Rage 2 Part 9: Tutorial Buddy to the Rescue!

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 19, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 70 comments

Here we are at the endgame. Walker has defeated General Cross, but then she stood around and got coughed on. So now she has this nanotrite virus or whatever. 

Walker falls over, and then Lily (remember her?)  appears out of nowhere and drags her to safety.

The obvious, surface-level problem is that Lily had no possible way to get here, no reason to expect that you would need her, and no way to extract you afterwards. The whole plot of this game was about acquiring the tools to get into this facility, so it comes off as absurdly lazy when another character gets in without any of those tools.

The more pressing problem is that this doesn’t work in a storytelling sense. We haven’t seen Lily since the tutorial and she hasn’t been an active participant in the story since then. It would be like having Trask show up and save the day at the end of KOTOR. We likely haven’t seen this character in ages and the writer hasn’t invested the time to make us care about them.  

The game never gave the player any reason to revisit Vineland. Even if the player chooses to go back, Lily never has anything important to say. It makes no dramatic sense to have her suddenly appear here at the end like she’s the missing puzzle piece to this whole adventure.

Fake Endings in 2019

These comic panels seem fun. I wish this playful tone had been PART OF THE GAME, rather than the writer subjecting us to the disorienting tone-switching of this campy gross-out body horror wacky grimdark spoopy revenge schlock.
These comic panels seem fun. I wish this playful tone had been PART OF THE GAME, rather than the writer subjecting us to the disorienting tone-switching of this campy gross-out body horror wacky grimdark spoopy revenge schlock.

As a total aside, what’s the deal with fake-out endings in 2019? Last year we got:

  • Control – The game made it look like the bad guy won. The credits rolled, and then the credits got all messed up, fell apart, and the player found themselves needing to fight their way out of a dream world.
  • Borderlands 3 – The game made it look like the bad guy won. The game acted like it was setting up sequel bait for the future, then it dumped you back into the game.
  • Rage 2 – You beat the bad guy, but the game made it look like you died in the process. It’s not until the credits are over that you get the scene of Lily saving your life and somehow carrying you to safety.

(If you can think of any others, let me know.)

Another odd similarity: Both Borderlands 3 and Rage 2 had little comic panels scattered through the ending credits as a way of enticing you to stick around. The first game showed us glimpses of how the good guys celebrated their victory, while Rage 2 was just a recap of the story. I like both, although I think the first approach is more useful to the audience as it offers them additional closure.

JK, You’re Not Dead

Oh hey, I remember you. You're that lady from the start of the game.
Oh hey, I remember you. You're that lady from the start of the game.

Anyway, getting back to the main topic: I think the idea of having Lily help out at the end is a good one. The problem is that the rest of the story didn’t lay the groundwork for it. 

To fix this:

First of all, we need to make sure Lily is more connected to the story. Lily sits at the gates of Vineland for the entire game, which means that you never have a reason to talk to her after the tutorial. Even if you wanted to talk with her, the game makes it very difficult to do so.

All of the major towns in the game get a fast-travel point, except for Vineland. It’s tucked in the corner of the map and surrounded by a vast buffer zone of empty spaceThere are a couple of things to do in the area, but this is the most sparse area of the map in terms of open world activities.. So we need to…

  1. Make Vineland a fast travel destination.
  2. Sprinkle some low-level encounter zones around the place to give the player a reason to interact with the region.
  3. Put some shops around so it’s clear Vineland is still a place where people live and not just a big pile of rubble. Ideally, Vineland should be slowly rebuilt during the course of the game. I understand that maybe that would be prohibitively expensive / difficult, but at the very least put up an impassable gate so we can pretend the rest of the town is being rebuilt on the other side of it. 
  4. Put up one of those auto-generated bounty boards like we find in the major cities. Again, this will reinforce the idea that Vineland is a place that we should continue to care about, and not just a big graveyard. 
  5. Most importantly: Give Lily additional dialog as the game does on. I realize this means more script and more voice acting, which means it costs more money. But if this character is going to be the big plot twist deus ex machina savior at the end, then she must be given a proper character arc. If she’s not important enough to deserve a character arc, then she’s not important enough to save the day at the end of the story. You have to decide if this person is a real character or just your tutorial buddy. 
  6. Lily needs an arc that can be completed by saving the day at the end. I realize this is a lowbrow shooter and I’m not asking for a complex character study. We just need a character that has a need, expresses that need, and is then changed by the events of the story so that the need is either fulfilled or replaced by something new.

Some example character arcs:

  • Lily has spent her whole life in Walker’s shadow, and is tired of feeling small and needless. When she pulls you out of certain death, she gets to feel like she’s the big hero this time.
  • Lily is afraid she’ll never fill her mother’s shoes. She never got much in the way of approval from her mother while Sergeant Prowley was still alive, and now she feels like she’s never going to get the recognition she craves. She feels unworthy of her position as the leader of Vineland. When she saves Walker at the end, Walker says, “You did good. You would’ve made mom proud.” Lily, realizing this to be true, then snaps back with a callback to one of her mother’s drill sergeant sayings. Okay, the game never gave her one, but it would be easy to have Prowley throw out a catchphrase in the opening chapter. Then have Lily repeat that line at the closure of her arc to show she’s embraced her mother’s mantle. It doesn’t need to mean anything profound, but little touches like this go a long way to making characters feel like more than the sum of their dialog.
  • Perhaps Walker could save Lily’s life in the opening, and then Lily feels like she “owes” Walker for the rest of the game. Now that she’s an administrator and Walker is in the field, she realizes that she’s never going to get a chance to return the favor. But then she does at the end, and that satisfies the debt in her mind.
  • Lily dreams of adventure beyond the walls of Vineland, but because of her vague health problems (whatever unexplained condition prevents her from utilizing Ranger armor) she’s stuck at home. Her one crazy dive into the heart of the Authority base to save Walker’s life then cures her of this desire and she realizes that running a town isn’t so bad after all.

Those are literally off the top of my head. They don’t all fit with the brash and angry version of Lily we see in the game, but the point is that the Lily we see in the game doesn’t have enough going on to carry the existing ending. These various suggested arcs are all different ways you could rewrite the character. 

I want to stress that I’m not talking about adding a ton of dialog to the game. Arcs like these are incredibly simple. In fact, we’re basically talking about four additional lines of dialog for Lily, plus four additional reaction lines for Walker. The cost is trivial when compared to the overall size and scope of this game. The lines would need to be spaced out like so:

  1. Something at the start, where she expresses her need / desire.
  2. A reminder later in the game, to reinforce that this is a real concern and not just a passing fancy.
  3. A final reminder just before the end of the game – perhaps during Walker’s drive to the Authority base for Project Dagger – where we foreshadow that Lily is getting restless and is about to act on her desire.
  4. A final payoff at the end, after she saves Walker’s life.

In a movie you could skip either #2 or #3, but here I think you need all of them to allow for the distracted pacing of an open world game where we might lose track of the plot for a few hours.

Salt In the Wound

At the end of a simple story, horribly told, the writer leaves themselves a mechanism to make the next game about the exact same plot with the same boring bad guy.
At the end of a simple story, horribly told, the writer leaves themselves a mechanism to make the next game about the exact same plot with the same boring bad guy.

In a post-credits scene, Lily somehow drags your limp body to the opposite side of the map so Dr. Kvasir can have a look at you. Not only does the writer act like Kvasir betrayed you, but Lily seems to have read the script and come to that same unsupported conclusion even though she’s been out of the loop. She doesn’t arrive until your conversation with Cross is over. Walker doesn’t seem to be able to talk, but she takes one look at her sibling and somehow figures out what (nearly) killed you.

Once Kvasir saves Walker’s life, she holds a gun to Kvasir’s head and debates whether or not she should kill him. He argues that since he was able to cure Walker, that means that someone else could theoretically cure Cross. Therefore, he concludes, you still need him.

Just to rub salt in the wound, Loosum and Marshal stop by and re-explain the ending to Walker. Marshal says, “No more Cross clones to worry about… that we know of.”

WHY are we spending precious dialog re-explaining what happened to Walker?!? Cross explained it. Then Kvasir explained more. Now Loosum is giving it to us again. It's not like she's recapping stuff from hours ago. These conversations are minutes apart.
WHY are we spending precious dialog re-explaining what happened to Walker?!? Cross explained it. Then Kvasir explained more. Now Loosum is giving it to us again. It's not like she's recapping stuff from hours ago. These conversations are minutes apart.

I find it both alarming and sad that the writer felt the need to give themselves a back door to continue using Cross in future games. Cross is a one-note villain with a cliche design and nothing interesting to say. Like, even if you don’t have any ideas for the future, why in the world would you keep THIS character? The minimum-effort way to handle this is to introduce Rage 3 by saying there’s a new commander, GENERAL SCOWL, with a similar design and line delivery. 

Hinting that the player’s hard-fought victory was ultimately pointless because you can’t even be bothered to invent a NEW cliche villain is a move of diabolical laziness. 

How I’d have done it:

Instead of undermining the player’s victory by hinting that Cross might still be alive, just set up the sequel by stating the obvious: THE AUTHORITY is a huge organization and they’re not going to give up just because you killed their shouty-pants leader. Certainly someone new will assume leadership. 

(Note that I’m not going to get into the problems with the existing ending, which leaves us with the question of: “If Cross was immortal because of the Clone-O-Tron, then why did we put so much effort into killing Cross rather than destroying the machine? If someone else becomes leader, then we’ll end up right back where we started!” That’s a complicated question that would require extensive re-writes to fix, and ultimately I don’t think it’s worth going to all that effort in this series to address some leftover fridge logic. I’m just putting this disclaimer here to acknowledge that yes, I am aware of this problem.)

Earlier in this series I suggested making the existing leaders Marshal, Loosum, and Kvasir be passive or complacent. This post-credits moment would be the point where they change their ways. They would admit that Walker’s proactive approach ultimately saved them. This change of heart would then impact their future plans. They’d talk about the need to expand outward and tame the wasteland instead of hiding inside their walled cities.

This would give the player a secondary victory. Not only did they neutralize the Big Bad, but in the process they’ve created reform that will (presumably) benefit the people of the wasteland and make society stronger and more adaptable in the future.  This would also give the leaders a bit of a character arc, which they’re lacking in the story as told.

So that’s the story of Rage 2. It managed to disappoint on every level. It was a barebones plot with a boring villain and paper-thin characters that were fighting over a world we have no reason to care about. 

So why did I write this series? Why did I waste time beating this dead horse? I have one last post that talks about that.

 

Footnotes:

[1] There are a couple of things to do in the area, but this is the most sparse area of the map in terms of open world activities.



From The Archives:
 

70 thoughts on “Rage 2 Part 9: Tutorial Buddy to the Rescue!

  1. Mousazz says:

    You need to redo the “Fake Endings in 2019” part of the article, Shamus. Not only do you mention Borderlands 3 twice (in different ways – I don’t know, were you trying to go for a humorous joke here? I don’t get it), and then Rage 2 (the game this whole retrospective analyzes, which kind of feels weird to mention with only 2 other potential examples), but you spoiler the first game at the bullet points, but then mention it unspoilered in the following paragraph.

    Also, the latter paragraph reads:

    Borderlands 3 showed us glimpses of how the good guys celebrated their victory, while Rage 2 was just a recap of the story. I like both, although I think the Borderlands 2 approach is more useful to the audience as it offers them additional closure.

    What’s the Borderlands 2 approach? Were you talking about the same game, and just mixed up 2 and 3?

    1. Mousazz says:

      Also, typo:

      In fact, we’re basically talking about four additional lines of dialog for Lily, plus for additional reaction lines for Walker.

      Should be “four”.

  2. Radiosity says:

    “The obvious, surface-level problem is that Lily had no possible way to get here, no reason to expect that you would need her, and no way to extract you afterwards. The whole plot of this game was about acquiring the tools to get into this facility, so it comes off as absurdly lazy when another character gets in without any of those tools.”

    You must retrieve the horn of Yurgen Windcaller…

    Also, Shamus, simple rule of thumb for use of apostrophes (Cross’, which you’ve done through the whole series):

    Does the name end in a ‘z’ sound? Moses, for example. Yes? Then use an apostrophe:

    Moses’ gun is big and shiny.

    For all other cases, use ‘s. So it’s:

    Cross’s armour is big and shiny, not Cross’ armour is big and shiny.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      You must retrieve the horn of Yurgen Windcaller…

      Tehehe. I’d completely forgotten that that thing existed until you mentioned it. It doesn’t even DO anything in-game, does it?

      But yes, Skyrim was so very, very good of making ‘special’ things mundane. My house was full of fabled weapons, lost relics, treasured artifacts, legendary daedric items…
      …each and every one of which was less powerful than the random crap I could make myself or loot from random respawning enemies.
      Forget about the terrible dagger of Mehrunes Dagon, where are the legends of the Dovahkiin and his enchanted mace shaped like Pinkie Pie?

      Cross’s armour is big and shiny, not Cross’ armour is big and shiny.

      But what if Cross’s armor is covered in crosses? Sentient crosses, that are grumpy? Where do the apostrophes go on Cross’s cross crosses?
      And if they’re grumpy because someone stole their (multiple) pastries? Think about the case of Cross’s cross cross’ croissants!

      1. methermeneus says:

        Cross’s cross crosses’ croissants. Apostrophes do go after the s if it’s there as a plural suffix.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Now what if the crosses are also crass and the croissants have creases?

      2. ivan says:

        It doesn’t even DO anything in-game, does it?

        I believe the original comment was regarding the content of the quest, nothing to do with the nature or usefulness of the item. In that quest you are flat out required, to use the Whirlwind Sprint shout that the Greybeards just taught you in the previous quest, to get through an actually original puzzle thing. Not difficult, or actually puzzling, but it wasn’t a snake/fish/bat rotating column thing, so novel within that game.

        But anyways, you get through that barrier, and others, and then at the end find a note from Delphine, who mary sue’d her way through before you got there, and was somehow able to reset all the traps on her way out, and coerce the spiders to re-web all the entrances, and re-bar the shortcut door as well, from the opposite side of the door, somehow.

        None of which is ever explained, nor is she ever even the slightest bit competent at literally anything, while you are watching her do it. Oh, and she also just knew that the greybeards would send you there, too. She hates them btw, for reasons.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Sure, I get what he meant, I just moved on to talk about the Horn itself. Usually when a game sends you to get a macguffin, said macguffin actually DOES something. but this, you just hand over.
          it’s an essential quest item so it doesn’t even weigh anything.

          And oh yes, Delphine. My favorite encounter with her was when you traveled an arduous path up to the top of the super-high mountain, to learn magical abilities from a helpful and nice dragon. Then you turn around and she’s just there, telling you to kill it because dragons are bad.
          I was most tickled to learn that a lot of people’s response to this was to immediately FUS RO DAH her off the top of the mountain. Quite right too.

          She wasn’t useless, though: every companion I took or was saddled with in that game had a supernatural ability to ‘help’ in the worst possible way. From diving in front of my bow just as I loosed arrows* to getting stuck behind scenery to randomly slaughtering townsfolk when I accidentally misclicked and stole a small item, she and her friends could achieve a hell of a lot!

          *EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Do you have a citation for that apostrophe rule? According to this guide, what I’ve always used would be the rule from The Associated Press Stylebook, where s-ending proper nouns always only have an apostrophe added, and no extra s. (It seems Shamus is using this rule.) From that same guide, the rule for The Chicago Manual of Style would be that s-ending proper nouns always get an apostrophe plus s, regardless of how they’re pronounced. This guide shows plural nouns getting pluralized then only an apostrophe, and singular nouns always getting an apostrophe plus s.

      I personally also extrapolate all of these rules, to cover plural possessives that are composed of plural groups or other high-level things. I also treat proper and improper nouns the same way, since improper nouns could be people or be personified things. (I believe BlueHorus and methermeneus are alluding to these types of situations, in their other thread.) For example, the person’s net worth was inestimable (a single person has posession), the persons’ net worth was inestimable (two or more people have possession), the people’s net worth was inestimable (a large enough group of people to be not easily counted, has possession), the peoples’ net worth was inestimable (two or more groups of people, each large enough to be not easily counted, has possession).

      1. Moridin says:

        It strikes me as being wrong as well. The way I’ve heard it, for names ending in s you either ALWAYS use ‘s or you ALWAYS use just an apostrophe. Either is right, as long as you’re consistent.

      2. RFS-81 says:

        The Associated Press style is what I learned in school in Germany, and the way I made sense of it was that, well, plurals end with an s, so you can’t really append another s and the same should apply when the singular already ends with an s.

        I’ve mostly seen the Chicago style on the internet, so I just assumed that my teacher was wrong. Now you tell me that this is a thing that even Americans don’t agree on?

  3. BlueHorus says:

    Wow, that ending sounds like an exponential level of taking the piss.

    1. ‘Kill’ the player character via a not-that-well-explained contrivance.
    2. Save the player from said contrivance via another contrivance (Lily turning up).
    3. Now we’ve established that Kvasir ‘betrayed’ Walker, deny the player the chance to get (or see) their revenge…using a third contrivance (‘Oh, I’m the only one who can kill Cross if he comes back, honest. No-one else could possibly do it, I swear…’)
    4. Do all the above…in order to set up a hook for a sequel that may or may not happen.

    As I said a few articles ago, this game really sounds like it was written by committee, with no-one on said committee really giving a shit.

    1. ivan says:

      Also 3 is patently false, and I can only presume you have no means or agency to point this out. The conclusion proves that, by the characters own weird logic, Kvasir can’t kill Cross. Someone being able to save Cross from Kvasir makes his skills less valuable, not more so. They need someone else, now, someone better than Kvasir at killing clones who apparently share a single soul, or something.

  4. Karma The Alligator says:

    For the Clone-O-Tron problem, just mention how the machine is keyed to Cross genetic material and no-one knows how to change it. Or that the virus gummed up the works and it’s broken now.

  5. Lino says:

    Typolice:

    She doesn’t arrive until your conversation with cross is over.

    “Cross” should be capitalized

    Once Kvasir saves Walker’s life, She holds a gun to Kvasir’s head

    Should be a lower-case “she”.

    1. methermeneus says:

      Unless Lily is a god…

      1. Lino says:

        Which she has to be, after she managed to get into a base the player spent an entire game working to infiltrate!

  6. I find it both alarming and sad that the writer felt the need to give themselves a back door to continue using Cross in future games.

    I’ve come to think of this as the writer lacking confidence. They put a lot of work into their one-note character and are afraid that the next one won’t even be that good.

    I understand why some people wouldn’t like Joss Whedon, so don’t consider this an endorsement per se, but he is pretty good at the sort of stuff Shamus is talking about here, and he also has a bit of a reputation for killing characters. I think that’s partially because he has justified confidence that killing off a beloved character doesn’t mean that he’s down one beloved character forever. He knows that characters aren’t structurally irreplaceable, because there is a repeatable process that can make more.

    You can see this is in the minority view, because a whole bunch of the media world clings to the slightest successful characters like kid’s blankie, and wears them out in much the same way, because most of the creative world is afraid that if they try again, they won’t succeed even that well. A fear that is, for most of them, also fully justified. Quite a lot of them did get quite lucky and can’t repeat the process worth a toot.

    I wish more of them would put the time into their craft to figure out how to acquire the skill of making a decent character mostly-reliably. We’d have a lot fewer sequels and cash-out tie-ins to deal with.

    1. Asdasd says:

      I find it both alarming and sad that the writer felt the need to give themselves a back door to continue using Cross in future games.

      Isn’t this possibly an example of the coder/engineer/manager mindset at work? The thinking being that, in the same way that scrapping a serviceable engine between games would be wasted work, the same logic should be applied to characters and plot elements. This isn’t really (or perhaps really isn’t) how story telling works, but as games and other fiction media have generally have scaled up and industrialised, you tend to see narrative being treated like any other commodity, with attempts to systematise its production accordingly.

      1. In the mid-20th century, Hollywood worked that way. The had a mechanical production line for stories, cranking out movie after movie, many of forgettable, but broadly competent. There were arcs, development, setbacks, characters, etc., and they worked, if a bit stereotyped.

        We’re not getting “broadly competent” stories today. It isn’t just a proliferation of YouTube critics that have somehow made it fun to watch someone rant about a 90-minute movie for 30 minutes. Stories really are just bad, full of fundamental flaws that could be mechanically removed from them with a simple checklist and the barest minimum of inspiration.

        In fact, as an engineer myself, that would be my first suggestion to these writers. Be a little less starry eyed about the fundamental ineffability of your muse, and put your lofty aspirations on a more solid foundation with something as simple as a checklist.

        What is different in the world between the beginning of this scene and the end?
        What is different in your characters?
        What primary motivations is everyone acting out of in this scene?
        Is there anything that the character’s motivations should be driving them to do instead?
        Does the characters distinct voice come out correctly?
        Is their “distinct voice” a different perspective on their world or a funny accent?
        Is the protagonist active, or is the story happening to them?
        Is the antagonist active, or is the story happening to them?

        I mean, I’m just an internet commenter spewing off the top of my head, but how better would this game have been if the writer just took five minutes after each scene to run down a checklist like this?

        I’d also observe that a lot of the best writers have something like this checklist: Don Harmon’s story circle, Matt Stone & Trey Parker on “but” and “therefore”.

        1. Mousazz says:

          Sorry for the complete non sequitur, but I just need to vent.

          What is different in the world between the beginning of this scene and the end?
          What is different in your characters?
          […]
          Is the protagonist active, or is the story happening to them?

          My opinion might be in the tiny minority here, but, having recently replayed Max Payne 1, these questions nagged at me, as I felt that the story of that game was quite weak. Max had very little agency wherever he interacted with Vladimir or Woden, most of the “dock infiltration to get Vlad guns” was diversionary filler (such that Max ends the section by goading Angelo Punchinello, only to feign an apology in the very next scene), the entire parking lot section with BB came out of nowhere and was also extraneous, the smelting plant section started because of an unbelievably weak contrivance – Max just “overhearing” it being mentioned by Nicole Horne while falling into a drug-fueled stupor…
          Shamus’s push for protagonist agency reminded me that the original Max Payne had rather little of it. People still praised the game for its story, though.

  7. Geebs says:

    Re: fake-out endings,

    I played the original Secret of Monkey Island when I was a kid, and I completely failed to figure out the final puzzle with the root beer. I genuinely thought that the ending of that game was LeChuck punching Guybrush in the face, forever.

    1. Lars says:

      Literally all of Metal Gear has after credit endings where the surviving bad guys talk about “everything worked as planned”.

      1. Syal says:

        Donkey Kong Country 1 had fakeout credits two-thirds of the way through the final boss fight.

        1. Christopher says:

          I loved that one, it was a really funny surprise.

        2. Chad Miller says:

          When I was a kid a friend and I rented that game along with Maximum Carnage for a weekend. We were pretty amused when we realized we’d accidentally selected two different games that pulled the “roll final credits…j/k here comes the final boss” trick.

      2. Asdasd says:

        The only thing I find more annoying than being obliged to unquestioningly following NPC orders all game, is it then smugly lording it over me how that my (involuntary) actions were just playing into the baddies’ plans the whole time anyway. Fair enough if something I chose to do led me into a trap. The game would have me there. But these ‘no u’ turnabouts just make me roll my eyes.

        1. Have to admit I’ve never bothered with Spec Ops: The Line myself for that reason. If I have no meaningful choice, then it’s not “my” actions you’re trying to “hold up in the mirror”, it’s yours. Breaks the whole conceit.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            While you’re not wrong, Spec Ops at least makes the character’s actions make sense, and the entire narrative holds together. Captain Walker has a consistent motivation, which is being critiqued,

            1. Kylroy says:

              I really think that what Spec Ops needed to tie it’s whole conceit together was an option to, after the first contact where American soldiers shoot at you, decide to retreat and abort the mission. If you do so, you just get a text crawl explaining that after the sandstorm blew over, everyone in Dubai was found dead. In video game terms that’s the classic “bad ending” where you refuse the call to adventure, but it would mean the player actually *chose* to go forward once they knew the situation was something they were completely unprepared for.

              Plus, it would be militarily sound – if your first contact in a largely unknown situation with a supposedly friendly force is them attempting to kill you (while they clearly know who you are), you’re unlikely to improve things by proceeding.

              1. BlueHorus says:

                This idea is great.

                I remember The Path doing something similar, and it was surprisingly effective in making you feel complicit in what happened.

                1. Kylroy says:

                  Yeah, I always felt that “you can always stop playing” is a really, really stupid out if you want me to take your narrative seriously. Nobody defends bad decisions in a book with “you can always stop reading”. And theme-wise, this initial decision would drive home the game’s idea that A) there are situations with no good choices, and B) sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.

              2. Tuck says:

                Far Cry 4 did this well, right at the start of the game. If the player decides to wait around for ten minutes when the oh-so-obviously-evil villain tells him to (they refuse the call to adventure), they get an alternate ending — AND a free helicopter ride.

                1. Kylroy says:

                  I know, and it was a cute touch. But it wasn’t really necessary to the story…though it could have been: “You got yourself front and center in our civil war because you were *bored*?”

                2. Corsair says:

                  And it’s an actual helicopter ride, not a Pinochet helicopter ride.

            2. Sorry, yes, I didn’t mean to say that it was a bad game as a result, I just mean, the main conceit wouldn’t connect with me. I’m too aware of the difference between a forced and unforced choice in games for it to affect me the way it’s supposed to. Not saying it’s a bad game or bad story.

              I mean, I’ve nuked entire countries into oblivion and wrecked the world ecology just to achieve the military victory a little bit more conveniently for myself than actually fighting a war in Alpha Centauri. I don’t need to be told that game-playing me can be a monster; I’m well aware. :)

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Funny how you mention The Secret of Monkey Island, since the sequel has an actual, programmed fake-out ending for comedic purposes.

      1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

        Which I missed because it was so convincing I closed the game.

        And then couldn’t get the timing on the beard-elevator puzzle ever again.

        I am still sore about this, it’s been like 20 years.

        1. Geebs says:

          I can’t remember a fake ending for SoMI2, but the real ending is an in-universe fake out anyway.

  8. Thomas says:

    Everyone played Nier: Automata in 2017 and wanted to add some of that sweet fake-out ending existential angst to their game. Or perhaps someone dug up Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker in 2010.

    Actually I think every Metal Gear game does the fake-out ending to at least some extent?

    1. Lars says:

      The Grindfest of MiddleEarth: Shadows of War, comes to mind as well. Where every sane player switched to youtube.

  9. Syal says:

    Or go Darth Vader/Anime Villain with Lily; she’s bitter she can never be a Ranger, then Cross storms in and kills all the Rangers, Lily’s rounded up and ends up joining the Authority, maybe becomes a midboss, then big change of heart at the end once Cross is dead. Would also explain why she’s in the base.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I usually refer to this as ‘pulling a Bastila.’

      1. Asdasd says:

        I should be so lucky.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Yeah, this seems like it’s a bit cheaper than Shamus’ proposal, although it might be harder to set up good characterization for this new version of her. So, I dunno what would be best…

  10. Dreadjaws says:

    The whole plot of this game was about acquiring the tools to get into this facility, so it comes off as absurdly lazy when another character gets in without any of those tools.

    Or they could have gone for comedy, which is what the game is supposed to be doing in the first place.

    Walker: “H… how did you get here?”
    Lily: “Oh, I just used the old tunnel that connects our hideout to this place. How else?”

    Sure, having another character using a really obvious entrance that the protagonist somehow missed is a bit of a cliche, but it’s better than nothing. Or they could have at least tried some other explanation, like having Lily reveal to have been spending all this time in her own series of quests to try to get into the facility.

    Give us something, dammit!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      You could even have Walker comment on Lily’s “secret hideout” in the sewers where she goes to pout. Turns out it’s actually the entrance to the old tunnel.

      I like the idea that General Cross is just a costume Lily wears. Gives ample justification for why she shows up in the base at the end, and doesn’t create any other problems at all.

    2. Syal says:

      like having Lily reveal to have been spending all this time in her own series of quests to try to get into the facility.

      This would have been good. Walker breaks in, then a dozen other people break in behind them with their own vehicles they’ve spent the whole game putting together. They all see each other and give a collective “…oh.”

    3. evilmrhenry says:

      Walker: “H… how did you get here?”
      Lily: “Fast travel.”

  11. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    I don’t know that adding fast travels in the original town will help much, since the player will have no reason to go back there, except extreme curiosity. Lily would need to be somehow involved in a few main plot quests for her character to work.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      That’s probably why that was precisely Shamus’ next point.

  12. Poster Boy says:

    I made the mistake of clicking on the Trask link, why the hell is there several pages of lore about Trask, the Most Disposable Character Ever.

    1. Asdasd says:

      I take it you never played the total conversion mod, Rozentrask and Gilderstern are Dead?

    2. John says:

      Because Star Wars people cannot leave well enough alone. This exact sort of thing happens with every Star Wars character ever to appear on screen in one of the films, no matter how inconsequential they may be. I am given to understand, for example, that there is at least one book (and likely more than one) about the alien extras from the cantina on Tatooine, about whom no one has ever cared. It is odd that Trask should get the same sort of treatment, but that’s Star Wars for you.

      1. ElementalAlchemist says:

        about whom no one has ever cared

        If nobody cared there wouldn’t be endless reams of stuff about them presumably.

        1. John says:

          You’d think so, wouldn’t you? However, I personally suspect that it has more to do with licensees’ reluctance to leave money on the table. If you’re paying George Lucas or Disney a boatload of cash for the right to publish Star Wars novels and you know that Star Wars fans will buy anything with the Star Wars logo on it, what are you going to do? Not publish a bunch of novels about obscure characters that nobody has hitherto expressed an interest in? Or suppose that you’re a toy company selling action figures. In that case, you’ll need to invent a name and a little mini-biography to go on the packaging for your limited edition figure for 3rd Character From The Left At the Beginning of Scene 23.

          1. ElementalAlchemist says:

            I don’t think Licensees are making novella-sized fanfics about Trask. I can guarantee the person or persons that wrote that cared a hell of a lot more about the character than Bioware ever did.

            And while the original exploitation of minor background characters as toys was part of Lucas’ strategy to monetise the IP based on his deal with 20th Century Fox, I’m pretty sure it blew up far beyond anything he or the licensees ever could have expected or predicted. And that was driven by fans. The whole Mandalorian thing, for example, really has its genesis in nerds writing fanfic about Boba Fett, not any devious plans from some marketing department. Granted, they have been happy to cash in on it, but it wasn’t some well planned long con.

          2. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

            If no one care about character, then no one will buy anything related to this character, especially novel.
            There are a lot characters with neat or interesting design in SW, and that characters are sold well. Others not so much. All that mini-biographies comes from anthologies of short stories, joke stories and joke comics, or even worse, from Essential Guides, which is basically illustrated encyclopedias for little kids.
            I understand that it’s very popular opinion now, that SW is complete pile of garbage, but it’s not, although there’s a lot of awful stuff that exist for sole merchandise purpose.

      2. Kylroy says:

        I blame Boba Fett. A character with a cool look, a definite mystique, and virtually *no* information provided in the canon? He was a blank canvas for people to get (fandom) famous by filling in the background diehards were clamoring for. And after it happened with Boba, different people repeated the process for practically every character worth noticing (and apparently many *not*).

        1. John says:

          Ah, Boba Fett. Seldom has so much been made from so little. It’s amazing how far a cool helmet and a gravelly voice can take a near non-entity of a character.

          1. RFS-81 says:

            Relevant Epic Rap Battles of History link: “I barely even know enough about you to diss you!”

            But I do understand why he’s popular. He hints that there is more to the galaxy than the rebels and the Empire, even if it isn’t fleshed out at all. His armor looks different from all the other factions, and it looks like it’s seen some shit. And he’s (very economically) characterized as a badass because Darth Vader chooses to hire him instead of using any Imperial soldiers or agents.

            1. Gareth Wilson says:

              “…only 5 lines in the trilogy, and one of them was ‘AAAAAAHHHHH!'”

      3. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

        Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina is mostly a joke, I don’t think that people who wrote lovestory between wolfman and tentacle monster had intent to write something serious.

      4. codesections says:

        I am given to understand, for example, that there is at least one book (and likely more than one) about the alien extras from the cantina on Tatooine, about whom no one has ever cared.

        On the other hand – though this could be 20+ years of nostalgia talking – I’d rate the similar book about the equally minor bounty hunters from Empire Strikes Back as one of the best things to come out of Star Wars. The story about the robot bounty hunter that’s secretly three identical droids bent on leading a robot revolution is especially fun.

        1. Lino says:

          IG-88, right? What’s the book called? As a big Star Wars fan, I’ve liked every Star Wars book I’ve read so far (except for the Aftermath series), and this one sounds particularly interesting!

          1. codesections says:

            Yep, IG-88! The book is Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and that’s exactly what it is: short stories about the bounty hunters from that one scene in The Empire Strikes Back.

            1. Lino says:

              Thanks! I’ve seen it in bookstores, and wasn’t sure if it was any good. Now I’ll definitely be getting it!

    3. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

      Did you read it? Half of it is a bit verbose recap of the KOTOR tutorial section and half of it is a reference to that character from the SWTOR. It’s not several pages of obscure lore.

  13. Ciennas says:

    Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Lego Movie 2 did fakeouts like that, too.

    I think it was just in vogue during the development cycles.

    1. raifield says:

      It was well done in the first Lego Movie. I was expecting it in the second, where it didn’t make quite as much sense.

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