Boss Fights—who needs 'em?

Brian Boru

Moderator
Yeah I know you're all going to hack n slash at me for this, but be warned: I stand 100 feet tall, with Thunderbolts and Thor's Hammer and Bad Puns.

Boss fights totally annoy me. 20-30 minutes of same 'ol, same 'ol, to whack one mountain disguised as an opponent. Gets really boring after 30 seconds or so. What's the attraction of that?

Examples:

Far Cry Primal, 2 boss fights v Batari of the Izila and Ull of the Udam—kinda like Elf and Orc archetypes, respectively.
Oddly enough, I beat Batari first go. Did I get satisfaction? Not a bit, other than of the "Thank the goddess that's over!" kind. ~20 minutes of pumping arrow headshots into her while ducking her returns and minion raids—explain how that's fun 🥴
Ull I couldn't beat, despite making a second effort—not for joy, I assure you, just to finish an otherwise excellent game. I had no motivation to try again, why would I?

Far Cry 3 had a really dumb one somewhere in the middle—a sort of dark cloud spitting fireballs. The so-called gameplay was to strafe left and right for mercifully not too long—maybe 5 minutes?—shooting arrows into McCloud's gaping maw every time he sucked in a deep breath of coal dust and sulphur, or whatever constitutes a fireball. I mean, seriously?
I won't get into the abomination of the fight v Vaas. Just say QTE—Quick Time Event—and leave it.

Good Example:

Far Cry 4 had a great ending, a full-out assault by you and your fellow rebels against a multi-layered stronghold—like 3 fortresses in one. It was tough, it was intense in parts, and it never got boring for the ~40 minutes it took to win. Lots of melee of course, but also opportunities for stealth and sniping and tactical variety—really enjoyable.

That's how to do an extra difficult encounter. The other snooze-fests? Make 'em optional, let me complete the game with a lower score if I choose to skip.

Options are a good thing!

Boss fights = Boos fights for me—how about you?
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Tedium is often a problem and it isn't easy to get right. A boss fight needs to feel momentous, and that isn't going to happen fighting some normal enemy. You've got to make the fight long enough for the players to prove they can keep fighting in an impressive way consistently. Making it longer can get tedious, though - once the point is proven, belaboring it doesn't help the emotions at all.

JRPGs like to mess with this by having a string of boss fights and/or bosses that transform over the course of the fight. That helps alleviate the tedium quite a bit, though it can really tick people off if they think they are about to win, then the boss transforms for a third (or fourth!?) time. One or two surprise transformations or (in pro-wrestling terms) run-ins in a game is fine, but normally I think the game should telegraph that beating this first boss isn't going to be the end.

Another pet peeve of mine is the one-weakness trick. The boss is almost totally immune to everything but water, or fire, or healing spells, or whatever. However, there's no way to know that ahead of time. Put it in some lore, give me a detect-weakness-spell, or even give me a hint by putting a bunch of weapons made to exploit the weakness close by - just don't make me go through the "keep trying things until you get lucky, then re-load" silliness. Again, it's just tedious. The first Xenosaga game was bad that way, for instance.

An example of a really good one was the Enlightened Seven in The Last Remnant. This was a purely optional boss fight. Instead of fighting some big pile of hit points, though, you fought 'enlightened' (read: buffed) versions of bosses you fought earlier in the game. Only you fight two, then two more, then one, then two more - with no ability to fiddle with your weapons/skills between battles. The developers put the harder bosses at the start so you got to "fail fast," which was nice. It also helped keep the tedium at bay - that first pair is always scary! Having it be bosses the players are familiar with was nice and we all knew there were 7 of them, so there wasn't any "not ANOTHER one!" factor. Finishing it was an impressive accomplishment, too, if I may say so myself!

I stand 100 feet tall, with Thunderbolts and Thor's Hammer and Bad Puns.
Just like a boss?
View: https://youtu.be/6-E0KGjJAx8?t=95

(still had YouTube open for the weekend question ;))
 

Brian Boru

Moderator
An example of a really good one was … a purely optional boss fight
Amen brother, the magic word!

Just like a boss?
:D

Finishing it was an impressive accomplishment, too, if I may say so myself
You may indeed say so—it's what you wanted to achieve in the game, and wasn't easy, so good job!

just don't make me go through the "keep trying things until you get lucky, then re-load" silliness
Oh yes, that's a clear example of the devs screwing with the player. I see it a lot in poorly designed puzzle games, eg keep flipping these toggles until you do them in the 'right' sequence, or keep trying the anagram until you make the word I approve.

Who can guess my approved word in 2 tries?

I L E V

Answer:
VILE
 
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I don't dislike boss fights per se, there's just a lot of badly designed ones (Deus Ex: Human Revolution immediately comes to mind).

The Dark Souls bosses are fine (at least the ones I've fought, which admittedly isn't that many). They require you to use the skills you've been using during the rest of the game (instead of requiring some weird gimmick) and they don't have ridiculously high HP that takes an hour to whittle down (unless you're badly prepared perhaps).
 
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ii don't think the principal of a boss fight is a bad idea; a glorious final epic showdown to cap a thrilling story seriously appeals. The problem is that most execute it poorly. back in the old days of 8-16bit era they were what they were. The problem was that it was more story/narrative rather then actual fight that was memorable.

Take ME1 the final showdown against sovereign and his demise was a climatic ending that i wanted. humanity saving the day, giving the big bad monster a horrible explosive death it so richly deserved. The actual fight with sovereign? pretty meh.

So what makes a boss fight good? Most i feel aren't balanced; the odds are against the player and (more importantly) not in a fair way. the bosses should be beatable on their first attempt (so no trial and error or practice) and has to be fair. i find some of the most memorable boss battles are ones where both players are on an equal footing and its test of skill or just a good fair fight to cap off a level.

here are things that i don't like to see in boss battles:

-seriously over powered ones. The middle finger to the player one hit kill BS is not acceptable. it makes the devs act like sulking school children.

- do not prolong the boss fights with multiple versions without fair resources or breaks in between. Screw battles that go on and on and i have to do it with just one life bar and the boss gets 5. Sod off.

- don't make them sponges that absorb everything you do with no ill effects. nothing hacks me off then a boss that absorbs all the ammo in your inventory and you don't know if its doing any damage or the right thing at all. Energy bars get a bad rap that's undeserved.

-Small, cramped arenas with insufficient ammo. This is something i hate about doom 2016 not having enough ammo and forced to constantly switch weapons or use the glory kill mechanic to replenish it. Cramped arenas with massive AOE attacks is horrible. Just look at some of painkillers/serious sam's boss fights.

There are probably other dickish gaming ideas but those are the ones off the top of my head.
 

Kaamos_Llama

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This is one of those things that depends on the type of game.

Like @Pifanjr said the bosses in Souls games and Sekiro really are the main attraction. They are unforgiving and require you to learn their tells and find answers for everything they do by practice, and then commit them to muscle memory. The learning of those encounters is a large part of why most people love those games. Once you've learned how to play you sometimes one shot new bosses, but it rarely feels like you winged it through by luck, and I've found myself annoyed that I managed to luck it out rather then really learning the encounter properly. There are a few annoying gimmick bosses, and some copy pastes, but mostly they are just epic and if not unique then different.

Hollow Knight had great boss fights, Titan Souls is literally a series of boss battles and was quite well thought of. The Surge 2 ripped off Dark Souls pretty well and is my favourite DS clone I played so far.

Recently Deaths Door has some fun boss battles, Hades had you learn (mostly) the same boss encounters at the end of each level, and I personally never got bored of them, although I didnt finish it.

Boss encounters in isometric RPG's can be interesting. Sometimes you're at a point where you are just rolling over the standard mobs with the same basic tactics, and a good boss encounter can force you to think creatively to get through. Using items that youve been hoarding or experimenting with load-outs to exploit weaknesses.

I haven't played a lot of shooters in the last few years but for me Doom 2016 had some memorable ones, I really liked that game. As it moved on each room felt like something you had to learn well to get through.

I feel like mostly in shooters and immersive sims, the memorable things are the level design and mechanics. Titanfall 2 was brilliant but I think of the time dilation level and the mech parts rather than boss fights. I dont remember if Dishonored 2 even had any boss fights but the Clockwork mansion and a Crack in the Slab stand out still.

If you come to a game for emergent moments, like you find in an open world game then I can see why boss battles would annoy you. You want the random encounters when systems mash together and cause chaos, by fluke rather than by any deliberate design. I think boss battles are (or should be) heavily linear and designed encounters that are the opposite of that.
 
If you come to a game for emergent moments, like you find in an open world game then I can see why boss battles would annoy you. You want the random encounters when systems mash together and cause chaos, by fluke rather than by any deliberate design. I think boss battles are (or should be) heavily linear and designed encounters that are the opposite of that.
I don't think it's impossible to have "emergent" boss battles. Dwarf Fortress' procedurally generated forgotten beasts come to mind. I think procedural generation lends itself well for emergent boss battles, at least if you consider battles that take considerably more resources as boss battles (a good question is what you can consider a boss battle in the first place).
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
  1. A boss must clearly be impossible to beat.
  2. I should be able to beat the boss on the third or fourth try.
  3. I should be able to beat the boss in a plausible way. None of that "oh look, a scale is missing, shoot that spot with an arrow and it will die instantly" cheese.
That... let's be nice and call it "dissonance"... is one of the most fun parts of games (and lots of other stories). First the game tricks you into thinking the opponent is going to win for sure, then the game shows you that actually you can beat it after all.
 

Colif

Moderator
If the game only has one Boss fight, fine... but many games rely on them as barriers to hide more bosses/content behind. Fallout 4, you out of the bunker 10 minutes and you already fighting a boss. Where is the freedom? Sure, you can not go to first area but that encounter always be sitting there waiting to happen. And you might want that suit you get. (F:NV did it better, you get suit at end of game, not right at start)

I don't like them being put in the way of more game. Durial, you getting in my way of seeing more Diablo 2... that is my current cry. 7 characters almost all at same boss lol.
 
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One thing you absolutely cannot do when designing a boss fight unless you want me to curse your mother is to create cutscenes at the beginning that the player has to rewatch if they fail. I played Quantum Break and absolutely loved it even though your abilities made the game too easy. I got to the final boss fight without having died once except when I jumped off of something that I shouldn't have jumped off of. But the boss fight was another matter. It was absolute chaos, and large portions of the room were targeted for one-shot kill strikes from the boss, and if you found yourself in one of those, you were just dead. But it was so chaotic, that I didn't understand what I was supposed to do. The first two times I was in there, I couldn't even find the boss and just got one-shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So then I had to start over and that involved 2 or 3 cutscenes. They could be skipped, but each one took a little while to load, and you had to skip each one individually. I was really, really unhappy.

Another bad final boss was in an FMV game that I don't remember the name of. It was a QTE that was so fast that people on the forums were doing tutorials on how to set-up key press script so that you could get through it. Failure meant an unskippable cut-scene, and I can't even tell you how many times I did that until I finally got through.

One game that had great bosses was Remnant: From the Ashes. Each one was unique and challenging, but once you got the hang of it, you could beat them in a few minutes, and the battles were quite enjoyable. That is, until the final boss fight. In the final boss fight, (remember this is a co-op game), one player had to go through a portal and fight these other creatures and build up points. Once they had built up enough points, they came back through a portal into the regular fight and shot the boss. Then it was rinse and repeat over and over until this over-healthed boss was dead. The big problem is that the other player(s) couldn't do anything. Only one player could go through the portal. The other players were left with the boss and had to spend the entire time dodging attacks because they couldn't hurt him. I was playing with my son, who is very, very good at FPS games, so it made sense for him to be the one to go through the portal, so I spend the entire boss fight, which lasted a good while, dodging attacks and hoping against hope that I wouldn't die before my son could finish him off. It was not fun at all--not for me anyway. I'm sure my son had fun with it.

Lastly, I'd like to comment on JRPG's, which can collectively kiss my arse. You run along for an hour uselessly fighting mobs who have no chance against you, and then you get to a boss fight that takes an hour because he has 2 million health. No thanks.
 

Kaamos_Llama

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I don't think it's impossible to have "emergent" boss battles. Dwarf Fortress' procedurally generated forgotten beasts come to mind. I think procedural generation lends itself well for emergent boss battles, at least if you consider battles that take considerably more resources as boss battles (a good question is what you can consider a boss battle in the first place).
I don't mean to say anything is impossible. Its slightly different to Dwarf Fortress, which I still haven't played, but I really liked Shadow of Mordor a few years ago. With the nemesis system although the orc mini bosses were obviously only different within certain parameters, the situations where you came across them and their weaknesses made for some fun when you released some giant dog thing on an orc who was scared of them, or set a fire near them to scare them etc.

I was more thinking that a person like @Brian Boru who seems to be playing open world games for the freedom and those unpredictable emergent moments might well dislike being coralled into linear gameplay encounters, like boss battles can be.

It can also be that the Far Cry series just has really bad boss fights :p
 

Frindis

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A boss must have a functional part of the game, something that makes sense as to why they put the boss in, and also give the boss some complexity to it., whether how you kill it or avoid killing it. Take the mutant Grizzly boss in Metro Exodus as an example of the complete opposite. In one of the maps, there is a bear stalking the surroundings and it is pretty obvious from the beginning that you will meet the bear. The problem is when they turned what could have been an insane cat and mouse game into a bullet sponge battle. A horrible, just horrible ending with the bear and you stuck in a tiny area, glitching around, taking "thousands" of shots before the end. This actually made me angry, because they could have done so much more, but decided to sell out cheap.
 
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Oh, one more final boss thing (until I remember something else), when I played The Forest, the build up to the final boss takes forever, with you feeling your way through a long, dark cave and then going through a sizeable facility. And when I did it, the first thing that happened after the boss appeared was that she got stuck and couldn't move. I didn't know whether to be happy or irritated, but happiness won out as I just stood there hitting her with explosives and arrows until she died. I really don't need challenging final boss fights to feel good about an ending. I can exploit a glitch and be even happier.
 
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I have sort of a love-hate relationship with boss battles, specifically end-level or the game finale battle of any given game. So many times they're just bullet sponges, where it just becomes a war of attrition to see if you can outlast him/her/it. It's got to be difficult for a developer to design these battles, because how can you appease every type of player? If a game has multiple difficulty options, how can you balance those boss battles to appease players who play on "insanity difficulty" as well as those players on "easy difficulty"? To me it becomes a question of balance, and often (on the "hate" end of my relationship w/ boss battles) are the bullet sponge bosses and "mega-overpowered-everything-you-learned-in-game-has-no-effect" boss types. The choices and decisions, character builds, and companion relationships (if applicable) that you make throughout the game should have an effect on that "boss battle", especially end game.

Some final boss battles that I really enjoyed (on the "love" end of my boss battle relationship):

Going way back to Planescape Torment, there was a way, if you had leveled your Charisma high enough, to completely talk your way out of fighting. You got booted back to Hell (or whatever the equivalent was), but you weren't a very nice person in your previous life anyway, and saved all your companions. To me, that was the best ending,, very satisfying and completely related to the main story line. As @Brian Boru said, "Options are a good thing!".

Dragon Age Origins also had a great climatic battle, that was greatly influenced by your choices throughout the game. A grand, epic battle with a dragon on a rooftop, armies at your command to help with the encroaching darkspawn, and your chosen companions fighting beside you. I know some players though this battle tedious, but I loved it.

The much-maligned Dragon Age 2 also had a great climatic battle. Everything in that battle depended upon the choices you made throughout the game, and the companions and NPCs that you successfully (or not) convinced and helped either joined you, or fought against you.

Those are just some of the games that I felt did boss battles right. Some of my pet peeves, or "hates", others have listed above:

Another pet peeve of mine is the one-weakness trick. The boss is almost totally immune to everything but water, or fire, or healing spells, or whatever. However, there's no way to know that ahead of time. Put it in some lore, give me a detect-weakness-spell, or even give me a hint by putting a bunch of weapons made to exploit the weakness close by - just don't make me go through the "keep trying things until you get lucky, then re-load" silliness. Again, it's just tedious.
I've always hated to see that, a boss totally immune to every (or nearly) skill, spell, weapon that you've learned throughout the game. "Hey, surprise!", says the developer. No, that's BS. At the very least, there should be clues in some form to this bosses strengths/weakness. Otherwise it's just frustration, as everything you've learned or done for the entire game is now worthless.

One game that comes to mind is Risen (the first one). I love Piranha Bytes games, and had a great time throughout the game until the final battle. Your character had to don specific armor, and a specific 2-handed weapon (I can't remember if it was a sword/axe/or hammer), and then you had to move around avoiding disappearing floor tiles which would instantly kill you if you misjudged. If your character had a mage, rouge, or archer build you basically had no skills to use. I love PB games, but this was one game where I just rage quit and couldn't go back.

-seriously over powered ones. The middle finger to the player one hit kill BS is not acceptable.

- do not prolong the boss fights with multiple versions without fair resources or breaks in between.

- don't make them sponges that absorb everything you do with no ill effects.
All these, bullet sponges, morphing into other forms without giving the player more resources, and being one-shot-dead. This isn't fun, and can ruin an otherwise great game.

One thing you absolutely cannot do when designing a boss fight unless you want me to curse your mother is to create cutscenes at the beginning that the player has to rewatch if they fail.
I can't remember a game off the top of my head, but I've been through those battles; again and again, same cut scene. Having to replay a non-skippable cut scene before repeating a boss battle where you died is just plain bad game design. I really hate those moments, and it can really kill a good feeling about an otherwise great game.
 
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I've always hated to see that, a boss totally immune to every (or nearly) skill, spell, weapon that you've learned throughout the game. "Hey, surprise!", says the developer. No, that's BS. At the very least, there should be clues in some form to this bosses strengths/weakness. Otherwise it's just frustration, as everything you've learned or done for the entire game is now worthless.
That's one of the things that drives me crazy about Warframe. There are over 40 different Warframes you can collect, and each one has 4 unique abilities you can activate plus one passive ability. Just off the top of my head, probably over half of these abilities you never use because they aren't very useful. Then you come up against these ridiculous bosses and think, "Hey, I have a Warframe that has this ability that would be perfect here!" (It's Warframe, so you fight the same bosses over and over again), but when you bring that Warframe to the battle, turns out that ability has been nullified for this fight, the one place where it would have really come in handy. It's irritating and very unrewarding. The devs say they don't want you trivializing the fight, but this trivializes your Warframe. They've also gone as far as to nerf weapons throughout the entire game just because people were finishing a boss fight too quickly for them.
 
I agree that unskippable cutscenes are bad game design, but I have enjoyed seeing my friend having to go through them over and over when fighting a final boss battle (I think in a Zelda game?) That extra frustration just made the schadenfreude that much sweeter every time he lost. It also made the sense of relief much greater when he finally won.
 

Kaamos_Llama

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Oh, one more final boss thing (until I remember something else), when I played The Forest, the build up to the final boss takes forever, with you feeling your way through a long, dark cave and then going through a sizeable facility. And when I did it, the first thing that happened after the boss appeared was that she got stuck and couldn't move. I didn't know whether to be happy or irritated, but happiness won out as I just stood there hitting her with explosives and arrows until she died. I really don't need challenging final boss fights to feel good about an ending. I can exploit a glitch and be even happier.
I played Gears of War for the first time a little while ago, it was fun up until the last boss. I just kept dying and there was no clear way I could see that I could get better at the fight. Eventually he glitched and got stuck on some cover. I just pumped rounds into him until he was dead. I didnt care, I probably would have just given up because there was no fun in it at all.

A game should clearly teach somehow you what you have to do, and you should feel you're making progress towards winning even if you die multiple times. That way when you finally win it feels amazing.

I think its probably quite hard in a shooter based even loosely on real projectile weapons. If the big bad is a human/mortal it always seems silly that they can soak up tonnes of damage when you've been butchering thousands of henchmen without effort for several hours before.
 
I am fine with Boss Fights, IF AND ONLY IF beating them requires -- or at least allows -- the same sorts of skills you've been using all along to fight everything else.

Meaning if you let me talk my way out of everything up to that point, or sneak n' snipe, or cut people's throats, or sucker-punch them, or WHATEVER mechanic the game implements that works on the regular, do NOT throw in a Big Bad where it's like "Oh no, it's too bad you're not good at throwing grenades, because explosives are his only weakness!" Or whatever. Don't lead me down the garden path saying how I'm playing/building my character is fine, and then suddenly, "Oh-ho! This guy's punches do 500 damage each! Hope you went with heavy armor and blocking skills!"

Along similar lines, I don't like arbitrarily forced fights, in the sense of... if I've Splinter Celled my way through nearly every location due to my extreme Stealth and Speed, don't "gotcha" me with a dead-end well-lit area with an all-knowing, all-seeing being just to make the encounter unavoidable.

If you want to get me to fight something major, give me a REASON to do so. Give the Big Bad an item I desperately want or need, or have him be the sole holder of the knowledge to rescue my family/lover/coworker/Dogmeat/whatever. Or just flat-out say up front, "Your mission is to kill this person, and we need proof the deed is done, or you don't get the $200,000."
 
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Kaamos_Llama

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Along similar lines, I don't like arbitrarily forced fights, in the sense of... if I've Splinter Celled my way through nearly every location due to my extreme Stealth and Speed, don't "gotcha" me with a dead-end well-lit area with an all-knowing, all-seeing being just to make the encounter unavoidable.
That reminds me of Asassins Creed Odyssey. Near the beginning I spent some time slowly sneaking up on a guy I was supposed to kill for a quest, made it onto a rooftop or ridge above him and jumped down for the kill... Only for a cut scene to kick in where I slowly walked up to his face and started talking to him.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Ugh, yeah, I almost brought up Risen as well. Just as I finally got the highest level spell, the game makes me fight a boss as some sort of puzzle game.
Lastly, I'd like to comment on JRPG's, which can collectively kiss my arse. You run along for an hour uselessly fighting mobs who have no chance against you, and then you get to a boss fight that takes an hour because he has 2 million health. No thanks.
I don't see that any more in JRPGs than in western RPGs. JRPGs had a nasty habit of making you fight the trash mobs for longer (i.e. grinding) for a few years around 2005, but they got over it. (Though the thought of hundreds of JRPGs all trying to kiss your ass at the same time is QUITE a mental image!)
 

Brian Boru

Moderator
cutscenes at the beginning that the player has to rewatch if they fail
Awful game design. The worst. I can understand bad battles being due to incompetence, but it beats me what unskippables are due to—sadism, maybe.

@Brian Boru who seems to be playing open world games for the freedom and those unpredictable emergent moments might well dislike being coralled into linear gameplay encounters
Right. Maybe I'm naïve, but boss battle design doesn't seem difficult to me—just make it a much more difficult version of previous encounters. I'll happily spend an hour or more working thru such, whereas 15 minutes of same ol' same ol' really annoys me.

It can also be that the Far Cry series just has really bad boss fights
Yes and no, as in OP. But FC often produces random mini boss fights too, eg you suddenly run into 2 bears together, or a patrol of baddies suddenly arrives behind you while you're clearing a roadblock.

These are not a problem for me, I like the randomness of it all, and when I respawn and go back, the same won't happen again—it's quite likely there won't even be a roadblock in that place anymore.

what could have been an insane cat and mouse game
Yeah, it's a shame when a great potential is left unrealized.

how can you balance those boss battles to appease players who play on "insanity difficulty" as well as those players on "easy difficulty"?
Shouldn't the difficulty level take care of that on its own? Adjusting your and baddie's health, armor, ammo, support fighters etc?

you should feel you're making progress towards winning even if you die multiple times
Right. I lost the final battle in FC4 a few times, but each time learned about different tactics which did or didn't help. It was a progression, not a slog.

beating them requires -- or at least allows -- the same sorts of skills you've been using all along to fight everything else
This. Don't change the game at the end, that's cheating by the devs and soul-destroying for the player.

arbitrarily forced fights
Yeah, like the infamous capture sequences in FC5 which I've banged on about a few times already. Grabbing players out of a helicopter in an open world game, and throwing them into a bunker with corridor close quarters combat—that's like introducing rounds of chess into a draughts/checkers tournament.
 

Brian Boru

Moderator
On a more fundamental level—what are boss fights for? What makes designers think they're a good idea?

If it's to provide a final monumental challenge, which it often seems to be, isn't that an indictment of the game design up to that point? Shouldn't the difficulty level, plus the increased challenge as you gain experience, skills and better equipment, take care of that?

Early levels take out squads of light soldiers. Middle levels, increase their numbers and introduce heavies and elite. Keep ramping up, until the final epic battle which has 10 heavies and 5 elites, and you have to devise various strategies and tactics to triumph—almost definitely dying a few times while you innovate and learn.

Wouldn't that be more satisfying than dodging some personified mountain until you can land 100 hits?
 

Kaamos_Llama

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On a more fundamental level—what are boss fights for? What makes designers think they're a good idea?

If it's to provide a final monumental challenge, which it often seems to be, isn't that an indictment of the game design up to that point? Shouldn't the difficulty level, plus the increased challenge as you gain experience, skills and better equipment, take care of that?

Early levels take out squads of light soldiers. Middle levels, increase their numbers and introduce heavies and elite. Keep ramping up, until the final epic battle which has 10 heavies and 5 elites, and you have to devise various strategies and tactics to triumph—almost definitely dying a few times while you innovate and learn.

Wouldn't that be more satisfying than dodging some personified mountain until you can land 100 hits?
Right. Maybe I'm naïve, but boss battle design doesn't seem difficult to me—just make it a much more difficult version of previous encounters. I'll happily spend an hour or more working thru such, whereas 15 minutes of same ol' same ol' really annoys me.
Isn't just presenting more mobs of the same type even more same old same old? I think boss battles are meant to be a change of pace, maybe they force you to use abilities in ways you didnt need to before, or to play the game slightly differently. Sometimes they dont quite hit the mark, maybe that's just not what you want from a game. That's fine too.

I can understand in a military style shooter a boss 'encounter' like you describe makes much more sense.

If I'm playing Sekiro and I get to a boss room and instead of Lady Butterfly or Guardian Ape I get a few extra samurai attacking me, then it makes the game just bad. In Doom it felt to me on the harder difficulty that every room was a boss encounter, and the bosses were a change of pace that suited the fiction. You can imagine why a 20 metre tall hell beast might take a few blasts from a rocket launcher, and I really enjoyed it.

Edit: Apologies if I'm just missing your point here, if you are talking specifically about bosses in shooters with human/mortal antagonists like Far Cry then its harder to comeup with different ideas. Thats probably part of why video games tend heavily towards Fantasy and Scifi.
 
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Brian Boru

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in a military style shooter a boss 'encounter' like you describe makes much more sense
Right, that is one of my main preferences and experiences, I'm not into fantasy or syfy much.

I think boss battles are meant to be a change of pace, maybe they force you to use abilities in ways you didnt need to before, or to play the game slightly differently
Sure, I agree, that's the thrust of what I'm saying. But implemented as an interesting increased challenge, not a goddess-awful slog.

You can imagine why a 20 metre tall hell beast might take a few blasts from a rocket launcher, and I really enjoyed it
Hmm, not too sure about all that attention being paid to that poor chimp's butt, but maybe that was an ass fight instead of a boss fight?

Yeah, the end of the original Far Cry had Rocket Trigens, huge guys who were doling out the rockets themselves. A grenade and a couple of shotgun blasts weren't going to put them down, as they would the earlier Trigens. Different strategies and tactics needed to beat them for sure—but all within the game parameters, not a new gotcha session.

Isn't just presenting more mobs of the same type even more same old same old?
If you can beat them the same way you beat earlier smaller mobs, then yes—but that would be poor design.
 

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