2020 was a great year for games. We got some of the best games of the generation, highly anticipated sequels, brand-new IPs, and even the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S. We also got some amazing surprises in our games in the form of Easter eggs. These little secrets have been tucked away in games for years now, but over time they have only gotten more elaborate and fun to find. They can range from just a simple reference to other media, to not so subtle jabs at competing games. While Easter eggs on their own aren’t enough to make a game worth buying, they are the little cherry on top of the experience you’d miss if it weren’t there. That’s why we’ve rounded up all the best video game Easter eggs of 2020 we’ve found.
If there was one game you could count on having at least one Easter egg this year it would have to be the latest Call of Duty title. That goes double for the years when the insanely fun and intricate zombies mode is included. This year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War might have only launched with a single zombie map, but it makes the most of it. The coffin dance Easter egg, in particular, is just a joy to not only see, but unlock as well. After unlocking the pack a punch you will need to track down and shoot five glowing lights in that room. Once you tag them all you will be warped to a scene of zombies reenacting the internet meme of pole bearers dancing as they carry a coffin, complete with disco music. Plus you get a loot crate out of it too, so it’s more than just a fun diversion.
Both of the modern Doom titles have been absolutely packed with Easter eggs and secrets that picking out just one from Doom Eternal is nearly impossible. Just about everywhere you look is some sort of reference to one of IDs previous games or other inspirational material. You could spend nearly an hour in Doom Guy’s room alone just admiring all the subtle details they packed in, but the bookcase has to be at the top of our list. These are, for those who are in the know anyway, creative nods to tons of other games. Some favorites are “Why I’m So Great Pt. II” by Dork Norkem (referencing Duke Nukem), “Mesa Science Monthly: Predicting Unforeseen Consequences” (the Half-Life series), and “U-NAT-CO Training Manual: Bomb Defusal” (Deus Ex).
While The Division 2 launched in 2019, it did release a substantial expansion early in 2020 with a very unique Easter egg. Sure, references to the Legend of Zelda games might almost feel cliche by now, but The Division 2 actually manages to make a reference rarely, if ever, done before. If you go down to the docks you can find a unique sign that reads, “When the water fills the lake, Shoot for the morning light.” This is an exact replica of a sign giving you a clue as to how to get the fire arrows in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The reference doesn’t end there, though. If you attempt the same solution as you would in Zelda, shooting the sun in the morning, you will get a full clip of incendiary rounds. Not quite fire arrows, but close enough.
Another game that fully launched DLC this year was the mind-bending shooter Control. If you’ve played the base game, reading the files and watching extra films you can find, then you know how this game likes to blur the line between franchises and real life. This time, in the Foundation DLC, the developers snuck eight hidden cat statues, or Maneki-nekos, in the twisting Oldest House. Finding them all will unlock a secret room which, after a very slow reveal, is a bizarre altar of these cats all lined up in front of a massive portrait of yet another cat. If that weren’t strange enough, and for Control it is rather tame, you can also pick up some cosmetic cat ears for Jesse to wear.
This DLC for a spinoff of another franchise, Zombie Army 4: Dead War, thankfully doesn’t require you to know anything about the previous games to enjoy some simple, co-operative zombie murdering fun. In this new map, the game does ask you to be at least a little familiar with the popular Stranger Things series, specifically the first season. Inside one of the houses you can find a recreation of one of the most iconic images from the show: a wall decorated with Christmas lights hung above an alphabet. Again, that alone would be a cute nod to the show, but there’s more to it than that. On an opposing wall, you will find a hint to “use your brains” with “brains” specifically repeated numerous times. Well, if you shoot out the lights to spell brains a nearby safe will open containing an upside-down doll, another reference to the show, and an artillery flare.
What is it about zombie games and Easter eggs? Whatever the connection is, we’re not complaining because the multiplayer component to this year’s Resident Evil 3 remake was able to sneak in a very subtle one dating back to one of the oldest internet memes of all time. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it voice line, you can hear the line “I calculate your odds of survival at 32.3333%. Repeating of course.” as the round starts. Aside from the heroic battle cry, this is probably the most repeated line from the famous World of Warcraft video starring Leroy Jenkins and his team’s ill-fated raid.
Even without a zombies mode, the DLC for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was able to make a very timely joke with their Aisle 9 map that came out this year. Very similar to the other Call of Duty Easter eggs, you need to find and shoot a number of specific objects hidden around the map to trigger this Easter egg, which in this case is ten teddy bears. Once you find and blast them all into stuffing, a van’s back doors will explode open, showering you in confetti, and revealing a single roll of golden toilet paper beneath a banner reading, “THE LAST ROLL.”
Oh boy, if there was one other single game that not even the Doom franchise could keep up with in terms of secrets, Easter eggs, and references it would have to be Borderlands 3. Thankfully only DLC came out this year, narrowing down the number of secrets the developers could stuff in, but not by all that much. Just looking at the Bounty of Blood DLC, one of the few instances of the game leaning slightly more on the subtle side is a simple car wedged in a tree. Considering the dino-themed environment, plus the design of the car, it is a clear reference to the car from Jurassic Park that was pushed over the wall and into a tree.
As a purely competitive FPS, you’d be forgiven for thinking there wouldn’t be any Easter eggs in Valorant. Thankfully the developers found a way to sneak one in there without messing with the gameplay focused nature of the game. In the A tower on the top floor is an empty sniper case, some bullets, and a jar with some … yellow liquid. Fans of Team Fortress 2 will recognize this as belonging to the sniper class from TF2, who, aside from his sniper, has a throwable jar of … yellow liquid as one of his weapons.
We covered a lot of Cyberpunk 2077 Easter eggs already, and we expect there to be more yet to be discovered. While the game itself may not be living up to everyone’s standards, we can at least say it has some great Easter eggs. Our favorite are all the different poses you can select in the photo mode and the different films, anime, and memes they mimic. When it comes to poses, though, we have to of course go with a good old JoJo pose as our favorite.
Streets of Rage 4 came out 29 years after the original debuted in 1991, so naturally, a lot has changed. The team kept a lot faithful to what fans loved about the original beat-’em-up, but with a fresh coat of paint and some modern conveniences. Still, with a franchise as old as this, they had to include some kind of throwback to the originals for old fans who waited so patiently for the series to return. The secret retro-inspired levels are the perfect way to give a little taste, at least visually, of what came before.
Finally, we come to what may be the most confusing Easter egg of this year. Unlike other games, Animal Crossing: New Horizons hid something that doesn’t really reference anything at all, at least to our knowledge. If you, for whatever reason, decided to stay up and watch TV in your character’s house at precisely 3:33 a.m., you will see images of an alien figure in a UFO speaking in strange tones to you. Many theorized that this indicates some kind of alien invasion will occur, but as of yet this strange broadcast has yet to lead to anything beyond just a creepy event in an otherwise cheerful game.
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