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Do You Still Need An Epic Final Boss Clash?

Video games have changed quite a bit, in some ways they've become less and less like “games” over time.

At one time it was just understood that whatever genre or type of game you played you usually progressed through levels, beat bosses at intervals, and then beat your game by beating the biggest and baddest foe. That final foe took some time and brain power to beat. He or she typically took on various forms and gave the gamer a hell of a time. Once that final boss was toast you got treated to your ending.

I'd like to lay out a few examples here of great games without much of a final boss to speak of but I abhor any kind of spoiling so I'll have to stay vague. I've just finished playing two really good action games in a row and neither one of them had a significant boss fight at the end. And honestly, that didn't bother me. The stories were well told, the games were a lot of fun, and the provided ending for the hero was a good way to wrap things up.

This generation a certain amount of realism has been introduced that has changed the trajectory of certain kinds of games. While plenty of them still have the boss and final boss structure I'm starting to think it only fits games that retain the “I am playing a video game” vibe which is somewhat at odds with games trying to effect a semblance of realism. Suddenly it doesn't make a great deal of sense for my archenemy to be able to take hundreds of bullets to the head just because he is the last to die. Maybe a dramatic quick time event was all that made sense?

Or perhaps it just wouldn't fit to put a shiny spot on them that is their weak point you only attack so you can then hit a more exposed area. Maybe there is a big, bad boss at the end and he just happened to be a giant pushover. Does that mean the end fight is a let down?

I've seen some people complaining about games this generation that didn't give gamers a big challenge at the end. It's a legitimate discussion point I think. Honestly I can say that I used to expect that too, but a good ending which gives me a good run up to the finale is just fine by me. I don't look forward to really difficult final bosses in most games. They belonged best in JRPGs but with the end of turn-based mechanics there's less of a point to them. I still think they have their place in games that really buck the realism trend but I don't have a problem with a good game ending without an overly epic clash that kills me ten times.

So how about you? Are you let down when a final boss battle isn't so epic, or hardly present?

Tags: boss battles

5/12/2013 11:54:09 PM David Nelson

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (25 posts)

Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 12:29:36 AM

The end of MGS4 wouldn't have been the same without fighting Liquid Snake.
The end of every Zelda game wouldn't be the same without the final, climactic clash against Ganon.
My 2 cents.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 2:34:58 PM

I like uncharted 2's big boss, it was challenging to figure out a bit, but once you learned it, it wasn't too difficult and lazarevic wasn't too superhuman, just a bit

I will always reference naughty dog as an example for balance, they don't seem to do things too far over the edge and they have great motioncap effects

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:38:17 AM

Boss battles have their place, be they difficult ones or not. Shadow of the Colossus, not necessarily this gen gameunless you count the HD version, every boss was a battle which called for differences in approach, but essentially resulted in you stabbing them with your sword and holding on tight. As repetitive as it might have been and maybe trickier as you progressed to each colossi,it was a good balance for me, but not really hard. It was the story and the world that made the ending for me, not the finally boss battle. In fact the ending depended on all the boss battles.

Another game, and in my opinion, I said in my opinion, the best PC game was Half Life series. Half-Life 2 did not have a really difficult ending, but it was the story... the journey that that led to a satisfying conclusion. The same for the Episodes that followed, although I will say Episode 2 had the most difficult ending. Tricky until you figured out through practive how to take down each of the walkers along with the following hunters. But the journey there was just as hard I think. If one described it as hard. The story and the characters made the ending satisfying.

I realize these are old games and maybe not mainstream, but I think good examples.

Fallout 3, Bioshock, Assassins Creed 1-2, Red Dead Redemption, inFamous, I would say did not have too difficult of endings. Granted each is somewhat diff in gameplay and the type of game they are. The stories and the journey of each presented the challenge and coming to an end that maybe was not so challenging was okay, knowing that getting there all that handwork/gaming... paid off.

Mass Effect 3 I suppose is a good example that people found the ending not too challenging at all along with what some or many believed was a poor ending. Personally the journey there was the fun and challenging part and at the end, like some of the characters, it was nice to sit down and watch the ending unfold, as unsatifying to some it was. Not for me. I was just sad it ended the Sheppard series.

GoW series had some good challenging endings, especially with Zeus. Well, for me anyway. I thought Heavenly Sword did at the time until I figured out what I had to do and then it was easy.

Where I was disappointed with the Star Wars Force Unleash series. Those games to me almost demanded an epic challenging boss battles and they really weren't. You quickly figured out what had to be and the game was over. I would say the second game, fighting Darth Vader was easier than the first. I mean this is Darth Vader, mind you, in the first game I think you brought down a Star Destroyer sooooo. Nah the ending should have been epic. :)

Anyway, agreed epic boss battles depend on the game and its story. Where its leading you. The expectation.

Keep Playing!

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 2:33:08 AM

I definitely still want big boss fights. They defined the final challenge, they test my worthiness and ability to beat the game.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 2:35:05 AM

The plot of some games reaches a climax towards the end, which can be made more satisfying and memorable with an epic boss battle.

Off the top of my head, the Metal Gear series has always delivered.
For me, this gen's biggest disappointment was Far Cry 2

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 6:29:03 AM

do you need water to live?
do you need air to live?
f*cking oath you need epic boss battles!
FC3, AC3, GoWA, perfect examples of games that were really let down because of its disappointing pathetic boss battles!
especially god of war ascension, i mean every single boss battle of 3 was so freaking epic there etched into my memory.
GOWA, i just finished last night and already have forgotten the final boss battle!
disappointing boss battles is one thing, but one thing i REALLY LOATH is the sudden uptrend of no boss battles at all!
you spend 10s of hours hunting someone down, you find them, than boom there dead in a cut scene!
come on, if i spend all this time hunting someone i should be the one to deal with them, not the freaking game in some boring cut scene!

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 7:35:11 AM

I really like the big final bosses. Once I beat them, it makes me feel like I actually accomplished something.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 7:54:03 AM

Yes they are needed, but in all honesty it is all about the context of the final battle rather than scale of being epic. Tale the Metal Gear series, every last boss encounter is a 1 on 1, which is very intimate with the antagonist from the game. Then you get Metal Gear Rising which slaps you with a character which you have barely even seen/heard of through out the game in an utterly epic battle which quite frankly feels foolish.

But in a form of structure an end high is needed, it gives the player a huge sense of satisfaction for reaching there goal. I can think of some games which are anti-climatic - which doesn't mean they are 'bad' endings but just didn't feel like they built up to much, L.A. Noire or Enslaved come to mind.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 11:10:36 AM

Yeah, you need to build up to the boss battle, as a sort of crescendo, otherwise it doesn't feel right. You make a good point about giving boss battles context too; MGS does that brilliantly. You always felt as though, in MGS4, each boss was synonymous with that part of the game, and that you'd always been building up to it. Because of this they always felt fully integrated as well, for example


with the emotion that the each boss has is seen in the story, like where meyrl is angry with Snake in relation to raging raven; Otacon is crying over Naomi in relation to crying wolf; or where everybody with nanomachines is stopping to function properly in relation to Mantis. And the great thing about MGS is that you really feel it through the gameplay too - literally losing control.

Can you imagine changing the order of the boss battles, and how messed up it would feel? I haven't played rising, but if it's as you say, then I imagine they would lose the impact they could've had. I actually think it's all to do with context and that the actual battle doesn't matter in comparison.

Last edited by Ludicrous_Liam on 5/13/2013 11:12:13 AM

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 3:20:14 PM

I played Rising and I agree, that boss battle was out of the blue! Don't get me wrong, the game is amazing and the final fight was cool but was totally unnecessary!

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 8:54:23 PM

I think the purpose of that boss fight in MGR is to show you how kickass and in your face the game will be.

It really follows Platinum's style from their previous entries, they tend to focus on what is truly cool and stylish gameplay, rather than realistic.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:03:07 AM

Of course and a recently example just imagine Metal Gear Rising without the boss battles Dx

Last edited by Oxvial on 5/13/2013 9:03:24 AM

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:36:01 AM

I love an epic boss battle, but more and more these days I find that I do NOT enjoy overly difficult boss battles. They don't have to be insanely hard to be epic.

Tearing my hair out wasting hours replaying the same levels is not my idea of a good time anymore... It's just a waste of my precious little time.

Am I disappointed when there's no big boss battle? I guess that depends on the game. As long as the ending is well presented and fitting with the story then no, I don't need a big boss fight to be happy.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 11:41:50 AM

The final boss in demon souls was a let down. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the game. However, compared to all of the other bosses the final boss was a wimp.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 12:05:09 PM

Yes. We ALWAYS need epic bosses.

End of line.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 12:37:09 PM

Depends on the game. But generally, yes, I want great boss battles. I don't just mean awesome looking but also awesomely designed from a game play perspective. It just sucks when a game has a great looking impressive boss but the battle just blows. See Resistance 2's giant monster boss in Chicago for that.
Games like Darksiders, Ninja Gaiden, MGS, DMC, GoW etc totally rock the boss scene these days. They're usually great for putting your skills to the test but also seeing some really creative and complicated design implementations. It may also show just how excellent and dynamic your game play system is.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 12:59:16 PM

I'd have to agree with the others and say yes they are needed. They need to be memorable as well, plus must make me incorporate all skills I've learned throughout the play through.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:48:35 PM

A final boss doesn't need to be 'pull your hair out difficult', but it needs to be a challenge. Losing, at least once or twice, needs to at least be within the realm of possibility or else there will be a let down.

Consider Yu Yevon from FFX. If you spend the time to get everybody's ultimate weapon, crafted amazing armour, hunted monsters and beat all the optional bosses, then by the time you got around to finishing the game, you could beat Yu Yevon in just a couple of hits, usually before he ever got a chance to act. The ending to FFX is fantastic, possibly the best of the series, but there's still a big part of me that goes, "is that it?" when I see the boss die after my third attack.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 3:30:58 PM

That's one good reason not to become all powerful the first time you play an FF game :)

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 8:56:15 PM


I know....EXACTLY what you're talking about.

FFX was the first game since FFVII where I spent 150+ hours completing every characters sphere grid, and getting every single ultimate weapon. Just to beat the final boss in a few seconds.

Makes me think that FF should have had variable boss fights, where if you took the time to grind, the bosses would at least still offer some kind of challenge. Then again, i guess there would be no point grinding?

EDIT: Honestly though, at least 50 of those hours were spent playing Blitzball. That was always fun.

Last edited by Akuma_ on 5/13/2013 8:59:05 PM

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 4:06:50 AM

Surely I can't be faulted for wanting the game to last longer. = p

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:00:29 PM

The final battle in Bioshock Infinite was a let down.

Would have been perfect if we had to fight that certain someone who was helping us in that fight, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

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Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:45:58 PM

A great final boss really makes everything the game built up to satisfying. All MGS games do this to perfection.

A game that doesn't have a great boss battle but still has a great ending would be most recently, Infinite. Do I think it's necessary? No. Infinite's ending proved that. It depends on the game.

However, so many games this gen have TRIED to have a great ending boss battle and failed pretty badly. So it depends. If you are going for that, then yes. If not, then making it a more creative and emotional ending (Journey, Infinite, Flower), definitely does suffice.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 3:33:35 PM

I don't know how you get away from the "Big Boss". Ultimately, the game comes to an end and the conclusion has some type of mega confrontation.
In FPS and RPG's you have a main character/s you must defeat. That is actually reality; from poker to football you seek to come out on top and there must be someone standing in front of you to thwart that.

It is the defeat of this final enemy that makes victory so sweet. We have all pumped our fist in the air and screamed YES, YES, YES!!! when we finally took that last bad guy down.

I don't think the "BIG Boss" can ever go away, I just believe the newer games introduce him,her or it in different ways. It can be some AI or an entire Alien race. The "Big Boss" can even be a final battle against some battle cruiser with an unknown captain. The "Big Boss" should not be stereotyped as was the case originally. Today the "Big Boss" just represents the final battle, be it one single character, a machine or an entire fleet. It is the "END GAME".

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Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 4:35:34 PM

With NO final boss battle my take would be "what? that's it?!" Agreed booze925

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