The Top 7… Pointless game wars

In real life, war is messy. Mistakes get made, civilians get hurt, families are shattered and once-thriving countries are bombed back to the Stone Age, often because of the misguided actions of their politicians. Wars in videogames, by contrast, are a hell of a lot more convenient and clean. Because they’re (usually) fictitious, the justifications are clear, the goals relatively simple and the opposing forces completely, irredeemably evil.

But that’s not always the case. Whether by design or through slapdash writing, some of gaming’s most notable conflicts – when examined objectively – are completely meaningless, stupid exercises in futility for all involved. Here are some of our favorites. 

7. The Templar-Assassin War

As fought in: The Assassin’s Creed series

What it is: A centuries-long secret conflict between the Templars, a medieval sect who want absolute control over humanity; and the Assassins, who want absolute freedom for humanity (and also to stab people).

Pointless because: We know, we know – fighting against the Templars certainly seems like a war worth fighting. They’re total bastards, and their ultimate goal is to enslave humanity through direct mind control, all in the name of “protecting” it from itself. But think: so far, we’ve seen the Assassins wage secret wars against the Templars three times (six, if you count the handheld spinoffs). And while Assassins have been victorious every time, their efforts still add up to a modern world in which the Templars control nearly everything and the Assassins are on the verge of extinction.

Above: Why are they hiding underground? Because it’s the only place Templar surveillance can’t reach, that’s why 

From the beginning, the games make it clear that no matter how hard the Assassins fight in the past, their actions will eventually result in their order’s near-total defeat. After all, Altair and Ezio’s adventures are just the genetic flashbacks of Desmond, a man living in the Templar-dominated present – so at best, their victories have just been irritations to the Templars that delay the inevitable.

You can convince yourself that what you’re doing in the “past” has some real bearing on the game’s plot, but in the end you’re little more than a bee stinging an elephant. And if recent theories that Desmond’s bits are just more memories viewed through a post-apocalyptic Animus turn out to be true, then players’ role in the “war” seems even more meaningless and doomed.

6. The Rubinelle-Lazuria War

As fought in: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

What it was: A century-long war between the fictional superpowers Rubinelle and Lazuria, which manages to continue even after an apocalyptic meteor shower kills 90 percent of humanity and leaves the world a burned-out husk.

Pointless because: We may never know what first sparked the conflict between Rubinelle and Lazuria, or what ideals its soldiers held dear as they fought and died for 100 years. It all became irrelevant the moment their civilizations were reduced to a cinder. After that, there was no Rubinelle or Lazuria – just a vast, blasted wasteland inhabited by pockets of survivors. At that point, the only thing that makes sense is for what’s left of humanity to unite and rebuild (or at least to pick each other off for the remaining resources). But instead, the two armies keep their old hostilities going, seemingly just because it’s what they were used to doing.

Well, that’s not entirely true; there were two real reasons the two armies were still fighting, but they weren’t good ones. The first was because Rubinelle’s army had reunited under the banner of Greyfield, a fat megalomaniac who intended to crown himself king of the ash pile. The second was that the conflict was secretly being spurred on by a shadowy defense contractor that wanted to use the world’s death throes as an excuse to experiment on its remaining population.

So, yeah – between the pompous strongman, the creepy arms dealers and the catastrophic state of the world, it’s hard to think up a good justification for the remains of two devastated militaries to keep at each other’s throats.


Top 7


  • SideOfBeef - March 5, 2011 5:20 p.m.

    The war in the End War was actually way more pointless than many of these article entries. Russia wants a war with NATO for no apparent reason, takes control of a European laser and shoots down an American spaceship. So... America goes to war with Europe for no particular reason, and Russia decides it should fight both of them for no obvious gain.
  • tifanity - March 2, 2011 8:46 p.m.

    I don't know, I really like the Hypermania Storyline. I like the fact there are four goddesses ;(
  • cougarmony123 - March 2, 2011 1:31 p.m.

    Not really sure I'm ok with that!! better ask my friends met on =====Cougarmony . C o m ==== know what? I do think people I met there are hot and sincere! Desipte the actual so-called Age Gap, we get along together splendidly!! and I'm even thinking about romance there!! lol
  • KrazyGamer - March 2, 2011 3:02 a.m.

    War... War never-*Looks at Tomastr89's comment* Damnit... XD
  • JPorFavor - March 2, 2011 2:14 a.m.

    Ah Advance Wars, that brings back memories. I remember listening to Talkradar while tackling a mission that had usually led the enemy and I trading blows that would result in extremely long battles. Then one night I destroyed the enemy in less than 10 turns and gained an S rank. Then a month later my little cousin overwrote the save data, to this day I refuse to touch that game because of the painful memory. Wonderful top 7 as always, Mikel.
  • cougarmony123 - March 2, 2011 2:05 a.m.

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  • waffman11 - March 2, 2011 12:38 a.m.

    I thought that the "Space Civilization vs. Geth and Reapers" war in the Mass Effect series was a little silly, if only because of the alliances. The Geth are fighting with the Reapers because...religion? Or because they were indoctrinated? The idea of a race of AI who grow more intelligent in groups because of linking via mainframe/hard drives having a religion is preposterous in itself. But then take the fact that there was the possibility of them having been indoctrinated that would have been a cause. Although indoctrination requires an organic whose mind can be directly manipulated. The games try to explain the idea of religion within the Geth, although the nature of the Geth would defeat the very idea. Of course, there is also the idea of the Geth-Quarian conflicts, but that's for another time.
  • Sebastian16 - March 2, 2011 12:08 a.m.

  • Yeager1122 - March 1, 2011 11:03 p.m.

    The console war the only war that never ends.
  • Crypto140 - March 1, 2011 8:54 p.m.

    Lol at the end of Hyperdimension Neptunia, the limited editon comes with a 36 page hardcover book. Thats not the only thing that's hard *rimshot*. And I don't know how you got the console wars idea from that game, I got another idead *rimshot*
  • AlphaAGENT144 - March 1, 2011 8:02 p.m.

    i saw the first page thinking "No MW2?" but then i was like "THERE IT IS!"
  • elpurplemonkey - March 1, 2011 7:27 p.m.

    Best Top 7 in a while.
  • Cleanser247 - March 1, 2011 7:05 p.m.

    Great Top 7 Mikel! Keep up the great work : )
  • FoxdenRacing - March 1, 2011 4:39 p.m.

    Kinda surprised to see that Armored Core: For Answer didn't make the list...granted, even at its peak it was obscure at best, but it did manage to pack two pointless wars in one game! First war: massive corporations build city-sized battlestations that are so powerful they don't dare engage one instead they send lone mercenaries in apartment-building sized battle suits to fight proxy battles against one another...or against the battlestations themselves. And somehow, these massive, unstoppable, terrifying battlestations are inevitably destroyed, often with little to no harm inflicted, by said lone dude in a puny piece of power armor! What are they fighting over? The resources left on a dustball-ified Earth with pollution so thick that only a small fraction of humanity with a specific mutation [radiation tolerance] can survive on the surface. War 2: Eventually the surface-dwellers have enough, gather some forces, and wage war against the corps as a whole, causing them to quit their petty bickering, put the (dust)bunny back in the box, and unite to fight back. Somehow, every super-corporation on the planet, with limitless resources and three times as many world-renowned power-armor piloting mercs struggle to fight back against 11 schmucks in power-armor and a rag-tag bunch of hippies using outdated equipment. Granted, this is the developer that gave us the awesomely bizarre Metal Wolf Chaos... What were they fighting over in war 2? How many people died now, and how many died later. Eventually, everyone on the planet was going to die; the two sides fought over who died first. One side fought to protect the status quo...floating cities that belched out heavier-than-air pollution gas that was building up to the point the floating cities would have suffocated anyway, but long after the surface-dwellers were killed off. The other fought to make several of the floating cities crash to earth [dooming the non-pollution-breathers in them] and divert the power to supercharging artillery batteries, in order to punch a hole through a network of military satellites so they could...I honestly don't know. I don't think the rebels thought that far ahead. The capability for space travel was lost after the satellite network made it pointless to try, so it's not like they could just round up the surface-dwelling survivors into cyber-noah's ark and fly through the hole to escape a dying planet or anything. I can't think of any reason for these wars to exist other than as an allegory to class warfare and a warning against aristocracies. Doubly so since the backstory of the game [presented in cutscenes] tells of the companies jointly declaring war on the world's governments, dissolving the same, and then instating their own rule.
  • Japanaman - March 1, 2011 4:10 p.m.

    If you ask me the most pointless war in history is Worms. They just fight for land but end up destroying most of the land that exists. They would have had more land if they signed a peace treaty.
  • codystovall - March 1, 2011 4:09 p.m.

    so is Arfoire really the bad guy here? hmmmmm
  • jackthemenace - March 1, 2011 3:55 p.m.

    D: But i quite want to play Hyperdimension Neptunia! Still looks like a good game though, and the story actually sounds incredibly clever. That'll do me, It's cleverer than Pokemon.
  • FauxFurry - March 1, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    Leave it up to a fictional female U.S. president in a Japanese game to start a war over flimsy reasons...kind of like every male president who started a war with ill-stated if not altogether dishonest justifications whose real motivations were perhaps not even known to said presidents or their advisors. Okay, maybe there was no sexist intent there, after all. There is one game war even more pointless than any of these listed here (except for the Console Wars...not that one can really have less points than none at all), the Base Wars. A Robot War as the National Pasttime rather than over a modern pasttime,fought for points and penants--it doesn't get much more pointless than that!
  • Waldo - March 1, 2011 2:12 p.m.

    That war in Days of Ruin was hard to wrap your head around, that's for sure. A good mention for this article though. No wonder it never made any sense though; the whole war was masterminded by a clone gone so insane he killed his master and used clones of himself as test subjects for horrible experiments. Adavnced Wars is still great, can we have another?
  • philipshaw - March 1, 2011 2 p.m.

    Great top 7 and every game on the list except AC seems to have a dumb plot

Showing 1-20 of 48 comments

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