What the modern boss fight should look like

Boss fights. We can’t seem to get rid of them. It seems like every game these days feels obligated to build up to several intricate, large-scale, and often difficult fights with significant enemies. Traditional boss fights are a remnant of the past and are no longer necessary (for the most part). Also, very few games successfully execute a good boss fight, making them a waste of valuable money and production time for most developers.

The new trend in gaming, with some exceptions, is omitting a traditional boss fight in favor of a challenging sequence that leads up to the final showdown with the “boss,” which is short and sweet. This approach also lends itself well to games that are trying to preserve some level of realism, as it eliminates problems like human bullet sponges.

The game that does this best is Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. The previous Uncharted games had lackluster boss fights (at best) but were both flawed in different ways.


The first game toyed with the aforementioned idea — making the journey to the boss the challenge — but the journey was underwhelming and unsatisfying. Uncharted 2 had an entire level devoted to killing the final boss, but the villain soaked up an ungodly amount of bullets, and the gimmick used to actually defeat him was uninspired and tedious.

In Uncharted 3, the final sequence leading up to the boss fight is action-packed, cinematic, satisfying, and (almost) devoid of supernatural enemies (one constant flaw in every Uncharted game). The final boss “encounter” lasts all of a minute but is just as tense as the events leading up to it. At the end of the game, I felt fulfilled by the ending sequence, despite having only spent about 60 seconds fighting a traditional “boss.” This is how a modern boss fight should be done, folks.

While there is always room for classic, old-school tussles that really work (see Rocksteady’s Batman games), it is becoming harder and harder for developers to reconcile their beloved boss fights with the trends in modern gaming.

Which do you prefer? A long, drawn-out, well-done, old-school boss fight or a difficult sequence followed by a short boss encounter? Let me know in the comments below.

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