It seems like most video games have terrible endings. Either the story itself is no good and nobody cares or, for whatever reason, the developers couldn’t think of a fitting way to end the story. Most of the time that’s because they’ve got their eye on a sequel and so many games end with a cliffhanger that all too often goes unresolved. Then there are games like LA Noire – a game about investigating crimes, interrogating suspects, and catching the murderer – where the developers simply couldn’t think of an exciting ending so they stuck you in a sewer with a flamethrower against a bunch of bad guys.
Endings are hard to do right and there have been plenty that have drawn the ire of fans. Look at any forum post talking about the worst endings in video games and you’ll find generally the same five to ten games listed repeatedly. But what about the games that have truly pissed off its fans? Yeah, the ending to Sniper Ghost Warrior is infamously terrible, but that game wasn’t very good and nobody cared. Oh no, if you want to see some games whose endings caused some real backlash, stick around for our list of the Top 15 Horrible Video Game Endings That Pissed Off Fans.
It should go without saying, but I guess you never know, so, here's a Spoiler Alert. If you haven't played these games and would like to, don't read how they ended!
15 Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
Ironically enough, given Psi-Ops' ending, a big reason why it never got a sequel was because of its own ending. You begin the game with protagonist Nick Scryer proclaiming he has no memory of who he is or what he’s doing. But then he’s quickly given a drug that restores some of his memories and you find out he was sent to infiltrate a terrorist organization and take it down. Why he needed his mind erased for that is beside the point, because you also have telekinesis powers, also for some unexplained reason.
You fight your way through the game taking out terrorists who are trying to destroy the world and who have been fighting wars for centuries over some kind of “psi objects” that, when put together, gives the person wielding it incredible power.
At the end of the game, you defeat the antagonist when suddenly two helicopters come out of nowhere. Nick destroys them with this telekinesis powers and says “I remember everything now.” But that’s when the game fades to black and the credits role.
14 Assassin’s Creed II
The ending of Assassin’s Creed II is just gibberish. Assassin’s Creed is, on its surface, a historical action adventure game where you kill people throughout various historical points. In reality, all of that is merely the background stuff. The real story is about two organizations in the present day called the Templars and Assassins, fighting over something called the Apple of Eden, who merely use technology to access memories of people so they can locate the Apple.
The cat’s been out of the bag for a long time now, but when ACII came out, it was still a mystery where it was all going. Nobody yet knew what the Apple was or why it was so valuable.
Well, the ending of Assassin’s Creed II gave us that answer. After fighting the Pope (yes, really) who shoots lighting out of his staff thanks to the Apple (again, really), ACII’s past protagonist Ezio takes the Apple to an underground bunker. There, he meets an alien goddess from the past who is dead and is speaking to modern day protagonist Desmond about how their civilization was destroyed and how it’s going to happen again if he doesn’t save the day.
If you think looking up the ending for yourself will be any less confusing, trust me, it won’t be.
13 Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit)
Inigo Prophecy as it was called in North America (or Farhrenheit in the rest of the world), was a story driven game with three endings; a good, bad, and neutral ending. The bad ending, as you’d expect, was pretty bad. Some demons came and killed three quarters of the earth’s population and everyone else is sad. But the other two endings weren't any better.
The neutral ending was just that, completely neutral with no resolution one way or another. The main character, Lucas, says everything seems fine but that the demons will come one day and that’s it. Having a neutral ending is a good idea in theory, but you’d think it’d be a combination of good and bad things happening, not a meaningless cliffhanger.
The good ending is just confusing. You sacrifice a magical little girl to the demons, the protagonist and his girlfriend hug, then the screen fades to black. The camera then zooms in on a tree with the two talking about the flowers and how they’re happy, and that’s about it. There’s technically nothing wrong with it, but you’d expect more from a game about a murder mystery and otherworldly demons.
Throughout BioShock, there are several littler girls who are corrupted by ADAM, a genetic material that gives people super powers. Throughout the game, you have the choice to remove the ADAM and save the girls, or kill them to use the ADAM for yourself. Which of the game’s two endings you get is decided by whether or not you save these girls. It’s not an easy task, as many of them are hidden out of the way and are guarded by tough enemies called Big Daddies.
If you rescued them all, you go on to create an orphanage for them and you all live happily ever after. If you killed one, or failed to rescue every single one of them, you get the bad ending. This ending, you apparently decide to kill the girls anyway and harvest the ADAM from them, and then a submarine comes by carrying nuclear missiles and some enemies from the game hijacks it. Apart from not making any sense, this ending is given to the player if they fail to save even so much as a single little girl.
11 Beyond Good & Evil
A good reason why any video game, book, or movie shouldn’t have a twist, cliffhanger ending is because there’s no guarantee there’ll ever be a sequel. Such is the case with Beyond Good & Evil, a cult classic released in 2003 that still hasn’t gotten a sequel despite promises from its developer.
In the game, Jade and Pey’j fight an alien race known as the DomZ. They infect their enemies with spores, turning them into monsters who do their bidding. Pey’j dies at one point, but is somehow brought back to life thanks to a magic power within Jade. At the end of the game, you defeat the DomZ and everyone eats cake and is happy. However, after the credits role, there’s an extra cutscene.
It’s revealed that Pey’j is infected with the DomZ spore, as he looks at his hand. Jade comes up to talk to him, but he hides it, not telling her about the infection. Suddenly, the game fades to black and it’s over. What happens next? We may never know.
10 Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 had a good idea with its endings, making them both terrible more or less, but it’s execution was atrocious. You play as a frat boy, Jason, on a hostile jungle island who has to rescue his friends from a group of hostile natives who are at war with one another. Throughout the game you kill a lot of people and take a lot of strange drugs.
You’re presented with an option at the end. Rescue your friends and go back home, or kill your friends, including your girlfriend, and stay there as the king of one of the tribes. If you choose to leave, Jason takes his friends and leave, and everything is fine. Just like that. Jason says he’s better than a killer and goes on to live a normal life, despite all the homicidal killing and drugs he was pounding in his face for weeks or even months throughout the course of the game.
If you decide to stay and kill your friends, you get to have sex with your queen, Citra. Afterward, she kills you, because apparently that’s part of some impregnation ceremony.
9 Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII’s final act feels like what would happen if Hideo Kojima and M. Night Shyamalan came together while drunk and high and wrote a story. The finale of the game is full with so many sudden twists and turns it was almost incompressible. New and important characters are introduced out of nowhere, there’s time and space travel, and a new villain.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s revealed that every character in the game has had amnesia the whole time, without realizing it, and that the main character might have been dead for the whole second half. Any fan of JRPGs, Final Fantasy in particular, are familiar with strange and confusing plots, but whatever the writers working on FFVIII were doing with the ending left everyone feeling ripped off.
8 Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Not much to say about this one. Everyone knows about the infamous ending to Half-Life 2 and its follow up episodes. Episode Two, released in 2007, ends on a massive cliffhanger, with Alyx crying over the body of her dad. There was supposed to be a third and final episode, before the release of Half-Life 3, but neither game ever happened.
Over the years, Valve head Gabe Newell has teased and refused to speak about either game, simply saying there are “good reasons” why they don’t talk about Episode Three. We did discover that at one point there was to be an Episode Four as well, but it was canceled due to “creative constraints”.
Any hope of getting Episode Three, Half-Life 3, or any conclusion to the story seemed to evaporate last year, as Half-Life lead writer Mark Laidlaw left the company. Despite years of getting emails, Newell refuses to talk the future of the beloved franchise in any capacity, for reasons nobody knows.
7 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Hideo Kojima was mentioned earlier and now it’s his turn.
Where to even begin with this one? It’s discovered that new protagonist, Raiden, was actually a child soldier in Africa who the former US President, George Sears, commanded in battle, but now he goes by Solidus Snake and is trying to steal something called Arsenal Gear, but he gets betrayed by Ocelot, who’s actually being controlled by the antagonist of the first game, Liquid Snake, through his arm, who steals Arsenal Gear for himself and rides it through New York City. You then fight Solidus on top of a building with swords for some reason, and then a bunch of New Yorkers just walk around the destroyed buildings and dead body of Solidus like nothing happened, where the game’s usual protagonist, Solid Snake, gives you a lesson in philosophy.
Much like Final Fantasy VIII, there’s still more. It turns out the entire thing game was a computer simulation, created by the Patriots to train a soldier, Raiden in this case, but was hijacked by Ocelot so he could steal Arsenal Gear. All of this is revealed in about the final hour of the game through lengthy cutscenes the franchise has become known for.
The original Borderlands isn’t the most plot-heavy game in the world, but there was one common thread throughout the game. Your goal was to find a Vault, an ancient… well, vault that was supposed to be full of incredible treasure.
You battle your way through the game for hours on end, killing anything that gets in your way and picking up some incredible weapons. Everyone and everything is trying to kill you or beat you to the vault. But in the end, you make it to the vault’s location alone. As it opens, a mysterious demon emerges. You realize it’s the final boss and that all you have to do is defeat it to get what’s inside.
When you do beat it, you realize there’s nothing inside the Vault. It closes before you even get a chance to go inside and disappears. There are a few scraps you get when you defeat the boss, a few guns and some money, but that’s it. Not exactly the awesome, big deal treasure you were promised. In the end, it just made the whole game seem pointless, and future Borderlands games made sure to temper your expectation from then on.
5 Halo 2
Halo 2 made the simple phrase “finish the fight” a proto-meme for years with its vague ending. Developer Bungie made two mistakes with their follow-up to their massive success. You spend half the game playing as an alien conventant called The Arbiter, a generic enemy character who for some unexplained reason had a large role in the game.
The second big mistake, and what made fans so angry, was the cliffhanger ending. Master Chief is seen on a ship, with his commanding officer asking him what he was doing. He simply said “Sir, finishing this fight” and the game is over. But that’s only a cutscene, the final playable level in the game is for The Arbiter. Bungie pulled a Metal Gear Solid 2 on fans, as they handed off the big, climatic ending level to some random character.
It took three years for the next Halo game to come out and finish the trilogy, but even then, the “fight” has been far from over for this franchise.
4 Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge
These next four games all had such terrible endings that the developer either had to retcon them out in their sequels or actually had to release DLC to fix them. So why was Monkey Island 2’s ending so bad? The Monkey Island games never shied away from telling a joke, especially one that broke the fourth wall. The developers at LucasArts took that too far with the ending to LeChuck’s Revenge though.
After playing the whole game, you finally go up against LeChuck in the final battle. LeChuck asks you to take his mask off and the big twist is revealed. LeChuck is actually your brother, and none of the events in the game, or presumably its prequel, were real. The whole thing was actually taking place at an amusement park and it was just Guybrush and his brother, Chuckie, pretending to be pirates. The men in brown coats pursuing you throughout the game were park attendants telling you to stay out of restricted areas of the park. Then Guybrush and Chuckie’s parents come and take them away.
The ending was so bad that they actually changed the ending in the third game, The Secret of Monkey Island. I won’t spoil it here, but they were so quick to realize their mistake, they made the change at the very start of the game.
3 Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 became infamous for having a terrible ending, so it should really say something that it’s only #3 here.
The big thing that got most people riled up over Mass Effect 3’s ending was the fact that it was a sad ending. You’re presented with three options at the end and all three of them result in the deaths of millions, possibly billions of people, including series protagonist Shepard. While ending a game on a last second moral choice that isn’t much of a choice at all is a bad decision, it was still a creative one and is totally fair.
The real problem with the ending though was that it betrayed what the Mass Effect series was always about, or supposed to be about. The series is known for its story, its dialog choices, and moral choices. Decisions you made in the first game had far reach consequences, consequences that affected you even in this third game. But in the last half hour of Mass Effect 3, all of your choices were reset and you were presented with a fake pop quiz choice in which all three outcomes were the same. It made longtime players feel like they completely wasted their time getting invested in the story because all of their choices ended at the same point.
The backlash got so bad that Bioware released DLC that completely changed the ending. Of course, just as many fans were upset over the new ending and it’s generally agreed that while better, the new ending is still crap.
2 Fallout 3
Before Mass Effect 3’s infamous ending, there was Fallout 3’s.The objective of the game is to get a water purifier running. In the end, you defeat all the enemies and you get to turn the purifier on, but there’s a problem. The room with the button is full of deadly levels of radiation. For whatever reason, you have to go in yourself and hit the button. You can’t decide to not go in and ignore it, you can’t send someone else, and you can’t send in your companion, Fawkes, who is immune to radiation. It has to be you and you have no say in the matter. Sure enough, you go in, push the button, and die. Game over, the end.
Once again the backlash was so severe that Bethesda released a new piece of DLC, Broken Steal, which changed the ending. Now you could send someone else in, including Fawkes, and you end up surviving. But they were clearly bitter about the backlash, as sending Fawkes in will result in him moralizing you about how it’s supposed to be your destiny and how you’re throwing your father’s legacy away by not sacrificing yourself for literally no reason.
1 Dead Rising 4
The ending of the base game of Dead Rising 4 is okay, nothing revolutionary, but it gets the job done. It features the usual series protagonist, Frank, sacrificing himself so his new friends can survive a zombie apocalypse. It’s sad, but a decent enough ending.
So why is it on the list? Because like previous Dead Rising games, there is one “true” ending to Dead Rising 4 and it’s locked behind paid DLC. That’s right, if you want to get the real, canonical ending, you have to buy a piece of downloadable content. Also locked away in this DLC is a timed mode, the gameplay mechanic that made the series famous in the first place. This ending shows Frank actually surviving and having to find a way to escape.
It really shows how bad the AAA industry has gotten that it has to make people pay an additional fee to get the real ending of a game. Maybe that’s their way of incorporating player choice into the game. Obviously, your choice should probably be to not buy the game at all.