10 Games Where The Ending Changed Late Into Development

Highlights

  • Game developers often rework or remove the original endings of video games to ensure that every element of the game is first-rate.
  • Some games, like Deus Ex and Mafia 2, had multiple endings planned but ended up with a single, revised finale.
  • The original endings of games like The Last of Us and Destiny were different from what players experienced, showcasing the difficulties of game development.

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Everyone loves a memorable finale. Whether it be movies, television, or video games, the conclusion directly affects how much a story is remembered as a quality creation or a bygone lemon. The pressure on the writers to stick to the landing at the end is even greater regarding video games.

Related: Games That Have Multiple Endings

Given the time, money, and resources devoted to game development, the risks are tremendous. As such, developers ensure that every element of the game they are working on is as first-rate as possible. Sometimes, this leads to the original ending of the game’s narrative being completely reworked or removed entirely.

10 Deus Ex

Screenshot of city from Deus Ex

2000’s Deus Ex is considered one of the greatest PC games ever. Developed by Ion Storm, Deus Ex’s conclusion depends on which of the three main factions you side with to stop Bob Page from merging with Helios.

During a playthrough on the Deus Ex YouTube channel, series creator Warren Spector revealed that there were originally four endings. In this deleted conclusion, You allow Page to succeed in his plan. Not only does Page then appoint you as his second-in-command, but the ruler of Europe.

9 Mafia 2

Image of gangsters from Mafia 2

2010’s Mafia 2 was a decent critical and commercial success. While hardly revolutionary, except for breaking the world record for most “f-bombs” in a video game, the sequel to the 2002 predecessor was an enjoyable game with superb writing and a compelling story.

Developer 2K originally had much more ambitious plans for how Mafia 2’s narrative concluded. Initially, there were four different endings to the main story. Ultimately, the four-ending idea was scrapped, and protagonist Vito Scaletta’s criminal tale was limited to a single finale.

8 Last of Us

Image of Joel and Ellie from Last of Us

If you were to create the Mount Rushmore of PlayStation exclusives, The Last of Us would have a solid argument to be there. Unlike its more disappointing sequel, Naughty Dog’s 2013 zombie survival tale is an undisputed video game masterpiece.

Related: Most Climactic Endings In Video Games

Like the rest of the narrative, the ending of The Last of Us is haunting and depressing and concludes on a rather bleak note. Yet that almost wasn’t the case. Initially, the ending would’ve been much more optimistic, totally undercutting the game’s finale.

7 Destiny

Image of Guardians from Destiny 1

The level of hype surrounding Destiny’s release couldn’t have been higher. While Destiny’s gunplay was solid, given developer Bungie’s previous work on the Halo series, Destiny’s storytelling was expected to be on par.

It’s no secret that Destiny’s production was quite rocky, and that can easily be seen in the final product. While we don’t know for sure what the original ending was, it’s clear that the universe first envisioned by Jason Jones was a far cry from what we ended up getting.

6 Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Image of Raziel from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Before spearheading the iconic Tomb Raider series, developer Crystal Dynamics was renowned for the Legacy of Kain games. The dark fantasy titles enjoyed immense critical and commercial success, with Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver being the series’ magnum opus.

However, for all Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver’s remarkable qualities, it ends on a relatively anticlimactic note, with hero Raziel letting the villainous Kain slip away. Initially, the conclusion would’ve had Raziel defeating Kain. Crystal Dynamics even recorded the audio before ultimately deciding to cut it.

Image of Old Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot is regarded by many gamers as not just an excellent Metal Gear adventure but one of the greatest video games ever created. Along with featuring all the hallmarks fans treasure, it also almost concluded entirely differently.

Related: Most Bittersweet Video Game Endings

While multiple Metal Gear titles were developed with diverse endings, Guns of the Patriot’s conclusion would’ve been the series’ most jarring. The original ending would see Solid Snake and Otacon surrender to the government, committed, and eventually executed for their crimes.

4 Uncharted 4

Image of Nathan and Sam from Uncharted 4

The Uncharted games are arguably Playstation’s most cherished series. The exploits of treasure hunter Nathan Drake are remembered for their outstanding storytelling. Given the sharpness of Naughty Dog’s writing, it seems strange that any of the game’s narratives were altered drastically during development.

Yet that was the case with Uncharted 4. Instead of giving Nathan Drake and his friends a satisfying and happy conclusion, the original ending would see Nathan fighting his brother Sam instead of the treacherous Rafe Alder during the final climatic showdown.

3 Prey

Image of Typhon from Prey

2017’s Prey, developed by Arkane Studios, is the developer’s finest and most underrated creation. Between being dishonestly advertised as a sequel to 2006’s Prey and having an underwhelming marketing campaign, Prey failed to reap commercial triumph.

Prey’s narrative is the game’s best element and features twists and turns from beginning to end. One of the game’s most unforgettable moments is the amazingly twisty post-credit ending. Despite being the perfect mind-bending cap on the extraordinary story, Arkane had seriously considered cutting it from the final game.

2 Halo 2

Image of Master Chief from Halo 2

In the gaming industry, Halo 2 is both a masterpiece and an anomaly. While the finished product is a chef-d’oeuvre of incredible writing and outstanding storytelling, Halo 2 is also known for its exceptionally turbulent production. As such, plenty was dumped on the cutting room floor.

Related: Best Co-Op Shooter Games

Halo 2 concludes on a rather abrupt cliffhanger, but that most certainly wasn’t Bungie’s original plan. The original conclusion would’ve been much more seamless with Halo 3 and offered more than just Master Chief promising to “Finish the fight.”

1 Mass Effect 3

Image of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 3

With the benefit of hindsight and Bioware’s updates, Mass Effect 3’s ending isn’t as controversial as it was once. Sure, it’s still not the ideal conclusion of one of gaming’s greatest trilogy, but believe it or not, it was almost worse.

Rather than Mass Effect 3 concentrating on the Reaper War arc, the story would’ve revolved around the consequences of dark energy. This angle can be seen in Mass Effect 2 and would’ve led to Mass Effect 3’s narrative and conclusion, both being completely different.

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