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The Most Satisfying Endings In Video Games

Video games are distinctively unique compared to other forms of entertainment, as you spend significant amounts of time controlling protagonists, building deep relationships with characters, and spending hundreds of hours within their constructed worlds.

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It is essential that, after having invested so much of your time, the end of a game’s story is impactful and has a satisfying emotional weight to it. Expectations for high-quality narratives have increased over the years, but luckily for us, games have come a long way since their 8-bit forefathers, with their silent protagonists and text-based dialogue. Here are some of the best game endings that leave the player wholly satisfied.

Updated on March 25, 2024, by Dominic Allen: Some might say that the ending is the least important thing about a story, and what matters is the journey the story takes you. That philosophy can work in the world of professional wrestling, but in most other entertainment endeavors, especially video games, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

After spending such a large time commitment to one title, you need a satisfying ending or at least an effective one. Even all-time great titles like Dark Souls 1 have issues with the ending, but when delivered perfectly, it often leaves a very positive impression.

Massive Spoiler Warning For Many Titles

13 Mega Man 6

A Rare Satisfying Ending For An NES Game

Wily finally behind bars in Mega Man 6

Release Year

Platforms

1993

NES, GameCube, Switch, 3DS, PlayStation (Japan only), PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, Xbox, Xbox One, PC, iOS, Android

Like many other titles of the era, Mega Man had an incredibly simple story. The good doctor, Dr. Light, made a bunch of good robots, and the bad doctor, Dr. Wily, reprogrammed them for evil and later made his own.

Time and time again, at the end of these games, Mega Man would just let Dr. Wily go, and it’s baffling, especially since Dr. Wily’s essentially a terrorist. At the end of Mega Man 6, however, Mega Man brings a rope and finally puts Dr. Wily behind bars. It’s so satisfying because of how long it took to get to this point, as well as tying a nice bow, as Mega Man 6 was the final mainline NES title in the series.

12 Prey 2006

An Actual Satisfying Cliffhanger

A blue portal from the ending of Prey 2006

Release Year

Platforms

2006

Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Linux

One of the most underrated games of the 2000s has to be the original Prey. It focuses on Tommy, a Cherokee protagonist, who is captured by an alien spaceship and must fight his way through it. The ending of this title has to be one of the few satisfying cliffhangers in video games.

After Tommy’s won the day and you’re back at the bar, Elhuit surprisingly returns and says that the people who rescued her have taken notice of your endeavor into the spaceship and really want to speak to you. A portal opens up, sending you far away into the universe, and back in 2006, you couldn’t help but be incredibly excited by this cliffhanger. The base story still has finality, which is great in hindsight because Prey 2 unfortunately got canceled.

A Phenomenal Ending That Elevates The Entire Experience

Big Boss and Solid Snake during Metal Gear Solid 4's ending

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

When you look at the entirety of the Metal Gear series, MGS4 is mid-tier. There’s just not a lot of gameplay here, but when MGS4 hits, it hits hard. A great example is the climax to the very end of the game, as the tension becomes so high with the opposition the heroes face. Old Snake ends up deleting the patriot’s AI and faces off against Liquid Ocelot in an amazing final boss.

The final scene at the cemetery, however, takes the cake. Zero and the real Big Boss finally return as some huge plot revelations unravel before Big Boss gets infected with FOXDIE. In his dying moments, father and son come together one last time in a truly emotional moment, especially after playing the whole series. Kojima nailed this ending about as perfectly as you could get.

10 Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

Coming Full Circle

The Prince handing Farah the dagger of time in the end of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Release Year

Platforms

2003

PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, GameCube, PC

Arguably the best game in the series, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has an engaging plot that is told in a refreshingly unique narrative style. In the game’s final moments, Farah dies tragically, which forces the Prince to travel back in time to defeat Vizier before he starts his evil plan.

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He recounts to her the whole story, revealing where the game’s narration has been directed the entire time. After killing Vizier, leaning in for a kiss, and receiving a cringe-worthy rejection, the Prince rewinds time and leaves, as the only person that knows what truly happened. Although not quite the romantic Hollywood ending you might hope for, it is still one of the best showcases of a deep and nuanced relationship within a game.

9 Halo: Combat Evolved

A Finale Fit For Such A Game-Changing Title

Collage of the final Pillar of Autumn Warthog run and Master Chief in the end cutscene in Halo Combat Evolved

Halo: Combat Evolved

Released
November 15, 2001

Publisher(s)
Microsoft Game Studios

Halo: Combat Evolved is brimming with atmosphere, especially in its explosive ending. After discovering that Halo was nothing more than an elaborate self-destruct button for the flood, the Chief and Cortana detonate the fusion reactor of the Pillar of Autumn and make a daring escape through the huge space cruiser.

The frantic Warthog breakout sequence is one of the most memorable end levels in gaming history. Seeing Master Chief escape just in time, the Halo ring shatter, and the flood being thwarted, is all extremely satisfying. We also get to witness the Chief finally take off his helmet for some well-deserved rest. Let’s just hope he gave it a bit of a clean before Halo 2.

8 Batman: Arkham City

They Actually Killed Him Off

Batman carrying the Joker at the end of Batman Arkham City

Batman Arkham City

Released
October 18, 2011

The Batman Arkham games are some of the best representations of the Dark Knight, and Arkham City is the most impactful of Rocksteady’s trilogy. The finale of the game sees a terminally ill Joker attempt to cling to his reign of terror by curing his sickness. In the last battle with Batman, Joker accidentally destroys the antidote that would have cured him, and solidifies his fate.

A stoic and broken Batman carries out Joker’s lifeless body and lays him on the ground, without a word. This moment is surprisingly heartbreaking, considering how much grief the Joker has caused the entire city. It shows Batman’s emotional connection to a tragic figure who he ultimately wanted to save.

7 God Of War

Seeing The Past, Present, And Future

Kratos following Atreus at the peak in Jotunheim at the end of God of War

2018’s God of War is a departure from the series in that it takes a far more serious tone and includes Kratos’ son, Atreus, to accompany him on his god-slaying journey. After an entire game battling the ancient gods and deadly creatures of Norse mythology, they finally arrive at the highest peak in Jötunheim to scatter Atreus’ mother’s ashes.

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Before the ascent, Atreus stumbles upon a mural which depicts their entire journey throughout the game, as well as an uncertain future for Kratos. Seeing their issues resolved and the fully-blossomed relationship between father and son is incredibly touching, and witnessing them finally reach their destination pays off in a very gratifying way.

6 Mass Effect 2

A Great Conclusion And Set-Up For The Finale

All squad members you can choose in the suicide mission at the end of Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2

Released
November 20, 2007

Following on from dozens of hours of building relationships and performing tasks with the crew of the Normandy SR-2, the final ‘suicide mission’ in Mass Effect 2 is something that will stay in the minds of those who played it for a very long time.

Depending on the choices you made throughout the game, the ending could change quite significantly. Characters have the chance to die permanently and will not show up in the third game, which makes your decisions feel meaningful and impactful. The final scene shows the awakening of the full force of the Reapers. They pose a threat to the entire galaxy, which raises the stakes and sets up the next game perfectly.

5 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Witcher Ending

The Most Appropriate Ending

Ciri sitting with Geralt in an inn for her Witcher ending in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

Ciri’s ‘Witcher ending’ in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is as close to a ‘good’ ending that you will get from CD Project Red’s masterpiece. There are a number of outcomes for Ciri, including becoming Empress, following the path of a Witcher, or suffering a tragic death at the hands of the White Frost.

There are no clear right or wrong choices to be made, but having Ciri join Geralt on his travels as a Witcher seems to be the most fitting – especially after spending many hours trying to track her down throughout his journey. It makes the most thematic sense, as it’s the role that she always wanted to play and serves as a somewhat happy ending for Geralt.

4 Portal 2

IN SPACE

Chell holding Wheatley as they travel through a portal on the moon in Portal 2

Both Portal games were near-perfect masterpieces that included innovative and challenging puzzles, and a delightfully hilarious story to accompany their impeccable level design. The ending of Portal 2 sees the lovably deranged AI, Wheatley, be thwarted in his lust for power in an exciting sequence where you teleport him to the moon.

After Chell and the ever-quotable GLaDOS resolve their differences, Chell escapes to the surface and is serenaded by some operatic turrets and GLaDOS as she sings “Want You Gone”, which is a wonderful fan-pleasing throwback to the viral hit “Still Alive” from the first game.

3 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

A Sweet Finale

Cassie, Nathan and Elena talking in their family home at the end of Uncharted 4

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

After spending four Uncharted games with the cool-headed Nathan Drake and his band of lovable treasure hunters, the action-heavy adventure series comes to a very satisfying and poignant end. Years after Nate and his brother Sam are reunited, and he and Elena decide to continue to live a life of (more responsible) adventure, you find their young daughter living in an idyllic tropical beachside house.

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She searches for her parents and stumbles upon the treasures and trinkets of their wild, previous life. When confronted, Nate tells her everything, hinting at a possible sequel starring his daughter, Cassie. It’s a fitting end for Nate and the beloved characters we have all grown with for so many years, and gives them the happy ending they all deserve.

2 Red Dead Redemption

It’s Called Red Dead Redemption For A Reason

John Marston against an entire firing squad at the end of Red Dead Redemption

Release Year

Platforms

2010

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Switch

Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is set at the turn of the 20th century in the Wild West, where John Marsten must find and eliminate the gang that once betrayed him in an attempt to keep his family safe. After having done all that the Bureau has asked of him, John realises that he is Edgar Ross’ last target.

Ross finds John and tragically guns him down, leaving a widowed mother and a devastated son to pick up the pieces. Thankfully, you get a chance for redemption as you get to control John’s son, Jack, years later on his quest for revenge. Jack tracks down Ross and shoots him dead, honouring his father and serving a satisfying dose of justice before the credits roll.

1 The Last Of Us

Making The Realistic Choice

Joel saving Ellie at the end of the Last of Us

At the end of The Last of Us, the Fireflies make it clear that they need to remove the infected portion of Ellie’s brain to make a cure, which will undoubtedly kill her in the process. Joel, having developed a deep father-daughter bond with Ellie, does not allow this, and goes on a murderous rampage to save her and escape. This dooms the fate of humanity.

Although bittersweet, you empathise with Joel. You know he is extremely selfish and objectively wrong, but given the chance, it’s probably what all of us would have decided to do to save those that we love. It perfectly reflects the themes of the game, and elevated storytelling for the entire gaming medium.

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