10 Games That Ended Up Being Nothing Like Their Trailers

Video game trailers are notorious for lying about what a game actually entails, whether it’s to keep certain plot elements a secret or to simply hide a game’s technical shortcomings. Almost everyone who plays games has experienced some level of shock or disappointment after realizing the game they bought won’t be like the trailer they saw.

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While most video game trailers lie only about little details or secrets, some trailers are completely different from the actual product. Even now, many people still remember these misleading teasers.


Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Raiden and Solid Snake working together in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

While some video game trailers trick players in order to hide the game’s faults, other trailers trick players in order to keep secrets. Famous game developer Hideo Kojima is especially known for surprising people with his marketing campaigns. One of the latest and most well-known examples of this is his influential PT demo, which was made to look like a random indie game rather than an actual teaser for the sadly canceled Silent Hills game.

But years before that, Kojima had also deliberately mislead players who were planning to play Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Although the main protagonist of this installment is a rookie agent named Raiden, all the trailers and demos only showed Solid Snake by either focusing on the prologue or editing the footage.

Dragon Age II

A mage Hawke in the Dragon Age II

Even though fans of the dragon age series may be split on whether Dragon Age II is a good game or not, nobody can deny that the epic “Destiny” trailer for the game is completely different from the final product. This trailer features a male mage Hawke fighting against the Arishok in a stunning outdoor battle that ends with Hawke using a spell that involves him sticking his own arms into magical portals.

While Hawke does fight the Arishok in the game, the graphics don’t look like the animation in the trailer, and the battle takes place indoors. Rather than it being an epic battle, players are typically forced to awkwardly run around the room’s pillars and to try not to get caught in silly glitches. The spell Hawke uses in the trailer isn’t even in the game.

The air

A screenshot from the official trailer for the PS3 game Lair

At first glance, the 2007 PlayStation 3 action-adventure game The air seems to encapsulate everything players could want: knights riding dragons across the sky and decimating their enemies. The cinematic trailers for the game showed powerful and brutal dragon-based fighting that looked amazing within the dark fantasy atmosphere, which used the dull art-style of seventh generation console games to it’s advantage like Resonance of Fate and Rain did.

But unlike those games, The air’s actual gameplay doesn’t look nearly as good. While the aesthetic is still there, the game adds many things, like motion blur and a camera that is stuck behind the player, that ruin the design positives. With the Sixaxis motion controls, terrible frame rate, and an incomplete world, The air delivers a disappointing experience that feels empty and will likely give players motion sickness.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

A screenshot of Sonic from the E3 2005 tech demo for Sonic '06

Before Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic ’06) released, people actually did have high hopes for the title, which was largely due to the promising but inaccurate marketing. During E3 2005, the development team had only just started working on the game, but they were pushed to create a trailer anyway for the event. This short teaser featured Sonic running through realistic terrain and fighting robots.

While the tone and graphics of the trailer excited fans, the teaser was simply a proof of concept and, of course, didn’t reflect the final product. Meanwhile, the team behind the project was struggling to even make a game because of the simultaneous development of Sonic and the Secret Rings, Yuji Naka’s sudden departure, the set-in-stone release date, and the use of next-gen consoles. In the end, the only thing that turned out great was the soundtrack.

BioShock Infinite

A screenshot from the 2010 gameplay demo for BioShock Infinite

Although the final version of BioShock Infinite that we all got to play is an incredible experience, it went through many major changes during its development, which is primarily reflected through its trailers and gameplay demos. Many of these changes were so drastic that the trailers are considered to be parallel universes.

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For example, in the 2010 gameplay demo, Elizabeth had weather and telekinesis powers, and Booker and his dynamic with Elizabeth were extremely different. NPCs had a more complex AI, and characters like Saltonstall and his assistant Charles existed. Plot points, gameplay elements, and characters continued to change right up to the game’s release.

Dead Island

The father and daughter in the Dead Island cinematic trailer

Months before the release of the 2011 zombie action RPG Dead Island, the animation company Axis Studios created a cinematic trailer to promote the game that is often considered one of the greatest video game trailers ever made. In this powerfully emotional teaser, the viewer watches a family fall apart during a zombie apocalypse in reverse.

At the time, the teaser was both praised and criticized for its brutal imagery, and many people were excited to see the final game. Goal Dead Island ended up being a humor-focused experience, which completely contrasted with this trailer’s heart-wrenching story.

Killzone 2

A screenshot from the E3 2005 Killzone 2 trailer

sonic ’06 wasn’t the only game with a misleading proof of concept trailer at E3 2005. During the conferenceKillzone 2 had a short teaser of ISA soldiers battling Helghast forces. Despite the trailer being a pre-rendered video and the developer, Guerrilla Games, having only just received its first PlayStation 3 dev kit right before E3, several Sony representatives said that trailer showed real in-game footage.

Although the developers didn’t intend this and some people correctly deduced that it all looked too good for PS3 hardware, many people believed that it was real. While the final game didn’t look like this teaser, it was still a highly successful installment.

Halo 2

Master Chief throwing a plasma grenade at the end of the E3 2003 Demo of Halo 2

Although the completed version of Halo 2 is often considered one of the best video games of all time, many players lament the fact that the iconic E3 2003 demo didn’t reflect the final game. Similar to what happened to the development team behind sonic ’06, Bungie had to quickly show something at E3 even though the game was still in its early stages.

Because of this, Bungie created a short demo that showed some of the early plans for the Metropolis and Outskirts levels, and it all looked better than any other game at that time. But the demo was actually barely held together, and all the details couldn’t actually be done at the time in a full game.

No Man’s Sky

A screenshot from the No Man's Sky gameplay trailer shown at E3 2014

After the 2016 action-adventure survival game No Man’s Sky was first announced in 2013 and later also shown at E3 2014, many people were extremely excited for this new indie game that would supposedly allow players to explore a vast universe. The gameplay demo at E3 2014 especially fueled the hype as it showed a glimpse of a universe filled with interesting terrain, plants, and creatures.

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But many of the elements that were in these trailers and promised by developers were not actually in the released product, and the aspects that were included underdelivered compared to what was originally expected. Although the game has had plenty of great improvements over the years, it still falls short of its original ambitions.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

A screenshot of the Aliens: Colonial Marines E3 2011 Gameplay Demo

Before the 2013 first-person shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines was released, Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford shared gameplay demos at various press events and said that these demos showed “actual gameplay.” These demos featured a dark atmosphere, interesting levels, great lighting, engaging dialogue, incredible enemy AI, and beautiful graphics.

Despite Pitchford’s claims, the final game was completely different from those demos. The graphics were worse, the lighting effects were gone, the horror tone was non-existent, the AI ​​was broken, and almost none of the gameplay sections shown in the demos appeared in the final product. These differences were so prominent that two players filed a lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega for falsely promoting the game. A year after this, Sega published Alien: Insulation, which encapsulated everything fans hoped Aliens: Colonial Marines would’ve been.

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