The Incompetence of Western Boss Fights

Why are western dev’s incapable of making good boss fights?

Lemme make a list of western and cross check their various traits. I’ve looked up various “Best Boss” lists on the internet to source these. I’m going to try not to cherrypick bad bosses on purpose so I can pick on them, though I will include bad ones I find on multiple lists.

On analysis, I find the primary problem with the bosses I found was that there’s no risk and reward. Everything is defined in clear cycles You’ll notice that in most of these, there’s no movement while attacking, there’s no movement between attacks then stopping to pop one off at a risk to yourself. Generally the players do not damage the bosses while the bosses are attacking them. A lot of it is, “Do this simple skill challenge to avoid taking damage, then do this simple skill challenge to deal damage” A lot of western bosses throw in enemies, because their enemies are better designed than the boss is, but this leads to bosses feeling homogenous with enemy encounters. Bosses frequently get stunned after specific actions, prompting you to wail on them. In Eastern games, you frequently have to work to stun them as a bonus for efficiency and preying on difficult to abuse weaknesses.

Bob Barbas (DmC)

The one is extremely lame. Lasers rotate, you dodge them. Pound sign on ground, beat up stunned boss, fight some mooks w/ alternate camera.

Lady Comstock (bioshock infinite)

It’s an encounter with a mob of regular-ass enemies who revive, and a bullet sponge in the center of them. Boss moves around on cycles after taking enough damage, but it’s mostly to make you move through the other enemies, it’s not really a push and pull type of thing.

Alduin (skyrim)

The boss sits around doing nothing most of the time, there’s no hitstun, so who cares about tanking all the boss’s hits?

Baal (Diablo 2)

Standing still the entire fight just attacking, then moving when the boss teleports.

Vaas (Far Cry 3)

Shooting at a lot of targets rushing in, then a cutscene plays.

Solomon Grundy (Arkham City)

Dodge some attacks, lay explosives when over the 3 environmental points that deal damage and the boss isn’t attacking. Also attack the boss directly when stunned. Every cycle there is something very clearly expected of the player, it is the one right answer.

Hive Mind (Dead Space)

This one, you get a chance to shoot, then you gotta dodge something, very clear cycles here. Then you get to shoot with different controls that are harder to aim. Spawn some enemies, give them time to deal with them, back to the pattern, slam tentacles twice now before showing weak spot.

Poseidon (God Of War 3)

This one is a bit better. It doesn’t always have entirely clear phases, and it lets you damage during the attack phase, though it still has stun phases. Lots of scripted sequences and quick time events.

Raam (Gears of War)

This one actually has some risk. You have to pop out to shoot. Take too long and you get shot. Don’t pop out when he’s shooting. Move away when he’s too close.

Ceraph Warship (Crysis)

Massively shitty boss. Most of the alien encounters sucked because they didn’t utilize stealth in combination with the fighting/suit powers. Duck behind cover. Shoot at a largely stationary target.

Humanoid Reaper (Mass Effect 2)

It’s a cover shooter. Of course the boss is peekaboo. Peek out, shoot until you start getting shot at. Bonus mook included free!

And that’s all I care to go through. Why are they designed this way? Who knows. Lack of creativity? None seem to be pursuing an idea of depth, which in enemy design tends to mean shutting down options the player has in ways that make the enemy vulnerable too, so the player needs to respond to what tactics the enemy is taking, reacting accordingly. The player shouldn’t just get a punish for a dodged attack, they should need to be in position to punish it. If you don’t require the player to make the correct decisions to beat the boss, versus simply following patterns, then winning is a matter of time.

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