Wade found himself in the middle of the largest battle in the history of the OASIS. The two forces—gunters and Sixers—began to clash on the ground and in the sky. The Sixers in robots were all killed off quickly, but Sorrento’s robot was incredibly powerful and much larger than any of the ones the main four people chose. He shot a bolt of blue lightning at them. Shoto decided that he would distract Sorrento so that the other three could slip away and into the castle. He was able to land a critical hit on Sorrento’s robot, severing its right arm, but soon after he was killed by Sorrento in the same blast that destroyed Wade’s robot.
Wade could have made it inside of the castle, where Sorrento would have had to abandon his robot. He instead decided to stay and fight Sorrento with the Beta Capsule. He beat Sorrento and killed his avatar. He entered the castle, where he saw Aech and Art3mis had killed a number of Sixers and were waiting for him. They opened the gate.
The Sixers detonated a Cataclyst bomb and killed everyone—their entire team as well as the thousands of gunters that had assembled. Not only did it kill every avatar in the sector, but it destroyed the castle so that only the Third Gate remained upright in a barren wasteland. But instead of having to confront a Game Over, Wade was awarded an extra life. He rematerialized but without his robot. His inventory was empty except for the coin he had found. He realized that the coin had awarded him an extra life. This is game-changing: “in the history of the OASIS, there was no record of any avatar ever acquiring an extra life” (344).
Morrow opened a communication link between them and Wade, who was the only person left in the game. They realized that twenty Sixers remained on the Scoreboard, and their scores indicated that they all had found the Crystal Key. These Sixers now knew how to open the gate. The Sixers must have been removed from the city just in case. This was Wade’s last chance to clear the gate and win the game. He promised Art3mis, Shoto, and Aech that if he won the game, he would share the winnings with them equally.
Inside the gate, Wade found an old version of Tempest, a videogame from Atari. He was discouraged because this had been one of the games he didn’t bother to study, but Art3mis knew how to exploit a bug in the software in order to gain 40 extra lives. He beat the game after a number of false starts that let the Sixers catch up to him.
He found himself inside the world of the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He knew the movie well and enjoyed this stage of the challenge. Unfortunately, Sorrento was catching up to Wade fast and was only nine minutes behind him in the film, and he had not missed one line of dialogue. Wade beat him to the end of the film and emerged in a massive oak-paneled room.
In the middle of the room sat an older OASIS immersion rig. It was surrounded by a number of gaming consoles organized into circles around it. Wade realized he was inside of Halliday’s office, where Halliday had died. The egg was somewhere in that room.
He found the game Atari: Adventure, which had been referenced in the Almanac, and inside the game, he found the egg. When he picked up the egg, the room changed and he was once again inside the castle. With the egg, he made his way to Anorak’s study and returned the egg to an empty pedestal. Halliday’s avatar, Anorak, appeared to tell him he had won the game. When they shook hands, his robes were transferred onto Wade’s body, and Anorak turned into a reproduction of Halliday. Halliday had transferred his avatar and his immense wealth over to Wade.
Halliday showed Wade the OASIS’ kill switch, where he could turn off the OASIS and destroy every bit of its code. He entrusted Wade with the decision of when to use it. He then gave Wade one last piece of advice, which was that no matter how scary reality could be, it was “the only place where you can find true happiness” (364).
With his new power, Wade resurrected his friends. Art3mis stayed in the real world and told Wade to find her in Morrow’s garden when he was ready. In the garden, they met in person for the first time. Art3mis introduced herself with her real name, Samantha. They kissed, and Wade realized that for the first time in his life, he had no desire to log back into the OASIS.
Shoto’s revenge is an important moment for the character’s arc. He decided to stay behind and fight Sorrento and let the other three charge ahead toward the gate. This moment was foreshadowed by the fact that the gate could only be opened by exactly three copies of the Crystal Key. He, therefore, ensured that his friends would be able to reach the final level. This indicated how much had changed in this culture and among these gunters. A game that had once been each-player-for-themselves had morphed into a battle of good versus evil, and certain values such as those of brotherhood and justice seemed to finally matter more than the individual glory a person might gain by winning the contest.
Shoto’s decision could be contrasted with Wade’s decision to stay and fight Sorrento instead of approaching the Third Gate. Although Wade also wanted to gain revenge against the man who had killed his family and friend, a large part of his motivation for picking the fight against Sorrento came from his disdain for the man. He wanted to beat Sorrento once and for all and to humiliate him in front of all the gunters in attendance. Although Wade eventually won this battle, it was a selfish choice to make, especially since his loss would have prohibited Aech and Art3mis from entering the gate themselves.
When Wade told Aech, Art3mis, and Shoto that he would share his fortune with them, he told them it was the only honorable thing to do. He told them that the way the game played out wasn’t fair and that he wouldn’t have ended up where he was if it had not been for their help the whole time. Again, we see that the game has changed the way these characters view their world. Instead of competing against each other, they banded together to fight an evil corporation vying for a dangerous monopolistic power. In many ways, a central message of this novel is that insurmountable opponents, like the IOI, or, more generally, greed, can only be combatted through teamwork, honor, and loyalty.
Halliday’s advice to Wade after his win underscored this message. Halliday told Wade that he didn’t realize until it was too late that no matter how much one might want to escape reality, they would never be able to find a suitable replacement in a virtual world. Halliday had spent his entire life afraid, and it was only upon his death that he realized that he could have found happiness in reality. He warned Wade not to make the same mistakes he did, which was to hide within the game for the entirety of his life.
When Wade left the game to find Art3mis, he appreciated the environment for the first time in the book: “The air was warm, and the sun was already high overhead. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky” (369). It was critical that this conversation occurred in the real world, in a garden where Wade and Art3mis would meet each other for the first time. This was where Wade needed to learn that reality held as many possibilities, and even more, as the OASIS.