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The Most Expert Trolls In Gaming

There are times when you can spot trolling from a mile away. Sometimes you can just tell when something has been designed with the express purpose of tricking people and pulling the rug out from under them. The goal of any self-respecting gaming troll is to elicit a strong reaction from the intended target, whether it be laughter or frustration. However, when the prank in question comes from high-profile video game developers, it usually feels much more unexpected.

It's always kind of incredible to see a developer using its medium to pull one over on fans. However, as amusing as they usually are, not every one of these trolls has gone over well with the folks on the receiving end. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the biggest and best acts of trolling in the history of video games. 

Beware of slight spoilers ahead.

Diablo 3 welcomes you to Whimsyshire

When Blizzard unveiled the first footage and artwork from Diablo 3, the company faced some outrage from fans who disliked the new game's color palette and design. Some longtime Diablo players thought that Diablo 3 looked "too cartoonish." Numerous petitions were started in protest against the game's art style. The final version of the game was tweaked a bit from that early footage, with Blizzard making the atmosphere a bit darker and more violent. However, Blizzard decided to slyly reference the backlash in the form of a secret area in Diablo 3. 

Early in Diablo 3, it's possible to find a rainbow portal leading to the land of Whimsyshire. This brightly colored world is full of killer unicorns and teddy bears, all of whom will be extremely difficult to kill. This is likely Blizzard's way of reminding players that Diablo 3 can still be hardcore, no matter how cute players think the game looks.

World War Z is never gonna give you up

The act of "Rickrolling" — tricking people into watching the music video for Rick Astley's smash hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up" — is one of the things on this beautiful, insane thing we call the internet that may never grow old. That's probably exactly why the team making 2019's World War Z decided to pull this very prank on unsuspecting players.

As you can see in a clip posted by Reddit user redgalaxy95, there's a particular bulletin board in the game that features a QR Code that sticks out like a sore thumb. Scanning this code with your mobile device will — you guessed it — bring up the music video. It's kind of hilarious that the QR code is sprinkled among a series of missing persons posters, which is likely to trick players into thinking the code will lead to information pertinent to the game's lore.

Much like the enemies in World War Z, it appears this meme will never truly die.

Metal Gear Solid 2 had sneaky marketing

The hype for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty prior to its release was off the charts. People were beyond ready for Solid Snake's debut on the PlayStation 2. A trailer and demo were released, both showing off Snake's latest explosive mission. When the game finally debuted, though, players were in for an unbelievable surprise.

All of the footage and gameplay released up to that point was from the game's first mission. After that, however, Snake was presumably killed in action, leading to new character Raiden taking over as the game's main protagonist. Fans of the Metal Gear Solid series were baffled by this decision, with many people feeling horribly misled. Looking back on it now, it's wild to imagine Konami keeping something like this a secret, especially considering how easy it is to have video games spoiled nowadays.

For his own part, series director Hideo Kojima felt that this bait and switch was integral to the game's success. He said, "In a sequel you have to meet people's expectations, but you also sort of have to go against them and deceive them I think. This is my Metal Gear, and I can destroy it if I want to."

Rockstar blows up GTA hackers

Hackers and cheaters have been having a field day with Grand Theft Auto Online pretty much since the game launched. Back in 2015, a popular hack allowed players to bring a specific high-powered car from GTA 5's story mode into online play. This car was called the Duke O' Death, which ended up being a beautifully appropriate name when you consider how Rockstar Games handled this hacking situation.

Rather than banning the cheaters or completely patching the exploit that let gamers bring the car into GTA Online, Rockstar instead turned the Duke O' Death into a boobytrap. Any players who brought the car over to their online account were met with a fiery demise. The Duke O' Death would simply explode as soon as the offending player attempted to crank it up in GTA Online. Unfortunately, some hackers decided to use the car as a boobytrap for other unsuspecting players, but you can't fault Rockstar for attempting such a hilarious solution. Somehow it fits the anarchic nature of GTA Online perfectly.

Earthbound becomes unbeatable

Earthbound is a beloved cult classic, but the game was apparently pirated quite often back when it was first released. Luckily, the game had certain anti-piracy safeguards built into it, including screens that told players that they were committing a serious crime by copying the cartridge. It was possible for particularly stubborn hackers to get around that layer of protection, but the game contained more anti-piracy measures that are genuinely brilliant. 

For one thing, pirated copies of Earthbound featured way more enemy encounters, leading to your party being severely outnumbered. However, the real troll here is that the developers designed the anti-piracy software in such a way that it was still possible for skilled players to reach the final boss battle. Once there, the game would finally crash and the player's save file would delete itself. It was kind of wonderfully cruel to let pirates get so close, yet so far from victory.

Hold your Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a hugely expansive game. There's so much to do that it can sometimes feel a little bit overwhelming. However, the game's lengthiest side mission involves collecting a staggering 900 Korok seeds. These little pellets can be exchanged for upgrades to Link's inventory slots, allowing him to carry more potions and weapons. Korok seeds are hidden all over the game's massive map and occasionally a puzzle must be solved before you can acquire one. 

After collecting all 900 of these, you will be awarded with Hestu's Gift, which is literally a golden, glittering piece of poop. No, really. You've just gone through the Herculean task of wasting your time, scouring the game for 900 seedsonly to be rewarded with actual waste.

According to Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, "We just kind of thought it would be funny to make that a big joke ... the kind of hidden kind of thing in the game the whole way is that the Korok seeds are actually Korok poop." In other words, the developers tricked you into spending many hours hunting down animal droppings.

Game Dev Tycoon doesn't play around

Game Dev Tycoon is a simulation game that puts players in charge of their own game development company. Throughout the game, you'll face different challenges as you attempt to follow trends and create a following of fans. However, the game's developers at Greenheart Games decided to conduct a little social experiment that doubled as a prank on unsuspecting pirates.

Greenheart actually leaked a cracked copy of the game on file-sharing sites. This version was almost identical to the official one, except that players would eventually receive a message explaining that their in-game company was failing due to an overabundance of pirates stealing their games. Shortly afterwards, the player's company would go bankrupt, ending their game.

According to a blog post on Greenheart Games' website, "we didn't want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developer."

The mysterious Dark Souls pendant

Players beginning a game of Dark Souls have several starting gifts to choose from when creating their character. These gifts all have different properties, but there's one in particular that fascinated players: the pendant. This pendant has no apparent function, so naturally people spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it was for. Dark Souls is a notoriously difficult series of games, so it makes sense that players would look for any edge they could find.

Finally, it was revealed by Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki that the pendant doesn't do anything. As if the challenge of defeating the game wasn't maddening enough, the useless pendant was literally put into the game to drive players crazy. This is hilarious when you consider that Miyazaki had previously told Famitsu (via Eurogamer) that he recommended players pick either the pendant or nothing when choosing their starting gift.

Miyazaki explained, "When it comes to the pendant, I actually had a little bit of an intention to play a prank."

Borderlands 3 has some legendary lights

In the Borderlands series, the biggest draw for the series is probably the sheer number of insane weapons that can be collected throughout, all of which have different attributes and abilities. The most coveted of these are Legendary weapons, which drop randomly through defeating high-level enemies and can occasionally be found in loot chests throughout the game.

Borderlands 3 players want these weapons. The developers at Gearbox knows this. That's why a certain design element found within the game comes across as such a trolly move.

In the DLC missions of Mad Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot, there are footlights around several areas in the game that shine directly upwards. In a move that has caused many a Vault Hunter to get excited and then immediately disappointed, Gearbox decided to make these lights have the same orange glow given off by Legendary weapons. Fans on Reddit have complained about this apparent troll from Gearbox, but admit that it fits the series' sense of humor. 

As one fan wrote, "Yeah, that irks me a tad. But then I laugh and say 'Well played, Gearbox.'"