Great video games are hard to make. Story, gameplay, sound design, and more must come together in ways that make sense in order to resonate with players. A great ending is part of the formula, as this is what may stay in a fan’s mind long after he or she has put down the controller. Though each title below is a critically acclaimed game for good reason, none have memorable conclusions that stick with players after the credits roll. The following list of great games with bad endings obviously includes spoilers, so read at your own risk.
Great Games With Bad Endings – Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is one of the best open-world RPGs available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. A complete departure from previous entries in the franchise, this sequel fully utilizes each system’s technological capabilities to immerse players in a world that’s crafted almost entirely by one’s decisions. This applies to main quests, side missions, and random interactions with NPCs roaming around the Capital Wasteland. Unfortunately, the same freedom doesn’t apply to the game’s original ending.
The title essentially forces players to choose between one of two possibilities: sacrifice oneself for the greater good or let your Brotherhood of Steel comrade Sarah Lyons do the deed for you. Whatever fans decide to do, they won’t be allowed to return the game after the credits roll to see the consequences of their choice manifest. It’s really no wonder why Bethesda decided to remedy this problem through Fallout 3‘s DLC, giving players the option to send in a radiation-resistant companion to reach the purifier and return to the game once the ordeal is over.
Great Games With Bad Endings – Borderlands
Most video game enthusiasts are probably familiar with how the Borderlands franchise gives fans access to what seems like an infinite amount of guns. From semiautomatic rifles to powerful pistols, these imaginative weapons feel right at home with each entry’s deranged cast of characters. It’s a shame that the original game doesn’t quite live up to the promise it makes to players from the get-go.
To spur fans forward, Borderlands assures them that a vault filled with the title’s best weapons and riches lies at the end of their journey. When they reach the conclusion and defeat the boring final boss, the vault is sealed closed, preventing the game’s heroes from opening it for 200 years. This may very well be the biggest troll ending video game fans have ever experienced. Users can still play around with all of the title’s guns, but they’ll never be able to shoot the best ones.
Great Games With Bad Endings – Mass Effect 3
If Mass Effect 3‘s original endings are anything to go by, player choices throughout the sci-fi trilogy don’t carry a lot of weight when all is said and done. Fans spent years curating the best options for their extraterrestrial comrades only to have three paths available to them by the third entry’s conclusion. Red, blue, and green lasers are all they get, no matter their playstyle. What’s perhaps even worse is how the game doesn’t address what happens to Shepard’s crew after the sacrifice.
While Mass Effect 3 does celebrate an individual’s unique decisions throughout the journey, it ultimately disrespects fans with an ending that feels shallow compared to the well thought-out moral choices the trilogy offers as a whole.
Great Games With Bad Endings – Batman: Arkham Asylum
Throughout various media, the Joker manages to avoid Batman’s grasp with his ingenuity and rascal charm. The infamous villain ensnares Batman in a way that’s true to his character in Batman: Arkham Asylum, though his plot ultimately devolves to a mindless battle of fisticuffs. Indeed, the Joker infuses himself with a serum that morphs him into a giant creature with sharp claws and a protruding spine. After slapping the Clown Prince of Crime around for a bit, Batman puts a stop to a nemesis who’s usually has smarter schemes than this.
In general, the Arkham Asylum is much more impressive than its conclusion. It combines Metroidvania elements with a third-person action adventure style that feels right at home with the world’s best detective. If you ever wanted to feel like Batman, this game is meant for you. Just maybe not the ending.
Great Games With Bad Endings – Halo 2
After the masterpiece that was Halo: Combat Evolved, fans were expecting Halo 2 to follow in the original game’s footsteps. It does for the most part, improving on the first-person shooter formula and switching up gameplay in interesting ways through The Arbiter. Unfortunately, it culminates with an ending that leaves much to be desired. For starters, most people would prefer the title to end with Master Chief rather than the disgraced Covenant commander.
The most disappointing aspect of the ending, however, lies in how players aren’t given a chance to touchdown on Earth for at least one last shootout. Wrapping things up with, “Sir, finishing this fight” and a quick fade to black builds anticipation for the sequel, but rubbed people the wrong way back when Halo 3 wasn’t on the market yet. It’ll probably make today’s fans upset too if they’re not playing the series via The Master Chief Collection.
Great Games With Bad Endings – Bioshock
Bioshock offers an unrivaled steampunk world for players to lose themselves in. Rapture’s gloomy environments are frightening and interesting at the same time, and the game’s story clues people in on what this civilization could have been if it weren’t for its untimely demise. It culminates in a twist that fans can’t see coming.
To be frank, it should have just ended with players bashing Andrew Ryan’s skull in with a golf club. Rather, players are forced to participate in a derivative final boss battle that feels out of place. Bioshock is a breath of fresh air, for the most part. It’s a shame that its ending doesn’t quite live up to its pedigree.
While the endings above don’t significantly detract from otherwise stellar games, they each serve as a testament to how hard it is to wrap up any entertaining experience. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to great titles. The endings to some of our favorite games may not be perfect, but that’s OK. The journeys to get there are what count the most anyway.