Earlier this week, Activision began a massive Call of Duty ARG to tease and reveal Call of Duty 2020 (commonly understood to be Black Ops Cold War). The initial steps of the puzzle, which you can catch up on here, led players to PawnTakesPawn.com, which showed an old TV screen and VCR with the date 8/14 and a time of 12:00. When the clock struck noon EDT today, the TV screen went fuzzy and a VHS tape labeled “1961-62 v.1” appeared on top of the VCR. Clicking the tape began playing a nearly 20-minute long video full of clips from that era. Most involved tensions between the US and Russia, President Kennedy, and the space race. However the video appeared to just be flavor, hiding the next steps of the big puzzles.
The biggest reveal was when the VCR would occasionally flash “WZ-H6-49285163.” Players quickly deduced that “WZ” meant Warzone, and H6 referred to a sector on the map. That led people to the Farmland area of Verdansk, where a secret door in a barn had a keypad. Using the final part of the revealed number on the keypad opened the door to a secret room filled with papers; puzzles and ciphers.
— Call of Duty News (@charlieINTEL) August 14, 2020
It’s here that things became a little muddled. Instead of simply using what was available in game, it seems like some information was gleaned through either datamining or going back to footage of past glitches where people got into places they weren’t supposed to in Verdansk. This led to some moments of confusion as Call of Duty streamers and influencers began trying to solve the puzzles using information provided out of context. It wasn’t entirely clear what was obtained legitimately, what was mined, and what wasn’t even relevant to the search. After some searching around, the solvers began to wonder if they were missing something.
Then somebody discovered a new page on PawnTakesPawn.com/emc2, which had been updated with a post-it note. The note had today’s date, Day One, and the VHS title crossed out. The next redacted portion had been unveiled, saying “8/15 – Day Two” with the next VHS title still redacted. Many took this to mean We’d ultimately finished and found everything needed for the first day, and that the puzzle ciphers would slowly be revealed over the next six days, leading up to the final VHS next Thursday (assuming these go day by day).
For the sake of solving the puzzle properly, what should be focused on here is what has been implicitly provided by Activision, Infinity Ward, and Treyarch as part of this ARG. Specifically, the pieces of the ciphers found in the Farmland secret room and anything on the PawnTakePawn site are the only reliable pieces of intel so far. Any datamined or leaked information is unreliable at best, and blatantly wrong at worst. Perhaps those pieces will fit into the puzzle at some point, but trying to solve it out of order seems to be creating more confusion than it’s worth to try to “jump ahead.”
Another element of the video that hasn’t been solved yet is three pairs of numbers that appeared throughout—37, 25, 48—stylized as vacuum tube numbers that look similar to the NixStack and NixCharge cipher papers that have been at least partially revealed (some officially and some via datamined textures). It’s thought that these numbers will fit into that cipher somehow and aren’t usable in the puzzle’s current state.
Another page on PawnTakesPawn indicates that the puzzle “will not be unraveled overnight,” and “will take days to unfold.”
“You have found the first piece of many.
Relish the journey. It’s all part of the game.
The spoils of victory come not to those in haste, but to those who know-
‘Every battle is won before it is ever fought.'”
For now it looks like eager players will have to have a little patience. We’re missing critical pieces of the puzzle that will be revealed in the coming days, but for the time being, you can go explore the secret room in Farmland for yourself to see if you can uncover any secrets the big names in Call of Duty may have missed.