Call of Duty games usually have many easter eggs implemented in them, most commonly in Black Ops zombies mode. During August 2020 though, there has been massive hype around the 2020 Call of Duty title, Black Ops: Cold War.
How did we conclude the name of the next game? That is all thanks to the substantial one week easter egg devised by the games marketing team.
After completing this easter egg, it leads to a teaser video that has never been seen before. Below we cover everything from start to finish on how the easter egg was solved, including the solutions for all the ciphers that are part of the easter egg.
Pawn Takes Pawn
To start, Activision sent out mysterious crates to several Call of Duty content creators, including NoahJ456, MrDalekJD, CodeNamePizza, TheXclusiveAce, and CharlieINTEL. They were given a specific date to open up these crates. The date was August 10th, 2020.
TOP GAMEPLAY HIGHLIGHTS & GUIDES
Upon opening up the crates, these content creators found an old 1950's projector with projector slides. These projector slides contained several different images, including real-world map locations of several major cities that were numbered (London, Paris, Moscow, New York, and Tokyo), random letters around clock figures with colored circles at the bottom, and parts of the Summit map from the Black ops franchise.
At this point, a discovery was made - there had been a sneaky update to the Black Ops 4 map 'Summit'. The map also contained the numbers next to the major cities in projector slides, along with some clocks with all the city names that were found in the crate, except for Tokyo.
In addition to the clocks, the computer screens in the central control room were now turned on. They had the same kind of images that were seen in the projector slides.
When you loaded up the Summit map, you could notice the same sort of numbers all around the map on different colored walls. These correlated with the numbers that showed the major cities on the projector slides, which ultimately help decide what letter clock figure corresponds to which city.
The clocks in Summit were completely frozen at specific times. Now, since we knew which letter clock figure corresponds to which city, we could overlay them on the clocks and then note down the letters those clock hands were pointing at.
After doing all the cities the following words were discovered:
- New York: U E W
- Moscow: H R E
- London: S B I
- Tokyo: E E R
- Paris: Y O H
These letters were an anagram for a sentence that was "BISH YOU WERE HERE." It was discovered that "Bish you were here" was a famous chess game during a world chess championship in 1972 between Boris Spassky (representing Russia) and Robert Fischer (representing the USA).
Moving forward, the remaining images come into play. While everyone was confused about the next step, Treyarch put up an image on their Instagram story that showed a similar circular picture as the ones seen in the project slides, along with a long list of blanks with one letter "K."
The images with yellow circles (both from the projector slides and the in-game computer screens), and the one that Treyarch put in their story, were overlayed on top of the images with letters on them. This gave us a sentence, "TURN ELEVEN WHITE." This was again referencing to the Boris vs. Fischer chess game where on the 11th turn during the game, a pawn takes over another pawn.
This was co-aligned with what Treyarch put on their story, and another word was figured out, which was PAWNTAKESPAWN. And, the "K" in "TAKES" perfectly matched with the Instagram story blank.
Finally, it was discovered that there was a website for the actual easter egg, which then began on August 14, 2020. You could go to www.pawntakespawn.com and see an old TV with a VHS tape player and an ancient telephone. Not only that, but you could also see the Warzone map, hinting about the involvement of Warzone in the next step of the easter egg.
Every day starting from August 14 through to August 19, 2020, there were multiple VHS tapes released that could be watched on the aforementioned VHS player. These tapes were each 20 minutes long and had a series of numbers flashing, showing the video played.
The time across all these tapes ranged from 2:05 to 14:00 min. The numbers flash across all these tapes at an interval of 0:05 seconds every time. This is an important piece of information that we would need for the final step of this easter egg.
The tapes were also colored, and that helped us decide what tape would help solve what cipher. Basically, there are six ciphers: PSG, Lambda & f, Nix-Charge, Nix Stack, Chem, and Venona. These ciphers are spread in different locked bunkers and shacks around Warzone.
These ciphers are also color-coded, and that helps us understand which tape corresponds to which cipher. There will be more on this as we progress further, since these colors have significance in solving the ciphers, courtesy of new information that was released on the very last day of the easter egg.
While these tapes played, the VHS player flashed Warzone coordinates with keypad code. Those coordinates lead to either a locked room or a bunker that had these cipher images. For example, Venona cipher 1/4 could be in Bunker 4 while Venona cipher 3/4 could be found in the secret locked farm room, and so on.
Every other day, a new tape was released with the previous one titled V2. The third day V2 changed to V3 and so on. Each new version of the tape added more random numbers on top of the already existing ones in them. This caused everyone to re-watch all the tapes to capture all the random numbers on the last day when the final tape was released.
On the first day of the Easter egg (August 14, 2020), there was also a sticky note on the TV that read /tangledweb. This was just a URL to the page www.pawntakespawn.com/tangledweb that had a huge note about war, ciphers, and signals.
There was another sticky note that read /emc2. This one leads to another page where the days of the easter egg were mentioned and were crossed off one by one, as they passed. The day wouldn't be crossed off until the steps for the day were completed. You can see the image of the site below as seen on the sixth day.
On the last day, there were two more sticky notes released on another page: /11thhour. The two sticky notes were "TIMING IS EVERYTHING" and a huge note with time-stamps that were obviously for the tapes. This is important for the final step of this easter egg.
The Tapes and Numbers
There were a total six tapes that each had footage of various historic real-life events. All the videos were from the Cold War era, from 1947 - 1991. Below we have gathered all the numbers found on each tape on the final day.
- 1981 (Yellow): 1,3,2,2,3,4,1,1,2,1,3,1,2,2,6,2,3,4,3,1,5,1,2,1
- 1979 (Red): 2,0,9,1,3,3,6,1,7,7,1,6,3,9,7,7,7,0,8,5,9,4,1
- 1977-78 (Purple): 4,3,7,1,3,2,7,8,8,5,0,8,5,2,9,8,1,5,8,3,0,1,4,7
- 1972-73 (Blue): 7,50,7,51,2,25,54,54,25,9,57,6,22,54,25,50,25,7,59,58,25,50,25,2
- 1968-69 (Orange): 15,9,13,21,12,6,10,24,4,11,5,17,25,18,7,11,13,12,22,19,13,1,16,2
- 1961-62 (Green): 60,8,52,48,80,15,93,37,71,15,80,8,92,25,81,37,80,38,60,48,93,18,63,28