Storytelling has taken a huge leap in video games this last decade, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Even games with decent plots often fumble the landing when it comes to endings. In attempts to garner anticipation for a sequel, they'll often shoehorn in a cliffhanger.
This can be a great writing tool, but it can backfire horribly like the ten games on the list. They make it on here for a variety of reasons, whether it be for the cliffhanger itself, the way it resolves, or for it never getting a proper followup.
10 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V wasn't meant to have cliffhangers. Due to drama between Hideo Kojima and the publisher, Konami, the game was released in a painfully unfinished state, leaving several vital story threads hanging. Mainly, Eli escapes Mother Base with Metal Gear Sahelanthropus and the other child soldiers.
Episode 51 on the game's bonus Blu-ray disc details a cut mission explaining what happens to them, but bonus content on a collector's edition isn't canon. Seeing as how the next game was the mediocre and nonsensical Metal Gear Survive, it doesn't seem like fans will ever find out what Liquid Snake did from 1984 to 2005.
9 Call Of Duty: Black Ops
The enigmatic mystery fueling Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops is the meaning behind the numbers referenced throughout the campaign. The code was a means of brainwashing the main character, and the ending reveals that Alex Mason assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
This is a shocking revelation to leave players contemplating, but the sequel doesn't really go anywhere with it. Fortunately, Black Ops II is solid enough a campaign on its own without following up on the cliffhanger. Black Ops would have been a better game overall if Mason found out about his brainwashing earlier on in the game and players got to see him come to grips with the crime he committed.
8 Kane And Lynch 2: Dog Days
The Kane and Lynch series is a novel idea - two hardened criminals with dark pasts finding themselves massacring their way through the criminal underground - but the two games never lived up to their premise.
The second game's ending would have been a lot more maligned if the rest of the game was beloved. As it stands now, hijacking a plane and abruptly cutting to the credits stands as an appropriately mediocre ending to a mediocre shooter. Still, people who played through it deserved better.
7 The Darkness II
The sequel to the well-received 2007 shooter was similarly praised. It comes with two endings. One of them is bittersweet, while the other turns the tables on the protagonist and leaves him trapped in hell.
The latter sees Jackie's girlfriend possessed by Angelus, a character from the game's comic book source material, and banishes him to the underworld. It's a decent twist and nice tease for fans of the comic, but The Darkness II was seven years ago, so it is safe to say no sequel is coming.
Epic Games and People Can Fly's first-person shooter was a counterpoint to the gritty military shooters dominating the market at the start of the last decade. The ending left the door open to a sequel by revealing the mortally wounded antagonist has been brought back to health and turned into a cyborg.
Darksiders is a fun action-adventure title with an ending hyping players up for a sequel. Instead of only one Horseman Of The Apocalypse, all four will unite to combat the forces of heaven and hell. Sadly, instead of a direct sequel, fans are getting games running parallel to the first game, showcasing each of the Horseman's time during this conflict.
To be fair, each of the sequels have fared well and a fourth game is on the way, but waiting so long for a direct continuation is torture. Hopefully, the long wait will make the reunion all the sweeter.
4 Halo 5
To be frank, Halo 5 is far from the worst cliffhanger in the series, but it definitely was the weakest one of the series this decade. The game ends with the player preventing Cortana's plan for disarmament throughout the galaxy.
Beating the game on the hardest difficulty reveals a hidden scene where Cortana lets her presence known out in space, insinuating we haven't heard the last of her yet. It's not the most offensive ending from a AAA game, but it also traps future games into also dealing with Cortana. She's a series mainstay, but what if the next title wants to deal with a different threat?
3 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
The sequel to the 2008 action game was not nearly as well-received, but it still is a fun adventure within the Star Wars universe. Like a lot of games of the era, it has two endings which boil down to a single binary choice. The Dark Side ending leads to a non-canon resolution expanded upon in DLC.
The Light Side ending spares Vader and sees Starkiller riding off with his love interest, only to be pursued by Boba Fett. Because Disney purchased the franchise and rendered most of the expanded universe content null and void, the world will never know what happened between them and the Fett.
Rage's ending is laughably abrupt. The player completes the final mission, awakens the other Arks, and then credits roll. no reward exists for their accomplishment, only a door opening and then a cut to black.
This would be like if Lord of the Rings immediately ended once Frodo threw the ring into the volcano. People need to see some of the results of their actions and sacrifices in order to appreciate an ending. Otherwise, they feel cheated.
1 Final Fantasy XIII-2
Cliffhanger endings are bad enough in most games with a ten to fifteen hour run time. It's made all the more painful when a sprawling RPG has an unresolved ending like Final Fantasy XIII-2. After defeating the last boss, chaos is unleashed on the world and the credits roll, fading on a shot of a frozen Lightning.
Fortunately, all is resolved in Lightning Returns, but few people asked for an entire trilogy of Final Fantasy XIII games in the first pace. The second game in the series was a decline from the first entry, making a third game a less enticing premise altogether.