Boss Fights in Infinite

Do Boss Battles Belong in the Halo Campaign?

Consider:
343 Guilty Spark, Sesa 'Refumee (Heretic Leader), Prophet of Regret, Tartarus, Prophet of Truth, the Gravemind, 2401 Penitent Tangent, the Didact, Jul 'Mdama, Gek 'Lhar, the Warden Eternal, Cortana, Mendicant Bias, and the various named enemies of the Warzone simulation. Some of these characters are defeated by the actions of the player in-game. Others are killed during cutscenes or quick-time events. Do boss battles belong in Halo, and to what extent? Would you like to see the return of boss fights in Halo: Infinite? If so, in what form? Why / why not?

Most situations in Halo that could be classifed as a “boss fight” are really bad. They’re either unreasonably easy and might as well have been cutscenes, or the enemies are bullet sponges, and there’s no quick way to beat them, no interesting tactics, and no sense of progression during the battle. The only encounters in Halo that could be classified boss fights that I have enjoyed are the Scarabs in Halo 3 (namely, the one on The Storm). They have a clear objective: destroy the core of the Scarab at the back. The whole fight is about getting there, and once you have, you’re done. It’s hardly the most challenging objective in the world, but it’s still a fun thing to do because you always have a clear idea of what needs to be done.

As far as the rest of boss fights are concerned: Guilty Spark, Tartarus, Regret, the heretic leader, Warden Eternal, they’re all just terrible in one way or another. Since Halo has never managed to properly execute a proper boss character, under two different developers, I don’t have high hopes that it ever will.

I’ve always thought boss fights in general are really difficult to pull of well, probably the most difficult single thing. They have to be challenging, but not unfair. They have to be interesting, but communicate clearly to the player what needs to be done. There are just so many potential pitfalls with boss designs.

Halo has terrible boss fights. Campaign bosses require no real strategy: Heretic leader: shoot until dead. Prophet: highjack, punch until dead. Tartaurs: Wait for Johnson to pop his shield, shoot until dead. Guilty Spark: Shoot until Johnson shoots, then Spartan Laser him to death. Warden Eternal: shoot his back core until he’s dead. EDIT: forgot about scarabs in Halo 3. They’re probably the most fun out of all of these, and required you to take out the legs first and then the core. They were pretty cool. But definitely still lacking in the “boss department”. There wasn’t much strategy there either.

Halo 5’s warzone bosses are pretty much just bullet sponges with overpowered abilities, artificially making them harder than regular enemies. Shoot until dead.

If we take a closer look at other games with great boss fights (like Devil May Cry 4, for example) we can take a few notes:

  • Bosses have several movesets that can be both offensive and defensive, and there a few frames that will have indications of this that the player can pick up (wether a specific animation, or a specific glow, etc. If the player can pick these up he can either counter (or even cancel the move) with any weapon or a specific weapon (a specific weapon would probably not be a good idea in Halo)
  • Players have several abilities in their moveset to either dodge or counter (jump, roll, etc) In Halo 5 we only have jump and strafe (limited).
    -There’s a specific time window or move where when being attacked players can get out of the situation. This ensures that the boss isn’t going to 1 hit KO you and gives you a chance to still win, being a bit forgiving when you mess up.
  • Bosses are usually the culmination of the abilities previously learned in the game.
  • Bosses are strong not because they are bullet sponges or have 1 hit KO moves, but because they can counter your moves and punish your mistakes.
  • If you’re doing well against the boss, you’ll be rewarded by a temporary boss weakness (like it being stunned for a few seconds, or unshielded, etc). However this will be followed by a comeback (which has these previously mentioned indications) that will punish the player if he’s not aware of it.
    -(probably a lot more stuff, but I don’t remember right now. I’ll edit this if I do.)

Here’s how I personally would’ve made the Warden Eternal, having Halo 5’s abilities, art style, direction in mind:

  • Give him some sort of physical shield since he’s just there taking bullets to the face like an idiot. This shield could be broken by either a certain amount of bullets, a shot from a power weapon like the spnkr, an EMP, or a spartan charge. When his shield is down, his back core is also unprotected. You could use a few stun time seconds to get behind him for massive damage.
  • Make him overall faster.
  • His sniper face beam should be only an EMP for vehicles.
  • Give him a sword attack that launches you in the air (takes half your shield). When you fall you’ll have fall damage of a quarter of your shield. However you could take advantage of this by using ground pound on him while in the air.
  • Instead of his sniper beam, a close-mid range sword attack (like a sword extension or something, like 15 meters) A player could either strafe to dodge or spartan charge at a specific time to damage his sword and arm. Heavy weapons like spnkr could have the same effect.
  • Give him the knight teleporting ability with a twist. Instead of an instant teleport you would hear and see a sort of EMP charging for 2 seconds or so at the place he was teleporting to. If you didn’t get out of the way, he would EMP you, but not attack you right away. (this would punish campers, but would still give them a chance back into the fight)
  • Give his sword slashes less damage each, but make him do a combo of 3 or 4 slashes. Also, give him different types of combos. You’d be punished if you didn’t get out of the way at all (all slashes would completely take out your shields), but you could strafe after the first slash. If you could take out his shield during this, a bonus stun time of +1 second would be awarded.
  • Get rid of the tracking on his kill ball and make it a bit slower.

There’s probably more ways to make him a better boss, but I think these suggestions would not only make him more fun to fight (while also using spartan abilities), it would also make him a way fairer opponent and not just a bullet sponge.

I think boss fights could work in Halo if there was way more thought put into them, but I’m not sure if they belong in the first place.

PS: let me know what you think about those Warden ideas.

2401 penitent tangent what? I dont remember him being boss in games and only made appearance, same with few others.

Few rare encounters i have liked that could be counted as bosses are scarabs for one.

Tartarus is one of the few on the list that are actual proper bosses and those few bosses just took a few too many hits to fit in the rest of the game.

The heretic leader wasnt that bad but holograms hurting you? Really? Maybe the hologram machines could have armaments but hologram plasma rifles shouldnt really do damage.

Warden didnt fit to the game at all. Maybe something more destiny like but definitely not Halo. Also there were just way too many encounters with it.

Cutscenes are occasionally fine for example when the target is not physically a threat like Truth for example and such.
I just hope that if there are bosses that are close to normal enemies, no matter if its a cutscene or a small boss fight, is that the scene is executed properly and not like with Jul for one with building up through H4 as this new covenant type leader and then quickly get rid of him in H5g and make him look pathetic.

And the Didact is one of the worst in that list, a quicktime event, in Halo. If I would write about that here uncensored then it would be ban material.

What makes a boss? I’ll just toss ideas out that may suck

They can be tough to do in FPS.

  • Be a character that the player fears/hates a bit and wants to defeat. They don’t need to be narrative characters or crazy health units. But some story or motive behind them does help too…maybe they can have some part in the overall story. - Nonetheless they should be impressive in some manner. Health bulk can help but not only. Some zealot sword elites were so dangerous they had boss vibes in the old games. You were careful when nearing their “den”. The one in the Cartographer tunnels, the one on the bridge. It was satisfying to beat them imo. - Some unique method of defeating them. If the rest of the game is shooting until death maybe bosses can be more specialized. If shooting, put player into a different environment where the shooting or movement isn’t the same. Or perhaps they are masters of one aspect of weapon (sniper, stealth, vehicle).Possible Bosses:

  • dropship sniper that quickly harasses you and allies throughout level until you shoot down his dropship and 1v1 later in a sniper showdown? - stealth ops character who appears throughout the level but vanishes if in danger, stealth 1v1 fight at the end? - sword elite; better if in a pretty dark / claustrophobic environment where their sword is the bright light when activated - Flood: think horror boss. Perhaps an omniscient one observing his battles, infecting him, but agreeing to disinfect once you win/listen to him.

  • Uneasy environment noises,

  • Lack of motion sensor or dependable natural light so have to depend on hearing and flashlight

  • Shoot bodies off revealing a weak center of Flood foes

  • Brutal melees because of alteration

  • Maybe like DOOM gameplay, maybe Chief is getting infected and his movement speed is boosted by the Observer, making the level very fast paced and out of character

I would like boss fights to return, no QTE’s though. Kill boss/cut to cutscene.

> 2533274818470226;3:
> Halo has terrible boss fights. Campaign bosses require no real strategy: Heretic leader: shoot until dead. Prophet: highjack, punch until dead. Tartaurs: Wait for Johnson to pop his shield, shoot until dead. Guilty Spark: Shoot until Johnson shoots, then Spartan Laser him to death. Warden Eternal: shoot his back core until he’s dead. EDIT: forgot about scarabs in Halo 3. They’re probably the most fun out of all of these, and required you to take out the legs first and then the core. They were pretty cool. But definitely still lacking in the “boss department”. There wasn’t much strategy there either.
>
> Halo 5’s warzone bosses are pretty much just bullet sponges with overpowered abilities, artificially making them harder than regular enemies. Shoot until dead.
>
> If we take a closer look at other games with great boss fights (like Devil May Cry 4, for example) we can take a few notes:
> - Bosses have several movesets that can be both offensive and defensive, and there a few frames that will have indications of this that the player can pick up (wether a specific animation, or a specific glow, etc. If the player can pick these up he can either counter (or even cancel the move) with any weapon or a specific weapon (a specific weapon would probably not be a good idea in Halo)
> - Players have several abilities in their moveset to either dodge or counter (jump, roll, etc) In Halo 5 we only have jump and strafe (limited).
> -There’s a specific time window or move where when being attacked players can get out of the situation. This ensures that the boss isn’t going to 1 hit KO you and gives you a chance to still win, being a bit forgiving when you mess up.
> - Bosses are usually the culmination of the abilities previously learned in the game.
> - Bosses are strong not because they are bullet sponges or have 1 hit KO moves, but because they can counter your moves and punish your mistakes.
> - If you’re doing well against the boss, you’ll be rewarded by a temporary boss weakness (like it being stunned for a few seconds, or unshielded, etc). However this will be followed by a comeback (which has these previously mentioned indications) that will punish the player if he’s not aware of it.
> -(probably a lot more stuff, but I don’t remember right now. I’ll edit this if I do.)
>
> Here’s how I personally would’ve made the Warden Eternal, having Halo 5’s abilities, art style, direction in mind:- Give him some sort of physical shield since he’s just there taking bullets to the face like an idiot. This shield could be broken by either a certain amount of bullets, a shot from a power weapon like the spnkr, an EMP, or a spartan charge. When his shield is down, his back core is also unprotected. You could use a few stun time seconds to get behind him for massive damage.
> - Make him overall faster.
> - His sniper face beam should be only an EMP for vehicles.
> - Give him a sword attack that launches you in the air (takes half your shield). When you fall you’ll have fall damage of a quarter of your shield. However you could take advantage of this by using ground pound on him while in the air.
> - Instead of his sniper beam, a close-mid range sword attack (like a sword extension or something, like 15 meters) A player could either strafe to dodge or spartan charge at a specific time to damage his sword and arm. Heavy weapons like spnkr could have the same effect.
> - Give him the knight teleporting ability with a twist. Instead of an instant teleport you would hear and see a sort of EMP charging for 2 seconds or so at the place he was teleporting to. If you didn’t get out of the way, he would EMP you, but not attack you right away. (this would punish campers, but would still give them a chance back into the fight)
> - Give his sword slashes less damage each, but make him do a combo of 3 or 4 slashes. Also, give him different types of combos. You’d be punished if you didn’t get out of the way at all (all slashes would completely take out your shields), but you could strafe after the first slash. If you could take out his shield during this, a bonus stun time of +1 second would be awarded.
> - Get rid of the tracking on his kill ball and make it a bit slower.
>
> There’s probably more ways to make him a better boss, but I think these suggestions would not only make him more fun to fight (while also using spartan abilities), it would also make him a way fairer opponent and not just a bullet sponge.
>
> I think boss fights could work in Halo if there was way more thought put into them, but I’m not sure if they belong in the first place.
>
> PS: let me know what you think about those Warden ideas.

I wouldn’t mind giving your Warden a test run. I like the idea of getting more close and personal with him. Most of my memories of the Warden involve shooting at a distance and constantly hiding behind cover.

> 2533274825830455;2:
> Most situations in Halo that could be classifed as a “boss fight” are really bad. They’re either unreasonably easy and might as well have been cutscenes, or the enemies are bullet sponges, and there’s no quick way to beat them, no interesting tactics, and no sense of progression during the battle. The only encounters in Halo that could be classified boss fights that I have enjoyed are the Scarabs in Halo 3 (namely, the one on The Storm). They have a clear objective: destroy the core of the Scarab at the back. The whole fight is about getting there, and once you have, you’re done. It’s hardly the most challenging objective in the world, but it’s still a fun thing to do because you always have a clear idea of what needs to be done.
>
> As far as the rest of boss fights are concerned: Guilty Spark, Tartarus, Regret, the heretic leader, Warden Eternal, they’re all just terrible in one way or another. Since Halo has never managed to properly execute a proper boss character, under two different developers, I don’t have high hopes that it ever will.
>
> I’ve always thought boss fights in general are really difficult to pull of well, probably the most difficult single thing. They have to be challenging, but not unfair. They have to be interesting, but communicate clearly to the player what needs to be done. There are just so many potential pitfalls with boss designs.

This rings true as someone who DM’s alot of DnD. It’s very hard to make it both engaging and climactic and having lots of things for the players to interact with while not feeling like it’s just a scripted “do this to win” while still working within the framework of the game systems.

To contribute to the thread, what I’ve learned about bosses from designing DnD Encounters is:

  • There needs to be high stakes in the scene - The boss needs to have clear strengths and weaknesses that are interactive (communicating this is hard) - As the fight progresses elements need to change (location, boss attacks, boss attack patterns, boss behaviour, boss form) - It needs something for everyone in the party to be able to contribute in some way (doesn’t apply as much to a Halo boss fight) - It needs to be designed to reward good tactics / smart play and not punish it with ‘Take that’ mechanics - It needs to not unfairly punish the players with instant or frustrating attacks, BUT you do need to use a couple of these kinds of things for WOW moments and to keep it challenging, just need to be used sparingly. Stunlocking a player for example. - Having additional elements going on during the boss fight is essential, whether that’s smaller minions to distract you as well or some environmental concerns or an interactive element which makes the fight harder /easier depending if they choose to take time to deal with it or not etc. - In terms of Halo boss fights it’s possible to cheese most of them, so making them as uncheesable as possible is important (finding a spot the boss cant get to then slowly whittling him down from there etc), in DnD as DM you can improvise on the fly to stop most cheap, rules exploitative tactics from the players (or otherwise it’s so insane and awesome you have to let it work)It’s very challenging - I do remember Tartarus being a memorable challenge even if he was essentially a big bullet sponge.

I could very much be in the minority on this but oh well, when the only time you play on a difficulty not legendary is for grabbing skulls after beating each game, you still find many parts still have plenty of ““challenge”” when not getting non-stop perfect head shots etc. Haha but either way I do agree with ways to make positive/exciting changes to some of the boss fights in the future.

It seems, based on these comments, people have certain expectations when it comes to “boss fights”. Something I’d like to know is, if we put aside the term “boss fight”, what would you prefer…? Say there’s a character you’ve hunted down. Would you like to kill them yourself as you’ve killed you’re enemies during the levels? ('Refumee, Tartarus, Regret, Spark) Would you rather view it in a skippable cutscene cinematic? (Truth, 'Mdama, 'Moramee, Gek) Would you rather a first-person unskippable sequence with no gameplay variety, as in the exact same sequence each time? (Didact)
I’m not trying to make a point here. I’d just like to hear what people would prefer moving forward. What level of control, if any, do you want in these situations? What would you like to expect from a game?