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Story Branch Favoritism

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In a story that allows for some degree of Story Branching, a character is presented with a clear number of choices each with their own viable outcomes. However, one of these options sometimes appears to be substantially more developed than the others or appears to coincide better with the plot as a whole, as if the author wanted the players to follow this path and added all others as mere diversions. This is an example of Story Branch Favoritism on the developer's part, where a particular branch of the story features more content, is better developed than others, and/or dovetails better with the plot overall—but does not render any of the other branches non-canon.

One common variation is the Golden Ending, which is considered the best overall ending a player can achieve from the creators' perspective. Alternatively, some games employ Relationship Values to let the Player Character pair off with any of the cast member they choose, but one particular Love Interest seems unfairly promoted over others.

Of course, sometimes it's deliberate because it's how the world works—a player who goes around killing or pissing off important NPCs is naturally going to have less people wanting to associate with him and give him things to do.

Cutting Off the Branches is a Sister Trope, which can be an ultimate expression of Story Branch Favoritism, wherein the author outright removes the unfavored branches from later continuity. Related tropes also include Railroading and Follow the Plotted Line, where the writer forces a character to follow a specific path regardless to what other options are available. A Golden Path can be one of the most noticeable consequences of this trope. When this trope is applied to a Romance Sidequest, that's the Developers' Desired Date. Also see Game-Favored Gender.

Not to be confused with But Thou Must! scenario, where only one option is viable. Does not apply to Fan Work for obvious reasons.

Video game examples:

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  • Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed:
    • The original release has an odd case with this. You'd expect it to be Shizuku's route, considering how much the game pushes her as the main love interest, and her making the MC her blood-bound servant to save his life in the intro, which is something she can only do once in her incredibly long lifespan. It turns out that it's not her route, but Shion's, the character with barely any ties to the plot and has by far the hardest route to enter. Unlike any of the other routes, it averts Strictly Formula with how it unfolds, goes into far more depth about the story, cures the MC of his Synthister affliction, and stops the villain before he's able to complete the first stage of his plan.
    • The 2023 Director's Cut release's advertising claims that Kati, originally a side character who now has her own route, is the "true ending" of the game. Like Shion's route, it also averts Strictly Formula, introducing an entirely new threat to Akihabara while the other routes focus on the Synthisters.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Grand Theft Auto IV: At one point, the player is given the option of killing Playboy X or Dwayne, but the game heavily favors killing Playboy X. Doing so gets Niko his safehouse, a bonus outfit based on Claude's from Grand Theft Auto III, and the ability to participate in friend activities with Dwayne and by extension, unlock his friend ability. Killing Dwayne, on the other hand, not only permanently gates off these rewards from you, all you get is some money for your troubles, and the game goes out its way to make you feel like a dick, with Playboy X even refusing to associate himself with Niko anymore even though he ordered the hit in the first place.
    • Grand Theft Auto V has this trope show up twice:
      • "The Big Score" gives you two methods of robbing the Union Depository. There is an Obvious method where you set up a distraction at the front door, drill into the gold reserve, and fly the stolen gold out of town. The other, Subtle, method involves stealing two armored vans via coercion, loading the gold into the vans under disguise, and having a hacker manipulate traffic lights to stall private security guards as you escape. You are forced to pay two extra people (a van driver and a hacker) if you take the Subtle route, cutting into the player characters' profits. The Obvious route, on the other hand, cuts out these two payments and consequently leaves the player with more earnings. As a result, the game financially favours the Obvious option. Though it's more likely the player will actually choose based on whether they want to reenact Die Hard with a Vengeance or The Italian Job respectively.
      • This appears again when you get to determine the ending, and this time the game gives you very, very harsh penalties if you pick any ending but the Golden Ending. Franklin is given three options at the end of the game, two of them involving assassinating one of the other two Player Characters, Trevor or Michael. Pick either of these two options, and the targeted player character is Killed Off for Real. You lose not only the ability to play as the dead character, but you lose everything that character owned as well, you will only be able to hang out with Lamar at night thanks to Stretch putting a hit on him, and Jimmy will stop hanging out with either Michael or Franklin and Trevor depending on who is killed. In addition, if you killed Michael, then his cut will completely disappear while Trevor's will be split between the surviving two should he be killed. In stark contrast, the third option, the Golden Ending, spares both Trevor and Michael and has no negative gameplay downsides whatsoever.

    Action RPGs 
  • Cyberpunk 2077 favors the Nomad lifepath/origin over the other two (Street Kid and Corpo Rat) in at least two ways. On one hand, where the other two consist mostly of indoor levels, linear dialogue, and being driven from place to place, the Nomad prologue intersperses dialogue with open-world driving sections and even a Rail Shooter car Chase Scene — the only mandatory combat section in any lifepath mission. On the other, the Nomad prologue is the only one that is neatly bookended by one of the endings, namely, "All Along the Watchtower", which sees V leave Night City behind to ride with the Nomads again (albeit with a different family).
  • Deus Ex: The "Kill Bob Page/Join Illuminati" ending is the only one to Bookend the opening scene. However, the sequel subverts that, making it clear that JC chose the "Merge with Helios" ending (with things not going quite as planned).
  • Drakengard plays with this concept a bit. On the one hand, Ending A is the least "bad" of the endings, and is what the players gets after a single playthrough. It's also the canonical ending that led into Drakengard 2. On the other hand, Ending B answers more questions, ties up more loose ends, and generally fits better with the overall tragic and dark nature of the game. This leads to something safer. On the other other hand, the game's lead designer Taro Yoko had nothing to do with Drakengard 2's development; when he finally returned to the series with NieR, it followed after the events of Ending E, the ending most out of left field, and the one the fewest players would ever see.
    • And then Drakengard 3 throws in another doozy: every ending of every game, including the weird ones, are considered canonical, as possible outcomes of a varying timeline. Drakengard 3 is the first chronologically, and the goal of its narrator is to oversee events being pushed onto the only timeline that conclusively prevents the horrifying events of the rest of the series.
    • In NieR: Automata, the story ultimately has 2 mutually exclusive endings which revolve around who wins the final battle between 9S and A2. And as far as narrative goes, the game favors the 9S ending in multiple ways. During the final battle, while playing as 9S there is dialogue between him and A2 that isn't there when playing as A2. 9S's ending has two possible sub-endings, while A2's only has one possible ending. And finally, 9S's ending leads into the 5th and final ending much more neatly than A2's ending does, since the 5th ending states that every Yorha unit is dead, which is explicit in 9S's ending (where he kills A2 but then accidentally impales himself on her sword) but less explicit in A2's (where A2 definitely dies, but 9S's not dead yet body is carried away by his pod).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Justified in Morrowind towards the Dunmer (Dark Elf) race. It delves deep into their culture, allows the player to join factions that typically only make sense for a Dunmer to be a part of (such as the Tribunal Temple), and includes more faces in character creation than the other racial options. The story also has the player effectively assuming the role as the reincarnation of an ancient Chimer (the predecessor race of the Dunmer) hero, and while it's deliberately left ambiguous how true that is, it would certainly make the most sense for it to be a Dunmer. Justified because the game takes place in the Dunmer homeland, so the deeper dive into their culture and native factions makes sense.
    • The first Morrowind expansion pack Tribunal lets you choose between siding with the Puppet King of Morrowind or the Tribunal Temple for its main quest. Siding with the king gives you additional quests and story, siding with the Temple gives you a shorter main quest with no unique content except some very minor dialogue changes (since siding with the king will involve him asking you to perform services for the Temple anyway as part of his chessmaster plan), and working with the Temple ends up being All for Nothing as the king comes out on top in the end regardless.
    • Skyrim:
      • This time around, you can play as one of ten different races. However, because it explores Nordic culture, gives the Player Character the power of the Thu'um, which lore-wise has always been associated with the Nords, and depicted the Dragonborn as a burly Nord warrior on all the promotional material, there's no mistake as to which race the game is kind of expecting you to play as. Furthermore, some races, like the Argonians and Khajiit, are subjected to Fantastic Racism and not allowed into some cities, but the player is inexplicably free of such restrictions.
      • Inverted in the case of the Bretons. They are uniquely largely free of any racial pros or cons due to story or unique dialogue. No Non Player Characters hate them, but no one thinks anything special of them either, aside from two instances in the entire game: a quest where players replace a reclusive chef that is a master of Breton cuisine (the original is an Orc, but as no one knows this, your assistant for the quest casually remarks that it's too obvious for you to be a Breton because of their reputation.) and having average ability to disguise themselves as a Thalmor. (Being humans with Elvish ancestors allows them to pass for an elf at a distance as long as their hood is up)
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 2, the player can potentially reach Made Man status with any of the four crime families in New Reno. However, only by accepting the second quest from the Wright family can the Sierra Army Depot even be placed on your map. This is one of the best locations to find advanced weapons and armor mid-game, as well as a potential companion. Come New Vegas, dialogue reveals that the Wrights and the Van Graffs run New Reno, and the only other family that's mentioned to still be around is the Bishop family.
    • Fallout: New Vegas allows for four Faction-Specific Endings: either Caesar's Legion, Mr. House, the New California Republic or the Courier him/herself will dominate the Mojave in the aftermath of the game. Unfortunately for a player interested in being openly anti-NCR and/or pro-Legion, however, there are a ton of NCR quests and locations (which can still be played if you’re siding with House or going alone), but only a small handful of Legion equivalents. You can play as someone explicitly opposed to the NCR, but the cost is that a very large portion of the game's content will be closed to you, including potentially all of the game's human companions. There’s also very little in-story reason for why the Courier would want to support the Legion, especially if they’re female, given how relentlessly brutal and evil the Legion is depicted as being. A big part of this is due to content being cut; there was meant to be many more Legion-friendly locations, characters, and quests, and the Legion was intended to have good points of their own that showed the conflict is far from black and white. Most of this ended up being cut due to time and budget restraints, leaving the Legion looking like cartoonishly evil caricatures of what they were intended to be. This favoritism is made especially obvious in the DLC Honest Hearts. Of the three major tribes in Zion, the White Legs are the ones allied with Caesar's Legion...and they will immediately try to kill you throughout the DLC regardless of your relationship with Caesar, forcing you to look to the other two tribes for allies. The remaining two tribes are led by men opposed to the Legion, and both are treated as storyline-critical characters whose deaths end all further quests in the DLC and result in the worst ending. The only way to do the storyline "properly" involves fighting against a Legion ally.
    • Fallout 4 has you choose either a husband or wife (named Nate and Nora by default, respectively) to be the protagonist of the game, while the other half of the married couple is killed off early on. However, the story seems to favor Nate being the Sole Survivor, as he narrates the Opening Monologue, is a trained veteran (which would explain why the player can use guns and Power Armor immediately, unlike Nora, who is canonically a lawyer) and promotional materials focus on a male character.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Shepard's class:
      • They are often portrayed in the default Soldier class, which by the game's own lore makes the most sense in explaining their prowess in combat. This is particularly true in the first game where it is hard to justify how Shepard can match an asari in biotic power or a quarian engineer in tech skills.
      • A more downplayed example appears if you pick Engineer. In Mass Effect 3 there are a couple of dialogue nods you only get as an Engineer. Also you get the exactly one class-specific interupt in the entire series.
    • Liara T'Soni is the only Love Interest who can be romanced in all three games (though 2 requires DLC for this), by both genders, and cannot die under any circumstances except for low-EMS ending of the final installment.
    • It makes much more sense story-wise to complete Noveria last since Virmire is added as an emergency mission after completing two storyline missions, also the piece of intel gathered in Noveria (the location of the Mu relay) would narrow down tremendously the location of the Conduit (this can be handwaved by saying that the Mu relay transports to many systems, but it is clear that with a little extra research they would have been able to deduce the location eventually.)
    • The angry, accusatory attitude of the Virmire Survivor towards Shepard on Horizon in Mass Effect 2 makes much more sense coming from Ashley (the pessimist who doubts first before she even gives anything a chance) than it does Kaidan (the optimist who trusts first and doubts later). However, this situation is muddled in the third game. Saving Kaidan will result in much more conversation between him and Shepard after the Citadel coup about how he was wrong and ready to make amends, wondering if Cerberus still has some good people, many interactions and jokes between him and fellow Normandy squadmates as well as a potential Relationship Upgrade with him as a Gay Option for a male Shepard. Saving Ashley just results in many insults and doubts from her before the Citadel coup and she only interacts with two squadmates in the Normandy including Shepard. The change in the head writer and effort to promote Kaidan as a legitimately gay male love interest (something which the fanbase complained about the game's reliance on Discount Lesbians) probably explained this.
    • In Mass Effect 2, during Samara's loyalty mission, you can choose to kill Samara and recruit her target Morinth if you want to and Morinth will be a loyal squad mate for the rest of the game. The favoritism doesn't show up until Mass Effect 3. If Samara survives her loyalty mission and the suicide mission, then in ME3 she will show up when you do the Ardat-Yakshi Monastery mission and will make it a much more meaningful experience. If Morinth survives said events in ME2, all you get is an email from her at the beginning of ME3, and then during the final mission, you fight her as a Banshee, kill her, and move on.
    • The early Freedom's Progress mission in Mass Effect 2 has the player choose between turning Veetor over to either Cerberus or Tali. If you choose Tali, Veetor shows up at Tali's loyalty mission later to help the two of you out. If you choose Cerberus, the Veetor subplot basically ends right there; Shepard loses much rapport with his/her longtime partner Tali, and over nothing, since Veetor's interrogation at the hands of Cerberus fails to turn up any useful information.
    • One of the selling points of the second game was that, in the ending suicide mission, anyone in your squad was able to die, ranging all over the spectrum from almost everyone dying to everyone surviving. However, keeping squad members alive near-universally results in better outcomes in the third game. Living squad members enhance the story a bit, keep minor characters in sidequests alive, and sometimes open up otherwise-impossible third options. In particular, it's impossible to make peace between the geth and the quarians if either Tali or Legion dies in the suicide mission.
    • In Mass Effect 1, Paragon and Renegade are basically tools in the toolbox to get what you want. In 2 and 3, they serve more as a typical karma meter and picking Paragon almost always gives the superior result - the only Renegade decision to be optimal is to destroy the geth heretics in Legion: A House Divided.
    • At the end of Mass Effect 1, you have the choice of endorsing Captain Anderson or Ambassador Udina to become the first human councilor. In Mass Effect 3, if you picked Anderson as councilor, he resigns and Udina becomes councilor anyway.
    • In Mass Effect 3 Cerberus has the salvaged Human Reaper at Cronos Station regardless of if you destroyed the Collector Base or gave it to them. Since having intact Reaper tech to experiment with goes a long way to explain Cerberus' massive jump in resources and threat level in 3, it's clear the devs intended for the Collector Base to be preserved for the narrative they wanted to use.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the krogans, quarians and geth are playable races in multiplayer even though in single-player you can lose krogan support by betraying Wrex; furthermore, the game assumes you've achieved peace between the quarians and geth as failing that would result in one of the races being wiped out.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: You’re given the choice of whether to side with Sloane Kelly or Reyes Vidal in the conflict over Kadara Port...but there’s literally no reason given for why you would ever genuinely want to side with Kelly, as she’s a brutal, tyrannical, and selfish Jerkass who never shows anything but disdain for Ryder and the Initiative, while also forcing them to pay to settle on Kadara and letting criminals run wild. Contrast that with Reyes, a Friendly Neighborhood Gangster and Noble Demon who is not only unerringly helpful and friendly to Ryder, but also makes peace with the Initiative and actually puts some effort into cleaning up Kadara if chosen. Siding with Reyes also leads to significantly more poignant Character Development for Ryder, not to mention he’s a potential romance option. As if it wasn’t any clearer who the writers expected you to choose, the only way to really side with Kelly is to click an easily missed button prompt; otherwise all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the cutscene.
  • Radiata Stories has two story routes: The Human side, and the Non-Human side. Of the two, the Non-Human side is unquestionably favored by the writers as it explores the three main protagonists Jack, Ridley, and Gantz in more detail. In comparison, the Human route has Jack stay relatively the same as a character, while Ridley and Gantz have little importance overall. Examples include meeting Gawain, his father's killernote , and the final bossnote . It doesn't help that several plotlines in the game never get resolved or referenced after the split if you go Human route, such as Cross being responsible for the Blood Orc that attacked Ridley (whereas in the Non-Human route, Cross is the Evil Counterpart to Jack). The Non-Human route is also the route where Ridley and Jack hook up, which was a major part of their interactions early on, while the Human route has Jack get with an ally of the players' choice. Lastly, it's the only route where Jack can wield the Arbitrator, his father's sword, whereas in the Human route he feels unable to use it. Really, the only significant part of the story that is favored in the Human side is in regards to gameplay; the Human route has some of the most interesting bosses due to fighting two of the Dragons, and overall offering more unique gameplay choices Jack can have.
  • In Scarlet Nexus, virtually all the major plot explanations happen exclusively in Kasane's route. Yuito, by contrast, never finds out why Kasane turned on him for over half the game, what Karen's goals were, or the truth behind the war between New Himuka and Togetsu.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story, or The Second Evolution as it was called in later versions, features two characters to play as: Claude and Rena. While both are of equal importance to the story, Claude has more plot-relevant scenes that are exclusive to him, as well as a familial connection to Ronyx from the first game. Also, both characters can recruit a party member that's exclusive to them, but Dias, who will only permanently join the party if Rena is the protagonist, has no private actions (until the remake, at least), which gives him no further development and makes it excessively hard to see any alternate endings for him.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic suffers from this severely, as all the expansions were seemingly made with the Jedi Knight and its Dark Side equivalent Sith Warrior (to a lesser extent) storylines in mind with players from other classes, especially the non-Force sensitive ones, feeling severely out-of-place. Half the expansions revolve around dealing with the Sith Emperor once and for all, when the Jedi Knight is the only one who ever met him and the Sith Warrior was The Dragon to him. It's especially noticeable in Chapter 12 of Knights of the Fallen Empire where the player has to go through lessons on the Force and the philosophies surrounding it in order to construct a Villain-Beating Artifact lightsaber attuned to both the light and dark. Non-Force sensitive characters go through the exact same thing and inexplicably get a gun somehow attuned to the Force.
  • Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Symphonia, the ending where your party ends up with Kratos is noticeably less developed than the ending with Zelos. Several sidequests are dependent on Zelos' presence in order to be completed, but there are almost none that are exclusive to Kratos. Kratos also has only a single alternate costume, while Zelos has several. Additionally, picking Kratos will also automatically set him as Lloyd's soulmate regardless of what everyone's Relationship Values are at, forcing you to pick Zelos if you want Lloyd to end up with anyone else. The sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, outright made the ending with Kratos non-canon by having Kratos be entirely absent except for a brief cameo.
      • Also of note is that if you pick the Zelos route, then Kratos still ends up siding with the heroes and playing the same role he does in his own ending, he just never becomes a playable character again for the rest of the playthrough. But if you pick the Kratos route, then Zelos turns out to have been sincere in his Face–Heel Turn and is killed by the party. So the Zelos route is more of a Golden Ending in comparison, despite the supposed choice.
      • From the same game any of the party can be chosen as Lloyd's soul mate (not always but often a romantic relationship) based on who has the highest Affection for Lloyd. However the game favours Colette for this role. While every other party member starts with an Affection score of 0 Colette starts with an Affection score of 500. She also has more chances to increase this score and less chances to reduce it than any other character. Colette also has more scenes alone with Lloyd than the other party members and the final cutscene is with her and Lloyd even if she isn't his soul mate.
    • Tales of Xillia has two storylines, Jude's and Milla's. Jude's has far more content, however, while Milla's seems intended for a second playthrough. This is most noticeable at the end of the third act of the game, where Milla is presumed dead. Jude's story goes on to feature a very significant Duel Boss fight, followed by a fight with Gaius, then Presa and Agria's deaths, and a three-phase boss fight with the real Maxwell. All of this happens offscreen on Milla's path, which instead consists of her wandering through the Spirit World for a while (essentially a very long No-Gear Level with her as your sole party member) with very little interaction due to the lack of Non Player Characters and her becoming an Empty Shell. While Milla gets her own Duel Boss fight, it's an extremely frustrating one, and she only comes back during the last phase of Jude's Climax Boss. It's actually not possible to get the "Religious Skit Viewer" trophy on Milla's path, as there simply aren't enough skits for her to see.
  • Duran is heavily implied to be the canon choice to become the Mana Knight in Trials of Mana. Duran is the only protagonist that uses a traditional fighting style of swordsmanship, and his design was influenced by the heroes of the previous Mana games. He's also the most prominent character on the title screen, and is the default selection for the first character when starting a new game. The 2019 E3 trailer had him be the first character to appear before the other protagonists, and the demo had him chosen as the protagonist alongside Riesz and Charlotte. Additionally, Duran's homeland of Valsena has the most plot relevance of any of the three major kingdoms. While Laurent must also be liberated and the player's actions put Wendel at risk, they're only visited once by the plot after the prologue, while the three attacking kingdoms only play a significant role in their own story branch. However Valsena serves as something of the player's base of operations in the hunt of the Mana Stones in all three story paths, with Hero King Richard acting as the player's main Mr. Exposition and advisor alongside Faerie. All of this makes Duran the most significant character to the story's world, and the character that marketing most focuses on. But in spite of all that, it's ultimately up to the player if Duran is even one of the three heroes, let alone the Mana Knight; despite Duran's prominence, he's still an Optional Party Member like every other hero.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines has multiple endings: you can side with the Anarchs, the Camarilla, Lacroix, Ming Xiao, or go independent and blow all of them off. Siding with either Lacroix or Ming Xiao nets you little more than two different Non-Standard Game Overs. Siding with the Camarilla is available, but since your main contacts with the Camarilla consist of Lacroix (who is actively trying to get you killed) and Strauss (who is pleasant enough, but doesn't do very much in the game and comes across as a bit condescending), the justifications for doing so aren't particularly strong. The Anarchs, by contrast, save your life repeatedly and allow you an abundance of opportunities for helpful interaction, beginning with Smiling Jack guiding you through the tutorial. Finally, only the Anarch and Independent endings allow you to properly savor Lacroix's Laser-Guided Karma when he opens the sarcophagus. It isn't difficult to decipher which faction the developers were expecting most people to side with. Things do get a little more even (but only a little) if you play a Tremere character, as Strauss (a Tremere himself) has a bit more advice and gives you a nice apartment to live innote .
  • The Witcher:
    • The Witcher splits into three distinct paths mid-game, one for the Order and the Scoia'tael and a neutral one. The latter features more content and is actually harder to unlock. This is justified by the eponymous Witchers' code, which forbids them from taking sides in conflicts—so the neutral path makes the most sense in-story.
    • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings splits into two paths that depend on who Geralt allies with for the rest of the game: Vernon Roche and the Blue Stripes, or Iorveth and the Scoia'tael. While both have the same amount of content, the latter goes into greater detail on things that tie into the Kingslayer plot, including the dragon, the Lodge of Sorceresses, and Philippa Eilhart. Roche's path leaves the player in the dark on these matters. On the other hand, Roche comes back for a rather large subplot in the next game, while Iorveth is never seen.
    • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt:
      • For players just entering the franchise at the third instalment, Yennifer of Vengeberg can seem like a forced love interest, constantly belittling Geralt and making you wonder what they ever saw in each other. You can later meet and romance Triss, but on subsequent meetings with Yen there is no option to break it off with her (until much later). Other NPCs also ask about Yen and continue to assume you are together, and no option is given for you to correct them. Triss also gets far fewer lines with Geralt, often just a "huh" or "yes", and she doesn't show up at Kaer Morhen until much later. Of course, Yen is the canonical love interest in the books, so it's somewhat understandable.
      • In the Blood and Wine Expansion Pack, the player takes one of two distinct routes to end the game with. In one, Geralt can make contact with the Unseen Elder, a powerful vampire lord whose authority over all vampires can be used to bring the raging Dettlaff directly to Geralt so that the Witcher can stop his rampage once and for all. In the other, Geralt can journey to the Land of a Thousand Fables and rescue Sylvia Anna, whose past relationship with Dettlaff is hoped will bring him to heel. Both paths are fully realized, but the latter is the only way to really learn about Sylvia's past and motivations, and taking it is the only way to get the campaign's best ending. Even in-game, Geralt is repeatedly told this is the more preferable path to take, and is given multiple opportunities to change his mind if he opts for the Unseen Elder.

    Adventure Games 
  • Henry Stickmin Series:
    • Completing the Mission has the secret base of the Toppat Clan as its title screen, and all of its routes either deal with it, the train leading to it, or the satellite that's launched from it... Well, with the exception of Toppat Civil Warfare, which doesn't involve it at all, and also ends on a Cliffhanger.
    • The Pure-Blooded Thief ending from Infiltrating the Airship has only 3 possible branches in Completing the Mission compared to 4 branches for each of the other 3 Airship endings. This is because Pure-Blooded Thief is the only Airship ending in which Henry didn't side with the Government or Toppat Clan and thus it wouldn't make logical sense for Pure-Blooded Thief to continue into Fleeing the Complex's Government-based or Toppat-based endings. It's also the only Airship ending that doesn't have a 6-choices-long path (each Mission path has between 3 and 6 choices, so 6 choices is the maximum number for one) in Mission, whereas the other 3 Airship endings each have one.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow has a "short path" and a "long path", in which more people are helped and will show up at the wedding. This is the path chosen by the official Novelization. See the entry at Golden Ending. Regardless of the path chosen, you have a secret conversation with Princess Cassima, locked in her room. In the "short path," the conversation is held from outside her door. In the "long path," it's held from within the walls themselves.
  • Life Is Strange features this with one of the endings. If you sacrifice Chloe, they (maybe) get The Big Damn Kiss, and the player is presented to a touching, mournful, and emotional slideshow and funeral scene showing the aftermath of Chloe's death and ending on a very slightly hopeful note. If you choose to Sacrifice Arcadia Bay, Max and Chloe watch as the tornado destroys the town, they drive through it and exit to parts unknown, and that's it - it's much shorter in content, and it doesn't tell players anything about who survived the storm. Word of God says that the ambiguity about who survived and where Max and Chloe go next is intentional, and it's up to the players to decide those things for themselves. They have also said that the finale episode was made on a more limited budget and so they had to choose an ending to focus the majority of their time and money on.
    • Despite this, it's the sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending that got a spinoff comic, rather than the sacrifice Chloe ending, and both endings can be referenced in Life Is Strange 2, meaning they weren't lying when they said it was for a pragmatic reason rather than true favoritism.
  • The Neverhood has two endings. The good ending is a 5-minute long cutscene, and the bad ending is less than half a minute long and ends very abruptly. The sequel continues where the good ending left off, just in case if you were wondering if there's any more ending favoritism.
  • Paradise Killer is an investigation simulator that allows you to investigate a Locked Room Mystery murder and make a case against various characters on their roles, culpability and guilt in the matter... But pinning it all on the obvious suspect, Henry, leads to the least amount of character development. Which makes sense since the killing was actually performed by one of two major conspiracies, both of whom involve multiple characters on the island, and investigating either (or both) makes you much more aware of the true nature of the island's inhabitants and why they chose to join their respective conspiracy. Henry, meanwhile, was involved in neither, aware of neither, and intentionally set up to be The Scapegoat by one of them. Pinning it all on him essentially means letting everyone else off scot-free.
  • Ripper is an odd example. The game randomizes the Ripper's identity between four options each game as part of the Multiple Endings, but it's very clear that this idea was tacked on very late into production, as the game very obviously favors a specific outcome. Catherine being the killer is the only option that really makes sense within the story and it's themes, characters, and setting, not to mention the only one that both fully answers all the mysteries and gives the Ripper a clear motive. The cutscenes and endgame for the Catherine path are much longer and more involved than the others, which are extremely short, half-assed, and end without really explaining how the Ripper did all the things they did or why.

    Fighting Games 
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is primarily a BlazBlue game, which is evident by how Episode Mode uses the other three series present in the crossover. While playing through all four Episodes is required to get the Golden Ending, Episode BlazBlue is the only branch that can be used to reach it, is the only branch to give the context behind the story, and is the only branch that has Multiple Endings in the first place. While Episode RWBY at least has a good ending (if you ignore the ambiguous fates of everyone else), Episode Persona only ever ends on a punchline at their series' expense, and Episode Under-Night is given the outright worst ending in the game (especially after Episode Extra took place after the Bad Ending of Episode BlazBlue).
  • Red Earth has four playable characters to go through its story, but nudges the player towards selecting Leo — aside from the game's logo featuring a lion and thus alluding to him, he is the one most prominently featured in its intro, is who Player 1's cursor automatically starts on to encourage Default Setting Syndrome, and has a personal stake with Blade (more specifically, that Blade was his former trusted underling) that the other three lack.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Unreal Tournament III plays this straight in Act II: With Caesar's Coin. You're given two major objectives in the chapter: reinforce Tokaido and make an alliance with the Iron Guard (and, by proxy, Axon). The game expects you to go all defence i.e. choosing to reinforce Tokaido's defences and ally with Iron Guard. You can take any other path, of course, but your final Chapter map has you playing a 4-on-7 "Invasion Style" match in Torlan_Leviathan, which, considering how awful the AI on said map is, becomes quite a chore, whereas the intended path has a much easier end path.

  • World of Warcraft 's expansions Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria are cases of the ones being favored not liking it one bit more than those who weren't. Those extensions had the Horde content developed first (confirmed by the developers to be true for at least Cataclysm), and most of the overarching plot is that of the Horde facing internal strife and being led by an evil Warchief. Which meant that Horde fans were stuck playing a faction that was almost entirely full of Ax-Crazy Card-Carrying Villain, a complete 180 turn from the Noble Savage the Horde was originally portrayed as. And Alliance fans hated being painted as the Horde's punching bag/foil only.

  • Infernax includes a Karma Meter where you can determine whether Alcedor throws his lot in with either the people of Upel (Good), or the demonic scourge (Evil). Despite this, there are several factors nudging the player towards the path of virtue:
    • Promotional material features Alcedor with his Good-aligned upgrades opposing monstrous enemies. The vast majority of enemies and bosses are also affiliated with the demons.
    • An Ultimate Good playthrough is necessary to unlock both the Ultimate Good ending and the Future ending, as the opportunity is denied in an Ultimate Evil playthrough.
    • Several boss battles, alongside The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, are only accessible if Alcedor chooses to be good - although the evil path has its own unique bosses, the majority of minor boss battles are skipped.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog plays this trope straight, where although the game features up to 11 different endings ranging from Evil to Neutral to Good; only the hidden Neutral ending against the obvious Big Bad is considered to be the game's Golden Ending from the creator standpoint.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • While Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty does a good job avoiding favoritism on the first two times you have to make a choice, it definitely drops the ball the third time. Before the final mission, you're given the option to disable either the Zerg's Nydus Worms, or deprive them of their air force. The former mission involves taking Raynor and other three heroes, all with unique abilities, through Char's underground cave network, battling zergs in a rather imaginative scenarios, ending with a challenging boss fight, while enjoying plenty of fun banter from the heroes. The latter mission is a rather dull "destroy all bases" macro mission with hardly any dialogue, with only an optional boss to spice things up. Though, ironically, while the first mission is way more fun, the benefits of doing the second mission are much greater.
    • Done with subtlety in the finale of Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void, during its epilogue campaign where you play as each race for each of its three missions, all with a set selection of units and upgrades. The first one with the Protoss is easy to ignore as unit selection can normally be changed on the fly during its regular campaign. The next one, with the Terrans, have some unit and upgrade selections that imply that certain events took place, such as having Spectres over Ghosts which would suggest that Raynor sided with Tosh during Wings of Liberty. Then again, it tends to bend the rules in some instances providing mutually exclusive upgrades being paired together (such as the Bunker's upgrades) or having neither option being available (neither the Hercules nor the Predator can be produced here). The finale, with the Zerg, also has a preset for unit evolutions, namely mass-producing Zerglings, Brood Lords, and Torrasque Ultralisks even if you opted to pick different evolutions during Heart of the Swarm. All of the above selections were tailor-made for the mission objective at hand, as they are Nintendo Hard.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Baldur's Gate II:
    • At the end of chapter 2 you have to join either the shadow thieves or the vampire guild. If you choose the latter, you will fight a somewhat harder battle, lose a handy fencer and miss a powerful ally that would otherwise come in handy later.
    • At the end of chapter 4 you have to decide whether to accept Saemon's offer and help him get back to his ship to travel home, or simply use a magical portal. Either choices ultimately lead to the same place, but the former brings you first into another dungeon with tons of XP and many nice items (including components for a powerful weapon that you can assemble later).
  • Chrono Cross's story branches at two points — you can pick one of three options for a guide to Viper Manor, and you can declare that of course you'll save Kid from Lynx's poison or else confess that you don't know how.
    • In the first case, Nikki's route through the Shadow Forest is the longest and most developed, including an entire dungeon (including a boss battle with Zoah, who you won't meet until later otherwise). Guile's route has a brief climb up Viper Manor's seaside cliffs (but matches up the best with what happens at the end of the dungeon), while Pierre's route consists entirely of a boss battle and nothing else.
    • The second case is more complex. Announcing that you'll handle the problem leads to an entire dungeon that you don't get to play otherwise, and while saying you're not sure doesn't lead to any replacement dungeon it still allows you to recruit a highly plot-relevant character who also happens to be one of the game's most powerful fighters. Further complicating the matter, if you do refuse, Kid's life gets saved anyway via an implausible Deus ex Machina.
  • Both of the Shadow Crystal holders in the first two chapters of Deltarune subtly prefer violent and peaceful resolutions to their fights, respectively:
    • Jevil can be fought normally, or tired out and put to sleep, but he treats fighting as a game with considerable glee, and "pulls out all the stops" near the end of the fight which is represented by him moving so fast he leaves mirages, whereas he supposedly gets tired near the end of a Pacifist fight even though he uses the same animation. He also provides foreshadowing for future chapters if beaten violently, whereas in a Pacifist fight he doesn't reveal anything that the Final Boss of Chapter 1 won't also reveal. He also turns into the DevilsKnife and flies up, adding himself (now a very powerful weapon for Susie) to your inventory if fought but simply disappearing and leaving behind his tail (an average piece of armor) otherwise. Beating him violently also won't invalidate an otherwise Pacifist run.
    • Spamton, by contrast, encourages a peaceful solution by cutting his strings, which has him fall to the ground "dead", better setting up the after-battle cutscene, which is the same for both versions even though he explodes if defeated violently. Like Jevil, he turns into an item and adds himself to your inventory, but the Pacifist reward is the powerful Dealmaker shades (provides a good boost to defense and magic, and has a Money Multiplier effect on top), whereas the violent reward is the PuppetScarf (a weapon for Ralsei that increases his attack but cuts his magic, which even in a violent run is suboptimal unless you're very good at avoiding damage).
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • While the game attempts to avert this trope by connecting each of the origin stories to the main quest in some fashion, some are still more preferred than others. Of note is the Human Noble, who loses their entire family to The Dragon, is the only protagonist who can possibly become king or queen of Ferelden, and is also the only character that's given any kind of portrayal in the game's promotional material. In a possible effort to make up for the Dalish Elf's lackluster treatment, Dragon Age II includes a pre-made world state where they are the Warden (alongside a state with the Dwarf Noble and one with, you guessed it, the Human Noble), brings back their specific clan, and even makes an Ascended Extra out of its Guest-Star Party Member. Dragon Age: Inquisition, in turn, comes with just one default world state starring the Dalish Elf Warden.
      • Played straight with the Landsmeet. While Alistair's fate is determined by player choices there, post-Origins he's portrayed as the sole ruler of Ferelden in supplemental materials, and King Alistair gets more content in his Dragon Age II cameo than either Warden Alistair or Drunk!Alistair. By contrast, if Anora remains queen at the Landsmeet (either on her own or married to him), she'll get Put on a Bus in the sequels (along with Loghain if he survived Origins), and isn't seen again until a very small cameo in Inquisition. That game zig zags it though: King Alistair only makes the same very small cameo (though he's also referenced more in codex entries and incidental NPC chatter than Anora), while Warden Alistair has a substantial role in one of the main plot lines. It comes at the cost of the player having to choose between saving him and their Dragon Age II PC in the Fade. If Warden Loghain is around instead he's the one in this role.
    • Dragon Age II:
      • The game clearly favors choosing Mages over Templars. Meredith is antagonistic for the entire game, committing acts that can be hard to find any justification for behind her own paranoia, while her Mage counterpart Orsino is presented as a reasonable figure who tries to help maintain peace in the city and only steps to confront Meredith after she has begun to slip into total insanity, with his possible bad deeds almost tacked-on at the end, namely that he knew the mage who killed Hawke's mother. Meanwhile, the ending cinematic outright calls you a tyrant for siding with the Templars and supplementary material almost always assumes you sided with the mages. Your siblings reflect this as well. If Bethany is alive and joins the Circle, she is happy to finally have a place to both learn magic, and not feel ashamed of having it after years of being on the wrong, which makes her far more relatable as a character. If Carver is alive and joins the Templars, he is not happy at all since it means going against his family, and becoming something that nearly ruined his family when they were younger, which pales in comparison to his attitude if he is made a Grey Warden, where, unlike Bethany, he is happy and feels glad to have a noble motivation. Then there's the slant on the "Champion of Kirkwall" codex entry in Inquisition, where if you sided with the mages, it consists of a Reasonable Authority Figure explaining to his fellow templars that Hawke had good reasons to oppose Meredith and essentially justifies doing so. Meanwhile if you sided with the templars, it consists of an enchanter telling her fellow mages that it's a good thing Hawke won't be at the Conclave given that they helped with the "systematic slaughter of all of Kirkwall's mages". Its jarring since the entire point of the conflict was that Both Sides Have a Point, but the series is really one-sided about executing it.
      • Most quests have hidden options that can be unlocked depending on the companions you brought. Of all the companions, Anders is the one with the most unique and story-changing scenes. For example, bringing him to the Deep Roads mission is the only way to turn your sibling into a Grey Warden since his senses can detect another Grey Warden in the area to bring Hawke's sibling in; this particular example is encouraged by the fact that he is a Grey Warden, so players might get an idea to bring him to the Darkspawn-tainted location. Others scenes include temporarily curing Bartrand of his insanity (which throws that entire situation into a new light), becoming possessed by Justice while in the fade, and almost falling under the influence of Corypheus in the Legacy DLC. To top it all off, as a mage, Anders also has almost every special option that Bethany and Merrill have. This is also a case of Developer's Foresight; Anders being the only healer in the group, many players (including those who skipped the first game and are unfamiliar with the relevance of Grey Wardens) would bring him virtually everywhere, so he was a safe choice for these exclusive scenes.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition: There's a slight inclination in the main game to side with the rebel mages over the Templars in the first act, influenced by a number of factors:
      • Each path includes the early introduction of a potential companion, but Dorian appears in the lead-up to the mage path and is more deeply invested in the story, even becoming a required member of the Inquisitor's party. If you learn of the mage's situation and side with the Templars anyway then Dorian can eventually be recruited...but he'll start off with negative approval. Cole on the other hand only makes himself known after you've committed to recruiting the Templars, acts as an Guest-Star Party Member rather than a full companion, and his approval takes no hit if you side with the mages instead.
      • The leadup to the mage quest (In Hushed Whispers) has considerably more weight and urgency than the leadup to the Templar quest (Champions of the Just). You can meet Dorian without ever actually committing to the mage path, and you are introduced to Alexius' use of time magic that threatens to tear the universe apart, the Tevinter occupation of Redcliffe, and the rebel mages being conscripted into the Tevinter army on Fereldan soil. Meanwhile, the extent of the Templar introduction is the Lord Seeker being a bit of a Jerkass and punching out a cleric in Val Royeaux, with no indication beyond a few words from Cassandra that this is anything to really worry about in the face of the Breach. While the Templar storyline has strengths of its own — Calpernia being a much more complex and interesting Dragon than Samson, better insight into Corypheus' own mindset and psyche, and a possible side-quest with Ser Barris — none of these come into play until long after the player has already completed the quest and recruited the Templars.
  • Halfway through Dragon Quest V, you have to choose one of two girls to marry: Nera or Bianca. Bianca is the favored bride, having known you the longest and being depicted as such in most of the promotional art, along with her children. There's also the fact that Nera already has a love interest before you meet here, and you meet her just a few days before the in-game choice of who to marry. (That choosing Nera as your bride causes Bianca to undergo a Trauma Conga Line of misery is an Urban Legend of Zelda that got way out of hand.) The DS remake averts this by having Nera (and her remake-exclusive sister Debora) also meet the hero when they were children, and gives Bianca an alternate love interest if she's not chosen. But the promotional art still uses Bianca as The Face of the game and almost exclusively depicts the hero's children with Bianca's blonde hair rather than Nera's blue or Debora's black, so the trope hasn't gone away entirely (probably because Square Enix is well aware that Hero/Bianca has always been the Fan-Preferred Couple and Bianca the Breakout Character that DQ5 is best known for). The Playstation 2 version (which is incredibly broken and allows you to skip 99% of the game) even defaults to Bianca being your wife if you skip the marriage choice.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Starting off in the World of Ruin portion in Final Fantasy VI has Celes stranded on an island with Cid and has grown ill due to neglecting his own health to keep Celes healthy. If you keep Cid alive, he reveals a hidden staircase leading to the basement with a raft made so that Celes can escape and find her friends. If Cid dies, Celes thinks Cid is playing a prank and then begs him to wake up before realizing that Cid is truly gone. Overcome with despair of losing what was basically a father to her and being alone without her friends, Celes jumps off a cliff to end it all. She survives anyway and sees a bird carrying Locke's bandana, which gives her hope that her friends are alive and she sets out to find them after finding the raft Cid left behind. Given that the "Cid dies" scene is a lot more developed than the "Cid lives" scene, it seems that the writers preferred to have Celes find hope again on her own.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith's date sequence is the longest, makes the most sense with the previous plot (she'd previously offered to go on a date with Cloud in her opening scene; she'd previously been responsible for choosing Marlene's hiding place), the aesthetic themes of her character (she and Cloud played in a children's park earlier in the game, so it fits that she wants to take him to an amusement park), and with the plot structure (the date is a Breather Episode before two Wham Episodes that focus heavily on Aeris). It also contains a significant bit of Foreshadowing concerning Zack, and is the easiest date to get. Tifa's date is a little shorter, a little harder to get, and only foreshadows the fact that Tifa's keeping something bottled up around Cloud, which is not new information. Yuffie's date is slightly shorter again and has the least plot importance, as Yuffie doesn't know anything about Cloud's past and doesn't know who Marlene is, meaning Cloud gets to talk to Marlene (when his date will do that on all other routes). Barret's date is by far the shortest, skipping the play sequence, going straight to the gondola ride, and having fewer lines even there, none of which foreshadow anything. He doesn't even get a more fleshed-out version of the scene with Marlene, even though he's the closest to her in the cast.
    • After the first dungeon on Disc 2 of Final Fantasy VIII, the party is split into two groups, one lead by Squall and the other with Selphie. Who you assign the other four members to is fully up to you, with Rinoa even specifically saying she doesn't care which party you put her in. Rinoa going with Squall's group gets you a bunch of unique dialog, extra extended scenes during the sequence and after the groups reunite, some initial character development for Squall that ties into his further development later on and even a FMV of Rinoa when the Garden becomes mobile. Putting her with Selphie's team is treated the same as any other character with that group with nothing extra, indicating that the story prefers to have Rinoa go with Squall.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, males can recruit the Handmaiden while females can recruit the Disciple. The Disciple gets the shaft pretty hard here, as his only companion perks are making medpacs on demand (useless since somebody in the party should be able to Force Heal), restoring your Force Points on demand when not in combat (useless since you can just regenerate them on your own with a little patience), and training him as a Jedi. Meanwhile, the Handmaiden gets to teach the Exile to apply his Wisdom modifier to his defense (extremely valuable for a Consular), has a major storyline moment where she gets to duel Atris right before the Exile does during the endgame, and can also be trained as a Jedi.
  • In the H-game Legend of Queen Opala, the good route is the main one, giving you more areas to travel through, chances to fight Sir Edward, and learn more about why Osira is doing what she's doing. The evil route was sort of an afterthought; you get different sex scenes, capture the Queens, and then do the final quest of the Good side in reverse (requiring a lot of grinding just to get out of Osira's palace, which is normally the endgame dungeon), before battling the final boss of Osira's route. However, the player can only become Pharaoh on the evil route, through a Guide Dang It! method that allows him to betray Osira and claim all three royals as his concubines and party members. The Good route is also canon for the second game.
  • OMORI has an odd version of this. The main route is what the story favors. It explains what's actually going on and have all the conflicts be resolved in the good ending. On the other hand, the alternate route is favored by the gameplay. The last chapter has Bonus Dungeons and Superbosses that are only available in this route, but the story isn't explained, the main conflict stay unresolved, and the good ending isn't available in this route. You need to play both routes to see all the game offers.
  • Planescape: Torment offers the standard Fighter, Mage, Thief class choices, and while there's a wealth of content and rewards for each route, Mage is by far the most optimal choice as the high Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma that acts as a Required Secondary Power for the playthrough allows the player to act as a Guile Hero or Manipulative Bastard as well and talk their way out of virtually any situation. Additionally, two of your companions' questlines require that the player be a mage. This ends up being justified as it's revealed that the Nameless One was an evil wizard in his previous life.
  • SaGa:
    • Romancing SaGa features eight characters to choose from as your main protagonist, but Albert has two quests that are only available to him, as well as one shared between him and Sif; in comparison, Gray has one unique quest, Sif shares the spotlight, and everyone else just has unique lines for quests anyone can undertake. Albert can also find and wear the armor of a legendary hero, making him the only character with a potential appearance change.note 
    • Romancing SaGa 2 has a lot of branches, such as who to support for the throne of an allied kingdom, or whether to gain a new type of magic over saving a unique race of possible allies. However, the remakes include a Superboss that can only be challenged if the player never took a branch that required sacrificing a potential unit type.
    • Romancing SaGa 3 also has eight characters to choose from, but Katarina cannot be recruited by the other seven, and her personal quest is directly connected to one of the game's major subplots. With that said, Khalid gets to briefly team up with every other protagonist (including Katrina) during his version of the prologue, Julian has the most variance in how his story can end, and Sarah is a Child of Destiny who can recruit a plot-important character before the endgame, and whose version of the final boss is different than everyone else's.
      • There's also another example of favoritism concerning Julian: in his story, he can decide whether or not to be Monika's bodyguard, but he chooses to do so if anyone else is the main protagonist, and there are plenty of romantic scenes between the two (including a possible ending where they can be married).
    • Unlimited Saga has seven main protagonists, but Ruby's story is the only one that focuses on the Seven Wonders, a major part of the setting that is also tied to the Final Boss of every route. She is also joined on her quest by the titular "Unlimited", a legendary hero who is unrecruitable by anyone else. Oh, and she was the main protagonist of a Japan-only novelization of the game.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Persona:
      • In Persona 3 and, to a much lesser degree, Persona 4, certain characters will show romantic interest in the protagonist during the story, contrary to the rest of the cast, who only will only show a romantic interest in the player during their Social Links and in specific in-game events.
      • A minor case happens with the Hermit Social Link in the third game's female route. Saori will become your friend for the link regardless of whether you join the library committee (under Ms. Ounishi), or the health committee (under Mr. Edogawa), but in the penultimate event of Saori's Social Link, Ms. Ounishi will stand up for Saori alongside Ms. Toriumi regardless of whether you're working under Ms. Ounishi.
      • At the beginning of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, you can choose whether to follow the cast of Persona 3 or Persona 4, with the side not chosen joining you after the first labyrinth. Persona 4 is given slight favoritism since they are the then-incumbent cast, the game is set in a twisted version of their high school, and Rei turns out to be the ghost of a girl who lived and died in the Inaba area.
    • Where themes of Law vs Chaos are concerned, the Neutral endings in Shin Megami Tensei where humanity takes a stand and does not commit to a specific faction, are considered to be the best endings from the creator perspective. Neutral routes also usually give you more content such as bosses (since you made enemies of both factions, whereas those neutral in the conflict, by definition, don't really have any malice for someone who's on Law or Chaos), sidequests, lore, and unlockable items. To say the least the alternative endings are not that desirable... However, there are some major exceptions.
      • Exaggerated in the very first game in the series with multiple endings, Megami Tensei II. There, Chaos was the default path and Luficer an outright good guy, while siding with Law was more like a Non-Standard Game Over.
      • Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne didn't have any favoritism in the initial release, but in the Maniax Updated Re-release (which was the version released outside Japan) the True Demon Ending, a traditional Chaos path, gets most of the game's additional content, is the only way to face the True Final Boss, and its ending shot forms the basis of the game's title screen. In the Demi-Fiend's Previous Player-Character Cameo in the DLC of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, it's explicitly stated he took the TDE path.
      • Devil Survivor has five routes, with four of them having more or less the same amount of content (As the route split doesn't happen until the tail end of the game) and the fifth route more-or-less being a bad ending. In the rerelease Devil Survivor Overclocked, however, three of the routes (One of which being the aforementioned bad ending) are given bonus content in the form of an Eighth day, dedicated to fleshing out how the setting is affected by the choice you picked while the other two routes are left as-is. Although to be fair, the endings of those two routes pretty much made it impossible to have some kind of Eighth day attached to it without completely rewriting them. In a flip to how it usually happens in SMT, though, the two routes (Atsuro's and Gin's) which don't receive Eighth days are actually the Neutral routes.
      • Devil Survivor 2 is not as extreme as other games in the series, as all the endings the same length in story time and each one has a relatively decent ending, but the Reset Button ending is quite clearly the favored option by the story. Its the only one where you get almost the entire party (sans one who cannot be recruited except on his route), both sides of the conflict, Yamato and Ronaldo, put aside their differences to work together to defeat the Big Bad Polaris, and all the characters get happier lives when its over than before. The Record Breaker version even uses it as a rough base for the storyline of its chapter, the only difference being the presence of the entire cast, even the one who normally can not be recruited.
      • While Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is the most blatantly pro-Neutral game in the franchise, the Redux rerelease gives three expanded routes that provide some nuance to the Neutral route by revealing you only manage to delay the inevitable in the original ending, and have to effectively damn yourself to a Forever War to provide a permanent Neutral solution. Meanwhile, the extended Law route leads to you taking away humanity's desire for conflict instead of its free will, creating a world of peace and harmony for all humans, while the extended Chaos route leads to you creating a world where all humans have infinite freedom and possibility. Law+ and Chaos+ are also the only routes in which you can bring Zelenin and Jimenez, respectively, back from the levels of extremism they reach in all of the other routes.
      • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse shows its neutral favoritism by making its Law and Chaos endings end the plot prematurely. Still, within its neutral branches, it continues to favor the Bonds route as the game regularly praises you for decisions that favor it.
      • Shin Megami Tensei V is an odd example in it's "true" neutral route in which you create a world for humans alone, in which gods and demons are all removed from existence which has a unique post credits scene and is the most involved ending to get due to requiring completion of multiple optional questlines AND the defeat of the game's optional Super Boss Shiva. The odd aspect comes from the fact that to unlock said ending in which you basically annhilate all demons from existence, you have to complete multiple questlines which generally show how noble and, well, human demons can be. In fact, V is the most sympathetic portrayal of demons in the franchise and yet the secret ending that forces you to see that is easily the most anti-demon ending in the franchise as well. As a bit of a consolation, once you've unlocked the requirements for the secret ending, you can get it in any subsequent run so you can avoid the dissonance that way if you wish, but it's still odd.
  • Undertale:
    • A Pacifist Run doesn't just have the Golden Ending, but is significantly longer, has an entire area otherwise inaccessible, and is the only source of major revelations about Flowey's origin, Alphys's backstory, and the nature of Determination. By comparison, a neutral run simply has a Modular Epilogue and two bosses, the latter of which you'll fight anyway if you start with a Pacifist Run (because you'll need to get at least one Neutral ending first, but don't have to restart the game). After completing a Neutral playthrough, Flowey will outright recommend resetting if you've locked the True Pacifist content off and doing all the sidequests if you haven't. This is just a trick on his part, but works out for you anyway.
    • Invoked for the Genocide Route. The game becomes a monotonous grind, as you will spend much of your time searching for more enemies to kill. Keep in mind that the encounter rate goes down the more you kill, so you will be searching for a while. Many events after the Ruins, such as puzzles and almost all of Mettaton's appearances, are skipped as well. Additionally, most of the boss fights are essentially skipped too, as you will kill them in a single hit. The only thing that prevents the route from being a complete chore are the fights with Undyne the Undying and Sans. It is clear that the game itself is designed to discourage playing this way.
    • While there are several possible ways for the first boss fight to go, the game, through its tutorials and mechanics, heavily nudges the player into accidentally killing Toriel, then re-loading and sparing her, as this leads to a Wham Line right afterwards that reveals Flowey knows about your ability to SAVE and re-load, and that SAVING is an in-story concept as well as a game mechanic.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader: The Sanctioned Psyker origin gets you some extra dialogue and a significantly larger amount of possible abilities and mechanics to choose from. While a typical RPG may have chosen to present the psyker as its own mage-type class, making it into an origin means psykers get access to the same regular classes as everyone else in addition to all the unique abilities and increased customization exclusively available to them.

    Simulation Games 
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Harvest Moon 64 heavily implies that Ellie is the canon bachelorette by having Ellen's death only occur if you marry her. The Japan-only strategy guide (which features a lot of extra tidbits not found in the game) also confirms that Pete marries Ellen.
    • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life has Celia fall for you on default. It doesn't help that it's incredibly easy to get her to like you because she gains love points when you buy seeds from Vesta's farm. Despite this, the Wiiware spinoff title implies that Mark married Muffy and has a son with her. The Distaff Counterpart A Wonderful Life has Rock, who will propose to you even if you avoid all the bachelors.
  • Rune Factory:
    • Mist is an odd example. In the original game, it's made clear that she is the "official" love interest by the fact she's the one in the intro. However, future games heavily imply that Raguna didn't marry Mist.
    • The Rune Factory 2 intro makes it clear that Kyle is 'supposed' to marry Mana.
    • Rune Factory 3 is so blatant about Shara being the canon bachelorette that the ending always shows her hugging the lead, no matter who he actually marries. Raven is a close second via Guilt-Based Gaming.
    • Rune Factory Oceans implies that the "right" choice for marriage is Aden and Sonja. When Sonja gets returned to her own body during postgame, she and Aden start off with Love Points instead of Friendship Points for each other compared to the other love interests. However, the game also implies a favored B-Choice with Odette; she was the first girl to meet Aden and Sonja on Fenith Island, and she has the most plot-relevance out of the three sisters.
  • Stardew Valley presents the choice to the player of either restoring the Community Center by fulfilling the requested bundles from the forest spirits that had taken residence there, or siding with the Joja Corporation who will turn it into a warehouse and paying in cash to them for the town's upgrades. The later option only rewards the player with a soda vending machine, in contrast with the former which gives more rewards and friendship with the rest of the villagers; in addition it doesn't make a lot of sense for the player character to join with Joja Corp, considering that they were already a white-collared employee of them who grew disillusioned with their life and their job and thus choose to live on a Farm.
  • Happened in Wing Commander 4 via over-promising in the advertising. Supposedly players would be allowed to choose whether to stay loyal to the Terran Confederation or jump ship and ally themselves with the Border Worlds. In practice, attempting to stick with the Confederation past a certain point will spawn a never-ending supply of Border World bombers, and an insultingly short ending sequence once they inevitably kill you.

    Stealth Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid, oddly, seems to slightly prefer the "bad" Ending B to the "good" and canonical Ending A. In Ending B, both Otacon and Meryl's character developments are finished off better (with Otacon rising to his role as Snake's equal, and the truth behind Meryl's background being revealed), and Snake's is more interesting as he is allowed to have a visible breakdown after Meryl's death which Otacon has to talk him out of. Snake and Otacon's conversation is more plot-relevant, focusing on their feelings about the events that have happened, their career plans, and their feelings about Naomi, while Snake and Meryl instead talk about their newfound love and think about the beauty of Alaska. The plot even makes somewhat more sense, as in Ending B, the implication is that Liquid attached Meryl's corpse to a fake bomb and posed her to make sure she seems alive, but in Ending A Snake merely goes to Meryl and the bomb is forgotten about. Even the New Game Plus item Otacon gives to Snake is significantly more powerful than Meryl's, which is nearly useless. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty borrows much more from Ending B than from Ending A, omitting Meryl and having Snake and Otacon's Ending B realization that they are meant to "take a trip to Jupiter" as part of the unspoken backstory.

    Survival Horror 
  • Dino Crisis has three endings that depend what final choice you make and what approach you use to get to the final area. Stopping Gail from leaving and then going after Dr. Kirk yourself has Regina capture the doctor and everyone escaping together. Choosing to stop Gail from going after Dr. Kirk and then meeting up with Gail and Rick at the boat puts you at the ending where the heroes escape through a cavern on the boat. Choosing to go after the doctor will have you finding Gail giving a Final Speech about the true purpose of their mission (capture Dr. Kirk to grill him about his Third Energy research as a potential weapon for the government) before succumbing to his wounds. Dr. Kirk then mocks Gail for being a pawn for a government that didn't care about him and gets slapped by Regina for running his mouth. Regina then meets up with Rick and they escape the facility with the doctor in tow. The ending where Gail dies had more story detail put into it, though Capcom never stated which ending is the canonical one and the sequel doesn't address it either.
  • Fear & Hunger: Termina has eight playable characters and three possible resolutions to the story. There is a slight nudge towards going for Ending A as Olivia, as not only is Ending A the only one that allows for multiple survivors and simultaneously foils both Per'kele and the Kaiser, Olivia is the sister of Reila, the Machine God's host, and she gets dialogue exclusive to her before she is allowed to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Resident Evil:
    • While both Chris and Jill's scenarios in Resident Evil are pretty fleshed out, their partner characters aren't developed equally. Jill gets Barry, who is established as a married man with two daughters, who acts a bit strange throughout the adventure because of Wesker blackmailing him by using his family as hostages. Should Barry die, he leaves behind a tear jerking letter addressed to his family. Barry can also potentially save Jill twice (from the ceiling trap and cutting the fight against Plant 42 short), one of which also allows Jill to acquire the shotgun noticeably sooner than Chris can. Barry also has many cheesy lines that make his character stand out more. Meanwhile, Chris gets Rebecca, whose only memorable moment is her being attacked by a Hunter and being killed by it if you don't save her in time. Unlike Barry's death, Rebecca's death scene has Chris react in a goofy way and then quickly gets over it. While Rebecca is playable twice in Chris's story, she has far less screen time than Barry and has a sparse background which only establishes her as being an accomplished medic at 18 years old. When it comes to finding Enrico, he tells Jill that someone is betraying their team and then he gets shot for his trouble. When Chris finds him, Enrico accuses him of being a double crosser before being shot by the actual traitor, which gives nothing for Chris to go on. The remake keeps these elements pretty much the same, but with less Narm.
    • Resident Evil 2 slightly favors the Claire A/Leon B story where Sherry gets infected with the G-Virus and thus Claire has to find a cure. In Leon's story, Ada and Leon grow a bit close together throughout the game and she dies in Leon's arms near the end. In the reversed scenarios, Ada dangles over a ledge and Leon's strength gives out, causing her to fall into a Bottomless Pit while Leon curses Umbrella for causing the whole mess before he throws the G-Virus sample into the pit. Claire's story is even less fleshed out since nothing major happens other than the two of them being stalked by Mr. X.
    • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis only has slight variations to certain cutscenes, but some of them are more fleshed out than others. In the town's pharmaceutical building, a dying mercenary is encountered and either Nicolai or Carlos kill him. If Nicholai kills him, Jill is left wondering why he'd kill a still conscious man while Nicolai justifies it by saying he was infected and killing him now would save him a few bullets later. if Carlos kills the man, he unloads an entire magazine from his assault rifle into him (though he did ask to be killed before turning) before running off. Depending on how you approach the hospital later on, you either encounter a mercenary that foreshadows Nicholai's betrayal or you run into Nicolai who shoots the man and is about to shoot Carlos before the mercenary unpins a grenade in a last ditch attempt to get back at Nicholai. Nicolai's final cutscenes are more fleshed out if he gets to explain his motives, but in the scene where he shoots at Jill from his helicopter, he won't talk if you decide to shoot the chopper down (later games would narrow it down by revealing that Nicholai did indeed survive and get away).
  • The Sakabashira Game has two main routes depending on whether you decide to leave the room you began in instantly, or stay until later on, and by extension who you decide to group with. The "Leave" route has more Character Development for both Alex and Ceci, and additionally contains an extra boss battle against Alex's Evil Former Friend Evan. The "Stay" route, on the other hand, leaves Alex's backstory largely in the dust.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Silent Hill 2 has several endings, but a 10-Star end ranking requires either the Rebirth Ending, or, hilariously enough, the Dog Ending (a joke Gainax Ending, for those who don't know). The four ritual items needed for the Rebirth ending are also required for a 10-Star rank, giving that ending slightly more weight than the others. Canonically, however, all endings are equally valid and there is no one "true" conclusion; the creators intend for the player to personalize the story and choose for themselves which ending provides the best closure.
    • Silent Hill 4: The Room’s "21 Sacraments" ending is unequivocally a Downer Ending…but by Samael, is it easily the most interesting of the four, as well as the longest and the one that best fits the game's overall tone. The ending can be achieved if the player neither cleanses at least a fifth of Room 302's hauntings, nor finishes the final boss fight in time to save a possessed Eileen from walking to her death (at which she quickly succeeds if the player performed terribly at an equally terrible escort mission). It starts with Walter faking the dramatic death scene standard to all four endings (including the hushed cry for "Mom" as he reaches out to her). However, instead of the normally ensuing earthquake — no, wait, dreamquake? — Henry's convenient debilitating headaches return at full blast…only for his misery to suddenly and suspiciously end. Henry stands up to fathom the vast nothingness around him. Back in the real world, both manifestations of Walter's spirit have entered Room 302; and while little Walter is off hugging the furniture, adult Walter just stands there, left to wonder…Is this it? In the background of the disappointment of this eternity, a radio news anchor confirms the deaths of Eileen and Henry; announces that Frank the superintendent has also been found dead; and adds that all surviving tenants of the South Ashfield Heights apartment complex have been rushed to the hospital, complaining of severe chest pains—just like ten years ago. Contrast the other three endings, in which either Eileen and Henry make it out together and the apartment building has been cleansed of Walter's influence; Eileen and Henry make it out together, but she wants to return to the still haunted apartment building, implying that she's still possessed; or Henry gets out alone and is left to mourn Eileen's death, confirmed by the same radio anchor as in "21 Sacraments".

    Tactical RPGs 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden:
      • The game has a form of "gameplay branch favoritism". The three starting villagers, Grey, Tobin and Kliff, can choose to promote into several different classes, but early dialogue in Ram Village heavily encourages making Grey a Mercenary, Tobin an Archer, and Kliff a Mage. Kliff's case is particularly notable: he gets the widest spell learnset of the three, he's a magic user in the spinoff Fire Emblem Heroes, and the remake's "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue mentions that he went overseas to study magic regardless of what class the player made him.
      • Later in Gaiden, Celica's party must make a choice between killing Sonya or Deen in order to rescue Est from Grieth's pirates, with the other joining her army after Grieth is defeated. Of the two, killing Deen is the favorite branch; Sonya has ties to Jedah, a major villain, while Deen's role in the story ends after his recruitment.
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, all first generation females besides Ethlyn and Deirdre can marry any first generation male, but only three males per female get special conversations in Chapter 5note . These pairings are usually the easiest to make and have optional Ship Tease moments in earlier chapters, while most other pairings get no dialogue at all. The fandom usually terms these "predestined pairings". For an odd example, although Finn does not have any "predestined" conversations with the first-gen ladies (despite his pairing with Lachesis being treated as canon in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776), he gets his own set of "predestined" conversations where he talks to his daughter instead (as he leaves the party before the first-gen conversations occur and only returns in the second generation); these apply to Larcei (Ayra), Lana (Edain), and Nanna (Lachesis), with Nanna being even the only one of the three who recognizes him as her father!
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade:
      • Each of the three Lords have at least three options whom they can marry, but with Eliwood it's canonical that Ninian will always have feelings for him, while Lyn and Hector have a particularly heartfelt conversation with each other in the "Pirate Ship" chapter. Both pairs have additional story dialogue and a unique music track each that only play if they have an A Support.
      • Depending on the level of your Lords, you'll fight either Lloyd or Linus in "Four Fanged Offense" and the other brother in "Cog of Destiny". Despite the Linus version of "Four Fanged Offense" being harder to unlock, "Cog of Destiny" has additional dialogue if you are on Hector's story, fight Linus there, and Hector lands the killing blow. There is no equivalent for Lloyd.
    • There are two possible outcomes to the Black Knight battle in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. If Ike can't defeat him, Nasir is forced to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save Ike and Ena. Ena will then join the party, but is severely Overrated and Underleveled, and you get less dialogue in the final chapter due to Nasir's absence. If Ike defeats the Black Knight, both Nasir and Ena survive, and the far stronger Nasir is recruited instead of Ena. Nasir is alive and well in the sequel, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and that game's story makes it clear that Ike defeated the Black Knight in the last war.
    • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, Chrom is able to marry one of five playable girls (Female Robin, Sumia, Sully, Maribelle, or Olivia), and while he technically has no canon wife, the game heavily pushes him with two of them the most; Sumia and the Female Robin.
      • With Sumia, she has a steady amount of Ship Tease throughout the first half of the game. She even appears alongside Chrom holding baby Lucina in the game's opening movie, as well as giving them an animated Rescue Romance cutscene that was even titled "Lovebirds" in the United States version. She also has the fastest support growth with him, and the highest priority for auto-marriage in the case of tied supports. Sumia and Chrom are also the only two characters who are artificially limited to five romantic options eachnote , compared to every other NPC's selection of 10+ potential partners.
      • On the flip side is the Female Robin. A Robin of either gender has a steady amount of Ship Tease throughout the game, even after Chrom’s mandatory marriage or if the Avatar’s married to someone else. A Female Avatar married to Chrom is the only one of his potential love interests who doesn’t accuse him of cheating on her with their daughter from the future, limiting herself to merely point out the possibility. If she isn’t married to Chrom, then Lucina accuses her of making advances towards him, and later DEMANDS she fall for him. Rather jarringly, it’s only Chrom who makes a fuss should Robin choose to sacrifice themselves to kill Grima regardless if either of them are married to someone else with her spouse only having the same scripted lines regardless of their relationship. And due to both being playable right off it's possible for Female Robin to marry Chrom by accident. There's also a lot of plot conveniences to come out of their marriage with Robin killing Chrom in the Bad Future and Lucina seriously considering matricide to prevent that Bad Future but being unable to bring herself to do it.
      • Like Female Robin and Chrom, Male Robin and Lucina get an altered story scene which you can't get by marrying any of his other potential spouses. In it Lucina attempts to murder Robin after discovering that he is the vessel of Grima, hoping that it would prevent the Bad Future from happening. Normally, Chrom stops her before she can do anything, but if Lucina and Robin have reached S-support, Lucina finds herself unable to go through with the act, having fallen in love with Robin.
      • Besides that, while in the plot there are no hints of other couples and the player is free to play matchmaker as they see fit and ship to their heart's content, it's something of a hidden mechanic that several characters, particular those of the first generation, are capable of advancing their romance with certain characters much more quickly than with others; such pairings include Lissa/Vaike, Miriel/Stahl, Maribelle/Frederick, Ricken/Panne, Tharja/Gaius, Libra/Cordelia, Lucina/Laurent, etc. So there's an advantage for going for these pairings rather than others.
    • Fire Emblem Fates:
      • Similarly to Awakening, the Male Corrin's romance options heavily favor Azura. While not as blatant as Chrom and Female Robin, the two get plenty of Ship Tease throughout the game, especially in the Birthright route where Azura gets to spend her final moments with him, regardless of whether she married someone else. This pairing also has a bit of convenience on Revelation with Azura being Valla's rightful princess, so Male Corrin and Azura have the potential to be Valla's Ruling Couple. Otherwise she simply abdicates to Corrin.
      • While there are 3 main paths with their own narratives, Revelation is the only one that actually involves stopping the real villain, Anankos, and uniting the two kingdoms with minimal bloodshed. It also lacks a Bittersweet Ending with lots of scripted Character Deaths in favor of having the Golden Ending with a very small casualty count, along with it being the only branch where Azura and Lilith live.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
      • Just like Robin and Corrin before them, in each route Byleth has a heavy amount of Ship Tease with the route's respective lord. This also includes Rhea on Silver Snow, as her survival depends on whether or not her support rank is high enough.
      • While each route has a reason to play it, the Azure Moon route looks to have gotten somewhat more love and attention from the developers. Gameplay-wise, it has the most exclusive characters, the most paralogues, and the most exclusive weapons; moreover, it's the only route where all of the Heroes' Relics can be obtained, plus it's the only route to include a support conversation that gives a usable weapon. Narratively, a significant amount of conflict in the first part of the game spins out of the Kingdom (rather than the Empire or Alliance) and has personal connections with Blue Lion students - Sylvain's brother leads a gang which introduces the player to Demonic Beasts, Ashe's adoptive father launches a rebellion, and Mercedes and Dimitri turn out to have complicated personal connections to the Death Knight and the Flame Emperor respectively. The Blue Lions also get an exclusive dialogue scene between Byleth and Dimitri at the ball, an extended version of the scene where the Flame Emperor meets with Thales and Monica, and flashbacks using character models and voice actors found nowhere else in the game. All the Blue Lions get exclusive, bespoke endings in their route, while all the other routes share a common pool of endings (with some minor rewrites for a few characters if the player sides with the Empire). It's also the only route that guarantees Rhea's survival with less than a full Support, due to her being The Ghost of Azure Moon. That said, however, it's also the only route where you neither get to fight the Greater-Scope Villain Agarthans on their home turf (Silver Snow and Verdant Wind) nor end with them clearly on the chopping block (Crimson Flower), plus it's the route that touches least on the game's backstory and lore.
    • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes: The first mission after the initial route split is being instructed by Jeritza to infiltrate a bandit base that results in the rescue of the real Monica, with both characters only having prominent roles in the Scarlet Blaze route from that point on. Scarlet Blaze's climax also involves taking down both Rhea and Thales, whereas the other two routes only focus on one of the two. Scarlet Blaze is also the route most affected story-wise by the decision to recruit Byleth and Jeralt, as failing to do so will result in the Alliance backstabbing the Empire and Claude being killed compared to how they will remain allies with the implication the war will end much sooner against the Kingdom. Azure Gleam does have more exclusive playable characters than Scarlet Blaze, but it also demotes Byleth and Jeralt to 11th-Hour Ranger.
  • Record of Agarest War runs on a not-at-all-subtle First Girl Wins rule. While the player can choose any of the three Love Interests of each generation (or even to not be with any), if they fail to charm even one of the ladies, the game pushes and expects you to pick the first girl introduced. They all appear in the opening with wedding dresses, appear in the posters and promotional material, etc. In the first generation, while the girls are asking Leonhardt questions, if he answers that he already has someone he likes, only the first girl gets a bonus, meaning the game assumes that, if you like someone, it's her.
  • In the Hong Kong campaign for Shadowrun Returns, you can play any sort of character you like and resolve your missions through either violence or diplomacy. However, dialogue with Duncan, your character's stepbrother, indicates that he or she was always the calmer and more intelligent of the two in the past, implying that the game is expecting you to play as a Guile Hero.
  • Star Renegades allows the player to end the game with any five characters, plus their assistant drone. However, the game highly recommends using Wynn Syphex until your first success, due to her being the focus of both the intro and tutorial, an extra scene at the end of a successful run will be skipped entirely if she isn't present, and the default final boss is an evil alternate-dimension version of her brother.
  • In Tactics Ogre, all of the routes are fully fleshed out, but it feels like the most love was put into the Law route, aka the route where the protagonist Denam chooses to commit a False Flag Operation against his own people to rally the rest of the country into rebellion. It leads to the most morally complicated character arc he can experience, and from a gameplay perspective, it has the most unique characters that can be recruited, particularly in the PSP version which adds the new character Ravness and the existing Ozma as secret recruitable characters. It is also the only route in which Denam's childhood friend and rival Vyce can be recruited. The Chaos route is the second most fleshed out route with a few unique characters to be recruited, but the Neutral route (gotten by starting Chaos and then choosing to reconcile at the end of act 2) has the fewest recruitable characters, including having one particular knight that is recruitable in the other two routes become unavailable AND Allocer, the best archer in the game, likely abandoning your cause if you don't immediately improve her morale as soon as chapter 3 begins.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In the Splatoon series you can choose your gender, but developer interviews, promotional material, and even in-game lore tends to suggest that the female Inkling/Octoling was the canon heroine of any given story campaign.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • The first Advance Wars has several potential ally commanders in the final battle depending on which path you took to get there, but having Eagle on your side (use Sami for all the Green Earth missions) is given a bit more weight than the others: it's the only option that unlocks a special Superboss mission afterwards, he overrides all other options for the 3rd CO and his route is the only one to give closure to the Eagle/Andy rivalry subplot. Gameplay wise it's also one that's very much in the player's favor, as the map in question has no naval combat but a few airports, rendering Eagle's weakness of bad warships meaningless. Future games would give Eagle Ship Tease with Sami, which follows on from her branch of the Green Earth missions.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Air, Misuzu's route has more focus put into it and background story that builds it up.
  • Bad Apple Wars has both the Good Apple and the Bad Apple routes, which are centered around either obeying or rebelling against the rules, respectively. As you can guess from the title, the Bad Apple route was given far more attention than the Good Apple one.
  • Choices: Stories You Play: While the writers did a good job of avoiding this trope in main storylines, the same cannot be said for love interests. Still, some stories clearly favor a few key choices that don’t relate to romance.
    • The Crown & the Flame: The decision to kill off Marco is locked behind a Prestige requirement and results in extra scenes with other characters (most notably Luther, Zenobia and Diavolos) discussing it. The opposite decision has virtually no impact on the plot.
    • Endless Summer: The ending where you merge with Vaanu is generally considered to be the "correct" ending, as while it is certainly bittersweet, it provides the most logical and narratively appropriate resolution to the events of the story; the ending where you allow Rourke to win seems artificially constructed to be as harsh as possible (in addition to retconning the events of the story out of existence), and the ending where you and your friends stay on the island while the rest of the world is destroyed feels unsatisfying and hollow.
    • High School Story: The football team gets special attention in Book 1 because the plot focuses on getting ready for the Homecoming match against Hearst after Brian's transfer to said school left the Berry team without a quarterback.
    • It Lives: Letting Noah take over as Redfield requires Noah to have high Nerve score, and making the Heroic Sacrifice yourself draws very little reaction from the other characters. The sequel nets Tom 8 nerve points if you made the favored decision and -5 if you didn’t.
    • Blades of Light & Shadow: Playing as an elf allows you to reach the maximum level the fastest and gives you the most fleshed out backstory.
  • CLANNAD favors Nagisa's route. Completing all routes for the first part of the game unlocks the second part (After Story), which is a continuation of Nagisa's route.
  • Fate/stay night plays this interestingly in that the game has three completely distinct routes (Fate, Unlimited Blade Works, Heaven's Feel), each with its own heroine (Saber, Rin, Sakura). However, Unlimited Blade Works is inaccessible until you've completed Fate first (the Event Flag that branches between them simply doesn't happen on your first play-through) and Heaven's Feel is similarly inaccessible until you've completed Unlimited Blade Works, meaning you have to play through them in a fixed order, causing the overall story to evolve and get deeper as you play through and learn more and more. As a result, while Saber is only the main heroine of Fate (and is killed off shockingly early in the story in Heaven's Feel), she's usually considered the "main heroine" of the game, if not the entire Fate franchise (indeed, the 2006 Studio DEEN Fate/stay night anime adaptation was primarily based on the Fate route).
    • Another factor is that the novel takes advantage of this setup, with UBW and Heaven's Feel assuming the player already has knowledge and context from previous routes - in fact, many of the biggest twists come from subverting what they player has come to expect. This makes Fate and its heroine Saber by far the easiest route to adapt to another medium, as the other two stories require additional exposition to be retrofitted into the narrative just to give an uninitiated viewer the faintest chance of following the plot. This is probably why the DEEN anime was able to be released just 2 years after the VN came out, but Unlimited Blade Works took 10 years to get a proper adaptation, and Heaven's Feel took even longer.
  • Unusually for a visual novel of its length, Flowers only features two routes for each of its games, one of which is much longer and more developed than the other - this serves as the canonical ending coming into the next game. The first game, ~ le volume sur printemps ~, takes it to a new level - not only does one ending make far less sense than the other (after literally forcing Suou to date her by threatening to blackmail Mayuri, it feels a little odd seeing Rikka get the girl), the flower which serves as a choice indicator gradually grows and blooms if you pick choices for the canonical route, while it shrinks back and reverts back to a seed if you pick the 'wrong' answers.
  • In the first Fragment's Note, Mischa's and Haya's routes are practically identical, with only a few names and a few select scenes swapped. On the contrary, Eri's route is longer and comes with more character development and impactful scenes, and provides more character development for both her and Yukitsuki.
  • The Pirate's Fate averts this with most routes, though four of them (as of the current version) have epilogues that expand on the consequences of your actions, instead of ending with merely a bit of narration. Additionally, if Mila stubbornly refuses to join the crew of the Pirate's Fate at the very beginning, it leads to a very short route where she is thrown from the ship, rescued by a pair of mermaids, and only has one choice that determines what the ending is. Either she befriends the younger mermaid (becoming a mermaid herself so that the two of them can keep each other company while ignoring what goes on above the surface) or sides with the older mermaid (letting herself be transformed into a gigantic, vengeful sea monster that goes on a rampage against all pirates). Neither of these endings include the credits.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG:
    • Downplayed with the first two chapters; you can take either Kaoru or Seiji with you during the Urashima Woman and Kubitarou cases, but the former favors Kaoru and her spiritual prowess (and, in fact, cannot be completed unless Kaoru is the companion character), while the latter favors Seiji and his more practical skills.
    • At the end of the Kubitarou case, you can choose to save Seiji or Kaoru from a lightning strike; whoever is saved gets an optional scene with Akira later. Seiji's scene not only contains a unique CG, but also a whole vocal performance of Momo Kuruse's song by Seiji's VA.
  • In White Album 2, while Maruto (the scenario writer) and Leaf are quiet at what the "canon" plot is supposed to be, players of the games seem to favor the timeline that leads from Setsuna's route in Concluding Chapter, to Kazusa's True End in Coda. Not only due to the incredibly cathartic nature of the latter, but because it's counterpart was just too perfect and involved Haruki being reduced to a supporting role.
  • In Chapter 2 of Your Turn to Die, there are two situations in which you have to decide between the lives of two characters: Reko Yabusame and Alice Yabusame in the former, and Kanna Kizuchi and Sou Hiyori in the latter. While the first case is fairly impartial towards both potential survivors, the second case clearly favors one survivor:
    • In the first case, it is Zig-Zagged. On one hand, deliberately allowing Reko to die in order to save Alice's life grants more plot-relevant information in the long term, including Foreshadowing about Midori, and has Reko be Together in Death with Nao, whereas Alice doesn't. On the other hand, Alice's potential death is treated with much more fanfare than that of Reko's, and helping Alice retrieve his sister's bongos only gives a bonus scene should he be the one to die.
    • In the second case, it is Played Straight. Condemning Sou to death has him pull a Villain's Dying Grace so that Sara is allowed to say her proper goodbyes to Joe, and additionally grants access to The Stinger. Should Kanna die instead, Sou declares himself to be the group's mortal enemy from then on, he then sabotages the Joe AI he made to completely destroy Sara's mind, causing her to completely forget her best friend due to the trauma, and you'll miss out on The Stinger. In addition, Sou's act of revenge over Kanna's demise leads to Sara's personality shifting in a more ruthless direction, causing her to provoke Ranmaru into killing the surviving Yabusame sibling in Chapter 3 (Kanna's route has no equivalent).

Non-video game examples

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in Marvel Comics' What If? series, where writers were able to print several stories based on Alternate Histories of the established canon. Although most of these were standalone stories, popular entries such as Spider-Girl gained their own series in time. Also, the majority of What If? stories seem to end tragically, even (or indeed, especially) if the point of divergence from established canon seems like an obviously beneficial one, in a rather Anvilicious declaration that even the most unpopular story developments of the main universe were for the best.


  • To Be or Not To Be: That Is the Adventure is a choose-your-own-adventure adaptation of Hamlet which allows you to choose between playing as Hamlet, Ophelia, or Hamlet Sr. (the king). But King Hamlet the Elder has an exceptionally short storyline, all branches of which can be read in full in less than an hour.