My top 10 gaming Easter eggs and references

A belated Happy Easter gamers!

I am slipping this in at the last Easter minute to celebrate some of gaming's greatest references! For those who do not know, an Easter egg (as it pertains to games) is a hidden joke or reference to another piece of media. I've listed some of my favourite eggxamples from both Xbox and PC games below (I promise that is the last egg pun, maybe).

10. Assassin's Creed giant squids

This is a double whammy as the eggs in this basket are pretty similar. By triggering Vizatione's Secret time trial in Assassins Creed 2 and peering over the ledge for 40 seconds right next to the starting lever will reveal an intensely creepy Lovecraftian giant squid, complete with green glowing eyes. Pulling the lever a second time will cause the beast to lash his tentacles out of the water.

I'm a fan of cephalopods, so here's another. In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, checking out a window in the underwater Antocha Wreck, will net you this little sequence showing a giant squid going toe to toe with a sperm whale. Giant squids have long been suspected to be the arch nemesis of sperm whales, owing to enormous sucker scars sperm whales often sport when seen in the wild.

9. Some Minecraft in your Skyrim

This one's pretty famous, but it'd feel wrong of me not to include Microsoft's newly acquired IP! Minecraft Easter Eggs are abundant, but perhaps the most prolific of all is the Notched Pickaxe, located in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Found at the summit of The Throat of the World mountain, the Notched Pickaxe provides the wielder with a bonus to Smithing, as well as shock damage on hit. It can also be disenchanted to learn a unique enchant based on the same properties.

8. Resident Evil Revelations 2 parodies itself

I found Resident Evil Revelations 2 to be a relatively fun, if not flawed game. The dialogue won't win any Oscars, but there were a couple of chuckle-worthy references during the banter between characters. Although they are not really true Easter eggs as they occur in the central dialogue, they are fun nonetheless.

After utilizing a swinging crane to bulldoze a locked gate, Barry remarks "Who's the master of unlocking now?!", a reference to his comically bad description of Jill Valentine's ability to use lock picks in Resident Evil 1's notoriously low budget voice acting. Additionally, Claire shakes off a near-death experience with an elaborate spiked press by proclaiming "I was nearly a Claire sandwich", another reference to Barry Burton's Resident Evil 1 voice acting. There's a bunch of other references throughout, which are a bittersweet reminder of the journey the franchise has taken.

7. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings assassinates Altair

Right near the start of the game, The Witcher 2's Geralt of Rivia happens upon the familiar corpse of a robed assassin - a white-robed assassin, who eerily resembles Altair/Ezio from the early Assassins Creed games. One might presume it was a mere coincidence, except the model is practically unique to this scene, the corpse is splayed out in a destroyed hay carrying cart (which serve to cushion your leaps in Assassin's Creed), and upon discovery, Geralt mutters: "They'll never learn." The Witcher 2 centres around the hunt for an assassin, so this reference is all the more poignant.

6. Indiana Jones: Nuking the fridge

There's a bunch of Easter eggs which parody the infamous scene from Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull which sees Indiana escape a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge. From hidden fridges in Fallout: New Vegas and Zombie Army Trilogy, to a full blown quest in World of Warcraft, it seems that George Lucas' attempted Indiana Jones revival simply couldn't catch a break (or a fridge).

5. Watch Dogs lampoons Kinect spying fears

Watch Dogs presents a near-future (present day? thanks, NSA!) vision of a society permanently connected to centralised surveillance. There were elements of 2013's anti-Xbox movement that claimed the Xbox One's bundled Kinect sensor was to further the nefarious intentions of a government desperate to analyse neckbeards and Cheetos consumption. One of Watch Dogs' optional peekaboo sequences is viewed via "Kinekt" camera, and shows us how ridiculous the whole argument was:

4. Wolfenstein: The New Order escapes to Castle Wolfenstein 3D

Wolfenstein: The New Order remains one of my favourite new-gen only games thus far. The surprisingly beefy game reboots the Wolfenstein franchise, injecting depth and emotion I would've personally thought impossible from a game about killing Nazi cyborgs. It is not all doom and gloom though, the chaps at Machine Games found time to inject a pretty awesome nod to long-time fans of the franchise. Jumping into bed at the beginning of chapter 5 will allow you to experience a 'nightmare', sending you straight to the first level of Wolfenstein 3D.

3. Mass Effect meets Twin Peaks

This is a bit of an obscure one, but Twin Peaks is my favourite TV show of all time, so to see it referenced in one of my favourite games of all time was a memorable moment for me. In Mass Effect 2's Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC (excellent by the way), Shepard and Liara travel through a hotel in pursuit of a fugitive. Liara remarks that the hotel has an 'exotic' edge, and if you turn the corner you can see this vid playing, set in the unmistakable red room from Twin Peaks.

Mass Effect

Mass Effect (Image credit: Windows Central)

Alan Wake and Twin Peaks

This is not an Easter egg, but I felt like I could not mention Twin Peaks without discussing Alan Wake. The game features a boatload of Twin Peaks references and inspiration. From Alan Wake's setting, locations, characters and plot elements, Alan Wake plays as a pretty faithful homage throughout. Jesters131 on YouTube created this pretty awesome Twin Peaks-like intro using footage from Alan Wake, fans should give it a look!

2. Terrifying Robbie the Rabbit appearance in Silent Hill 4: The Room

I may be an adult now but, I still retain a child-like phobia of Silent Hill. For reasons I am still unsure of, I suffered through each game as a kid and to this day Silent Hill 3's Robbie the Rabbit creeps me out. Silent Hill 4: The Room might not have been the most amazing game in the world, but still delivered heavily in the fear department. Throughout you are trapped in your own apartment, only able to escape through an ominous hole in the bathroom into the Silent Hill crazy world. Between levels, you return to your creepy room, which changes slightly every time. The previous tenant managed to dig a peephole through into the neighbouring apartment, and while your cries for help are not heard, you can witness everyday goings on.

During one sequence, a Robbie the Rabbit doll can be seen on the bed, while your neighbour chats on the phone. If you wait until she is done, then take another look. Robbie now glares at you accusatorially. Slenderman has nothing on this guy.

1. Lordaeron's ghosts in World of Warcraft

I would bet money that the impossibly huge World of Warcraft holds more Easter eggs and references than any other game available today, if only because it's been under perpetual development for the last 10 years. The more recent eggspansions could be criticised for taking the references a tad too far. Indiana Jones parody Harrison Jones and his Horde counterpart, Belloc Brightblade have become fairly significant in parts of the plot, especially in specific quest zones, and entire quest areas such as Toshley's Station (Starship Troopers) have been dedicated to parody.

World of Warcraft's vanilla game hit the mark like no other with a fiendishly subtle reference to the events of Warcraft 3.

The entirety of Northern Lordaeron is plagued with undeath in World of Warcraft, following the betrayal and murder of King Terenas at the hands of Warcraft 3's playable antagonist, Arthas Menethil. The scene of that crime remains in WoW and acts as a forgotten hallway for undead players on the way to their main city. The blood still stains the floor and eerily, if you turn the ambience up loud enough you can hear the ghostly echoes of the murder scene taken straight from Warcraft 3's audio. As a fan of Warcraft lore, the discovery was chilling and stands as a testament to Blizzard's capacity for story telling.

And that is my list!

I'd be intrigued to read about your favourite gaming Easter eggs in the comments below. For now though, I need to go and finish off this pile of chocolate before succumbing to crushing guilt, strapping on the Microsoft Band and firing up Xbox Fitness.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!