Boss fights.


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Sillothian
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After my issues with the boss fights in inFAMOUS Second Son, which almost ruined the game for me, I was wondering what the rest of you guys thought of this aspect of game design?

I'll be honest that I am not a massive fan of boss fights in games but appreciate that a well designed boss encounter can lead to some intense and fulfilling gameplay.

What really annoys me are those boss fights which just seem at odds with the rest of the game. You know the ones where you go from playing in an open world to being walled off in some tiny arena for no apparent reason. Even worse are those boss fights which suddenly strip you of the powers you've just spent hours upgrading and perfecting. Boss fights that make you think you've won only to make you go through the exact same fight again. Boss fights that suddenly fire a load of QTEs at you even though there haven't been any in the rest of the game. Bosses that have one hit kill attacks are also another bugbear of mine.

If it was up to me I'd do away with boss fights in games altogether or a t very least have the option to skip them once you have failed them half a dozen times. What do you guys think?
#1 at 20:41:01 - 06/04/2014
nekotcha
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They are something that is most often done badly, and I don't think enough game designers actually seriously consider why they are including them and what the player is meant to get out if it. For my money, a boss fight should give the player the chance to use the skills they have learned in a new and spectacular context, and the result should be that they feel massively empowered as a result. All too often though they frustrate rather than empower, or fail to allow the player to actually use the skills they've learned so far in the game, ending up more as long winded cutscenes where you have to repeat certain sections over and over.

That said, some games do boss fights very well - Zelda and Dark Souls, to name a couple of obvious examples. And some of my most memorable gaming moments have come in boss fights - the brilliant scarab battles in the later Halo games, for instance, or the fantastic moment in Zelda Skyward Sword where the boss drops the massive sword he's been whacking you with and you get to pick it up and turn the tables on him. And then there's Shadow of the Colossus, a game that is essentially one long argument for the appeal of boss fights.

Overall I think gaming would be poorer without boss fights but I think more games should have the confidence to have fewer of them, or to drop them altogether.
#2 at 21:12:47 - 06/04/2014
repairmanjack
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Loathe them personally, especially any with a whiff of cheapness (or regenerating health). Still playing Dark Souls 2, but more for the atmosphere than the bullshit boss battles.
#3 at 02:52:18 - 08/04/2014
FlexibleFeline
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They are definitely the weakest element of the game (Dark Souls 2) - especially ones with tanks who can take most of your health off at one swipe. Some ended up simply becoming roadblocks for me - I did some grinding, exploring, until I could motivate myself to return to them.

The mistake I was making was not taking on the bosses with another player - whether NPC or someone who has left a summon sign; too frightened to use up a human effigy (there should be a richer source of these) and unhollow. Since that revelation, I've done pretty much every one with someone else - it makes it such a breeze having someone else act as a distraction.

Still, that's just my strategy rather than a sign of good design. I prefer the rare boss fights that do something a bit different e.g. royal rat vanguard trumps the other giant rat one any time.

Going back to Sil's question - the best example I can think of regarding boss fights at odds with the game is the notorious Deus Ex: HR fights. Pure pish. An example of boss fights I really enjoy are the ones in Metal Gear Solid; most in the original, some in MGS2 but I particularly enjoyed them in MGS3 - especially The End, which of course felt nothing like a "traditional" boss fight.
#4 at 13:31:49 - 08/04/2014
Sillothian
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FlexibleFeline said:Going back to Sil's question - the best example I can think of regarding boss fights at odds with the game is the notorious Deus Ex: HR fights. Pure pish.


I only found out recently that development of the boss fights was outsourced! No wonder they felt totally at odds with the main game.
#5 at 15:42:17 - 08/04/2014
nekotcha
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Surprised to hear people citing Dark Souls 2 as an example of 'bad' boss fights. Although I've only played the original Dark Souls so far, unless something has radically changed in their approach to designing bosses they're a pretty fundamental part of the game. Don't get me wrong - some of the DS bosses were a hell of a difficulty spike, and occasionally were guilty of using some pretty cheap moves, but at least in DS there's almost always another way to approach the boss, either in terms of tactics or in terms of equipment load out, that will make it easier.

FlexibleFeline said:An example of boss fights I really enjoy are the ones in Metal Gear Solid; most in the original, some in MGS2 but I particularly enjoyed them in MGS3 - especially The End, which of course felt nothing like a "traditional" boss fight.


Ah, I'd forgotten about MGS - yes, some fantastic boss fights in those games, particularly MGS3. The final boss in that game is still one of my favourites too, more for the gorgeous setting than anything else.
#6 at 16:56:28 - 08/04/2014
Sillothian
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repairmanjack said:Loathe them personally, especially any with a whiff of cheapness (or regenerating health). Still playing Dark Souls 2, but more for the atmosphere than the bullshit boss battles.


I think the majority of these 'classic' type of boss fights just boil down to a test a patience and for how long you are willing to endure the repetitive attacks and regenerating health. At times they feel like last remains of the old coin-op style of level design aimed to keep you slotting more and more 10 pence pieces (showing my age there!) into the machine.

I'll admit I'm long past wanting to play difficult games. I don't mind a reasonable challenge but I play games to relax now. I often read the Dark Souls thread out of curiosity and I always come away thinking that is one game I would never, ever contemplate playing :-)
#7 at 18:41:03 - 08/04/2014
FlexibleFeline
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I'm not sure whether you need to have a slight level of masochism...but the Souls games offer me a level of gratification that others just don't. There's a lot more to them than the difficulty level of course: they are wonderfully designed in most respects, and their baffling ambiguity in terms of lore and (sometimes) systems is part of the draw for many.

I'd actually say that DS2 is the easiest so far /except/ for certain (many, actually) boss fights. Well, by easiest I mean most forgiving in terms of bonfire placement and other elements. This does mean that some of the thrill is lost at times - I don't think I've cautiously poked forward, shield up, half as much as I did in the previous versions, some levels excepted. It's still quite consistently thrilling and at times completely absorbing.

@nekotcha: I'll be interested to hear what you think when you play it. I just don't find most of the boss fights as engaging for one reason or another; I'm not sure they are all "worse" than DS when viewed side by side but then to be honest I hated quite a few of them too. It may be rose-tinted spectacles but I think they were generally more interesting (and less frequent) in Demon's Souls.
#8 at 20:06:06 - 08/04/2014
nekotcha
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Sillothian said:
I'll admit I'm long past wanting to play difficult games. I don't mind a reasonable challenge but I play games to relax now. I often read the Dark Souls thread out of curiosity and I always come away thinking that is one game I would never, ever contemplate playing :-)


Yeah, just to echo FF's comments, the Souls games are incredibly rewarding to play and whilst it would be misleading to suggest they're not hard in places, they're also quite friendly in many ways. For instance, one thing that's never mentioned is that they save all the time, so you're free to tackle them in increments as small as you like, rather than being forced to reach the next save point (the save system has a flip-side of course, like most things in the Souls games).

The other thing, as I mentioned above, is that you can often make Souls bosses much less difficult by approaching them in a different way. More than once I was finding a boss maddeningly difficult until I tried a different tactic or a different equipment loadout, which made the world of difference. As is often said about these games, they are to a degree as hard as you want to make them - if you want to rush through without experimenting and without fully exploring, you're likely to find them hard. But take your time, learn the game systems and seek out every last hidden item, and you're likely to find it much more approachable.

...Apart from the Capra Demon of course, who's a git.
#9 at 09:35:37 - 09/04/2014
repairmanjack
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Actually, I can't completely rail on boss fights (just the bad ones). Without them, we don't have Shadow of the Colossus.

Although the next boss I kill which just regenerates full health for the next round of attrition, is going to have me switch the game off and hurl it out the window.
#10 at 10:55:56 - 09/04/2014
FlexibleFeline
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Capra Demon. Ugh.
#11 at 12:45:24 - 09/04/2014

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