Games are a curious creation for a curious hobby. They can cost a lot (but they don’t have to, if you know where to buy them), and can last anywhere from 40 minutes to the best approximation of “forever”, depending on the specific title.
One would think that for their cost and often structured unlocking of content the completion rates would always be high, but that’s a very optimistic view of things. Indeed, many games are never finished, and some of them have a completion rate low enough that makes you wonder about people’s commitment to the core gameplay or motivation. Or their skill, as it might be.
On the list below we’ve gathered a few games with completion rates on any difficulty staying under 33%. If 2/3rds of players can’t finish the game at all, something is amiss, especially since these are really damn good games and great examples of their genres and playstyles.
|Elden Ring||2022-02-25||Action RPG||FromSoftware||37%|
|Minecraft Java Edition||2013-11-19||Action||Mojang||37%|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||2019-11-05||Adventure||Rockstar Games||73%|
|Doom Eternal||2020-03-20||Action||id Software||83%|
|Doom||2016-05-12||Action & Shooter||id Software||74%|
|Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Goty Edition||2019-03-22||Adventure||FromSoftware, Inc.||53%|
|Super Meat Boy||2010-11-30||Indie||Team Meat||82%|
|Xcom Enemy Unknown Complete Pack||2012-10-11||Strategy||Feral Interactive (Linux)||82%|
|Darkest Dungeon||2016-01-19||Indie||Red Hook Studios||85%|
|The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Goty Edition||2015-05-18||RPG||CD PROJEKT RED||65%|
|The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Special Edition||2016-10-27||RPG||Bethesda Game Studios||75%|
|Darksiders Warmastered Edition||2010-09-23||Action||Vigil Games||71%|
|Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition||2015-06-23||Action||CAPCOM CO., LTD.||75%|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||It’s a big game with a pretty high difficulty|
The Soulsborne games usually have fairly compartmentalized worlds, explored a chunk at a time.
Elden Ring has none of that nicety, it drops you onto a map filled with creatures who would like nothing more than to kill your Tarnished butt. You can go anywhere, as long as you can survive the journey, of course. It’s a demanding experience, and not many people played it to the end.
As a result completion rate for any of the game’s three endings are just above 25% at best, and there’s good reason to think that the other endings (their achievements sitting at 18% and 12%) are in large part done by people who’ve already gotten the most popular closure. Should you be daunted by these stats? No, in a true FromSoftware fan fashion, you should face them and beat them.
Minecraft Java Edition
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||Why would you even want to?|
You might be surprised to learn that technically you CAN finish Minecraft.
There is an end boss and everything, even a poem providing a somewhat bizarre narrative ending to the whole game. The thing is… the end boos is all the way over there, and you haven’t yet discovered every corner of the infinite world, and your personal zoo project still lacks some special specimens.
We’re only half-joking because there’s so much you can do in Minecraft that it might simply not occur to you that there is an ending in the first place. Just a world of building, planning, and exploring…wait, what do you mean “portal” and “another dimension”? Good grief, this game never ends, does it? Well, it does, it just doesn’t have to if you’d rather just enjoy the sandbox.
Red Dead Redemption 2
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||You might want to, but it’s likely you’ll get distracted by hunting, duels, taking photos…|
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game which seems fully dedicated to being an immersive Old West video game adventure.
The level of detail put into pretty much every facet of the world is staggering, from brushing your horse to casually greeting (or antagonizing) people in towns while you’re on the way to have your facial hair trimmed. Oh, and sure, there’s some bandit stuff to do yeah, fine.
RDR2 isn’t difficult, and the road to the end isn’t too turbulent (story drama aside), but the world is so vibrant, the range of just… STUFF to do is so impressive, that you might wish to ignore the story for as long as possible. And then a little bit more. Eventually, you’ll see what fate awaits your protagonist Arthur Morgan and Dutch van der Linde’s gang, but for now, there’s a top-tier deer to hunt.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||The bloody demonic dance floor gets too intense|
For a game as short and contained as Doom, about 11-12 hours for the core playthrough (according to HowLongToBeat.com), it’s surprising that only about 33% of people on Steam have the cheevo for beating it.
It’s probably because even the early missions can get fast and deadly, and that’s only scaling up as you go on towards the finale, and some people clearly bailed on that.
To be fair, Doom is easily good enough to play it a dozen times over, with the same level of enjoyment, without ever finishing. Brutal, but surprisingly not chaotic, combat gets the blood pumping, phenomenal soundtrack, and unexpectedly great storytelling make 2016’s Doom a real treat. There’s even a progression system through armor and weapon upgrades!
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||The timing for parries and counter is pretty tight and missing it can be lethal|
Sekiro was a huge change of pace for Soulsborne players, and a whole new way people who don’t main FromSoftware games could experience hardship.
The game was focused mostly on weaponizing defensive measures to throw enemies off-balance and deliver the killing blow. This meant that good gameplay required precise timing and knowing which counter to use against attacks.
The upside of this Focus on parries and dodges is that combat is much more intense and dynamic, and the enemies feel more responsive. The story is set during a mystical version of the Sengoku period, with the player becoming a disgraced shinobi trying to save his kidnapped ward. However, just above 23% of players saw the most popular ending, with others lagging behind even more.
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||It is designed to challenge the mind, and it’s not even a fair challenge|
Myst is somehow a representation of adventure games at their best and worst at the same time.
Stunning designs, deep lore, some talk of family legacies and creating worlds through stories. Good stuff. If your main contact with the genre was the Monkey Island series, then playing Myst could be like being slapped by a gauntlet covered in the finest silks. It hurt, but it was also so gorgeous.
The ending achievements for the 2021 remake of the original Myst sit at 14% at best, 1% at worst, and this is probably mostly by people who are already well-versed in the adventure game genre! They are as close to genre veterans as it gets! Long story short, Myst games are a piece of work for anyone without the patience to figure out just what exactly they need from you.
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||YOU DIED|
In a way, Dark Souls is the Dark Souls of the Soulsborne game, if you think about it not even for a second.
Jokes aside, the DS series is notorious for being among the hardest games in the hobby, taking more precision and patience than many people were used to before. And it shows because the cheevos for completing Dark Souls 1 remaster don’t crawl above 27% for the most popular ending.
These stats aren’t any better for DS3, either. Which makes sense. Dying in Dark Souls is easy, and if you don’t spend time to learn the moves and sequences of the bosses, or rush in recklessly, you’re going to get wrecked the moment your Stamina runs dry. On the flipside, if you manage to endure despite that, few games can deliver that rush of relief and satisfaction after a boss fight. They are not unbeatable games by any metric, but they will smack you.
Super Meat Boy
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||It doesn’t forgive any imprecision, even if it has instant retries|
Remember that little bloody game? And I didn’t mean that as an expletive, Super Meat Boy is possibly bloodier than the latest Doom.
It also happens to be bloody hard. The game doesn’t even make us fight against its controls. The responsiveness is incredible, which is absolutely essential when everything in the entire world is trying to kill you, and you see where you failed previously.
When you complete the level you have an interesting kind of replay. Much like Nicolas Cage in Next, you can see all your incarnations at once, dying one by one until only one remains. It’s a very neat feature, and it showcases just how hard the level can be. Only about 7% of players have the achievement for clearing the last world. Do you think you have what it takes?
XCOM: Enemy Unknown / Within
|Developer:||Feral Interactive (Linux)|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||The odds are against you and save-scumming doesn't help|
Firaxis’ revival of the Gollop brothers’ alien-fighting turn-based tactics game was a very fun title. And yet, ten years later, only about a third of the players completed in on ANY difficulty.
The playthrough called canon — Impossible Ironman (extra-hard EVERYTHING, only one save slot, autosave after every turn) has a 2.1% rate of completion. This is XCOM, baby.
The cyberpunkish sequel isn’t any easier, sitting at 31% completion. Playing the games even on Normal, without Ironman, it can still be hard and frustrating, because RNGod seems to hate you at all the wrong times. Go up to Impossible and you’re looking for the kind of challenge you’ll feel good about beating. Assuming you can actually do it. Aliens are always planning something.
|Developer:||Red Hook Studios|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||The missions are hard, but as hard as keeping your hireling functional|
Darkest Dungeon proved to be too much of a challenge for so many people that only 5,9% got the achievement for completing it on the Radiant mode, and only 3,9% completed it on default difficulty settings.
A hard nut to crack, huh? DD doesn’t hesitate to wreck your adventurers emotionally, to the point where they can actually get a heart attack and die during missions.
If that wasn’t enough, Darkest Dungeons wields character permadeath like it’s nothing, the locations are all rundown, dusty places infested by cults and abominations, and even your heroes are all broken people. It’s your worst XCOM nightmares coming to life in a fantasy form. Who knew exploring monster-infested dungeons in a grim setting can be so nerve-wracking?
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
|Developer:||CD PROJEKT RED|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||Gwent|
The Witcher 3 is one of the gaming’s most beloved games of the past decade, with millions of copies sold, lively community, and a handy, often discounted, complete edition. And yet less than 25% of players have completed it on any difficulty.
The reason probably is the fact that the game takes over a hundred hours to do every quest, every contract, clear the map of question marks…
It is a serious time devourer, and some people could have gotten too lost in the ashen battlefields and rolling hills to care about saving some girl they only know by reputation unless they know the source material —Andrzej Sapkowski’s books. And then there’s Gwent, the card game which, if you trust the memes, is the actual core gameplay of the whole thing. Ciri can wait, cards cannot.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|Developer:||Bethesda Game Studios|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||Too much RPG-ful sandbox stuff to do|
While we are talking about games too big for their own good, what about dragons?
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is over a decade old now, and despite that only 31% of players have the achievement for the final quest, and, even more baffling, only 25% reached level 50. One would think either of these would have better stats, and yet here we are.
In a game with so many different systems, it’s only natural that the ending is not a real objective. You could easily ignore the main story immediately after tutorial and go around gathering flowers, giant toes, and cheese to be an alchemist if you wish. Or explore every dragon tomb to absorb the words of power. Alduin won’t eat the world in the meantime, promise.
METAL GEAR SOLID V: The Phantom Pain
|Developer:||Konami Digital Entertainment|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||There’s a lot of game in this game|
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the last and, by all means, the grandest, main installment of the venerated (and venerable) Metal Gear series, and it is fully the brainchild of Hideo Kojima.
With open-world missions, engaging mercenary compound management, and tons upon tons of side-missions, you could spend ages playing this game without even tackling the online bit.
This overwhelming wealth of stuff, coupled with a mostly stealth-oriented gameplay means that only about 7% of players have the cheevo for completing all core missions. That’s a little bit disappointing. With the way MGS games tend to go, these people might have missed out on some cool cutscenes and weirdly cool dialogues. Perhaps they simply saw them on Youtube.
Devil May Cry 5
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||You’re not M O T I V A T E D|
The Devil May Cry games can be quite deceptive. They look like they’d be button-mashers, but if you try to play them this way, you won’t go very far even on the default, Human, difficulty.
Especially boss fights especially can be a real pickle. And if we go by Steam achievements many people decided to say “screw it” on the final boss, with only 24% of people completing the game on Human.
This is important because nearly twice that number got through Mission 18, which preceded the two-missions-long boss fight. Perhaps they sensed the storm that was approaching and bailed. On the other hand, as many as 23% of people finished the game on the next difficulty, Demon Hunter. This only goes to show that even many vets and brave newcomers weren’t motivated enough.
Legend of Grimrock
|Developer:||Almost Human Games|
|The reason you probably won’t finish it:||Few people are still proficient at old-school dungeon crawlers these days|
Once upon a time, dungeon-crawling blobbers were the way to do RPGs.
From Might and Magic to pre-Infinity Engine D&D games, who needs a distinct party if you can blob four people up and move on a grid, dealing with threats this way. Legend of Grimrock revived that half-dead tradition, but the way of the blob was forgotten, and only 12.4% of players finished the game.
The old-school nature of LoG is a feature, not a flaw, and a breath of fresh air from the dominance of action RPGs and isometric RPG over the genre. It also feels good to properly explore some dungeons, avoid traps, backstab ogres and draw the dungeon map square by square. Of course, you also have the expected RPG things like improving stats and shuffling equipment.
Endings are harsh
So that’s our pick of ten games you are unlikely to actually finish. Whether due to the scale, difficulty, complexity or a myriad other reasons, seeing the game’s ending credits can be an actual achievement worth marking down in your personal history.
Which games do you think should come in a hypothetical extended cut of this list? Let us know.