them without a second thought. In Un’Goro’s crater, however, a camp named Marshal’s Refuge held an unmistakable gnome named Linken. Linken was clad in all green, and had the characteristic hood and tunic of his Legend of Zelda counterpart. In addition, Linken also issued a quest titled It’s Dangerous to Go Alone, which offered Linken’s Sword of Mastery or a familiar-looking boomerang as a reward. Blizzard may have grown to monumental proportions with their player base, development teams, and series lore, but they’ve never forgotten their genre’s origins.
Game of Origin: World of Warcraft | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: The Legend of Zelda series | In-Game Location: Marshal's Refuge
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment | Platform/s: Windows, Mac | Game Engine: Blizzard-built | Game Fun Fact: Nessy, a sea creature modeled after the Loch Ness Monster, can be seen from the Deeprun Tram.
The Hitman series was never shy about its depictions of killing, but most of the game’s atmosphere revolved around gallows humor, if not tongue-in-cheek displays of Agent 47’s disguises. The Thermal Bath level of Hitman: Contracts, however, was intentionally designed to raise a few hairs on the backs of players’ necks. Throughout the level, a ghost appeared in the mirrors and hallways of the buildings, and could even be found dead on the floor toward the level’s end. While this Easter Egg could have been implemented as a joke with a few tweaks, the ghost’s fleeting nature – as well as his grisly origins, which include a bloodied bathtub and handprints – point to a team of fear-inducing developers. Despite Agent 47’s arsenal of silenced handguns and explosives, this phantom was enough to send players running for the exit.
Game of Origin: Hitman: Contracts | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: Supernatural entities in mirrors | In-Game Location: The Thermal Bath Hotel
Developer: IO Interactive | Publisher: Eidos Interactive, Square Enix | Platform/s: Windows, Xbox, PS2 | Game Engine: Glacier | Game Fun Fact: The Thermal Bath Hotel originally appeared in Hitman: Agent 47, but was remastered as a flashback level for Contracts.
The Sunken Plane
Those who played the original Bioshock will never be able to forget the game’s opening, which involved the hijacking and subsequent sinking of a transatlantic passenger plane. After the plane sank beneath the dark waters and left your character, Jack, stranded near a lighthouse, there was only a brief encounter with its wreckage in one of Rapture’s hallways. In Bioshock 2, however, 2K Games offered proof that the wreckage had survived its years beneath the waves. While traveling along a tube-shaped corridor, players could glance out through the glass and glimpse DF-0301’s corroded fragments. Although there was no way for the player to interact with this wreckage, it showed a level of consistency and attention to detail on 2K’s part, and was a brilliant homage for returning fans.
Game of Origin: Bioshock 2 | Release Date: 2010 | Easter Egg References: The original Bioshock's water-logged passenger plane | In-Game Location: Adonis Luxury Resort (viewed through a tunnel's window pane)
Developer: 2K Marin, 2K Australia | Publisher: 2K Games | Platform/s: Windows, Mac OS X, PS3, Xbox 360 | Game Engine: Modified Unreal 2.5 | Game Fun Fact: The franchise's moral choice system was added as an afterthought during production.
GOAT Staff Score - Video Game Easter EggThe candidates have been assigned a raw score across a range of criteria. The raw scores have been weighted to reflect the impact that each individual criterion has on the 'Final GOAT Score'. Only weighted scores are displayed in this table. -->TURN DEVICE SIDEWAYS TO VIEW ON MOBILE-->
|Uniqueness (25%)||Effort to Uncover (25%)||Humor (20%)||Interactive Value (15%)||Overall Game Reception (15%)||Raw Score||Final GOAT Score|
|One Week Until the End||11||9||10||11||8||49||985|
|The Shiba Inu||10||10||11||5||7||43||900|
|Cows from Hell||7||11||8||9||9||44||880|
|Death by Ketchup||9||8||7||7||10||41||820|
|The Dead Assassin||4||3||9||2||6||24||475|
|The Lost Island||5||6||2||8||2||23||465|
|The Buried Head||3||5||6||4||3||21||425|
|World of Zeldacraft||1||1||5||6||11||24||405|
|The Sunken Plane||2||4||1||1||4||12||265|