When Blizzard released a new video to promote Overwatch’s seasonal Summer Games content yesterday, fans noticed a secret message hidden within. Blizzard’s been tucking little Easter eggs into its recent videos which seem to point to the game’s next hero, Sombra, though they’ve required some serious code-cracking on the part of the Overwatch community.
The newest secret messages seem to have fans somewhat stumped, however. The Overwatch community has deciphered some of the clues, but it appears Blizzard has made good on its intentions to "make things more difficult" for would-be cryptographers.
Blizzard’s alternate reality game, a scavenger hunt of sorts for Overwatch players, kicked off in July with the release of Ana, the game’s new support character. Secret messages in a few videos were decoded into a couple lines of dialogue ("Whoever has the power; has the information." and "Was that easy? Now that I have your attention, let's make things more difficult."), which were assumed to be attributed to a new character, Sombra.
Yesterday’s Overwatch video contained an encoded message nestled into a single frame. Here’s a look:
Members of the Overwatch subreddit quickly identified that code as a base64-encoded string that returned a salted string, which in turn required a password to decode. So far, the community hasn’t been able to figure out what that password might be.
Here’s the so-far-uncrackable string:
Salted__ifK/Ei9^1Q*Qt+V= /عW'͠/ _V?qfF"=q[ z * Zu\5kLC
The video contains another secret message, players later discovered. Throughout the video, a series of directions (east, northwest, southeast, etc.), arrows pointing north and south, and a compass were hidden in the background of some levels. Those directions don’t appear in the in-game version of those maps.
Here’s one example, on the billboard behind Mercy:
So far, players haven’t been able to figure out where those directional cues are pointing to. Players have theorized that the directions indicate numbers on a number keypad — 658254197 — though it’s not clear what that means. Some players report hearing Genji saying some of those numbers in Japanese and that a waveform hidden in Overwatch’s title screen can be decoded into another number sequence, but those clues remain unconfirmed.
Other players believe they’ve already seen Sombra hiding in yesterday’s Summer Games video, appearing as a ghostly apparition on the new Lúcioball field. It’s hard to see, but that might be the point.
Where does all of this point to? Possibly the new character that Blizzard has been hinting at for months. Possibly something else altogether. Ana dropped without much in the way of warning, and Blizzard recently updated Overwatch’s character select screen to make room for some new faces, so perhaps we’ll know more soon.
In the meantime, you can keep up with the ARG at the Game Detectives wiki, which is rounding up the latest developments.