2018 was an incredible year for gaming. Sure, it might not have been the powerhouse year that 2017 was, but there were still loads of unique and highly anticipated titles to play and discuss. From a console perspective, Sony premiered some incredibly well received exclusive titles for the PlayStation 4, Microsoft ensured that it will have more Xbox-specific titles in the future with the acquisition of several development studios, Nintendo thoroughly expanded the Switch’s library with numerous ports and remakes of older games, and PC gaming continues to thrive with Steam’s continued success and the launch of the Epic Game Store.
The games of 2018 also managed to push the medium forward in both quality and scope. Fortnite became a monolithic entity this year and brought countless new players to the world of gaming. On the other side of the spectrum, massively successful titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate gave longtime gamers plenty to explore, unlock, and experience. However, like with everything genre of media, some works really struck home, and others petered out before their completion.
Video games are really tough to do, as it’s almost impossible to give all players closure after they invest dozens of hours into a game and potentially have a completely different experience than another player. While some of the titles on this list succeed in wrapping up on a high note, others fail or never even approach their full potential, to begin with. These are the 20 worst and 10 best endings in the games of 2018.
30 Worst: Far Cry 5
Far Cry 5 premiered in March with advertising material that suggested the game would have a lot to say about rural America and the state of American politics. Instead, the game had very little to say about the part of the world it takes place in and is instead a mindlessly fun time with some slightly over the top action and characters. Unfortunately, its ending sees the world laid to waste as the apocalypse foretold by the game’s evil cult comes to fruition. Your efforts prove pointless and maybe there was no point even in trying to save this world.
29 Worst: Dragon Ball FighterZ
The latest Dragon Ball game also happens to be the best ever made. FighterZ is the best looking and most mechanically refined Dragon Ball game to date and is quickly becoming one of the most celebrated fighting games in the world. Unfortunately, the conclusion to its story mode leaves a bit to be desired. Android 21 is a fun character that plays well into the series lore, but her departure to stop her evil self feels a bit repetitive considering how many other characters performed their own self-sacrifice.
28 Best: Celeste
Celeste is a terrific indie game with a brilliant soundtrack and refined platforming. Of course, its ending is also nothing short of one of the best in this year in gaming. Throughout her journey to the top of Celeste Mountain, the protagonist Madeline must confront Part of Madeline, a manifestation of her own fears and anxieties. As she continues her journey she gains the courage and strength to face this part of herself and accepts them as a part of her. Celeste has nothing short of one of the most inspiring finales in gaming this year.
27 Worst: Fallout 76
Fallout 76 is not a very good video game and the publisher Bethesda’s inability to deliver collectors edition items and patch in game bugs only continues to bring the title down. Fallout 76’s ending isn’t all that great, because it doesn’t really have one. Instead, the player goes on endless quests for materials and gear that lets them engage more with a disappointing and poorly conceived world. Fallout 76 is more of a purgatory than anything else, and the only way a player can escape the enduring disappointment is to stop playing.
26 Worst: Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World has an incredibly strong and addicting gameplay loop that also robs its story conclusion of much meaning. Yes, the first time a player defeats the Elder Dragon is one of the most climatic and satisfying moments in gaming of this year, but then you have to do it a dozen more times to gather enough materials to forge a new set of armor. Monster Hunter World is nothing short of a blast to play, but that incredible gameplay loop also makes it tough for the ending to carry much weight.
25 Best: Owlboy
The incredible Owlboy struggled out of the pits of a nearly decade-long development hell and soared to some truly incredible heights like a majestic owl. Owlboy is a terrific and beautiful game with one of the best endings of this year. It features the protagonist Otis finally gaining a sense of self-worth and restoring the world to its original state; free of the meddling of the Owl race’s hubris and the meddling sky pirates. This beautiful, Tolkien ending is a perfect fit for this sweet and beautiful game.
24 Worst: Metal Gear Survive
One of two Metal Gear games made entirely without the involvement of series creator Hideo Kojima, and only one of the only two irredeemably bad Metal Gear games, Metal Gear Survive has a crummy ending. Rather than solve some kind of political conflict or define the value of a person trapped within a system much bigger than themselves, Metal Gear Survive ends with the cast destroying an apocalyptic monster devoid of thought. What sloppy themes Metal Gear Survive does have, seem to imply that its own existence is pointless, as is its ending.
23 Worst: A Way Out
A Way Out is an interesting game that forces a gamer to play through the game with the assistance of another person simultaneously controlling one of the two main characters. Unfortunately, this interesting premise doesn’t have much to work within the game’s lackluster prison break story. The ending features one of the two protagonists departing from the story and the other carrying on to pursue their goals. It’s predictable as it is cliche and it’s a bummer that such a mechanically innovative game doesn’t have a story of the same caliber.
22 Best: Shadow Of The Colossus
A remake of Shadow of the Colossus released this year and, with the potential exception of some artistic changes, it’s by far the best version of this incredible game. The story follows a young man named Wander on a quest to revive his girlfriend Mono by using the power of the enigmatic Dormin. However, the ending is a sad one where the two cannot be together as they’d like and the player realizes they’ve been playing as the bad guy. It’s a tale as sad and compelling as it is beautiful.
21 Worst: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition does have a serviceable conclusion to its story mode, but that isn’t the true end of the game. There are loads of content in this Nintendo Switch port outside of the story mode that a player can interact with. However, this ridiculous amount of content also means that a player is more likely to grow tired with the title and put it down before reaching anything resembling a satisfying conclusion. While this ambition is incredible, it also means few people will see things through to the game’s end.
20 Worst: Persona Dancing Collection
The Persona Dancing Collection is a capable bundle of rhythm games that will strike a chord with any fan of the Persona series. However, it’s a lot of fluff without much content backing it up and the story ends unceremoniously and without resolution. If you’d like to see the beloved characters from the persona games interact with each other again, you’ll have a great time with these spinoffs. If you want the same level of storytelling in the mainline Persona games, you’ll find these games severely lacking.
19 Best: God Of War
Arguably the best game of 2018, God of War is amazing from start to finish. To see Kratos seeking redemption through fatherhood and his relationship with his son is nothing short of heartwrenching. The game’s finale of Kratos and Atreus finally spreading their late wife and mother’s ashes is one of the most impactful moments in gaming this year. The true ending stinger of Thor arriving to whisk them off to another adventure following the credits is exceptional icing atop a terrific cake.
18 Worst: Dark Souls Remastered
The story telling in Dark Souls Remastered is incredible and minimalistic in a way that only a video game can pull off. While the final decision to either prolong the doomed age the player finds themselves in or let it parish so a new world can rise is compelling, but getting there is a bit of a slog. The last few levels of Dark Souls are some of the worst in the game and make reaching the conclusion more of a chore than a fulfilling use of a person’s free time.
17 Worst: Detroit Become Human
Detroit Become Human is an ambitious game that with numerous branching storylines that all end disappointingly or even harmful. It lifts several aspects of slavery and applies them to androids with little concern for ethical concerns involved in appropriating the history of black people. While the endings are numerous, they are all disappointing. You can only get the good ending by being entirely peaceful no matter how justified physical self defense might be, the only female playable character realizes she’s happiest as a mom, and the police android tasked with capturing deviant androids never truly explores his contradictory existence.
16 Best: Octopath Traveler
Octopath Traveler is an absolutely gorgeous game with a plethora of endings. Each of the eight main characters has their own story and the conclusion to any of these smaller stories could constitute as a great ending to the game. However, after the completion of each of the protagonists’ journeys, there is an option for the player to face a cataclysmic fallen god hinted out throughout the entirety of the game. With both eight heartfelt conclusions to each travelers’ story arc and a massive battle that changes up the game's battle mechanics, all of Octopath’s endings are great.
15 Worst: Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider has a worse ending than what it should. After a day one update, the game’s ending centers on Lara’s resolution that she is a protector of history rather than a collector of it, which only escalates the conflicting story elements that bring this game down. However, in the original ending, Lara receives a letter from the the antagonist from the original Tomb Raider game, beginning that adventure. Regrettably this game decided to soften Lara’s character with this ending, rather than focus on her more interesting and morally ambiguous profession.
14 Worst: Dead Cells
Dead Cells is a terrifically fun game that challenges players to make the most of the limited set of tools and weapons presented to them in each run through the game. While this is a fun and addicting gameplay loop that allows for loads of experimentation, after a while the only motivation to keep playing the game comes from wanting to do better than your best run through it. Even if the feeling of tangibly getting better at the game is a reward in and of itself, it doesn’t replace the satisfaction of a definitive conclusion to the game.
13 Best: Dragon Quest XI
Outside of its middling score, Dragon Quest XI is a wonderful game that takes players through a fantastic story and through a thoroughly fleshed out world. Tying into the extensive Dragon Quest lore, this game’s ending really plays into the mythic nature of the series. It’s revealed at the very end of the game that, due to time manipulation, the events of this game inspire the original Erdrick to perform the feats that inspire the characters of Dragon Quest XI, reinforcing the eternal sense of adventure at the core of the series.
12 Worst: We Happy Few
We Happy Few was an interesting premise that ended up going in the least satisfying direction possible. What was supposed to be a game criticizing and exploring a medicated society, ended up being a more nihilistic affair where the game’s protagonists find themselves defeated or winning pyrrhic victories. There’s no joy or fun to be found in playing We Happy Few, and its melancholy endings make if feel more sad than clever. Instead of making a player think about drug abuse in society, this ending makes a player think of better ways to spend their free time.
11 Worst: Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is an abridged version of Final Fantasy XV with a charming new art style and simplified mechanics. However, shortening the original game’s story doesn’t do much to improve it, and actually worsens the experience because there are few interactions between the extremely likable characters, and even less exploration of the game’s convoluted plot. By the time the final showdown with Ardyn rolls around in FFXV: Pocket Edition, players will be less invested in the outcome than in the original games.
10 Best: Spider-Man
This year’s Spider-Man game was easily the best interpretation of the webslinger to ever appear in a video game. On top of an incredibly fun traversal system, the story of this game is one of the best Spider-Man tales ever told. It’s agonizing to witness Peter Parker make the hardest decision of his life to save the city over Aunt May and the Venom tease at the very end insured that the inevitable sequel will live up to the original. In short, this game and ending are as amazing as Spider-Man himself.
9 Worst: Undertale
This year finally saw Undertale ported to the Nintendo Switch, adding a level of portability that improves an already amazing game. However, this migration did little to remedy the game’s unsatisfying third act. It’s exceptionally cruel that a player has to harm the characters they’ve fallen in love with over the course of previous playthroughs to experience all of the game’s story. What’s worse is that this last bit of content feels more like a creepypasta than the genuine tale of friendship and forgiveness that defined the rest of the game.
8 Worst: The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man is a disappointing game that seemed like it was going to tell a potentially thoughtful story involving a deaf protagonist. Instead, the game is a nonsensical mess that lacks most audio on the first playthrough, and isn’t much clearer when vocals are added in during the second playthrough. At the end of The Quiet Man, the protagonist discovers that he apparently has supernatural powers and is able to use them to rescue his love interest, whom he is only interested in because she reminds him of his mom. It’s a poor ending to a worse game.
7 Best: The Missing: J.J. Macfield And The Island Of Memories
The Missing is one of the best and most heartfelt games to release this year. The story thoroughly explores the struggles of an LGBT relationship and offsets the cute dynamic between J.J. and Emily with solid amounts of body horror. However, the ending of The Missing is what makes it truly exceptional. The revelation that the events of the game were all a coma dream and that J.J. is, in fact, a trans woman struggling to convey her identity to her mother elevates this game from great to one of the best of the year.
6 Worst: Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu! And Let’s Go Eevee!
The Let’s Go games are solid Pokémon spin-off titles that manage to seamlessly blend the mechanics of Pokémon Go with the story and location of the first generation of games. However, the ending leaves a bit to be desired and seemingly misunderstands what made Pokémon great in the first place. While Green’s cameo after beating Mewtwo is a nice wink to dedicated fans of the series, there’s no ambitious postgame or hardware pushing feature present at the conclusion to make it stand out like its predecessors.
5 Worst: Call Of Duty: Black Ops. IV
Call of Duty: Black Ops. IV has several endings that are as frustrating as the Roman numerals in its logo. Rather than having a campaign like in games past, this entry in the series instead decides to sprinkle narrative elements across its various game modes. This doesn’t really work and the conclusions to these stories don’t offer any kid of closure or parting wisdom. They just exist, seemingly because Call of Duty keeps making people a bunch of money and someone decided that each game has to have some kind of story elements.
4 Best: The World Ends With You: Final Remix
An enhanced version of The World Ends With You premiered this year, and its ending is still as incredible as ever. Neku’s journey to become a better person as he struggles to survive in a corrupted version of Shibuya is as inspiring now as it was in the mid-2000s. The closing scene of him leaving his headphones behind, a crutch so he block people out of his life, is as emotional as ever and it’s genuinely amazing that such an amazing game could be given new life on the Nintendo Switch.
3 Worst: The Messenger
The Messenger is a retro-inspired game inspired by the likes of Ninja Gaiden, where the central gimmick is that halfway through the graphics and mechanics switch from 8-bit to 16-bit. Unfortunately, there aren’t any twists of the same level in the story proper and it ends up being a pretty predictable conclusion where the hero does save his village after ending a generations-spanning curse. This is an ending that gamers have heard a thousand times and the gameplay isn’t quite good enough to make up for the cliches.
2 Worst: Lost Sphear
Lost Sphear is the latest JRPG from Tokyo RPG Factory, the creators of the distinctive I Am Setsuna. Unfortunately, Lost Sphear is an uninspired game where the story and ending are as predictable than any other JRPG in recent memory. A brand new, ultra-powerful villain reveals himself as the actual major antagonist and the good guy and his buddies have to stop him after the main characters says goodbye to his mother and other characters deal with their own drama. This whole game is a cliche that’s been down better in other places, including the bland ending.
1 Best: Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is another contender for one of the greatest games of 2018, and is as much a deconstruction of the Western genre than a celebration of it. In the ending, the main character finally succumbs to tuberculosis and is happy having realized long ago that he has no more stories to tell. Beyond being a powerful examination of the hops and dreams of mankind, this ending further conveys the inevitable downfall of even the greatest achievements and achievers. Without a doubt, this ending is as sad and heartfelt as it is beautiful.