That is the extent of our official knowledge about this game, but, like any good Indiana Jones mystery, there is always more to the story. As part of the game’s announcement blog, the copy notes that while few details have been revealed so far, the cryptic teaser “may hold some clues.”
We’ve been poring over the short trailer with a fine-tooth comb, and sure enough, there are a lot of small details that you might have missed. Let’s talk about the most interesting finds.
Some of the game takes place in October 1937
I downloaded the trailer in HD and have been looking for clues.
— Jordan Oloman (@JordanOloman) January 12, 2021
The main thing we can spot in the trailer is Indy’s passport and his travel ticket. The ticket mentions that he is embarking on an “Overnight Service to Rome” on October 21, 1937. The passport’s entry fields suggest that he is heading there under the guise of a “Research/Education” trip, connected to his day job teaching Archaeology at Marshall College (we can see a coffee mug with the ‘MC’ symbol on his desk). However, we can also assume from the fact that he’s taking his whip and his gun that this vacation won’t be strictly academic.
Indiana Jones is going to Vatican City
Another concrete detail from the trailer is a gigantic map of Vatican City, the independent city-state of the Holy See. Indy appears to be studying this area thoroughly, marking areas of interest like the Belvedere Courtyard, which also happens to be the site of the Vatican Apostolic Library. The Vat is positively littered with historic texts and artefacts, which would be of prime interest to our myth-hunting protagonist.
Indy has also put a question mark on the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of then-pope Pius XI, and the location of the famous window where he delivers blessings. Not quite sure what his intentions are there, but an audience with the head of the Catholic Church may be out of the question. We can also see some arrows pointing west from St. Peter’s Square, which suggests that this may be Indy’s intended entry point. Not exactly subtle!
The Typewritten Note
Looks like Indy is leaving a message for someone – “i will be arriving in Rome” pic.twitter.com/jaoQebK6ZI
— Jordan Oloman (@JordanOloman) January 12, 2021
Blink and you’ll miss it, but some of the writing on the ‘MachineGames’ branded typewriter is legible. It looks like Indy has a contact within the Vatican. Here’s what we’ve got so far:
“Let me start…thank you for taking your time to help me … with this written request… I will be arriving in Rome… I have been informed that your contact will be waiting”
We’d need a higher-quality trailer than the compressed Twitter video that we’re working with to snag the whole thing. We enquired with Bethesda about this but they weren’t able to supply a direct-feed due to an agreement with Lucasfilm. Until then, if you have any ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Get ready to punch some fascists
To quote the inimitable Indiana Jones… “Nazis. I hate these guys.” A 1930s setting for the game puts us in the thick of The Third Reich and Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship. Benito Mussolini is also in Rome at this point overseeing Fascist Italy, just prior to the World War 2 Axis powers formally consolidating under the Pact of Steel in 1939. Due to the focus on Vatican City, the game could also touch on the Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church during this period.
Given Indy’s proclivity for anti-fascism, it would make sense that we’d be fighting Nazis and fascists while decoding myths and retrieving artefacts. It’s also a very familiar subject for MachineGames, who has spent the last decade working on Wolfenstein games.
The story takes place between Raiders and The Last Crusade, “at the height” of Jones’ career
In regards to the movies, this timeframe means we’re in between Raiders of the Lost Ark (1936) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1938). Jones has retrieved the golden idol from Peru and has been to Egypt to thwart the Nazis. As a result, The Ark of the Covenant is now in storage, and the US government is aware of Jones’ activities, having just paid him for retrieving it.
We can see a dossier with redacted strings on his desk in the trailer, so this operation may also be a collaboration with the government. The site mentions that the game takes place “at the height of the career of the famed adventurer”, so this all makes sense.
We may also visit Egypt, Peru and Mesopotamia
Stepping away from Italy for a moment, there are a number of references to other locations that Indy could be headed to in this new adventure. The first thing we see in the trailer is a stack of books. None of the author names leads to anything on Google (except for Todd Howard, of course) but the subject matter is interesting.
The ‘Myths That Made Us’ book at the front there has a tagline on the spine, which says “Vol. 1 Mesopotamia”. Mesopotamia was quite a large region in Western Asia, encompassing Babylon, Palmyra as well as parts of modern Syria, Turkey and Iraq. One of the most famous Mesopotamian myths is the Epic of Gilgamesh, which happens to be one of the oldest surviving examples of ancient literature. Indy could very well be hunting for artefacts or tablets relating to this myth, or perhaps the mystery has something to do with The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the ancient wonders of the world.
The books note that Indy is also studying Ancient Circles and Forbidden Stones. The tagline on the Forbidden Stones book reads “A treatise on corrupted jewels and the essence of ancient curses,” which provides some further detail on what Indy might be looking for in Mesopotamia.
Then in the bottom left corner, we can see a tiny note written by Indy, which says “Pyramids Giza Necropolis,” referring to the Giza complex of pyramids in Cairo, the last remaining ancient wonder of the world. The yellow pages north of this note offer a sketch of the Peruvian “Forbidden Idol” retrieved in Raiders and a drawing of a Ziggurat, a common structure found in ancient Mesopotamia. Indy has written “Ziggurat Clue?” nearby, so he’s definitely studying it. Whether he will visit any of these places in the game is still up in the air, but it’s good food for thought regardless.
Untitled Indiana Jones Project Platforms and Release Date
Beyond all of the easter eggs we’ve found in the trailer, those excited for the game may be wondering about what platforms it will land on in the future. Given that Microsoft has acquired Bethesda (and by proxy, MachineGames) we can assume that it will land on PC and Xbox consoles. Whether it will be exclusive to those platforms is another question entirely.
As for a potential release date, the teaser suggests the game is early in development. MachineGames tweeted shortly after the announcement, noting that the studio is hiring, so the team is growing and gearing up to deliver on this ambitious project, a “completely original story” within the Indiana Jones IP.
The only other thing we have to go off is the upcoming Indiana Jones 5 movie, which is set for a July 2022 release and will start shooting in Spring of 2021. Again, we have no idea, but the game may want to complement the film’s release.
Beyond that, there’s really nothing more that we can glean from the 30-second trailer Bethesda stealth-dropped on us. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as more information arrives.
Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.