So a lot of people managed to get through Campo Santo’s first-person, wilderness adventure game, Firewatch. The title is riddled with little clues and tapes and notes scattered about to help players understand what’s going on, but some people still came out confused about what was going on with the spying, and the tracking, Ned and his son Brian, as well as the relationship between Delilah and Henry. Well, a lot of it was far simpler than the game had let on and the ending can be explained away quite easily.
So majority of the game is just Henry getting adjusted to being a lookout, however, things kick into play when he has to deal with the skinning dipping teens and then returns to his tower to find that it’s been ransacked. This all started because Henry spotted a man looking at him from a hill while he was returning to his tower. The man turned out to be Ned.
Throughout the game Delilah, Henry’s boss, occasionally talks about Brian, Ned’s son. This eventually culminates in Henry finding logs of his and Delilah’s radio conversations from weeks prior. Ned proceeds to knock out Henry and leads him on a wild goose chase to the Wapiti station, where Ned feigns a scientific post designed to look as if they were watching and listening in on Henry and Delilah.
Henry picks up a wave receiver from the Wapiti station, and after doing so Ned burns down the station after Henry leaves, using it as an attempt to cover his tracks and as a way to create a scare tactic to frame Henry and Delilah for starting a forest fire.
Ned was able to listen in on their radio frequencies using makeshift technology that he and his son Brian had built previously. This is revealed when Henry finds out that Brian had been living in a small fort in the mountains before dying.
The reason Ned was listening in on the conversations is because after he saw Henry coming out of the cave for the first time on the first day that Henry arrived at the lookout station, he thought that they were there to find out about Brian’s death.
It turns out that while Ned and Brian were climbing around above the cave, Brian fell to his death. Ned decided not to go to the police and obviously couldn’t return home without his son, so he just decided to stay in the forest and live there instead. Ned felt that the police would have blamed him for his son’s death, and so he became paranoid thinking that Henry and Delilah were going to discover what happened and possibly get the police involved. This is what led Ned to stage the Wapiti station to look as if some other government agency was investigating them and then later burned it down to frame Henry and Delilah, he was hoping to use it as leverage to get them to stop talking about or looking for Brian (even though they weren’t actually looking for Brian until Ned tipped them off with his spying operation).
Eventually Henry finds out about Ned’s convoluted plan after he takes the wave receiver and uses it as a tracking device that leads him to Ned’s own little hideout, following the discovery of Brian’s dead body. Ned has already fled his hideout by the time Henry gets there. This takes place while the Wapiti station fire and another fire have converged and have become life-threatening, leading Delilah to call in the fire to the authorities and request for a rescue chopper to get them out of there.
After Henry discovers Ned’s hideout and finds a tape of Ned explaining his plan and motivations, he eventually leaves and goes to the Thorofare lookout to escape the forest fire by taking the rescue chopper. It’s presumed that Ned may have died in the forest fire.