A cryptogram found in the computer game “Call of Duty Zombies” has baffled codebreakers for four years. Can a reader finally solve this challenge?

Do you know the computer game series Call of Duty? I have never played this first-person shooter, mainly because games of this genre are not my kind of thing anyway. However, I have heard of Call of Duty a few times before, because encrypted messages play a certain role in it. In my next book Codebreaking: A Practical Guide

… (co-written with Elonka Dunin) a pigpen cipher from this series is mentioned.

There’s a large variety of Call of Duty games, inlcuding a main series and a few side lines. Gamer Aidan Widworth recently informed me that in the Call of Duty game Zombies an especially tricky cryptogram is hidden. It was found by players of the game on May 22nd, 2016. Apparently, this message doesn’t really have a role in the game as a whole. The developers probably put in on the map to add a bit of lore. Other ciphers in the same game hint at future maps that would come out for the game later on and the story of the game as a whole.

Although, the said cryptogram has been known for four years now and though many players have tried to break it, it is still unsolved.

 

The TheGiant cryptogram

Here’s the message (because of the headline, it is also referred to as “TheGiant cryptogram”):

The language is expected to be English.

I don’t see an obvious way to solve the TheGiant cryptogram. The ciphertext alphabet consists of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, and digits. This means that we are dealing with about 60 different characters. There are several ways how this can be explained:

  • A simple substitution cipher has been used. Usually, such a system is based on a 26-letter alphabet, but here upper-case letters, lower-case letters, and digits might be distinguished in both the plaintext and the ciphertext alphabet.
  • A homophonic cipher has been used (i.e., some or all letters of the alphabet have more than one ciphertext equivalent).

There are other possibilities, but I it’s certainly not a transposition or abbreviation cipher. As a next step, it might be helpful to perform a frequency analysis.

Aidan wrote me: “We have performed quite a lot on this cipher already. We haven’t got a single thread to go by. I would appreciate any help with this as we have been working for years to solve this and others.”

Can a reader provide the help Aidan is looking for?

 

Other Call of Duty cryptograms

Aidan has provided me a number of other Call of Duty cryptograms. All of these have long been solved.

Message 1 – cipher type: barcode

Plaintext: The mountain must be searched for the frozen one

Message 2 – cipher type: Periodic table & chemical symbol

Plaintext: In the cell below the waves is where honor suffers

Message 3 – cipher type: Simplified Lorenz (K-wheel = 9 & S-wheel = 4)

Plaintext: When finished we will return to the house and the infinite

Message 4 – cipher type: Enigma

Key settings: WAD, ring settings: AAD, rotors: 123, plug board settings: PO ML IU KJ NH YT GB VF RE DC

Plaintext: A city of fire surrounds the warrior the last of his kind

After these four ciphertexts have been solved, it’s about to also decipher the TheGiant cryptogram, too. Perhaps, a reader will be successful. Good luck!


Further reading: Revisited: The Fair Game Code

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Kommentare (1)

  1. #1 Norbert
    Berlin
    6. September 2020

    Here is an attempt at a transcription (I could not distinguish between lowercase L and uppercase i nor between uppercase o and zero, so I always wrote lowercase L resp. zero):

    kCmlgFi6GUJNgkNl1Q41fbfyL0CFTCvlqkZil0KlAXAzP1U1
    uy1BE4UfPBfpKmmL0bjYnQNRBaPtKiVWzc5A4v0w3xle8F0h
    AGJZ7g4in0wndJxM0v03dc1M82at2T6935r0TQyWDgtGD/hw
    wRF30HqFM5Vcw1JtlNbsgWRm404/quEDkZ7x1B275bX3/F01

    Corrections are much appreciated.
    The length (192 characters, which is divisible by 4) and the used characters are compliant with a Base64 encoding. However, the decoding does not yield readable text. Here is the decoding as hex values:

    90 29 a5 80 58 ba 19 42 4d 82 43 65 d5 0e 35 7d b7 f2 2f 40 85 4c 2b e5 aa 46 62 97 42 a5 01 70 33 3f 55 35 bb 2d 41 13 85 1f 3c 17 e9 2a 69 8b d1 b8 d8 9d 03 51 05 a3 ed 2a 25 56 cd ce 40 e2 fd 30 df 19 5e f0 5d 21 00 62 59 ee 0e 22 9f 4c 27 74 9c 4c d2 fd 37 75 cd 4c f3 66 ad d9 3e bd df 9a f4 4d 0c 96 0e 0b 46 0f f8 70 c1 11 77 d0 7a 85 33 95 5c c3 52 6d 94 d6 ec 81 64 66 e3 4e 3f aa e1 03 91 9e f1 d4 1d bb e5 b5 f7 fc 5d 35

    It seems that an additional step is required, after or before the Base64 decoding.