Those Horribad Deus Ex: Human Revolution Boss Battles Were Outsourced

Those Horribad Deus Ex: Human Revolution Boss Battles Were Outsourced
A month after release, popular opinion holds firm that Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a well-made game. And yet one niggling flaw stands out, an issue that has been highlighted in countless blog posts, tweets, and video game forums. Those accursed boss battles.

They were, in a word, bad. As I played the game for the first time, I was surprised at their inclusion — not because boss battles are inherently problematic (that’s a topic for another day), but because they just… didn’t fit. Unlike the rest of the game, there was no nuance to them — just Adam Jensen vs. one of a number of pissed-off, charging bullet-sponges.

I figured out how to beat all of the first three easily enough (in order: Grenades, Wall-Vision, Wall-Vision), but still their presence lingers on in my memory of the game. Why were they in there are all? And why did they feel so totally different from the pleasurable sneaking, exploring, and conversation that made up the rest of Human Revolution?

As it turns out, those boss battles weren’t designed at Eidos Montreal, they were outsourced to a studio called Grip Entertainment. In the video above, Grip’s head Paul Kruszewski talks about the process of crafting the boss encounters, from gun-arm Barrett to silent robo stealth-chick to the “boss conversation” at the end of the game’s first level.

It certainly sounds from the interview as though Kruszewski took their contribution to the game seriously, despite being a “shooter guy” without a ton of knowledge of the Deus Ex series.

The boss battles really weren’t a huge problem for me; they were over quickly enough that I really didn’t mind. But I remain surprised that Kruszewski, for all his talk of staying true to the freedom at the heart of Deus Ex, would create such inflexible encounters. There was no way to sneak up on Barrett, or talk him out of trying to kill me, or nonlethally take him out. It was just me, him, and a bunch of explosives.

Making a AAA game has never required more manpower than it does now, and it’s not a surprise that Eidos would need to get some outside help to get Deus Ex: Human Revolution completed and shipped.

But while Grip’s boss battles are indeed a bummer, at least Eidos didn’t outsource something more vital. I mean, can you imagine what would have happened if they’d had a separate studio handle the air-ducts? Yikes.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s Terrible Boss Fights Were Outsourced [Gameranx]


  • Even playing as a stealth type, I always carry a sidearm just in case. On my first play through, that happened to be the machine pistol. By the time i got to the second and third bosses, I had upgraded the pistol to almost max, including the target finder mod that lets you tag an enemy once and all shots after that will home in on them. So I just tagged them once, stayed behind cover and emptied a couple of extended magazines into them. Boss fight done in less than 2 minutes.

    I state this only because, for my character, there was NO other way to win. I couldn’t use the environment, couldn’t stealth and hack my way through, couldn’t use any non-lethal’s.

    Admittedly, you can use the environment to beat the first boss, but even then, it’s not obvious (well, it wasn’t to me).

    Otherwise, game of the year.

    • It was pretty awful for me, since I pretty much stealthed the entire game to squeeze as much XP as possible, hence was only carrying the 10mm and Tranquiliser Rifle (the pick-ups were all quickly sold), so it frustrated me to no end when they threw these out-of-the-blue, forced combat sequences at you.

      The escape from TYM when they throw a dozen soldiers at you at once was pretty bad, thankfully I saved a single gas grenade and knocked them all out at once.

      • But where’s the fun in that?
        I ended up going with grenades to start then run around to where he lands after jumping over the wall and heavy rifle to the face.
        I was a stealthy, non-leathal (focus on tranq rifle at start, moved to stun gun later) hacker in that one. I had slighly upgraded the heavy rifle to deal with unexpected things or bosses if needed.

        • I didn’t know what the neural chip would do whether I got it or not. I didn’t trust it, especially seeing as you’re alerted to this “upgrade” right around the time the Aug companies are looking more and more dodgy.

          I didn’t really use my augs in the Namir fight anyway, just shotgun and UR-DEDs. I was worth not getting the neural chip just for Jensen’s reaction when they try to shut him down.

          • I contemplated not getting the chip for the same reasons as you, but in the end decided to see what would happen.
            In my second playthrough I’m not going to get it.

            In that playthrough I’m also going full lethal combat and slaughtering everybody that I can. Unfortunately you can’t draw your weapons while in certain buildings though 🙁

    • first boss – used pre-order bonus blue explosive jelly-bags. died in 5 seconds.
      second boss – bugged after using typhoon, let me stand there and whup them until they fell. 10 seconds.
      third boss – 3 shots with the grenade launcher, down for the count, 5 seconds
      last boss – turn invisible, win.

      i guess it depends what you have in your inventory, and whether or not you get lucky and they get bugged lol.

      • Third boss – wait in the middle so that when he jumps over a wall he does so right in front of you – use takedown while he is still in mid-air. Lights out. Boss done.

    • Same dude. I got that damn chip put in too. I found a good way round it was to go back to the last save (just before the lift). From there go back a little and get the turret and then take that up with you. Trust me, a turret is your best friend when your Augs have left you. It may take a few go’s but it will take the last guy down without Augs. Good luck.

  • Not only out of place but easily exploitable as well.

    Also, a seperate studio handling air-ducts probably would’ve resulted in a bit more variety and maybe been more believable.

  • Yeah, I wasn’t even trying for stealth, my inventory mainly consisted of upgraded 10mm Pistol, Combat Rifle, Machine Pistol and Revolver. Later on I ditched the machine pistol and carried a heavy rifle which I ditched for the plasma rifle after Jaron.

    I didn’t really have any problems with the bosses, because I was specced for combat and hacking.

    If I’d been trying for a stealth run, I probably would’ve been screwed.

    Also, I discovered the heavy rifle is a waste of space unless you’ve got the recoil enchancements. Best to just upgrade your combat rifle and revolver and carry a buttload of ammo for them.

    The boss battles weren’t bad exactly, just out of place. Deus Ex as a whole punishes you for not doing the stealth/hack/persuasion route. The forced combat of the boss battles just makes it all feel so inconsistent.

    • yeah i played stealth the whole game, but i kept certain things in my inventory, like the plasma rifle near the end, because i knew i would need them for something. im a bit of a hoarder. its not the most fun way to play, i would have preferred the game not punish you for choosing to ironman the game with a sniper and some augs

  • Hell the only boss fight i thought that was a challenge/hard was the first one. The second just bugged and made it incredabliy easy to kill (so i felt i had to reload and do it properly)

    The third one i think bugged cause the boss just knelt down just outside of sight from normal vision but turn on aug vision and i could see him kneeling so just pulled out the pistol and ripped into him from range.
    Again felt like i had to reload and do it properly.

    Finaly boss was sort of like … ‘Oh the glass is gone, BANG BANG … she’s dead too .. oookk ….’

    Playing it on Hard mode and still same buggs in the bosses….

  • Another piece of objective, well written journalism from Kotaku US. Seriously, some days I contemplate stopping reading Kotaku altogether because of articles like these. Can’t we just have an AusKotaku, pleeeeeease?

  • The only problem i had with the boss fights was the fact that after the cutscene would finish, i would not get control of character for 5 to 10 seconds which always gave the bosses a few free shots, putting me near death.
    I was unable to quicksave after the cutscene ended as well which also sucked

  • I beat all 3 bosses by buying and collecting as much stun gun ammo as possible and then just emptying the lot into the bosses. It does bugger all damage but on the hardest difficulty you can take them out with ~30-40 shots. Also the stun gives you more than enough time to reload the stun gun.

    I kinda felt like I was cheating for doing it like that but I built a stealthy hacker type so I could get pacifist and no alarms achieves and consequently had little damage resistance or lethal weapons to kill them.

    • Exactly what I did. None of the first three got a single shot off. Felt cheap but after multiple failed strategies on each I just gave up.

    • Yeah mine too, that first was a real crapfight. Had to backtrack and go pickup some weapons and ammo, was a lot easier after that. Main prob was I’d ditched the stun gun because I was aug/knocking everything out. I had it for the others and that made them a lot easier. Well that and hoarding emp grenades. Even beat the second last boss on hard with no augs.

      Agree with the article though, the boss were the weak point; not because they were particularly bad but rather because the game was all about choice and you had none in those fights.

  • I think you missed the main point of boss battles being is for story progresion over gameplay mechanics.

    We progressively tracked down and then encountered the bosses throughout the game.

    Honesty I thought the game made a nice climax/anti-climax story and game change up point by use of boss battles.

    Further you could defeat them in a number of ways. For example first boss throw the red barrels and extinguishers vs. cover and outgun.

    Second boss shoot the electrical walls (hint: look like blue donuts) and save yourself with an augment from electrical damage. You could also use circle strafing or simply sprint past her causing her typhoon but avoiding it and 180 spin for gundown shots for the win.

    Third boss use the typhoon to great affect or wall vision or grenades or sprint and burst fire for the win.

    Honestly I think players and reviewers missed the boat with the boss battles. Story progression wise they are integral to Deus Ex: HR. Gameplay-wise they actually had more to offer than the discredit they were given.

    • Sure you had options with the bosses but they were all limited to being direct and combat orientated which went against the very concept of playing the game your own way.

  • Yeah, I found these experiences to be somewhat jarring. I mean, the original had the occasional boss battle (Simons, Hermann, Navarre) but could all be done in more than one way (and in some cases there’s more than one opportunity). Considering that if you read the right emails you could literally talk some of these bad guys to death it’s kind of surprising that they didn’t think of including these kinds of (technically) non-violent solutions to defeating the bosses in HR.

  • I found some frustrating. They weren’t fun to try and beat.

    It’s like, I spend all this time augmenting to play how I want, then get to a boss where that is worthless.

    Of course I even looked online a couple times, because it wasn’t fun to try and beat but the solutions all involved guns and augs I didn’t have.

    I generally used stun guns and then attacked. Of course this high lighted a MAJOR flaw in the boss attacks. You stun someone, and can shoot the heck out of them. Run to cover, reload and repeat. If when they are stunned you went to do a Takedown, they were instantly no longer stunned, attack you as soon as you initiate the take down and then basically instantly dropped your health to a minimal level that you died a second later.

    Was so poorly done.

  • I haven’t played the game yet, but this talk of boss battles is getting me actually a little excited.

    I like a game that encourages you to be ‘ready for anything’. Even the above comment re: punishing you other times for not stealthing up, and then punishing you with more difficult combat challenges (i.e. boss battles) for stealthed up players strikes me as quite daring game design.

    • The problem is, it was done so that all you ahd to be ready for was a flatout fight. Hell, the rest of the game was better for giving you a reason to have backup plans, what with the multiple ways to get through a level. Also, being forced to kill two (3 if you count Mr Bull) kind of ruins the non-lethal playthrough.

  • I love DE:HR; but why the fuck would anyone make the dumb decision to outsource any part of gameplay to another studio; let alone one of the most important parts of the game?

    • Boss 1: stand in front of boss, stun gun
      Boss 2: stand in front of boss, stung gun
      Boss 3 (chip upgraded): a little tricky… continually run around enemy, stun gun / stun rifle.

      Boss 4: emp grenade / code / stun gun? i think…

      • Nah, EMP mines made most of the boss fights trivial.

        Oh, and if you preordered and got the Grenade Launcher, you can 3 shot the final boss in less than 5 seconds. :\

  • I didnt really find the bosses that hard or that bad, they did stick out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the gameplay, but take the good with the bad

    I beat all of them with a 10mm pistol and emp grenades (used stun gun on the last boss fight a bit though)

    The part where you have to save your pilot buddy was probably one of the best parts of the game, particularly when you’re doing a non-lethal playthrough

  • Usually a boss battle is supposed to be a crescendo of sorts in most games. Why did Eidos Montreal drop the ball and pass it off to a third party?

  • Bull was bad. That’s just a straight up firefight.
    Stealth chick was slightly better. Atleast there were some tricks you could pull out. Still in essence a firefight though.

    The last merc was laughable with rawkits/nades. Bang bang bang, enter cutscene.

    The last boss was completely non sequetur in regards to it’s surroundings.

    So disappointed with the boss fights. They leave almost no room for a change in tactics in subsequent playthroughs. Unless you feel like gimping your build for a challenge.

  • The air vents actually bothered me a lot more than the boss bottles. Almost without exception, they weren’t ventilation shafts designed to move air around a building, they were Man-Sized Security Bypass Conduits whose sole function in the building was to tick the checkbox of “stealth approach available”.

  • The boss battles were pretty meh, but they didn’t frustrately nearly as much as some other things. My biggest pet peeve is the battery system only reggerating one battery of energy, making the upgrades to it pointless, plus combining mods (invis + quiet, for instance) was a no go unless you carried surprisingly rare candy bars.

    • Indeed. The battery recharge thing was so poorly done I almost wonder whether it was a mistake because as a design choice it is crazy stupid.

  • I’m not going to pretend that I loved the boss battles (especially on my first playthrough when I wasn’t comfortable with the game mechanics) but I think they gave you more freedom than people give them credit for in the sense that it didn’t need to be a circle-strafing bullet fest.

    My character used stealth but I didn’t XP whore so I had lethal weapons too.

    I struggled the most with the first boss because I was under-equipped (and terrified) but I eventually figured out you could throw half the contents of the room into his face so that got easier.

    By the second boss I could cloak and use smart vision so I was always a step ahead and took her out with mines.

    By the third boss I’d invested in things like mark and track and had the homing bullets for my machine pistol so I could always follow him even when he was invisible (you can mark enemies using smart vision too) and didn’t need to worry about my battery. I dominated him.

    Ironically I used all of experience as a call centre rep to get the code for the last boss and then forgot to use it. It was the shootiest boss fight I had.

  • I didn’t mind the out of place boss fights so much as the fact they were such bland, forgettable characters. We saw them at the start. We know they’re nasty robot people. But just who the hell were they?! I completely forgot who the last guy was by the time I fought him and what the hell was the Hyron thing? If I hadn’t done a side mission and won a conversation thanks to a special aug I would have even less idea why a human pod computer thing even exists in the first place!

    MGS1 had bosses that you could call equally jarring to the game (Sneak through a secret base and encounter COWBOY! TANK! ROBO-NINJA! GAS MASK GUY! SNIPER! GATTLING GUN SHAMAN!) but it never mattered because their CHARACTERS were fascinating and deeply built into the game’s story line.

    Though I suppose it helped that the tactics used for the MGS1 fights were actually interesting and varied. It became a joke when I could literally typhoon two of the three big bad bosses in less time than loading a level.

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