How would you make boss fights better?


So I finally got to start playing Enslaved, while neglecting my university midterm studying. I'm a slow player so I've just finished Chapter Two with its boss fight. It's the first action boss fight I've played since Prince of Persia, so I started thinking about the concept.  
 
I've always found the idea of the patterns in a boss fight to be odd, I understand the concept, but it's not what I think makes it interesting. However, other games without them aren't much better. As much as I like Bioware, I've always found their boss fights to be rather lackluster.  
 
So, what do you think would make boss fights better? 
 
Personally, I think the spectacle should be increased. I've always like the action movies, like the Indy movies, where the hero gets the crap beaten out of him and overcomes the odds. Games like to enpower us, but than boss fights give away to three results: 
1. You beat the crap out the boss 
2. You get creamed 
3. You win by the edge of your teeth 
 
I want more of 3, even if it's more spectacle beyond your control. It's fun to be the enpowered hero, but the boss should a challenge, someone worthy of your effort. They should be your equal or better.  
 
QTEs are a good way at this, but not what I'm going for, but than again, I have a terrible reaction time and button mashing skills. QTEs should never decide a fight, just add to the spectacle. I would go as far to say that they shouldn't cost you health, just making it seem like it's was a more challenging fight when you fail the QTE. I would even have successful counters that still end with you getting beaten up.  
 
So once again, what would you do? I realise most of my ideas are merely cosmetic changes, but it is a start to brainstorming. What do you want? Or do I have it all wrong? (Probably)
11 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by LlamaLlama

So I finally got to start playing Enslaved, while neglecting my university midterm studying. I'm a slow player so I've just finished Chapter Two with its boss fight. It's the first action boss fight I've played since Prince of Persia, so I started thinking about the concept.  
 
I've always found the idea of the patterns in a boss fight to be odd, I understand the concept, but it's not what I think makes it interesting. However, other games without them aren't much better. As much as I like Bioware, I've always found their boss fights to be rather lackluster.  
 
So, what do you think would make boss fights better? 
 
Personally, I think the spectacle should be increased. I've always like the action movies, like the Indy movies, where the hero gets the crap beaten out of him and overcomes the odds. Games like to enpower us, but than boss fights give away to three results: 
1. You beat the crap out the boss 
2. You get creamed 
3. You win by the edge of your teeth 
 
I want more of 3, even if it's more spectacle beyond your control. It's fun to be the enpowered hero, but the boss should a challenge, someone worthy of your effort. They should be your equal or better.  
 
QTEs are a good way at this, but not what I'm going for, but than again, I have a terrible reaction time and button mashing skills. QTEs should never decide a fight, just add to the spectacle. I would go as far to say that they shouldn't cost you health, just making it seem like it's was a more challenging fight when you fail the QTE. I would even have successful counters that still end with you getting beaten up.  
 
So once again, what would you do? I realise most of my ideas are merely cosmetic changes, but it is a start to brainstorming. What do you want? Or do I have it all wrong? (Probably)
Posted by FluxWaveZ
  • Epic music.
  • Epic fighting environment.
  • Boss performs epic moves.
  • Limited patterns that don't constantly repeat for the sake of epic unpredictability.
  • Not last so long that it gets repetitive and starts losing its epicness.
 
Basically, I want it to be epic.  I also support your QTE idea, which I think Bayonetta did a bit.
Posted by JSUMAN

more tits.

Posted by InfamousBIG
@FluxWaveZ said: 
 Basically, I want it to be epic.  
"
@JSUMAN said:

" more tits. "

 
Posted by FunExplosions
  • Mini-bosses and player-sized bosses need to flash when they get hit. 
  • And flash a lot more as their health gets low. 
  • They need to have multiple stages of difficulty. 
  • Their attacks need to actually be intelligent, like not just a repeating sequence of moves. Like a giant God of War boss that's trying to swipe at you should actually track your movement with his hand as he makes the swipe. It may be too hard, but there are other ways to remedy this. 
  • Awesome music is a must. 
  • Multiple stage main boss battles are always a plus. Like hurting a boss, then climbing into his mouth as his giant frame topples over. You hack up his stomach, but then stomach acid is starting to gurgle, and you've gotta get outta there. You start running back the way you came, being chased by an acidic waterfall. Meanwhile, the beast is standing back upright and gravity is switching. Not you've got an acidic geyser coming up on you as you make the final lunge back onto his tongue. Wait. His mouth is shut. His tongue goes up and you duck behind it as the acidic geyser flies over you and finally forcing his mouth open. But there's no time to leave at this point and his mouth shuts. Now you hear the rumbling of more acid as his tongue tries to crush you. You have no choice but to smash through his teeth, grapple onto the flesh of his nose, and swing out from there.
  • Chase sequences are always awesome. Or like in SOTC, riding on top of these gigantic beasts as they hurdle around the sky and through the water.
Posted by DrPockets000

Get rid of quick time events and "rule of 3".

Posted by Paulus

Being able to actually use tactics and the environment. I would love a boss battle against some huge ass monster where I could just cripple him by messing up one of his legs or mess up the environment so that he suddenly gets hit by some object that was hanging on the ceiling... 
Like in that bioshock infinite gameplay demo where the suddenly mess up that bridge so it collapses on top of that guy, since games tend to put you against way bigger enemies you're not likely to defeat based on brawn or pure gunpower I'd like to see more of that. 
 
I have a feeling that both those things are hard to implement or take a lot of processing power though.

Posted by Dany

So whats your guyses take on Gears 1 boss? Too simple, plain or just difficult?

Posted by FluxWaveZ
@Dany said:
" So whats your guyses take on Gears 1 boss? Too simple, plain or just difficult? "
General RAAM is the worst boss, in recent memory, that I've ever faced.  Mainly because of the difficulty, though.
Posted by Timing
@FluxWaveZ said:
  • Epic music.
  • Epic fighting environment.
  • Boss performs epic moves.
  • Limited patterns that don't constantly repeat for the sake of epic unpredictability.
  • Not last so long that it gets repetitive and starts losing its epicness.
 
You just described practically every boss fight in Demon's Souls.
Posted by mikeeegeee

I disagree that QTE's are the answer in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I could do with the removal of QTE's altogether in today's games. They strike me as lazy... it's as though the game plays itself for me.
 
In my mind, effective boss fights do these things:

  • The boss has a weakness, but the only way to defeat him is to rely on a tactic or ability you've recently acquired. It also needs to be difficult in order to successfully use the tactic/ability, or you need to be required to use the new ability in a way you've not yet explored.
  • The boss isn't necessarily stronger than you. Rather, the boss is miles superior to you in one or two respects. For instance, let's say you just learned how to dodge. The boss you fight after learning to dodge should be able to dodge and considerably faster than you, but he may not necessarily be stronger than you. He relies on his agility to avoid your attacks and hit you quickly.
  • If you can counter the boss's attacks with specific tactics, he needs to be able to counter your attacks with specific tactics. If I find one move I can spam that's going to win, I'm going to spam it.
 
Too often I think games violate the second point I listed. Anymore, a boss just needs a gajillion hit points and the ability to hit like a truck.
Posted by FluxWaveZ
@Timing said:
" You just described practically every boss fight in Demon's Souls. "
I want to play that game so damn much, but I don't have a PS3...  I'm pretty excited about Project Dark for that reason, though.