The Trouble with Tedious Boss Battles

I finished Gears of War 3 over the weekend, and it was amazing. I’m totally in love with this series now. All I have left to play is Judgment, which I’ll probably start on tonight…

But there was one thing about Gears of War 3 that drove me a little nuts: the final boss battle.

It was over 30 minutes of shooting at the enemy queen Myrrah while she rode her Tempest mount. Then, when it landed, you used the special Hammer of Dawn weapon to call in an airstrike and fry the creature. Then it would fly again, and you’d keep shooting.

Every few seconds, the Tempest would open its mouth and shriek intense heat at you, so I would hide behind a pillar. As soon as the shriek was over, I’d pop back out of cover and shoot for a few more seconds. I guess that was supposed to be interesting, but just felt like it slowed down the process to have to hide several times a minute.

It was rounds and rounds of this. I thought the beast might have to land two or three times before dying, but I’m pretty sure it was at least five or six… maybe more. Later, the Tempest started climbing the tower, so you’d shoot it up there too. I just found the whole process to be really tedious.

The thing is, this isn’t uncommon in video games. I can think of a few other boss battles that were similarly repetitive and punishing, like the Reaper battle on Rannoch in Mass Effect 3. The thing is, these fights are not that challenging, and they barely feel unique to that particular enemy. It’s fun when you have to figure out a boss’s weak spot is or get creative to take them down… but in battles like this one, it’s just a matter of figuring out what you are supposed to do (usually something simple), dodging attacks, shooting when you can, and then starting the process over as the enemy gets weaker and weaker.

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if it didn’t take so long. But it feels like the game makes the battle long, just to make the whole thing feel challenging. When it’s really not. It’s just boring.

— Ashley

7 thoughts on “The Trouble with Tedious Boss Battles”

  1. That final battle is bad, for sure, but on insane mode it’s the kind of thing people murder over.

    I was thinking about this recently when trying to beat the final boss in the Trespasser DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition on Nightmare difficulty. It wasn’t about strategy or skill. It was pure endurance — something the industry really needs to do away with.

      1. It reminds me as well of the Deathstroke fight in Arkham Origins. So many things already work against people with limited time playing games, and fights that are intentionally designed to be time-sucking don’t need to be part of that list.

  2. You have really nailed a pet peeve of mine in this post. I like a challenging boss fight, but a tedious one as you put it can be awful and boring. Few things break my will in gaming like dying towards the end of one of these tedious fights and having to start it over. At least with a normal-length challenging fight, you die, you learn and can have another quick go. In the tedious ones it just seems like a slog getting back to where you failed last time. Very annoying.

    1. Yeah, I totally agree. It’s so frustrating to have to start a tedious battle over just because you made one small mistake toward the end of the fight. It’s nice when a boss has tiers with save points so you can at least start at the beginning of the latest “weak stage” of the enemy… but that doesn’t happen all that often.

        1. Oh yeah, that’s the worst. I forgot to mention that a lot of parts of Gears of War have a little problem with that, actually — not during the boss battles, but save points are often at the beginning of cutscenes before really challenging gameplay!

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