Why Do Great Games Have Such Bad Endings?

Games need to work on their endings.

Case in point: the new Wolfenstein: The New Order. I was lucky enough to trawl through this generally superb game at a relaxed pace, so I got to read every newspaper clipping, do every sidequest (scant though they were) and talk to every character. I took my time, which was a fantastic way to approach this relatively smart reincarnation of the adventures of B.J. Blaskowicz, Nazi killer.

I wandered in thinking i’d get something akin to Inglorious Bastards; a self-aware, funny yet grotesque genre piece. What I got occasionally hit that mark, but more often than not, the developers erred on the side of earnest posturing; eulogizing about the tragedy of war whilst participating in the war itself. Which isn’t problematic, really, given just how well made and well acted the bulk of the story is.

We’re now going to look at the ending of the game. Warning: this will contain SPOILERS. After B.J. wakes up from over a decade in a vegetative state, having curiously not suffered any muscle degradation at all, he realizes his carer, Anya, is pretty great. He begins harboring fantasies of a happy, normal life, and they strike up a sex/fervent whispering based relationship. Anya has depth, drive, motivation, and B.J. feels good. Sort of.

Then, right near the ending, he suddenly tells her they’ll never have that life, and all but lets himself get nailed by Deathshead, then lies there whining in the third person to himself, and makes the bizarre but apparently noble call to order the nuclear strike on the compound once he’s made sure she’s safe.

Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that after the credits, the music stops, and a helicopter is heard landing, implying a rescue of some sort did pull B.J. out of there. The whole ‘FPS war hero dying for a noble cause’ ending is old hat, and frankly, is symptomatic of Call of Duty style writing. It also stands in direct opposition to B.J.’s narrative; he’s a man who has something to live for, who states that several times, and who cannot be killed. Cannot. There is no feasible reason unless his guts are literally hanging out of his body, that he couldn’t have slid down the face of the building and hobbled to that chopper; the downer ending as a means of milking profundity from an otherwise shit-hot action narrative demeans the writers of Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Which is a bummer, because otherwise, it’s top notch.

I mean, he should have been rescued by Caroline in her Atlantean Iron Man suit (and boy did they not focus on THAT plot point enough), but I’d have settled for a pre-credits rescue. The last game that used post-credits to fix a tragedy-porn conclusion was Dead Space 3, and that took a DLC to fix.

You’re not Marvel, guys. Keep the story within the ropes, please. And kindly bring B.J. back soon, because this was a near-perfect title.