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Deathloop's ending explained: Your WTF questions answered

You may have more questions than answers after watching Deathloop's credits roll. Warning: spoilers inside.

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Bethesda

After being delayed twice, Deathloop was finally unleashed on the world this week. The Arkane Studios game is the best reason to own a PlayStation 5 right now, as it's the console's most must-play console exclusive. (It's also on PC, but you'll need a powerful computer to play it.) It's not just me saying that -- though you can read my review here -- as the game has gotten perfect scores from many outlets, including CNET sister-site GameSpot

But all good things come to an end. The multiplayer will keep you going for a while yet, but Deathloop's story mode will take you between 15 and 30 hours to complete, depending on how much you like to dilly dally. The game's story is incredibly mysterious, and you'll probably have a lot of questions after clocking Deathloop. 

I can help answer some -- but not all -- of those. 

Last warning: Spoilers below. 

Is that the only ending?

No! Whatever ending you saw, it's not the only one. There are three endings to Deathloop, each of which is dependent on how you react to Julianna in the Stabilizer Core.

To recap, Colt figures out that he can break the loop by riding the Rakyetoplan (rocketplane) in Updaam up to the Stabilizer Core. But to access the Rakyetoplan, Colt needs to kill all seven AEON Visionaries -- Egor, Aleksis, Frank, Wenjie, Harriet, Charlie and Fia -- within one loop. Once he gets up to the core, he can take out Julianna and break the loop.

But of course, there's one more Visionary that needs to die: Colt himself. 

When you confront Julianna up in the Stabilizer Core, she'll present you with two dueling pistols. You each take one and aim at each other's head. She gives you a choice: Break the loop (by shooting her) or protect it (by not shooting her) and live in paradise forever. 

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Julianna presents Colt with duelling pistols. You can either pull the trigger or not.

Bethesda

If you let Julianna live, you'll get an ending in which Colt wakes up by the beach as normal, but Julianna pops up and they banter about establishing a loving daddy-daughter relationship. In other words, they're living the loop as buds now. 

However, If you shoot Julianna, you'll then have two more options for two more endings. You can either take a seat in the weird Stabilizer Core lounge, which will lead to the loop reseting as usual (the most boring ending) since not all of the Visionaries died. 

Or you can commit suicide by jumping off the ledge, breaking the loop for good. 

If you successfully break the loop, you'll wake up on Blackreef's shores -- but not as normal. You'll immediately be confronted by Julianna, who shoves a gun in your face. She doesn't kill you though. She pouts and then walks off before disappearing. Blackreef's sky is orange and looks like it's swirling in on itself. 

"It... worked?" Colt asks himself, surveying the horizon. "Okaaaay." 

And that's it?

Yep. Arkane Studios are famous for sneaky game design, so at this point it's possible that there's a secret fourth ending -- but if there is one, no one has found it yet. There are three endings, but all are very brief.

If you were hoping for an ending scene where Julianna explains everything to Colt, you'll be sorely disappointed. I know I was. With that said, scouring the game for notes and documents does yield answers to some of the questions you may have. 

What do we know?

The following synopsis is from a combination of documents picked up throughout the game, as well as dialogue between Colt and Julianna. Deathloop drip feeds you information that's all out of order and rarely provides explicit exposition. If you reconfigure it chronologically, you begin to get a lot of the answers that the endings don't provide. Here's what we know happens in the leadup to Deathloop.

According to a document you'll find in a secrey spy bunker in Fristad Rock, Colt Vahn was an army pilot during the 1930s, and after the (fictional) war was drafted into Operation Horizon, the military organization whose logo adorns many doors in Blackreef.

Blackreef was home to an unusual time anomaly, which Operation Horizon was designed to explore. To do so, they created a rocket which would be blasted through Blackreef's anomaly, an operation for which Colt would serve as pilot. This is referenced at various points, including a letter Colt's partner Lila Blake wrote to Colt, which you can find in a Karl's Bay apartment.

As Colt prepared for his mission, Lila fell pregnant. They had a child after Colt left, one Julianna Blake. Lila eventually died of "Karsvolanev's Syndrome" at the age of 51, according to an obituary found in an Updaam apartment. On his flight through the anomaly, Colt became stuck in time for 17 years. (The aforementioned spy records on Colt reveal that Colt claimed to have lived the same day on repeat for "over 15 years," giving credence to Julianna's claim that Colt had been stuck in Blackreef before for a period of 17 years.)

After Colt broke out of the loop for the first time, he was admitted into psychiatric care for "displaying symptoms of advanced psychological dissociation." During this period, a group of seven created the AEON Program -- the seven Visionaries. Operation Horizon ceased experimenting in Blackreef, but AEON wanted to use the anomaly to create an eternal life. Some, like Aleksis and Frank, wanted to party for eternity, while Egor and Wenjie saw it as a way to get infinite time for scientific pursuits. (Egor was the main mastermind of the AEON Program, though Wenjie's science helped control the loop.)

Bethesda

Egor got Colt out of psychiatric care and brought him back to Blackreef, where he served as the AEON program's head of security. The AEON Program recruited people, dubbed Eternalists, to help build an island that could become a paradise on loop. (A note left in Fristad Rock's gas chamber details a disgruntled Eternalists objections to this plan.) 

Eventually, Colt began to lose his memory and started trying to break out of the loop. In the course of doing so, he "murdered" (her words, in the final scene) Julianna -- many times over. In the same scene, Colt says that he killed her to give her a chance at a "real life."

Julianna is one of only a few people who retains her memory from one loop to the next. At some point after entering the loop for a second time as AEON security chief, Colt began to lose his memories, so couldn't recall the many times he killed Julianna and the other Visionaries. He also evidently forgot who Julianna was. Julianna grew resentful of him (fair enough), and accepted that she needed to stop Colt each loop until he could regain his memories. Then, she could remind him of the paradise he believed Blackreef could be when he joined as security chief. Thus, one of the three endings is Julianna succeeding at this goal. 

Deathloop begins with Colt regaining his ability to retain information from one loop to the next. Colt is one of only four beings with this ability, alongside Julianna, Charlie's 2-Bit robot and a random Eternalist named Pick (that's another story). 

Everyone else percieves it as "First Day," even though they've been in the loop for many years.

What don't we know?

Lots. 

We don't know exactly where the glowing writing comes from, but that's probably Colt's "psychological dissociation."

The timeline of Julianna joining AEON is also unclear. Lila was pregnant when Colt flew the Operation Horizon mission, a mission he was stuck in for 17 years. The spy's dossier says he was then in psychiatric care for five years. That would make Julianna 22 at the time Egor recruited Colt to serve as AEON security chief, but it's not explained how she joined the program. She mentions in the ending scene that she "came here to be AEON's archivist."

It's known that Colt was in the initial Blackreef timeloop for 17 years, but it's now revealed how he got out of that initial loop.

Much confusion swirls around "the anomaly," the details of which aren't known. The anomaly can be used in such a way that the same person can interact with versions of themselves from other dimensions, which is why there are so many Wenjies. It's also how Colt interacts with different versions of himself, but the specifics are very much unclear. 

None of the endings provide long-term answers to how Colt's story ends. For that, we may just have to wait for Deathloop 2.