There aren’t many better feelings than lounging back in your living room after a hard day of work and putting an hour or seven into your latest gaming purchase. You know you’re close to the end, you can feel it. Hours upon hours of grinding, shooting, fast travelling and solving puzzles have left their mark on you, and you are ready for the final climactic battle, that apex you’ve been making your way to – only to have your dreams dashed from a lacklustre and poorly executed ending, leaving you pretty unsatisfied and utterly disappointed.
If you’ve never felt this way, consider yourself lucky. Over the years, we have been treated to some gorgeous sceneries backing fantastic stories with fleshed out characters and smooth gameplay mechanics, only to have the entire experience spoiled for us because the end just does not hold up. Maybe it’s because we enjoyed the game so much we didn’t want it to end? Or perhaps it just looked better on paper. Who knows? What I do know is that I have been left feeling empty more than once after “beating” the game.
Here’s a list of 10 such titles that did just that – to more than just myself. Also, this list will contain spoilers. You have been warned.
10. Borderlands – The Key To No Treasure
First off, I would like to say that I really enjoy this game. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s long. And all within a cartoony-surreal world. Boasting over 100 hours of gameplay – 50 just for the main story – and the world record on useable weapons in a game, it gave me a lot of what I wanted. And then some. So maybe that’s why a lot of people felt so robbed by the ending.
The entire game you are trying to find pieces of a key to open a vault filled with treasure, only to get there and discover it’s not filled with valuables per se, but instead a giant beast that you have to fight. After the arduous battle that follows, you’re told that the key you spent the entire game trying to get won’t open the vault for another 200 years, but you can can sell it to someone for a hefty sum. Woo! They managed to cover their track for the sequel, but considering they never planned for one, seems like a bit of a rip off.
9. Uncharted 3 – Easy Kill
Essentially a male Tomb Raider, it’s got some wicked action sequences, witty dialogue, incredibly likeable characters and beautiful graphics to boot. The third takes you from London to Colombia, through Yemen and eventually the Rub’ al Khali desert. All the while you are hunted by a mysterious organization led by Katherine Marlow – an old associate of your mentor – and her slimy assistant Talbot, who appears to have mysterious powers himself.
As you progress through the game, you eventually end up fighting Djinn, supernatural beings that are more difficult to kill than the main boss. Straight up. You don’t even get to finish off Katherine, instead she dies in a cutscene as you try to save her. Then you are trying to escape falling ruins when Talbot shows up, knocks you off a ledge (don’t worry, you catch yourself) and you have to shoot him while hanging there before he kills your best friend. And guess what? It’s only 2-3 shots and he’s dead. Yeah, the guy that can disappear without a trace repeatedly apparently is just a really sneaky human.
8. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Satan Appears
Before Skyrim took the world by storm in November 2011, gamers had the joys and wonders of Oblivion to explore. At 16 square miles, it was one of the largest game maps in 2006. Since then, there have been many game to outdo Oblivion. In fact its predecessor currently holds the record at 62,394 square miles – that’s bigger than some states.
But I digress. Despite Oblivion’s expansive landscapes and load of quests, the main story ends rather anti-climactically. The entire time you are working to stop what is essentially their version of Satan from coming through to your realm, only to have that happen and him be stopped not by you and all the leveling you’ve been doing over the past 60+hours, but by another guy who turns into a dragon to fight him. Don’t get me wrong, it looks cool, you actually get to play as they fight each other overhead, but it would have been nice to deliver the final blow yourself.
7. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 – No Closure
The ending of Half-Life 2 before the episodes were released was a hell of a cliff hanger. So when Episodes 1 and 2 were released, and potentially a 3rd, fans were excited to get a little more closure out of the series. Boy were they wrong. It was nice to get a hint at a possible merge with Portal, but shortly after the jolt of excitement, everything came crashing down.
As you and Alyx are about to leave to go and destroy a ship that mysteriously disappeared years ago from Aperture Science, your base is stormed by the Combine – an alien race hellbent on enslaving humanity – and Alyx’s father Eli is nabbed by an Advisor, which is essentially a telepathic slug. It kills him while you an Alyx are helpless to do anything, and just before you are met with the same fate, Alyx’s robot D0g comes in to save the day! Yay! But it’s too late for Eli, as you watch Alyx cradle her father’s dead body and it fades to black. What? All that for this? No real conclusion? Episode 3 or HL3 should be out soon. Right?
6. Fallout 3 – Underwhelming Choices
Fallout 3 was a hell of a game. Filled with bleak landscapes from the aftermath of nuclear war, and populated with an abundance of wild characters. The game takes you across the desolate ruins of Washington D.C. as you try to find your father, who has escaped from an underground bunker known as Vaults. You fight, talk and sneak your way for near endless hours until you finally get to the climactic moment where you initiate Project Purity yourself or send in some lackey who you only met just a few hours prior and really have no real emotional investment in.
The catch? Whoever activates it will most likely die as the control room is flooded with radiation once Project Purity is activated. So after everything you’ve done, gone all this way to find your father, who dies anyway, only for you to either do the same thing he did resulting in not being able to play this game unless you want to start again, or as I mentioned earlier, get some other schmuck to do it for you, and you can go on living consequence free. Is that really a choice? Give us something that may weigh on our conscience at least. Thankfully with some DLC, you can ‘sacrifice’ yourself and survive, or send in a different companion who is immune to radiation. Meh. Alright.
5. Resistance 2 – Character Killed When Least Expected
Resistance is great for many reasons. For starters, it brought something new to first person shooters by merging World War 2 landscapes and Sci-Fi invasions. The bad guys are creepy and it honestly captured what an alien invasion would feel like were they to invade in the 50s. And the second one was just as good – up until the end.
After a few near death experiences, killing a 300-foot-tall monster, then stabbed in the gut by the main boss, you wake up 6 weeks later from a medically induced coma to find that you are still at war, but also in dire need of an inhibitor to a virus you’ve been infected with. Death knocks at your door and with 3 hours left to live, you join in one last epic battle to take out the Chimera once and for all. And you do. Only to be greeted with a cutscene of your partner putting a bullet in your head at point blank range because you have finally succumbed to the virus, thus, killing you. Really? All that time and no one had any inhibitors? Nothing that could have prevented something this guy has been living with for years?
4. Halo 2 – Three Minute Ending
Many have played through the beloved Halo franchise – and will continue to do so, since Halo 5 is due out later this month. However as much love as the series gets, the second one is infamous for having one of the most disappointing endings. You see, after the events of Halo, Master Chief is solidified in the gaming world as one of the best protagonists ever. He’s big, he’s badass, and we never see his face. However Halo 2 introduced the Arbiter – a Convenant soldier – that you get to play as, which is cool, because now we get to see both sides of the story.
Yet, despite everything new and cool with Halo 2, by the end of the game, you feel kind’ve “meh.” Why? Because after destroying the first Halo ring solely as Master Chief, you end this game’s last mission as The Arbiter. You’d think with the games main dude being Master Chief, you’d finish with him. Then a quick 3 minute cutscene tells you about other Halo rings and how they are just on standby until further notice, as well as Master Chief arriving in a ship from an age old species back to Earth, only to deliver one line before cutting to black for a cliffhanger ending to rival most.
3. Dying Light – Means Don’t Justify The End
This is another game that falls victim to levelling up for no reason other than making the journey to the end a little more interesting. The story is great. Being an avid fan of zombies and first person shooters, I couldn’t wait for this game. You play as a government agent sent into a quarantine zone to try and retrieve a classified file off of a warlord of sorts and return to your superiors. Problem is, you have no idea what you are getting into, and are bit immediately upon parachuting into the Quarentine zone.
Anyways, after helping other survivors and losing almost everyone you come to give a dang about throughout the game, you climb your way up a zombie-infested high rise that’s still under construction to face off against the man who has been making your life a living hell. You get ready to fight him – because the combat in this game is remarkably well done – only to take him out in a Quick-Time Event cut-scene of pressing this button or that button at the right time, and then disregarding your orders to your superiors because you don’t know who to trust anymore. Cool. So why the hell did I need to level up at all?
2. Eternal Sonata – It Was Just A Dream!
Eternal Sonata did a great job at combining Japanese RPG elements with a Polish-inspired story, filled with classical music. It was something not seen before, and as far as I can tell, haven’t seen since. It takes place in the mind of Frédéric Chopin as he lays on his deathbed in the mid 1800s. What starts off as a seemingly cartoony game for younger audiences soon turns into epic tale of rebellion and espionage – all within a fantastic realm of a dream.
And I think that’s why so many were disappointed with the ending. Even though throughout the entire game we know it’s happening within Chopin’s head, we get so lost in the tale that when we get the “it was a dream the whole time!” ending, it came as a bit of a disappointment. I realize the whole game was a metaphor for death and a way to deal with it, but knowing all those characters you grew to love over the course of the game are all just figments of a dying man’s imagination kind of leaves you depressed after a game filled with such beauty.
1. Mass Effect Series – The Worst Ever Ending
Admit it. As soon as you clicked on this article, you knew this was going to be on here. This series is the most infamous for having a terrible ending. It was so bad, Bioware had to release DLC of an alternate ending because of the uproar caused by fans. And rightly so.
When the first Mass Effect dropped in 2007, it blew people away with just about everything. Namely, the fact that your choices mattered. Then Mass Effect 2 was released in 2010 to even more hype. One of the best things was that you could upload your choices from the first game, and it will alter the gameplay of the second. Wicked, right? Totally. Until Mass Effect 3 came out and all those choices you made throughout all three games didn’t mean a thing. It ends with you choosing from one of three endings, none of which were really effected by choices made from either of the previous games.