You can’t always have the perfect ending. Whether it’s a difference in vision or expectations, some games just don’t end how you’d like them to. But while some endings are received poorly by some fans, others may find them to be somewhat endearing. Let’s take a look at 10 video game endings that divided their fanbases. Spoilers abound so be warned.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
That Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’s story veers off course from the original lore is one thing but the climax comes out of left field. When finally facing the Black Hand, Celebrimbor is separated from Talion, the Black Hand commits suicide, Sauron is reincarnated in his body and Talion suddenly has to fight him in a QTE battle. Got all that? Once he succeeds, Celebrimbor wants to peace out but Talion wants to make a new Ring of Power, thus setting up the events of Shadow of War. Overall, it felt like a strange way to set up a sequel rather than provide any real closure for Talion but he still got his revenge. So there’s that.
Say what you will about how Borderlands 3 ended but it still can’t beat the original in terms of “mixed” reactions. The final mission sees the player chasing Commandant Steele to the Vault to stop her from opening it. It’s too late of course but instead of treasure, the Destroyer emerges and wreaks havoc, killing Steele and her troops. Eventually, the player subdues it and the Vault is sealed again. Thematically, it makes sense – opening “Pandora’s box” offered nothing but ruin, as seen in Greek mythology. But when the Vault has been hyped up throughout the game as offering some kind of amazing loot (in a looter shooter, no less), it was hard not being miffed at the lack of rewards. It also didn’t help that the Guardian Angel was revealed to be connected to some kind of Hyperion satellite (later revealed to have been part of Handsome Jack’s plan to take over) with little to no context or explanation.
The Last of Us Part 2
Perhaps one of the most controversial video game endings ever, The Last of Us Part 2’s finale saw Ellie rescuing Abby and Lev. Before they could escape, Ellie would fight Abby to take revenge for the death of Joel, Tommy’s injuries and all of the anguish she caused her. Just when it seemed like Ellie would kill her, she lets Abby go, losing two fingers in the battle. Later, she returns to the farm. She picks up her guitar, which she can’t even play properly due to her missing fingers, remembers her talk with Joel about forgiving him over time and then leaves to some unknown destination.
Obviously, there was furor over why Ellie didn’t just kill Abby, especially when she had lost everything. However, just as there was criticism over the writing boiling down to “revenge bad”, so was there appreciation for Ellie realizing how empty it all was and ultimately making an attempt to move on. Whichever camp you fall into, The Last of Us Part 2’s ending continues to inspire debate.
By comparison, the reception to Fable 2’s ending trends more towards the confused. After years of trying to stop Lucien, suffering the loss of their family, the player is killed when the villain interrupts the Heroes’ ritual. However, they’re not dead. Instead, the protagonist battles through various nightmares, eventually confronting Lucien and having the choice to kill him. No climatic battle, build-up or anything really. The strangest part is that even if you’re keen on just hearing Lucien out, Reaver will kill him instead. Even if you eventually settle on revenge, not acting quick enough means it’ll be taken from you.
Afterwards, Theresa also offers to grant one of three wishes, allowing the player to either resurrect all those killed when constructing the Spire, their loved ones or receive one million Gold. She then claims the Spire to be hers and disappears. Maybe the ending was meant to subvert expectations while also enforcing a tough choice. Either way, it felt anti-climatic for some fans.
Final Fantasy 15
It’s no secret that Final Fantasy 15’s story was fractured during its many years of development, especially with various DLC explaining what different party members went through, the Kingsglaive movie and whatnot. But for fans who waited for the newest mainline Final Fantasy title in years, there was simply the anticipation for some kind of pay-off to the story. When the final battle rolls around, Noctis is reunited with his friends after 10 years of being trapped in the Crystal, defeats Ardyn and then cleanses the Starscourge, ridding the world of Daemons at the cost of his own life. Cut to the afterlife which sees Noctis and Lunafreya reunited and in love. Which sounds well and good with all the struggles they went through individually but given how little they interacted, their “happily ever after” didn’t feel earned. Subsequent story updates and DLC helped to round out the overall story but this part of the ending still felt a bit rough.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
To say that a lot has happened by the end of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain would be an understatement. Skull Face is dead; Eli and the Third Child have made off with Sahelanthropus; Quiet disappears; Huey Emmerich has been exiled; and a large number of Mother Base’s personnel are killed by Venom Snake to contain a parasite outbreak. In the end though, it’s revealed that this “Snake” isn’t even really Big Boss – he’s actually the medic from the end of Ground Zeroes, who was turned into the latter through plastic surgery and hypnosis. Big Boss, meanwhile, is in the background dealing with Cipher. As a result, Venom Snake goes on to form Outer Heaven, eventually being taken down by Solid Snake, while Big Boss returns during the whole commotion with Zanzibar. Make no mistake – this ending, along with how it impacts Miller to eventually bring down the real Big Boss, does a lot to tie together the core Metal Gear saga. However, it also felt convoluted and completely out of left field for fans who expected a more satisfying conclusion to that game’s events as opposed to a bridge to the first two Metal Gear titles.
As brilliant as Half-Life 2’s entire campaign was – from battling through Ravenholm to taking out Striders in City 17 and wrecking the Citadel with the Dark Matter Gun – it’s ending left something to be desired. Upon destroying the reactor to Breen’s teleporter, the entire structure is seemingly falling apart. Suddenly time stops and who should appear but the G-Man. After speaking about offers from various interested parties for Gordon’s services and making the choice for him rather than giving the illusion of free will, the G-Man walks through a white door and everything fades to black. While this represents Valve’s penchant for cliffhanger endings and served to hype up the story’s continuation, it was also viewed as yet another cliffhanger for fans who had already experienced the same ambiguous style of ending years ago. Nothing about G-Man’s motivations, what he had Gordon involved with etc was answered and though there was hype for what could come next, erratic releases did little to retroactively improve this ending.
Kingdom Hearts 3
If you were someone who hadn’t been following the Kingdom Hearts saga up till the final hours of Kingdom Hearts 3, it felt like a barrage of twists, contrivances and deus ex machinas. If you were a fan, well, it still felt the same way but it was still cool to see Donald unleash ZettaFlare on TerraNort and the Lingering Will returning to fight. Still, the ending somehow jumped the shark further with Sora using the power of waking to save Kairi and then kind of disappearing. We say “kind of” because in the ReMind DLC, Yozora appears to fight Sora in The Final World. Whether he’s defeated or not, the former awakens in what’s essentially a remade scene from Final Fantasy Versus 13 (his resemblance to Noctis notwithstanding). Your guess is as good as ours but at least the Kingdom Hearts story continues.
No Man’s Sky
There’s probably no bigger way to disappoint players who put several hours into a game to discover the center of the universe…only to have it to transport them to the beginning of a new journey. No Man’s Sky disappointed in a number of ways with its initial release and the base ending didn’t help matters. Over time, however, Hello Games would expand on the lore, providing more information on the nature of the universe (which is a simulation), the Travelers, and what the Atlas is trying to accomplish. It may not be what most expected in terms of a “traditional” plot but it works well for the game’s motif.
The entire plot of Resistance 2 revolves around Sgt. Nathan Hale slowly being taken over by the Chimera virus while he hunts for Daedalus, a prime leader of the Chimeran forces. Though Hale eventually succeeds in killing Daedalus (albeit with Echo Squad being mostly wiped out) and taking down the enemy’s fleet, he’s eventually overcome by the virus. By the end, squad member Corporal Joseph Capelli is forced to kill Hale. On the one hand, you could argue that this was inevitable, both given the nature of the Chimera virus and humanity’s attempts to use it to fight back. However, it’s also kind of sad to see Hale reduced to this state after he fought so hard throughout the game, making one wonder about the point of it all.