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Boss Fights - Yea! or Nay!

GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
edited July 2015 in Off-Topic
Playing through ME trilogy again, it reminded me why of several reasons I loved the 1st game so much. One big mark in its favor, for me, is the lack of Boss Fight mechanic. Not that there were not end of level battles with clear 'boss' enemies, but they play by regular game mechanic. ME2 bosses start with the "play for so long before invulnerable boss briefly exposes a weak spot that you can hit now, as long as you avoid the insta-death attacks'. I find these frustrating at the best of times, but in a story-led RPG they are incredibly immersion breaking as I am now clearly playing a tired trope of a game mechanic rather than the story.

On the other hand, I know some folks love the final challenge of a game being some kind of combat puzzle that is very different from the regular mechanic to get this far, especially when the solution takes some figuring out.

BTW, I think BG1 and 2 fit within my Nay category as while there are definitely challenging bosses with frustrating immunities that might take some figuring out, that is true for many different foes throughout the game. Karoug is probably the biggest outlier.

Boss Fights - Yea! or Nay! 36 votes

Boss fights - Yay!
69%
SethDavisBenjaminlelag200ShindeltagoChildofBhaal599spacejawsSCARY_WIZARDDJKajuruOneAngryMushroomCoryNewbbrusNonnahswriterFinneousPJthe_spyderWilburFardragonbooinyoureyesTheElfSmilingSword 25 votes
Gross fights - Nay!
30%
elminsterMathsorcererKamigoroshiTuthPibaroWandering_MinstrelGodabacusGreenWarlockSkatanSvar 11 votes
elminsterWilburCrevsDaakSmilingSword
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Comments

  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,300
    Gross fights - Nay!
    I'm not really a fan either.

    Teflon
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Boss fights - Yay!
    It depends on a number of factors, but Dark Souls is decidedly awesome!

    SmilingSword
  • NimranNimran Member Posts: 4,867
    Boss fights - Yay!
    Depends on what the fights are like. Some games have boss fights that are fun as heck. Others are less fun and more irritating.

  • CoryNewbCoryNewb Member Posts: 1,330
    Boss fights - Yay!
    It depends on the game for me. A game like titan souls is great because it is just boss battles. I like "bosses" at ends of dunegons in d&d games because they provide extra challenges. Some games just don't nail it, so it really depends.

  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    Boss fights - Yay!
    I had to give this one some some thought, but I realised "boss fights" had been around for thousands of years before computer games where invented. From Medusa and the Hydra, Grendel, though Smaug to the Death Star, there has always been an otherwise invincible monster that could only be defeated by finding it's weakness (or "voonerables" as Sargent Colon would put it).

    GreenWarlock
  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 3,009
    Gross fights - Nay!
    Boss fights make no sense. If the boss is so powerful that the protagonist(s) cannot attain victory without first collecting all the really great gear from the mountains of dead bodies left in their wake then why didn't the boss come out and take care of business in the first place? "Let's see....my evil plan has been unleashed with only a few minor details left to finish. I know--I'll wait here in my lair and hope that my incompetent henchmen can take care of any interlopers. Oh, look at that report--troublemakers took out an outpost. Meh--I'll wait for them to come to me."

    elminsterwubbleSkatansemiticgoddess
  • deltagodeltago Member Posts: 7,809
    Boss fights - Yay!
    Depends on the game and how the boss fights are handled.

    Take DA:O. My favorite fight is the Broodmother battle. It took me a long time to figure out the best tactics to defeat it. Follow that with the bleeding eyes statue that rotates, it takes the hack and slash out of the game and replace it with tactical knowledge.

    Done wrong, you are just wailing against some creature constantly until it falls. Those bosses are just weak development.

  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,300
    edited July 2015
    Gross fights - Nay!
    If they are made to fit the flavour of the game and the setting then that is fine, but too often I see boss fights where they are treated a bit too much like a special snowflake. Its one thing for a boss to have special abilities, stats, or immunities that players can't get (especially if they are nothing like the player) but when you start getting into having required steps you must take during the fight to kill a boss I lose interest. Especially when its done in a way that is really repetitive.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    I like boss fights, and I usually like them gimmicky. That said, I played a Tower Defence game awhile back that had the unfortunate habit of using 'click on the tower to turn it off' boss mechanic, made worse because you could easily accidently sell off a tower. :anguished: This game also was too easy until the last level, at which point you REQUIRED way more ingame money to even approach a win on easy.

    I dislike really, really hard bosses though. The fight shouldn't be tedious, and I dislike games with only 1 viable solution. Probably because I'm kinda dumb and can't figure them out. :blush:

    elminster
  • CoryNewbCoryNewb Member Posts: 1,330
    Boss fights - Yay!
    http://tay.kinja.com/what-do-you-want-from-a-boss-fight-1715246906

    Pretty fun analysis (with pictures!) Of boss battles that seemed topical enough to share.

    *Some spoilerish elements I suppose?*

    GreenWarlock
  • ChildofBhaal599ChildofBhaal599 Member Posts: 1,781
    edited July 2015
    Boss fights - Yay!
    I love unique boss fights that either make you have to learn the game mechanics or simply has some sort of crazy gimick. Admittedly, Metal Gear Solid is also one of my favorite franchises ever and has some pretty unique bosses. If you want something really crazy and gimicky, look into the Psycho Mantis boss fight.

    edit: Also worth noting is how the final boss of MGS4 turns into a 3d fighter with music and fighting styles across the games. It was an awesome gimick that just felt like the ultimate finale!

    abacusShin
  • VallmyrVallmyr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,445
    edited July 2015
    Boss fights - Yay!
    I like boss fights but I don't like when they are immune to all types of spells and abilities. Certain bosses having certain immunities? Sure. Fire Elemental Boss Immune to fire? I get you. Skeleton boss immune to instant-death effects? cool. Every boss in the entire game immune to poison? Not ok. *cough* Final Fantasy *cough*

    My favorite bosses are normally other humanoid types as opposed to monsters. On my first run of BG:EE watching my Blackguard cross swords with Sarevok was SUPER cool. My bastard sword vs his two handed blade!

    Edit: I derped, didn't see that last part of the opening post XD Sorry was using the phone-version of the site.

    Anyway, yeahhhh if I'm playing a game for immersion I dislike those puzzle-type bosses. If I'm playing Zelda which I play more for the gameplay then yeah I don't mind I suppose because I buy the game specifically for that type of boss. If It's an RPG of some sort where I'm supposed to take the world seriously then that kind of boss can work if it's something cool like you learn the weakness beforehand from a book/codec/whatever resource for information and there's a lore reason to back it up.

    Like if hypothetically there's a guy in steampunk power armor but every once and a while it over heats and you have to attack the vents and in a book earlier you read these things have overheating problems and the vents are easily broken then it's like ohhhh ok. Hit the vents and when it tries to cool down it'll just explode or something.

    One thing I've always liked about D&D though is that if an enemy can do it then so can you. Enemy boss guy has tons of magic resistance on his armor and a +3 Flaming/Frost/Shock sword? You can do that too! Enemy guy casting instant death spells that require certain defenses to block? Well you too can have the amazing power of Finger of Death. I like that a lot.

    Post edited by Vallmyr on
    iKrivetkoShinJuliusBorisov
  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    Gross fights - Nay!
    I think @elminster nailed what really irks me with boss mechanics - and that is lazy repetitive gameplay. It is bad enough that you give me this immersion breaking game mechanic, but now you expect me to execute exactly the same sequence 4, 5, 6 or more times, with no hint as to whether I am making progress or just need that magic 7th repetition for the boss to stay down this time...

    The other thing that can annoy is when the boss is too hard, and very different in gameplay to the rest of the game. If that is the final boss at the end of the game, I'll take it. But often it is the mid-game/end-of-level bosses that are the most annoying, and now they are holding me back from the gameplay I signed up for to enjoy. At this point, they become anti-fun.

    Some interesting comments above relating to BG bosses which I deliberately tried to exclude from the definition. I love the confrontation with a big-bad after a suitably epic quest, as long as they play by the same rules as the rest of the game. Sarevok/Firkraag/Irenicus and the rest play by the same rules, they are just a (sometimes much!) harder challenge in terms of statting. Closest to a true boss-mechanic in BG saga (that I have played, still not tested ToB properly) is Kangaax, but he has the benefit of being entirely 100% optional, and despite his crazy gimmick attack, can still be taken down by a straight fight without any metagaming (Mace of Disruption FTW!)

    When I look at ME1, I don't see boss mechanics despite a couple of fights with the big bad you meet in the opening mission. The closest we come is probably the Thorian, although that is mostly a Maguffin through the actual gameplay, combat is a regular tussle with its many guardians. That changed in ME2, especially the penultimate fight with a boss who for no reason, would raise his armor of ultimate invulnerability from his 4 weak spots for timed intervals, before closing again. Why would anyone build something that way?! There was no reason to not be armored.

    ME3 has the even sillier plot device of a character going all Dragon Ball on us, standing invulnerable in the middle of combat while given a free reset, or two. There was no attempt to sell this other than "well, we figure you know how a game is played".

    I like the idea of Titan Souls described above where the game nothing /but/ boss mechanic. You know what you are getting going in, and can settle down to the kind of evil/patient gameplay necessary for the challenge.

    elminster
  • TuthTuth Member Posts: 233
    Gross fights - Nay!
    Never liked boss fights and the whole concept of the "Boss" character. I'd rather have the enemy with a personality, than illogical immunities and attack patterns.

    I find it quite boring when enemies pull immunities out of their butts and have limitless spells. The most dull enemy of them all is a dragon. When I see a dragon in a game, I call it lazy design.

    I like when an important enemy/antagonist in the story is actually not almost impossible to kill. Makes it more believable when everyone can be killed without using a nuke. Besides there are other ways in which the enemy can have the advantage over a PC: number of enemies, traps, positioning, powerful item (single), or ability (one). The good example would be having immunity, but also a big weakness.

    I especially liked it in Anvil of Dawn, where you actually *don't* fight the main antagonist - the warlord. He can still kill you, but it's his guard that is the toughest enemy (not as much if you obtain the SoulWrought) and there are no bosses to be seen.

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    edited July 2015
    Gross fights - Nay!
    I disliked most of the bosses in the Arkham series (although the games were otherwise great)... too often it was a case of dodge-dodge-dodge-weakspot-whack-ad nauseum. Personally, I find that really dull... particularly when you're reloading a dozen times and the story stops dead in its tracks as a result.

    On the other hand, some of my favourite bosses came in MGS3 (with the obvious exception of The Pain), where you had more than one viable tactic to take them down depending on your particular strengths (I liked to stealth and snipe wherever possible... but CQC button-mashing was also an option).

    The sniper-duel with The End is probably the most fun I've ever had in front of a computer screen! So much so, that in the many times I've played that game, I've never been able to bring myself to take the alternative approach of dropping him early.


    "[Heavy breathing]... This... is the End!"

    ChildofBhaal599
  • iKrivetkoiKrivetko Member Posts: 934
    Vallmyr said:

    One thing I've always liked about D&D though is that if an enemy can do it then so can you. Enemy boss guy has tons of magic resistance on his armor and a +3 Flaming/Frost/Shock sword? You can do that too! Enemy guy casting instant death spells that require certain defenses to block? Well you too can have the amazing power of Finger of Death. I like that a lot.

    Pretty much this

    the_spyder
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Boss fights - Yay!
    I think the OP is not so much having a problem with Boss fights in general, but a certain KIND of boss fight. In that, i agree, the divisive fights wherein you have to do something special or fight in some alternate way to how you normally would in the game, like having to wait until an event which makes the boss normally vulnerable, is problematic.

    However, playing a game like God of War or Dark Souls where there are absolutely boss fights galore, there's nothing (personally and subjectively) wrong with them in my book.

    NimranVallmyrGreenWarlockFinneousPJ
  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    Boss fights - Yay!
    "Dodge, block, wait for an opening", is much more like real melee fighting than "keep hitting it until it's health bar drops to zero".

    Wilburwubblesemiticgoddess
  • WilburWilbur Member Posts: 1,173
    Boss fights - Yay!
    Well there are boss fights and there are boss fights. Meaning it all depends on the execution but generally I like the idea. A game that follows chapter style story telling (like Baldur's Gate) needs them imo.

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    Gross fights - Nay!
    Fardragon said:

    "Dodge, block, wait for an opening", is much more like real melee fighting than "keep hitting it until it's health bar drops to zero".

    Less so when the opponent is just cycling through three different attack styles in the same sequence.

    Another bugbear with me is hitting them with a "special attack" to trigger a "dazed" status.... complete with little stars/birdies!

  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Boss fights - Yay!
    abacus said:


    Less so when the opponent is just cycling through three different attack styles in the same sequence.

    Another bugbear with me is hitting them with a "special attack" to trigger a "dazed" status.... complete with little stars/birdies!

    This is less 'problematic boss fight' and more 'execution error/faux pas'. All in my opinion.

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    I think a well-designed boss fight can feel like a dance; there's something distinctly therapeutic about following a sequence of maneuvers to open up the boss's weak point before you deliver a major blow. In cases like that it isn't lazy design, but rather a conversation between the player and the game. Star Fox does this conversation exceptionally well, as do many of the Mario games.

    I'd say where the boss fight falls apart is when the boss fight requires a sequence of maneuvers that don't feel good to follow. If you have to do eight separate things that don't flow together when done correctly, then it stops feeling like a dance and starts feeling like homework.

    the_spyderSethDaviselminsterNonnahswriter
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,300
    edited July 2015
    Gross fights - Nay!
    Still remember the boss fight at the end of the first chapter in the Witcher 2. Such a pain. I think I got like 90% of the way through the fight and then I failed to go up the correct direction at the end and I got killed by it. At that point I rage quit and haven't gone back. :(

    the_spyderwubble
  • ChildofBhaal599ChildofBhaal599 Member Posts: 1,781
    Boss fights - Yay!
    ok... so I just remembered one thing I really do hate about bosses. anyway... seeing as I haven't played a sonic game since the genesis (the glory days) I decided to ask a friend to do family share to get the hits collection on steam. i'll say that I really enjoyed generations... but then I moved on to adventure and got to the final sonic boss. it in itself wasn't a terrible problem for me... but when I took down his health bar and he dive bombed into me then I had a problem! i can say the same with Metal Gear when it comes to Grey Fox, as he also makes a final move after his life bar is depleted. it really just takes a player off guard when it looks like you completed it only to die like that and it feels like a huge troll. if you give me a life bar for the boss, I expect it to die when it reaches 0 :)

    elminster
  • the_spyderthe_spyder Member Posts: 5,018
    Boss fights - Yay!
    One aspect about Boss battles that I don't like is when the game developers ramp up the difficulty for the boss battles unreasonably. I'm not saying not to make the boss tougher than the other stuff in the level leading up, in fact quite the opposite. I hate it when some random monster is significantly tougher than the boss. But when they make the boss so tough that it is down to random chance to defeat, simply so that you have to replay over and over again, and thus increase the 'playable hours' of the game.

    I do think that it is a tough balancing act for game developers, for whom I have a LOT of respect. Balancing a game for playability is tough (or so I imagine). You want to make each level a challenge, and you want to heighten the suspense/anticipation/difficulty with each pass. Sometimes I imagine it is difficult to reach that point and not go further; particularly when talking about such a wide and varied set of skills, or a wide selection of options within the game itself.

  • wubblewubble Member Posts: 3,156
    elminster said:

    Still remember the boss fight at the end of the first chapter in the Witcher 2. Such a pain. I think I got like 90% of the way through the fight and then I failed to go up the correct direction at the end and I got killed by it. At that point I rage quit and haven't gone back. :(

    The kayran? it took me ages to beat that thing.

  • CrevsDaakCrevsDaak Member Posts: 7,156
    Depends how it works. I dislike the typical Action-game boss (save for Diablo II's unique, which act as boss-like monsters most of times) like for example in Nintendo games, where they repeat THREE FREAKING ATTACK COMBOS OVER AND OVER AND YOU JUST HAVE TO EVADE THEM AND HIT THEM AFTERWARDS FOR 25 MINUTES AND 47 SECONDS ANdddd...
    /rant

    Well, I like boss-fights if they're good, like Baldur's Gate (with SCS) or Angband (not bosses, uniques, like in D2, but hey), but not if they're like those in LoZ or other action games.

  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,300
    edited July 2015
    Gross fights - Nay!
    wubble said:

    elminster said:

    Still remember the boss fight at the end of the first chapter in the Witcher 2. Such a pain. I think I got like 90% of the way through the fight and then I failed to go up the correct direction at the end and I got killed by it. At that point I rage quit and haven't gone back. :(

    The kayran? it took me ages to beat that thing.
    Yep that was it. I got to the point where I think you have to climb up a path on the left to the top and then jump onto it (its been like 2 years so I may be getting this wrong). Anyways I mistakingly went to the right briefly and a tentacle hit me. My health I guess was low enough that I was killed and I quit out of frustration. I recall it taking a long time for me to get to that point in the fight too.

    CrevsDaak
  • ShinShin Member Posts: 2,345
    Boss fights - Yay!
    It's a fine line in my opinion. Good boss battles can really enhance the game, but can also end up feeling like a drag if there's too much pattern recognition involved or if the design ends up being cheap (bosses with immunity to nearly everything so it becomes a matter of trial and error to find the one approach that works, etc).

    The overall presentation matters a lot too: ideally a good boss character/battle doesn't just pop out of the blue, but is foreshadowed and built up throughout portions of the game, with screen time given to the antagonist and encounters that don't end in combat. Irenicus is a great example of this.

    The whole thing is also illustrated quite well by the boss battles in Ascension compared to vanilla ToB. In the former, all of the five are given special abilities that in my opinion serve to give them more of an identity and make the encounters with them more exciting (though some would probably say 'frustrating' instead). Illasera for example is a regular (and quite weak) fighter/mage in vanilla, but with Ascension she's turned into a kind of archer/ranger with invis detection, dispelling arrows and extremely good aim.

    CrevsDaak
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