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5 Most Misleading Video Game Trailers of All Time

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Developing a trailer will always be the best way to stoke a hype train, be it for a movie, a children's playset, or a video game. But falsely advertise the product, however, and that hype train can quickly transform into a locomotive with a cascading plume of backlash. Paint it in black and white, though, and you'll notice that potential buyers will thank you for it much later down the line.

Of course, sticking to a concept trailer isn't the easiest task to accomplish — especially for developers who haven't quite wrangled through the details and settled on a template. And on that note, five developers spring to mind, though not for the best reasons. But as it stands, these five trailers are miles apart from their actual games, and we don't know whether to praise their creators for altering the course, or shun them for falsely advertising a completely different product. Either way, let's see where you stand.

5. Borderlands

Borderlands Gameplay Trailer

When we think of Gearbox's Borderlands, we think of four things: chaos, loot, punch-drunk humor, and its signature comic book art style. Let it be said, though, that its original trailer never forecast any of these things, and actually wound up promoting a completely different game altogether. And while the concept was there, it was, in essence, a pretty mediocre semi-serious sci-fi shooter with no real defining qualities to boot.

It was only on approach to the final hurdle that Gearbox swapped out the realistic textures and opted for a cel-shaded environment. And it was a decision well made, especially in the long run. The Vault was still there, as was the world of Pandora and its brutish inhabitants. But with a little nudge in a different direction, the game eventually went on to incorporate a tongue-in-cheek mainframe, a move that would later put Gearbox's fresh-faced franchise on the very tapestry of first-person shooter video games.

4. Bioshock Infinite

BioShock Infinite Premiere Trailer

It's a known fact that Bioshock Infiniteas good as it is, is perhaps one of the most convoluted games in the history of anything, ever. What doesn't help, of course, is the fact that the game actually went through quite a number of transitions during its development phase, which actually ended up spreading mass confusion by the time the final product was put on display.

Bioshock Infinite casts its focus on the cloudy metropolis of Columbia. And as far that goes, the trailer hits the nail on the head and shows you an almost finalized product. But the characters, voice actors, and actual plotline itself ended up being leaps and bounds from the initial blueprint. Still, the CGI trailer that was put out in 2010 was still a marvelous teaser. It's just that, well, it wasn't what we eventually received.

3. Dead Island

Dead Island: Official Announcement Trailer

There isn't a day that goes by where we don't think about the heartbreak that was unfairly instigated by the Dead Island trailer. Thanks to Techland developing one of the most emotionally riveting cinematic previews of all time, fans were led to believe that the survival horror game was shaping up to be something of a story-driven experience. Turned out, though, that it was the polar opposite, and far more of a silly sandbox game with zero emotional attachments whatsoever.

Dead Island effortlessly lay the foundations for a truly fantastic zombie game, and one that could've potentially made The Last of Us quake in its boots. Instead, it went down a different path, and opted for a chaotic hack and slash style, one that harbored more fetch quests and shockingly bad one-liners than Borderlands and Duke Nukem Forever put together. Shame, as it basically possessed the tools to make history.

2. No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky Gameplay Trailer | E3 2014 | PS4

Despite the rocky launch and copious amounts of negative critiques, No Man's Sky actually ended up becoming a pretty great game. It might've taken its devs a good few years to iron out the links and whatnot, but the open world game that was originally promised did, at long last, come to fulfillment. But boy, that alpha state that launched after the debut trailer? Now that was something else.

Early reveals of No Man's Sky went on to showcase an infinite amount of unique planets and an everlasting journey that players could embark on. And to sci-fi players, this was a dream coming true right before their very eyes. But the final product, on the other hand, was incredibly bare bones, and quite frankly one of the most boring games to ever disgrace the system. It was only years later, of course, that the game reached a stable position and was able to shed its burden. And if it wasn't for the near-perfect trailer, fans' expectations probably never would've been so high, and Hello Games never would've had so much to live up to.

1. Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 — Official E3 2018 Trailer

Cyberpunk 2077 was once the most anticipated game of all time. Thanks to CD Projekt Red stuffing just about every last penny into its marketing campaign, the project snowballed into something that its developers simply couldn't handle. And by biting off far more than they could chew, the team pretty much went on to sign its own death warrant.

Onboarding Keanu Reeves and having a multimillion dollar promo to boot meant one thing: hype, and a lot of it. Unfortunately, though, the trailer wound up being too good to be true, with the final product turning out to be a complete and utter glitch-riddled failure. It was only a year after its release, of course, that CD Projekt was able to salvage enough of its working material to make a playable game, by which point the hype ship had already sailed. Sad times.


So, what's your take? Are there any trailers that you'd suggest for this list? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.