Break out the nasal decongestants and roll those calendars forward to April folks, we’re back with another theme for Band of Bloggers, and this time we’re getting in touch with our inner trolls in celebration of April Fools Day! Honestly I couldn’t think of more wholesome traditions than spreading misinformation or gaining pleasure over the bamboozlement of others, and luckily for us, most developers and news outlets seem to agree. This month we’re reflecting on infamous moments of trolling related to video games, from bogus press releases to hilarious anti-piracy countermeasures. As always, we’d love to hear about your own experiences of when you felt trolled or witnessed hysterical levels of shenanigans that would make Sheogorath himself jealous over having not conceived them. Reply in the comments or write your own blog with BoB (Band of Bloggers) in the title so we know to check it out!
To kick things off, we’ll revisit several memorable April Fools jokes that deserve another round of recognition for their cleverness, levels of savagery, and commitment to detail. First on the list, we have the 2012 fake reveal of Half Life 3 on the Steam Store!
Half-Life 3 is a game that fans have begged to see for years, and the demand eventually morphed into a subject of mockery for developer Valve, who had stopped making games until recently. Fortunately we now have a new Half Life game, so the memory of this prank shouldn’t be as painful as it initially was. Whoever approved this prank at Valve must have been a wanted individual for years though.
Far Cry: Blood Dragon
In 2013, Ubisoft announced the first trailer of their absurdly awesome expansion for Far Cry 3 known as Blood Dragon. The standalone expansion looked like the ultimate culmination of 80’s action movies and was over-the-top in every way possible. Needless to say, many people thought it was fake until a second, proper trailer proved them wrong. Way to go Ubisoft, you bamboozled us that time! If you missed out on Blood Dragon, it’s an absolute must play for its mix of excellent gunplay, absurd 80’s dialogue, and retro flare! It might just be what you need to placate your longing for Cyberpunk 2077.
The Legend of Zelda, The Show
In 2008, IGN released an “exclusive world premiere” of a Zelda live-action series with a level of production quality that looked just good enough to be real at the time. The prank came at a time when there were a lot of really bad low-budget productions, which worried fans even more. Fortunately the Zelda franchise was spared from embarrassment, but this fake trailer is remembered for being one of the most elaborate April Fools jokes in gaming.
In 2012 our own Destructoid overlords converted the news site into a mock dating site for gamers. It is no longer active, but I was able to scavenge these invaluable testimonials that demonstrate the overwhelming success of the concept. Unfortunately they deemed that the world wasn’t ready for OKDtoid. It wasn’t the dating site we deserved, but it was the one we needed.
Kingdom Come Deliverance
In 2018, Warhorse Studios (maker of Kingdom Come Deliverance) tweeted that their new patch would add microtransactions and horse skins to the game to “provide a very important element of choice...and enhance the experience.” This was not only a swipe against competitors like EA who were embroiled in a microtransaction scandal at the time, but also likely a jab at Bethesda’s Todd Howard who infamously stated that players would "buy anything you forced on them." This reference harkened all the way back to the days of the Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion when there was a large degree of backlash over the steep price of horse armor. Players love to customize their gaming experience, and it’s generally ill received when developers try to monetize customization or worse, overcharge for it. Looking at you Epic, and your $20 Fortnite skins.
Easy Mode? We Don't Do That Here
Developers like From Software pride themselves on the difficulty of their games. The Dark Souls franchise defines the phrase “Prepare to Die,” because it is not noob friendly, and never will be. The first game didn’t hesitate to throw players right into a challenging bossfight within the first 5 minutes of play. It was... overwhelming to say the least. The designers definitely had a smirk on their faces when they schemed up that encounter. It’s probably not unreasonable to say that the entire series is just one big troll.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Some developers are edgy enough to actually humiliate the players that opt for the easiest possible difficulty level in their games. Wolfenstein: The New Order went as far to include a baby bonnet on the protagonist’s head and to give the easiest difficulty a hilarious label:
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Konami did something similar like Wolfenstein in Metal Gear Solid 5. Players that died too many times were offered the option to wear a cartoonish chicken hat that literally made the AI treat them like chickens. This resulted in much easier mission infiltrations, because honestly who’s worried about a harmless chicken on the loose when there’s a deadly Snake lurking about?
Trolls vs. Pirates
This match-up is a true clash of the titans. The act of pirating video games has been around since the 1980’s, but it reached a breaking point in the 1990’s. Piracy became rampant to the point that it put developers at risk of going out of business, and they were forced to come up with combative measures to reduce the threat. This has resulted in some very creative solutions to piracy over the years and some of them are downright hilarious. Here are a few of the better anti-piracy trolls that surely left pirates confused and angry as they tried to make sense of the problems they experienced:
Grand Theft Auto 4 Grand Theft Auto 4 was the most popular game of 2008, and as one might guess, plenty of pirates attempted to plunder the game files. Rockstar’s solution was to incorporate a wild, shaking camera into pirated versions of the game. It's without a doubt the best “drunk goggles” experience I’ve ever seen. I imagine a few penniless pirates attempted to play the game like this anyways…
The original Mirror’s Edge game was a huge hit for the speed running community, because well… the entire game was about speed running. Pirates wouldn’t get the chance to get very far though, because player movement speed slowed to a crawl upon attempting to leap from the first cluster of buildings. Enjoy your prison yard sized demo area you sneaky scoundrels!
Another great way to troll intellectual property miscreants is to ensure they have an “unpheasant” experience. The Warhead DLC expansion for the first Crysis game punished pirates by replacing their bullets with… chickens. It should come as no surprise that the projectiles weren’t very deadly, which meant the players would have a hard time enjoying their "purchase."
The Sims 4
It seems that a lot of players try to steal from EA, which may in part have something to do with their monetization practices, but I digress. The Sims 4 tackled the issue of piracy in a very clever way. In normal instances of gameplay, when characters undressed to shower (or whatever), their bodies became pixelated as a means of censorship. Pirated copies of the game experienced a massive complication to this however. The pixelated characters remained indefinitely pixelated and could spread the “virus” to other parts of the game, which eventually resulted in a completely unplayable experience. Some pirates were so confused they mistook the phenomenon as a glitch and complained on the game forums only to be exposed for their misdeeds. Now that’s fitting.
They Want a Reward? Well Let's Give Them One!
Some developers can’t resist the temptation of torturing their players with a good ole’ fashioned wild goose hunt. Send them on some tedious or massive quest, and give them nothing for it. Or better yet, give them something that’s worse than nothing!
Grand Theft Auto 5 Grand Theft Auto 5 notoriously featured a massive fetch quest known as “What Lies Beneath,” which sent the player after 30 well-hidden submarine pieces, then subsequently awarded them with a paltry sum of $10 and a signed photograph of the quest issuer’s semi-famous husband. Yipee!
The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine
In the Blood & Wine DLC for The Witcher 3, CD Projekt Red featured a quest known as “Paperchaser,” which sent Geralt to the bank to collect on a gifted investment that had apparently accrued a substantial sum of interest. Shortly after arriving however, Geralt finds himself waist deep in corporate bureaucracy. Bank employees continuously redirect him to other representatives and require him to collect a stack of documents that verify his eligibility to make a withdrawal. The quest is full of references, such as a form called Catch 22, and is a great overall parody of the frustrations we all experience when trying to handle corporate or government business matters. Honestly, the quest was almost too believable for my brain to handle. The reward was decent enough though if you stuck it out for the full amount: 500 gold and a fancy Dwarven blade.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Of course, we saved the best for last! The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gave players a massive open-world to explore, full of surprises and collectibles. One particular set of items, known as the Korok seeds, were particularly difficult to fully collect. There were 900 of them! Players raced to collect them all and find out what the reward was. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any powerful or unique item to be awarded for those who painstakingly hunted down all of the seeds. Instead, players were awarded with “Hestu’s Gift,” which looked (and apparently smelled) a lot like shit. Golden shit. A useless mockery of a reward, perfect! Nintendo never officially clarified the intent of the reward, but it seems like it was meant to be a stab at other developers who over-filled their games with lazy fetch quests and scavenger hunts and then tried to pass it off as “content.” Well, that theory has my vote at least.
Well that’s it for this edition of Band of Bloggers. We hope you had some good laughs, and remembered some silly experiences of your own! Feel free to share in the comments below, or write your own blog about an epic instance of trolling. Until then, we will be waiting underneath a bridge somewhere.