A Truth Bomb About Boss Fights


British TV writer and presenter (and former games journo) Charlie Brooker, being interviewed in the latest issue of Edge, nails boss fights. Just…nails them.


  • In most cases I’d agree with him. Although there are exceptions e.g. the boss fights are often highlights in the Metal Gear games. And Shadow of the Colossus was basically nothing BUT boss fights.

  • It really depends. Games like Dark Souls the boss fights are one of the highlights of the game. Some RPG’s do them brilliantly as well.

    • This.

      Its games like Deus Ex or Dead rising that have some of the worst boss fights.

      I still remember back on PS1 and the original Xbox every game i played i looked forward to boos fights. Nowday’s its a miracle if they are even passable.

    • This right here! If you ever want to know what a good boss fight is its taking the strategies you have and hold dear thrown against the wall because that pattern you have clinged on to for the last half an hour of fodder has just been obliterated by a part lady part spider witch that just decides that her poker face is just gonna be perfect for once.

      I hate the way games treat boss fights these days, you would think the developers treat them as THEIR personal enemy, monotonous attack pattern here “simon says” there. One game I love for its boss fights (even with their obvious flaws) was Azura’s wrath. Most games these days seem to try to throw them in for story progression, but the characters themselves normally aren’t anything other than a slightly strong faceless grunt in the middle of a horde of other faceless grunts.

  • Screw him! Lazy boss fights feels like you’re just doing the washing, good boss fights test what you’ve learned and how you can adapt.

    They also help change up the monotony games can have. How many puppets can you shoot in Devil May Cry before wishing you were fighting a giant, lava rock hybrid scorpion spider? Where’s the challenge in Dark Souls if I can just easily run past all the zombie ninjas? What’s the point in even playing Final Fantasy 7 if I can just hold L2 and R2 from all fights, knowing that I’ll never get into a boss fight that I can’t run from?

  • But is that such a bad thing?

    I mean, bosses are generally supposed to represent a challenge, something standing in the way of you hitting a goal or some kind of break point. If they don’t fill you with dread then they’re not exactly doing their job.

  • I wish people put more thought into boss fights. Given that gaming had evolved and changed directions, I really DO miss boss fights. Big epic boss fights that have you cursing and sweating.

      • Agreed! And R-Type. In fact I’d say boss fights were much more exciting in the 2D age. That that could pull off screen filling sprites with such limited resources was genuinely dazzling at the time, and hard as nails without feeling cheap.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xob4s9GRYeo

      This boss has plenty of people in the FFXIV community swearing and sweating… sadly, it’s mostly towards lag and hoping your party members know the rotation of his attacks (if you get hit by Landslide close to the edge or stacked puddles, you’re dead). He’s an otherwise easy and fun boss to fight.

      • Yep key word there, LAG. At launch and for the next month that dame had huge delays. (circle on ground still red for 1 + seconds after your out of it, still get hit kind of delays for everyone, worse for higher ping users).

        Not sure how its going now, but that was the biggest hurdle for everyone I knew.

  • Yeah gotta disagree with its….depending on how the bosses are done. When done right, boss fights should be a high-point of the game, where it tests everything you’ve learnt so far but does it in a new and challenging way. It gives your character a chance to step up above the enemy fodder he/she’s been burning through and face a real opponent, and advasary, and defeating it means you’ve actually grown as a player rather than just levelling up (Dark Souls).

    Of course, if the boss is just a damage sponge to wail on with occasional QTE’s, then you’re just wasting your time.

  • Yeah I really don’t agree. If there’s no bosses then you’re just defeating the fodder characters, and where’s the fun there?

    And who else recalls the old days? On my SNES every game the boss fights were something to be looked forward to. You were making progress and there was something new to learn.

    I don’t mind the boss fights at all. As long as they’re fair and interesting, which granted in a lot of games now, they’re not.

    • Exactly. They should also question if they SHOULD have a boss fight. Sometimes something else is more appropriate (Whatever that may happen to be). Other times the fight should have been redone or had an option to be avoided (Like in Human Revolution).

  • A well designed Boss Fight is a wonderful thing- it

    a) Challenges you to utilise the tools you’ve been given, sometimes in new ways
    b) Acts to break up the existing gameplay
    c) Moves the plot along
    and, if it’s a final boss,
    d) Gives closure to the rest of the game.

  • Was about to disagree with article, saw that the comments unanimously also disagree. Can leave content that author is wrong.

  • I am generally disappointed from a lack of boss fights. Maybe it’s the games I tend to play, but I love bosses.

  • Obviously the author has never played Dark Souls.
    Sure the bosses are never met with glee; but the relish of a challenge? Definitely.

  • zelda games always had me wanting to see what the boss of the dungeon was and how i would have to use my newly acquired item to beat them. they were hardly ever nuisances.

  • I agree with what Yahtzee said during one of his Zero Punctuation reviews and that is a boss fight should be an exam to test all your skills you learned during the game and the boss shouldn’t be a normal enemy that has eaten all the Snickers bars.

  • Hmmm, I agree about it depending namely on the title… Path of Exile, for example, all the bosses in maps are relatively easy and have higher item level drop then all the other mobs ( I believe its, standard = to area, blue +1, yellow + 2, boss + 3).

    And games like WoW aswell, I am not sure how the game is now as I played in Vanilla, but the bosses were the whole point of a game.

  • Some people see games as experiences and some people see them as contests. Unfortunately, these two types of people will never agree. I personally like to see craftsmanship and artistry in a game, things like difficulty and structure need to be suited to the game but I often see countless complaints that all end with a rhetorical “what’s the point?” after describing something that was easy, as if the ONLY point to a game is testing your skill level. I think ideological differences will always mean there’s no answer to whether boss fights are a hindrance or not. If you’re constantly trying to test your skill and crunch numbers then maybe you’d love them. If you’re opening yourself up to a story or a crafted experience, maybe you wouldn’t appreciate them so much. Depends which game, I definitely don’t think boss fights are necessary for every game but are super useful at ensuring you have the right skills down so you don’t ruin the next section for yourself.

    • Unfortunately, these two types of people will never agree.

      I disagree because I fall into both types. I enjoyed Journey and did not think for a second that it needed a boss fight.

  • It’s already been covered above but a good boss fight is something you may have hated… right up till you completed it, than it’s a triumph.

    A Bad Boss fight is simply a damage sponge and I hate those. Shoot the enemy for two hours is not a challenging fight. Neither is QTE push the button fights and finally push over bosses are a pain in the arse.

  • As most people have said, boss fights are most often the best part of the game. It’s the long slog through the same enemies you fought last level, but with a bit more health and a different colour palette that are the pans in the sink.

  • Fail ‘Charlie Brooker’ and *heavily* disagree @lukeplunkett

    Let’s go all the way BACK IN TIME to…. *cue music*


    You know how many people took pride in being able to get to the first set of Abobos without losing any energy? Looking forward to get to the end of the stage to fight these big buggers and kill them? Or to the ‘green guy’ and beat him? Or all the way to MAX MACHINEGUN and kill him without losing a life? You actually looked forward to killing these guys because they were *fun*.


    Such a fun game. Such varied bosses Nef would turn into, you would look forward to each and every one, the human flesh devil tower that threw his own heads, the Rhino, the wierd eye throwing plant… every one of them a treat. Every one of them you would revel in getting to to *kill* in your Altered Beast form! The OBJECTIVE of the game was to get to Nef each and every time and kill him!

    3. Final Fantasy 7

    Weapon was something people sought out, in all his/her forms, to fight. Jenova was hard but felt rewarding to kill. Sephiroth you WANTED DEAD. Because he took Aeris from us. The bastard. These bosses you looked forward to killing. You WANTED to confront them, when you finally ran your sword through Sephiroth it had that ‘OH CHRIST YES!!!!!’ feeling to it that hasn’t been repeated in a Final Fantasy since because to those of us who played 7 when it came out, that was a landmark moment in games.

    4. Dark Souls/Demons Souls

    Isn’t that the bloody point of the game?

    I could keep going, this is a tiny tiny amount of games… but seriously. Boss fights in a game that is *poorly designed* are things we loathe, but in games that are incredibly well done? Hell, we look forward to each and every one. Lets compare:

    Metal Gear Solid 3


    Metal Gear Solid 4

    I loved 4, but the boss fights were *really* lacking compared to 3. I think the fights in 3 stood head and shoulders above 4 for instance. In 4 they felt kind of generic, in a way they had a lot of wasted potential. But 3 felt like they used their full potential. Just something to consider and two games in the same series to compare (though BOTH games had brilliant gameplay).

  • He did excellent, no, amazing work with Black Mirror.

    Who really cares what he has to say about boss fights though? This isn’t revelatory. Browse any forum with a thread on boss fights in it (wut) and you’ll see the same statement repeated ad infinitum but by people who aren’t famous OH SHIT.

    Sorry, just realised why this was ‘news’.

  • Kingdom Hearts 2
    If anyone can honestly say that the boss fights were not some of their greatest time spent during that game then it’s because they didn’t play the game…
    right up until “Dance water! Dance!”

  • Y’know what, I’m getting a little sick of people bagging out on boss fights lately. I love boss fights! I love ’em as a mark of progress! I love ’em as a test of what the game has taught you so far! I love ’em as plot-important confrontations! Yes, a poorly designed boss can be tedious, but I’d rather a poor boss fight than yet another wave after wave of mindless mooks that seems to be the industry standard these days!

  • What? Bosses get the blood pumping, its fun, I love a good boss fight. Megaman (X4 my fav), Metal Slug 3, Ninja Gaiden I & II, Castlevania games, Demon/Dark Souls, Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid, Metroid, Starfox 64, Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.. The list goes on. All these games would be less without their bosses (imo)

  • Dark Souls boss fights are not ‘special’.

    They’re overly easy.

    Wear no armor for easy dodge, until you fight the kings and the witch.

    When fighting the kings, wear max upgraded heavy and wail on them, and when fighting the witch any decent fire resist armor (light or heavy, I used pyromancer robes) plus the shield makes her easier than the knights.

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