View Full Version : Let's talk about Boss Fights

30th Aug 2011, 06:29
One of the core design mechanics in Deus Ex is stealth and hacking. There are quest solutions that avoid any deaths and frontal assaults; there are always mission resolutions that do the same. When you stealth and hack, you aug that way, naturally. You don't acquire ammo, and generally the only weapon you keep is the Tranquillizer Rifle. That and a few energy bars, a lot of stealthy patient sneaking, and a bunch of timely non-lethal takedowns, and you're rocking. That's the fun of stealth.

Then come the boss fights. There is nothing beyond cloaking that stealth or hacking augs bring to these (and that is minimally useful). They are designed around running and shooting, or other mindless bang bang strategies. As a steath hacker, you have nothing to fortify you for these encounters, and probably very little ammo on you as well.

But the real issue with these fights is this: if you enjoy the slow, thoughtful stealth gameplay, being forced through run and shoot boss fights is counter-intuitive at best, and infuriating at worst. So why do it? There are lots of ways this can be adjusted to suit. At the very least allow pure stealth builds a way to hack boss fights to bring them down in difficultly. Make it a battle which includes stealthy takedowns, or something that plays into the stealth gameplay. That makes sense, and would be cool. Forcing people who are playing the game one way to play it the diametrically opposite way in key encounters when they are going to be unsuited for it and unlikely to enjoy it is lazy design (I say this as a game designer).

I would argue the one dimensional arcadey boss fights we always see are legacy from 8-bit arcade game days anyway, and design dinosaurs that should be left behind, but that is another discussion. Right now I have to decide if I could be bothered facing yet another canned, finger twitching, whack-a-mole boss fight that forces me to play Quake with a totally unprepared character, just so I can get back to playing the game I want to.

30th Aug 2011, 06:45
Though the big change I had to make when I first encountered the first boss (was pretty much playing stealth), didn't really impact me THAT much, I can understand peoples complaints about it.

It felt like I went from playing Deus Ex to Gears of War :lol:

They did feel out of place compared to the rest of the game, but it didn't bother me that much to be honest.

30th Aug 2011, 06:53
The first boss was annoying, but I gimped him by circling around a pillar constantly and face shooting him during his power up phase. Stupid that he could be gimped and that it was actually an attractive thing to do, and underscores the point of my post. Why do this style of boss fight at all when the most fun part of it is getting through it as quickly as possible?

The second boss is utterly annnoying because unless you have augmented yourself toward run and shoot (EMP immunity, damage reduction etc.) it is tediously difficult. More importantly, it's not fun. It's just a hoop you have to jump through to get back to the game. Boss fights per se are meant to be gameplay "tent poles" that define and epitomise the rest of the game, not change the rules of play entirely so you are forced to play in a way you don't enjoy and for which the preceding gameplay hasn't prepared you. The approach Eidos have taken with their boss fights is disappointingly thoughtless, and is spoiling an otherwise good game.