And so the long journey reaches its end. The final boss is defeated and the gameplay dissolves into a final, rewarding cinematic. But there are some such endings which stand out to us a lot more than others, ensuring that the game in question (whatever it may be) remains on our shelves forever.
Here are our favourite endings in gaming. Spoilers galore!
"Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt."
It wasn't enough to simply beat back the menacing armies of Columbia, both human and mechanical, and then drown the lead antagonist by holding his head in a vase of holy water.
No, not enough for Ken Levine at least! Once you use Birdsong to destroy the siphon which had been restricting Elizabeth's powers all this time, she leads you on a cross-universe odyssey in order to reveal to you the dark truth of why you were sent to Columbia in the first place.
As it turns out, Booker DeWitt traded his only daughter 'Anna' to pay off his debts as a younger man. In mad rage, Booker tracks down the man he sold Anna to - just as he is jumping from one universe to another. Booker wrangles with him through the portal, but the connection is soon severed along with Anna's pinky finger. It is revealed that Booker was brought into a parallel universe to redempt and save his daughter, now renamed 'Elizabeth' from an evil alternate version of himself, who could not conceive his own child due to the his exposure to toxic technology. Upon realisation, Booker surrenders to his own death - being drowned like his former evil self - but this time by a group of alternate versions of his daughters, thereby paying off the debt he owed to her (and subsequently all versions of her) when he allowed her to be traded so many years ago.
Dragon Age: Origins
"The Blight had been ended before it had truly begun."
Dragon Age: Origins has one of the best endings I've ever seen in a video game. The reason being that the ending is what you make it, and leaves room for you till fill in the blanks. Dragon Age: Origins is your fantasy-choose-your-own-adventure video game. Practically every choice you make influences the ending. While the ending is roughly the same no matter what you do (it being Bioware) the credits do enough to make you wonder the long term effects of your actions.
The three possible endings you can experience all hinge on the choices you make and who you bring into the final battle. If you go without Alistair or Morrigan, you die at the hands of the Archdemon, and many mourn their fallen Hero. If you decide to go into battle without Morrigan (or your turn down her advances to conceive a demon spawn/demi-god) but you bring Alistair, then Alistair will make the noble sacrifice in your place. If you bring Morrigan and somehow find the stomach to sleep with her (or have Alistair begrudgingly take on the task) then neither of you die and Morrigan disappears after the battle with the soul of the Archdemon kicking around in her uterus. I mean that is the general gist of what you see, but words cannot convey the very end, where they flash all your choices and their outcomes. It makes you feel as if your choices did matter, and how they eventually turned out, good or bad. My personal favourite part is where I became Queen and rule over Ferelden with Alistair...
...Because who could resist that guy?
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
"I'm a firin' ma lazar!"
Some of you might call this just a DLC pack, but that’s where I'd have to stop you because Blood Dragon is so much more than a simple add-on. Ending wise, if you’ve seen it or played I don’t have to tell you why it's so brilliant. But if you haven’t, you get to ride the titular Blood Dragon, a giant-lizard like creature that shoots freakin’ lasers out of its eyes. All the while you mow down enemies on a mini-gun attached to the beast, while it walks around shouting “I’m a firin’ my lazar!” and “I shoot lasers out of my fucking eyes!”
It is truly one of the greatest endings in video game history. And let's not forget the amazing 1970's techno music that plays in the background the entire time.
"Wake me when you need me."
A reflection in some ways to the ending of Halo: Combat Evolved, you set foot on a brand new Halo ring freshly built from the star-shaped Forerunner device known simply as the Ark. You are made aware through the events of the game that you must light the ring and fire the weapon in an attempt to wipe out the flood once and for all. In reaching the control room along with the Covenant traitor known as the Arbiter, we lose a major character in Sergeant Avery Johnson. His final commands to the Master Chief are - fittingly - "Send me out, with a bang."
After activating Halo you must escape via the Forward Unto Dawn. The Halo theme kicks in shortly after the end run starts, and you know your up against the clock once the environment begins to violently destroy itself all around you. Once you reach the end, a cutscene kicks in showcasing Forward Unto Dawn's dramatic escape. The ship leaps into FTL just in the nick of time. Well, one of half of it with the Arbiter did. He ends up back at Earth. A memorial service takes place for all lives lost in the Covenant War, and as it appears that the Master Chief is dead, he is honoured post-humously. An extra cutscene following the end credits shows he actually survived, along with the missing half of the Forward Unto Dawn. For those of you who completed Halo 3 on Legendary difficulty, a further cutscene shows the planet Requiem in the background (ultimately leading to the events of Halo 4).
"There 'ain't nobody with more humanity than Cole McGrath."
The InFamous series is one of my favourite game series' and just for clarification, I'm talking about this in conjunction withinFamous and inFamous 2, not inFamous: Second Son (though that is also a good game). When InFamous first came out for the PS3 back in 2009, I was immediately taken with it's story, gameplay style, atmosphere and characters; falling in love with both Cole MacGrath and his journey from nobody to hero (or villain depending on which karmic route you decided to take).
So I was overjoyed when Sucker Punch developed and released a sequel, and inFamous 2 is probably one of my favourite sequels ever. I could talk about a great many different aspects but since this is all about video game endings, I'll stick to that. inFamous 2 has an ending (or endings, rather) that has stuck with me ever since I first played it. For the sheer emotion in it alone, it gets a spot in my most favourite endings. Whether because of Cole MacGrath's self sacrifice in the good karmic ending or because of his betrayal that leads to him killing his best friend in the evil karmic ending, both always manage to leave me teary-eyed and a bit sniffley when the credits roll, and not many games have managed to do that.
Mass Effect 2
"Don't turn your back on me, Shepard! I made you. I brought you back from the dead!"
The entire Mass Effect series is a franchise that gets talked about way too often. Whether it is about what choices people make towards their reputations or about how much they hate the third game's ending, after a while you just get sick of hearing about the whole thing. However, even I must admit a great amount of love and affection for Mass Effect 2 and its finale.
By the time you finish the suicide mission at the end of the game you quite literally feel like you've been to hell and back. After you've fought your way through an entire army of alien bad guys, forced to make life and death decisions for your entire crew and finally take on a giant killer robot, you are treated to the fruits of your victory… or not. The choices you make in the suicide mission will ultimately affect who lives, who dies and even whether you get a nice big explosion at the end of the game or not. Even if you earn total victory though, you are still teased with the knowledge that there is more to come. As the final cutscenes progress the game sets up the beginning of the end for the coming third installment. On any first play through you are almost always going to see Shepard thinking on any dead comrades he may have, before looking over to his rag tag group of survivors. As one final consideration, the player is shown what is to come as the Commander (or his pilot in the event of Shepard’s own demise) look out into a the black abyss, while a fleet of death dealing Reaper ships give an ominous impression of what is coming.
Regardless of your feelings on the third game, there is no doubting that ME2 leaves you on tenterhooks and turns the tension all the way up to eleven. I still play the game repeatedly just for the suicide mission alone and the pay off is ultimately satisfying as you get a gaming cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers.
"You have endeavored hard to become the new League Champion!"
When trying to think of my favourite ending ever for any game I’ve played I kept coming back to Pokémon Yellow, my first ever Pokémon game and one of my favourite games I’ve ever played.
The main reason I have so much love for this ending was all the dedication I put into training my team that took me through Victory Road, allowed me to best both the Elite Four and the Champion (aka your rival) and then good old Professor Oak gives you a speech about how much more awesome you are compared to his grandson. Finally being accepted with your trusty Pokémon into the Hall of Fame was one of the most satisfying moments in any game I’ve ever played, even more so at the tender age of nine.
Red Dead Redemption
"Now go! Git!"
Okay, so you've really grown to love the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption; John Marston. You love him for being a family man, a loyal husband and a damn great shot. You get to the end of Red Dead Redemption after putting countless hours into the game. As tensions have been rising between Marston and the Lawmen throughout, it of course concludes in one final shootout, leaving a friend of John's; simply named 'Uncle', dead.
What follows is John bravely sending his family off to safety on horseback, as he goes outside to take the posse' of treacherous Lawmen head on. He lands a few shots, but as he is severely outnumbered the deputies shoot him down. Kneeling on the ground, covered in blood and bullet holes, John respiring his last, drawn out and wheezy breaths, finally collapses to the ground. Soon his family head back to find him there, laying dead surrounded by a pool of blood. As somebody who had the ending spoiled for me, I was prepared, or at least so I thought. The shock factor and long goodbye to the main character makes this game ending one of the most powerful, and heart-wrenching endings to date.
The Last of Us
"Swear to me that everything you said about the Fireflies is true."
Anybody who knows me knows that I am completely in love with The Last of Us.
It may suffer from clunky controls, but that's easily forgiven when you immerse yourself with the frankly stunning, beautifully written storyline and you fall in love with Ellie and Joel as their paternal relationship grows... Which makes the ending even harsher. Ellie is the potential cure for mankind. In her brain is the secret to curing the viral Cordyceps fungi which has ravaged the world in the last two decades, but extracting it will certainly kill her. Joel is faced with a choice, to walk away and loose another daughter, or to save Ellie from the Fireflies. It's an impossible choice that tugs at the heartstrings of any player; all of mankind or one girl? Of course, there is only one outcome, and Joel was always going to save Ellie, which forces you as the player to commit the most deplorable act you possibly could, because it's not Joel, but you, who condemns mankind to extinction.
Endings are never easy....
Did you agree with any of the choices above? If so, come find us on Facebook or Twitter or let us know your thoughts in the comments below!