First and foremost, this post will contain MASSIVE SPOILERS for Quantum Break, so you should only proceed if you’ve played through the game in full. You have been WARNED, do not carry on if you don’t want to SPOILERS for this game.
Seriously, SPOILERS ahead! This is your last chance!
The core of Quantum Break’s narrative revolves around the manipulation of time, namely time travel and the effects it can have on the timeline. For the purposes of the breakdown below I will be starting with 1999, which is the year William Joyce successfully creates the first time machine. This should give the true timeline of events as they played out, even with subsequent events happening in 2016 that actually kick off the game itself, but thanks to time being a loop and the past can’t be changed (in QB’s world at least), it makes sense to start in 1999. The timeline will reflect the travels of the main characters who used the time machines, which may involve future and present versions of the same character.
February 28, 1999
William Joyce successfully activates his time machine at his workshop. Future Paul Serene and Future Beth Wilder mysteriously come pouring out of it. Future Paul tries to kill William, but Future Beth stops him. Future Beth informs William that his invention eventually leads to a fracture in time, so he needs to build a countermeasure.
Future Paul Serene forms Monarch from the shadows so he can prepare for the impending fracture in time that occurs in October of 2016. The same event that sent him to the end of time and ultimately sent him back to 1999.
At Future Beth’s request William moves his time machine to the Bradbury swimming pool. William also begins work on the countermeasure at his workshop. Future Beth goes into hiding to avoid being spotted by Future Paul.
Future Paul recruits Dr. Kim to work on Chronon project. He learns that William is working on a new device, but doesn’t know what he’s working on. He still can’t find the mystery woman who attacked him during the end of time, who we know to be Future Beth Wilder, the same woman who followed him back to 1999.
Future Beth Wilder remains hidden, but does find her younger self and tells her what she needs to know about the fracture in time and how she plays a major role in trying to fix it. She gives her a journal to prove her story, effectively setting her younger self on the path that ultimately led her being sent to the end of time while helping Jack Joyce in 2016.
Years 2001 – 2009
Future Paul Serene and his Monarch Solutions can’t crack the Chronon science they need to endure the 2016 time fracture because they’re missing a key component. William continues to work on the countermeasure, which he started in 1999. Future Beth Wilder remains hidden but keeps in touch with William and his work.
July 4, 2010
William completes his 11 year countermeasure project.
Future Jack Joyce arrives from 2016 and finds Future Beth, who to him just left his time line, but to her it’s been 11 years. They plan to steal the countermeasure from William’s lab to maintain what happened in the past in 2010, and to seal the fracture back in 2016.
Later that night Future Paul Serene tracks them down and a scuffle ensues. During the melee the countermeasure gets activated and saturates the area in Chronon particles. This becomes known as the Ground Zero event, which you learn about in 2016. This event is what gives Future Paul the science his team needs to progress Chronon weapons and defensive measure to prepare for the 2016 fracture by possessing William’s countermeasure which he plans to use for his life boat protocol. He also murders Future Beth Wilder, who is still a mystery woman to him.
Jack Joyce gets transported back to 2016 at the same time he left to go to 2010 due to the countermeasure accident.
Future Paul Serene commissions work for a Monarch built time machine.
Future Paul Serene realizes there is a traitor in Monarch. This traitor is present day Beth Wilder who got a job at Monarch to keep tabs on him because of Future Beth’s guidance. One could speculate that Martin Hatch is doing traitorous actions as well.
October 9, 2016 4:15 am
Present day Paul Serene and Present day Jack Joyce activate the Riverport University time machine before William can stop them based on his knowledge of the future from Future Beth Wilder. The machine causes the fracture in time that ultimately leads to the end of time. Present day Paul and Jack get blasted by Chronon particles giving them abilities. Present day Paul is trapped in the time machine when Future Paul Serene and Monarch show up to ensure Present day William and Jack Joyce don’t escape based on Paul’s previous experience with this event.
Present day Paul Serene gets sent to the future but finds the end of time. Everything is frozen, the world is in chaos, and beings called shifters thrive. It’s during his time in end of time that Present day Paul becomes twisted and eventually becomes Future Paul when he finds another time machine in the end of time and travels back to February 28, 1999. This is the earliest date he could go back to because it’s the first time William Joyce’s machine was activated.
The university time machine core is sent to Monarch Solutions for the time machine stored there.
October 9, 2016 up to 8:00 am
William Joyce is seemingly killed in an explosion and Present day Jack Joyce gets captured by Monarch soldiers. He’s taken to the Ground Zero location where his Future self failed at stealing the countermeasure in 2010. He escapes with the help of Present day Beth Wilder and Liam Burke, and they eventually make it to the Bradbury swimming pool where William moved his time machine to in 1999.
They plan to use the time machine, but it doesn’t work, so Jack plans to turn himself in to capture Sophia Amaral, a Monarch employee who knows how to fix the machine.
October 9, 2016 up to 8:36 pm
Liam Burke and two other Monarch employees named Charlie and Fiona break into Monarch’s labs to learn more about the life boat protocol. They find the countermeasure that Future Paul took from Future Beth and Future Jack in 2010, which is now being called the CFR and is being used for the life boat protocol to power it.
Present day Jack and Beth Wilder on the other hand kidnap Sophia so she can help them fix the time machine at the pool
October 10, 2016 2:00 am
Present day Beth Wilder enters the pool time machine after Sophia fixes it to go back to 2010 so her and Jack can steal William’s countermeasure thinking that they can bring it back to fix the fracture in 2016. Before Jack can join her Sophia changes the date to the end of time, effectively sending Present day Beth to the end of time where Present day Paul was sent to almost 24 hours earlier. She tries to kill him here, which results in Present day Paul fearing the “mystery woman” from the end of time in a few of his diaries. Both eventually make it back to February 28, 1999.
Immediately after Present day Beth gets sent to the future, Present day Jack uses the pool time machine and goes back to July 4, 2010 where he finds Future Beth Wilder visually shaken by her journey to the end of time and reliving the same 11 years again from 1999 – 2010.
After Future Jack gets hit by the countermeasure accident in 2010 he is transported back to October 10, 2016 at the same time he left to go back to July of 2010. He ends up in William’s workshop and not the pool time machine.
October 10, 2016 5:15 am
Depending on your Junction choices either Liam Burke or Charlie die at the hands of Martin Hatch who reveals that he’s probably a shifter and actually wants chaos to ensue. He’s eventually foiled, leaving the countermeasure guarded by either Liam or Charlie for Present day Jack’s arrival.
October 10, 2016 5:30 am
Present day Jack arrives at Monarch to steal the countermeasure, which he now knows Future Paul has had in his possession since July 4, 2010, and that he ultimately led to him getting it. He secures the countermeasure either by killing Liam Burke, or being helped by Charlie.
October 10, 2016 5:40 am
Present day Jack uses the Monarch time machine to travel back to 10-9-16 at 4:16 am, 1-minute after the fracture in time occurs from nearly 25 hours ago. He plans to save William so he can show him how to use the countermeasure that he built.
October 9, 2016 4:41 am
25-minutes later Future Jack does save Will while preserving the illusion that he died, so the past wasn’t changed, therefore Will remaining alive won’t affect the future; it was meant to happen in the closed loop system.
October 9, 2016 7:05 am
William and Future Jack head to the swimming pool to use William’s time machine because they can’t use the countermeasure in the past since the fracture existed in Jack’s future still, therefore changing the past wouldn’t result in it being fixed. By traveling to the future a few moments after Future Jack left to return to save William they can then use the device to hopefully save the day.
October 10, 2016 6:31 am
Future Jack and past William make it back to the future a few moments after Jack left to save William but are confronted by Future Paul Serene, who knew this is where Jack would end up based on his Chronon visions. William is frozen by a stutter in time, but Jack manages to kill Future Paul with a ninja punch.
William and Jack use the countermeasure, which slightly rewinds time, allowing Future Paul to come back to life, but the countermeasure effectively makes him disappear after it discharges and fixes the time fracture. Jack is seen experiencing Chronon Syndrome side effects after the device goes out, signaling that he’s probably like Future Paul now in terms of making a full transition to a shifter without a cure.
I grabbed some screens of a key Narrative Object found later in the game that explains who Martin Hatch really is and how he became a shifter and can’t die. This letter is found when Jack goes to Paul’s office in Act 5.
Jack Joyce finishes telling his account of the events from the fracture to a Monarch employee and is then greeted by Martin Hatch, who curiously is alive. This is a clear sign that Martin is a shifter who has learned to hone his powers and maintain a presence in the real world, which is also explained in a Narrative object late in the game. He leaves Jack with a choice to join his cause, which is secretly to bring on the end of time, or to walk away, and then the game ends.
This signals that a sequel may be in the works, but who knows. There you have it folks, Quantum Break’s plot from start to finish in chronological order. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts below!
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