Header image courtesy of “Sensei Tehminer“.
I like a good ARG. Both as a noise to scream atop blustery hills, and as a chain of convoluted mysteries that take the collective brainpower of entire communities to solve. Payday 2 players have been uncovering more and more of “The Secret” for the past five years, which has now culminated in cracking open a big ol’ hidden magic vault.
If you’d rather not spend a dozen hours jumping through hidden hoops to watch the live-action finale, just have a peek at it below.
To get to grips with the full conspiracy, you’ll need to read this report of every clue and red herring players have stumbled into over the past half a decade. I have not done that.
If you thought stealing presidential pardons from the White House was an over-the-top finale, think again. Though to be honest, I had more fun watching this guy reach the ending than watching the ending itself.
I’m a big fan of elaborate daftness – perhaps even more so when I’ve got no sense of its context. Here’s what you need to do, written out in no small part for my own amusement:
First up, you assemble a glowing, hovering cyan disk from four special components in your HQ, all snagged from different missions. That done, you need to grab a medallion from yet another mission, then head over to a piano and shoot nine specific keys. Lord knows why. That lets you interact with the device, which will be spinning and covered in runes – these correspond to 20 of 50 possible achievements that you can earn by completing specific objectives on specific maps. Every player gets a different combination, so unless you want to complete all of them then you’ll need to actually get to grips with the runic language.
Once you’re done riddling, you need to launch the White House mission. There’s a special painting that will glow if everyone in the game has done everything they need to, which you can remove and then blow through the wall behind it. That takes you to an elevator shaft, which in turn takes you down to a massive vault door covered in more runic symbols. It’s a puzzle that takes half an hour to solve, according to walkthrough man up there, all the while being attacked by an infinite stream of shadow demons.
The door opens, you get monologued at for a bit by the Dentist, you open a door to shoot the Dentist, you plug bars of Mayan gold into a massive dais, then you all evaporate in a light show. Then there’s an eight minute cutscene with real-life actors chilling on a beach, then a four minute epilogue crawl detailing the fates of every character – from running wildlife centres to enlisting in government experiments involving cognition-enhancing drugs.
I did read the very end of that ARG summary, which reveals why they’re so enraptured by the president’s speech. He is, of course, being possessed by the spirit of a fallen gang member:
“The final words in his speech are “Let’s do this” – this combined with some of Bain’s voice lines during the Ark’s activation (“Time for a new perspective.”, “The things I do for a facelift…”) imply that Bain used the power of the Ark of the Watcher to sacrifice his terminally ill body to be reincarnated as the president, and aims to fix the problems he saw in the US establishment which made him take up heisting in the first place.”
Ah yes, the two routes to correcting institutional corruption: heists and metempsychosis. Good on ya, Bain.