Some quests and missions in video games are so good that they are better than the boss fight.
Boss fights have long been seen as the best way to see how good you are at a game and how determined you are. As you get ready to go up against scary opponents, your heart beats faster and faster with excitement. Still, sometimes the journey that leads up to these great moments has a deeper and more lasting effect.
Even though most games try to make their boss fights unique in some way, there are still tasks in these games that are better and more memorable than the final showdown. It’s clear that these standout missions go beyond the usual boss fight formula, as they offer unique challenges, use new game mechanics, and show that sometimes the journey is more important than the goal.
Horizon Hero Dawn – The Womb Of The Mountain
In Horizon Zero Dawn, you go on an exciting trip with the game’s brave main character, Aloy, to find out the truth about her mother’s identity and the strange machines that roam the land. In The Womb of the Mountain, Aloy finds old ruins and fights waves of robots, which keeps you interested the whole time.
Missions like these build up the excitement for the big showdown with the main bad guy, Hades. But the final boss fight against the Deathbringer, who protects Hades, doesn’t live up to the rest of the game’s epic exploration and character development. It makes you wish that Aloy’s quest had a more satisfying and powerful ending.
Spider-Man 2 – Mysterio’s Funhouse of Doom
In Spider-Man 2, the villains were different and re-thought. Mysterio, who got his own storyline, was re-thought in a smart way. Even though the three tasks that led up to the boss fight were great, the boss fight itself was a joke. In the boss fight, which takes place in a convenience store, you beat Mysterio with a single hit, which is a surprise and turns his grand show into a funny moment of victory.
In the Funhouse of Doom quest, you had to find Mysterio’s secret apartment hideout, find your way through his complicated traps, and even fight killer clowns and messed-up versions of Spider-Man. But later in the game, a short and unimportant event trumped it all, making it a pretty forgettable moment.
Assassin’s Creed 2 – Castle Infiltration
The Castle Infiltration task in Assassin’s Creed 2 shows off the game’s stealth mechanics and lets you test your assassin’s free running skills against complex structures and architecture. That by itself would be better than the boss fight with Rodrigo Borgia, where you fight the old bad guy to the death with your fists in some kind of underground pit.
The work you did on the tasks that led up to this one builds up tension and draws you into an interesting story. The final fight with Rodrigo Borgia, on the other hand, feels embarrassingly underwhelming compared to the other fights. It doesn’t have the same level of excitement and satisfaction as, say, the Castle Infiltration task.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – Train Robbery
The Train Robbery is one of the most interesting tasks in Red Dead Redemption 2, which is an open-world game. You can plan and pull off a daring train robbery in this task. You’ll have to get past many obstacles and fight hard with guns.
But as the task gets closer to its end, the final meeting with Micah Bell, while emotional, doesn’t have as much action and strategic depth as the earlier parts of The Train Robbery. Even though the emotional stakes are high, the game mechanics and details that made the task so great at first seem a little less impressive.
Mass Effect 3 – Citadel Siege
For the Citadel Siege mission in Mass Effect 3, you have to put together a team, plan defenses, and rally allies to stop the Reaper attack. When you combine the size of this task with the emotional bonds you’ve made with other Doodle Baseball players over the course of the game, you get a sense of urgency and teamwork.
But the boss fight against Reaper Sovereign isn’t as exciting or satisfying as what came before. You wish that the end of the fight for the life of the galaxy was more memorable and powerful.
Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood – The Royal Menagerie
The Royal Menagerie is a mission in Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood that takes you all over the fantasy land. As part of a risky rescue mission, you will have a lot of exciting fights with powerful enemies as you move through dangerous environments.
Even though the setup for the final boss fight against Shinryu was great, the fight itself was boring and didn’t live up to the excitement and variety of the previous task.
Halo: Reach – The Winter Contingency
In Halo: Reach, the Winter Contingency task is the first part of the game’s great campaign. As a member of Noble Team, you discover a huge, war-torn landscape and fight against the Covenant forces in fierce firefights.
The mission shows off the game’s great level design, its immersive mood, and its many different ways to play. Even so, the boss fight with the Zealots, while difficult, doesn’t have the same level of excitement and strategic depth as the task that led up to it.
Metal Gear Solid – The Assault On Shadow Moses
Assault on Shadow Moses, a task in Metal Gear Solid, is a great example of how to use stealth and build up tension in a story. As Solid Snake sneaks onto the heavily guarded island, you have to deal with a variety of problems, such as security cameras, guard patrols, and puzzles that are well thought out.
The mission shows off the game’s signature gameplay and level design. The boss fight with Liquid Snake is a bit of a letdown compared to the previous task, because it doesn’t have as much depth or creativity.
Batman: Arkham Asylum – Arkham Mansion
You find the Arkham Mansion shortly after leaving the second secret Batcave on Arkham and before you have to kill Victor Zsasz. This could be one of the most exciting parts of Batman: Arkham Asylum. After saving hostages from thugs in a library full of them, you have a life-changing experience when you take on the part of a young Bruce Wayne and see how his parents were killed.
In this changed world, you are in what looks like a 2-D level where you have to fight off skeletons and stay away from a huge scarecrow. All of this is topped when, later in the section, all it takes to kill the level’s last enemy, Victor Zsasz, is a well-timed batarang throw.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Sink Or Swim
In the Uncharted 3 task “Sink or Swim,” you play as the charming treasure hunter Nathan Drake, who is on a ship that is sinking. This task is a great example of the exciting set pieces that make the Uncharted series so well-known.
Even though the boss fight against Talbot is a good way to end the mission from a cinematic point of view, it doesn’t quite live up to the dynamic gameplay and variety of challenges that came before it. When you meet Talbot, you don’t have as much control over what happens as you did earlier in the task. Instead, you follow a script.