Will the physics that govern Halo’s universe let you redirect an incoming rocket multiple times, score 10 kills with the same one sniper bullet, or make two sticky grenades attach to one another in mid-air (opens in new tab)? Is it possible to survive a round-ending nuclear strike in Call of Duty multiplayer, or prevent a car from exploding in Grand Theft Auto 5 by pre-emptively draining its gas tank (opens in new tab)? The answers to these and many more questions have all been documented on a single YouTube channel, which has accrued millions of views across dozens of videos. Ever since the heyday of Halo 3, Caleb ‘TURRET BUDDY’ and Matt ‘Randomsauce’ have made a name for themselves as gaming’s Mythbusters, sharing their findings in a series of fascinating, elucidating videos under the banner of DefendTheHouse (opens in new tab).
Like their Discovery Channel counterparts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, Caleb and Matt assemble a collection of myths – some submitted by viewers, others pulled from the collective consciousness or their own imagination – and rigorously test these hypotheses to verify whether or not they’d actually work. But instead of recreating urban legends or movie stunts, Caleb and Matt pose and substantiate a wide range of theories about in-game arsenals, map designs, and NPC interactions. “A lot of it is us just sitting down and saying ‘What would be cool?’,” says Matt. “We definitely think about the game with a different frame of mind. [The myths] really come to us quicker than you would expect.”
The beauty of these videos is that they showcase wildly popular games being played in ways that most people – be they players or developers – might’ve never thought to try. “I think my favorite Halo myth was, there used to be fusion coils [Halo’s version of explosive barrels] on the Valhalla map, and we figured out that you could put the flag on top of them, and you could shoot it across the map (opens in new tab) [from base to base],” says Caleb. “It was really cool because a few days after, Bungie actually removed the fusion coils from that map because of the video. It’s pretty exciting that, hey, the guys who made this game are watching what we’re doing.” Matt says that’s always a highlight: “Every now and then, we’ll find something that’s so game-breaking that it’ll be patched in the game shortly thereafter.”
DefendTheHouse isn’t about trying to poke holes in big-budget games – it’s more like a constant pursuit of knowledge with entertaining results. “It’s really easy to tear down games, and stuff like that; be really negative,” says Caleb. “So when we’re looking at video games to mythbust, we really want to highlight the positives. ‘This game is cool because you can do these crazy things’, right? Rather than [focusing on] all the broken stuff.” That philosophy has been a constant ever since the duo uploaded their first video back in August of 2008.
When you solicit myths from legions of fans, you’re going to get a few oddballs – and busted myths are only worth using if they defy expectation. “One of the crazier myths we got in Halo 3 was, there’s this guy – and he was pretty adamant about this – he said that on this particular map, if you waited seven minutes and shot seven Plasma Pistol shots into this random [object], some floating eye thing or something like that, then you’d get shot by a Spartan Laser,” muses Caleb. “It seemed too specific for a lie,” he laughs. Unsurprisingly, hours of testing produced zero results. “Our own unwritten rule for busted myths is like, if it doesn’t work, but you would expect it to work, then we put it in,” says Caleb. “But usually, we stick with confirmed stuff, because that’s more interesting to watch.”
Halo 3 was the game that kicked off Caleb and Matt’s mythbusting journey, but they’ve since tackled everything from the Call of Duty and Battlefield series to one-offs like Metal Gear Solid 5, Gears of War 3, and Titanfall. And while both agree that Halo 3 will always hold a special place in their hearts, it was actually Grand Theft Auto 5 that revitalized their passion for mythbusting. “It just felt like we were in a good groove then. And the music [by artist ProleteR] was great there,” laughs Matt. “I remember I called Caleb in the middle of the night, and I was like ‘I just landed a helicopter on top of a plane and hijacked it (opens in new tab)!'” Caleb agrees: “I think it was really good, because it got us excited about making videos again.” With that newfound vigor, DefendTheHouse is ready to tackle any and all myths related to a cavalcade of upcoming games, including Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, and Star Wars Battlefront, for starters. And of course they’re stoked to see what they can cook up in Halo 5: Guardians.
If the enduring popularity of both the MythBusters show and the DefendTheHouse channel is any indication, humankind is always interested to know the answers to questions that start with “I wonder what would happen if…”. And as long as games give us the freedom to tinker with their many overlapping mechanics and systems, video game mythbusters like Caleb and Matt will be there to help satisfy our endless curiosity. The best part about video game myths is that you’re free to try them at home, without ever worrying for your safety – but with the high standard set by DefendTheHouse, you might as well just leave it to the experts.