10 of the Best Boss Battles of this Generation

Editor: Bracken Lee-Rudolph

This generation of gaming, with the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the ever-present PC, has been filled with some exceptional protagonists, some epic antagonists and a great amount of fights between the two. Now as the curtain begins to close on our current generation with the announcement of the PlayStation 4, we take a look at some of the most insane, hardest and visceral boss battles that the current generation of gaming had to offer, starting with… A MAJOR SPOILER ALERT, I do discuss integral plot points, so beware!

Disclaimer: I do not mention any of the boss battles from either Demon Souls or Dark Souls, for 2 simple reasons:
1) I have not had the opportunity to complete proper playthroughs of these titles as of yet. This is something I hope to do in future.
2) The titles were designed so that everything could kill you and had a varied move set. In essence, every enemy played like a boss character.

Zeus

Now where to shove this bolt?

Zeus – God Of War III - PS3

Over the course of the God of War series, Zeus shows great fear towards the ambitious human-cum-god that is the series’ protagonist, Kratos and appoints him a God of Olympus, kills him and drains his power, before declaring war against the Titans who he allies with to begin his quest for revenge. This in itself makes for what could be an amazing finale, but when a final boss battle takes you through a frenetic battle through several environments, from the chamber where Pandora’s Box is stored by the Gods, to the heart of Gaya and then throws Kratos into the dark depths of his own mind, the finale becomes one of the most impactful endings to the end of a brilliant story arc that I have ever had the pleasure to play.

Seneschal

The Seneschal Awaits

The Seneschal – Dragon’s Dogma -PS3/Xbox 360

Dragon’s Dogma was not the best told story, and in many cases, it was not even a well told story, but it was an extraordinary amount of fun and quite challenging simultaneously and it thrived in boss battles to an extent that I had 3 choices which could have all made this list. The one I chose, was not the dragon who steals your heart, Grigori; nor was it the legendary Ur-Dragon, the asynchronous multiplayer boss that was impossible to kill alone online, and was still an incredible boss battle offline, where he was substantially weaker. My choice was the Seneschal, the absolute final boss in Dragon Dogma’s main storyline. The Seneschal was a former Arisen who slew the dragon of his* or her time, traversed the Everfall and battled with the former Seneschal to prove his will. This makes fighting him/her a rite of passage taken by all Arisen who conquer both the dragon and the Everfall. However, in addition to this battle being fairly tough, it comes with a twist. If you die, you become the new dragon, the very creature you had hunted for the majority of the title (unfortunately unplayable), and if you win, you become the new immortal Seneschal, by killing and “freeing” your predecessor, continuing an eternal cycle.

Kessler

A challenging boss with a shocking conclusion!

Kessler – inFamous – PS3

The original inFamous won a lot of fans with its anti-hero approach in which it represented the title’s main protagonist, Cole McGrath, and the implementation of the iconic electric powers that he used throughout the series’ two main titles. Another high point of the title was its main antagonist, a mysterious, aged man known only as Kessler, who arranged for the Ray Sphere (the source of Cole’s powers and a device which kills thousands) to be delivered and takes over the Historic District with his faction, the First Sons, following the blast. Kessler taunts Cole throughout the title, playing on his insecurities, thwarting his plans to help and eventually killing his girlfriend, Trish, in a cruel game of choice. The emotionally-fuelled build-up to their final fight means that the battle is an intense, hard fought one, in the ruins caused by the Ray Sphere’s explosion. The final fight inevitably ends with Cole defeating Kessler, with the startling revelation that Kessler is actually a version of Cole from the future (later a parallel future), and that he arrived to hone Cole’s powers with a battle against The Beast, which he was previously unprepared for. This means, for all the trauma he had caused Cole and despite his defeat, he had still won by influencing Cole to be stronger than himself, making this a bitter-sweet, if hard-fought, victory in retrospect, and a fantastic one to replay.

Doviculus

Oh, did I mention he had demon wings? He has demon wings.

Doviculus – Brütal Legend – PS3/Xbox 360/PC

Tim Schäfer and Double Fine’s Brütal Legend was a title which recreated a world of heavy metal lore, including a number of its sub-genres, particularly Death and Black Metal. Doviculus was no exception to this, as he led the faction of the Tainted Coil, who were a faction of oppressive demons who represented mainly death and industrial metal. After having killed several of your allies, including Lars Halford and the post-Sea of Black Tears Ophelia (who is later revealed as an imposter, created by the sea), you finally face him, as he raises a Gothic-style church into a three-headed beast, and you commence a stage battle against him. After a lengthy battle in which the creature spawns several waves of enemies and the Tainted Coil’s ultimate unit type as you take down two of its heads. As the third head falls into position, you spawn your vehicle and crash through its stained glass window to battle Doviculus to the sounds of Judas Priest’s Painkiller and various other heavy metal tracks, setting up an atmosphere for an intense fight, which does not disappoint.

Al Mualim

Soon he’ll have enough clones to re-enact Star Wars!

Al Mualim – Assassin’s Creed – PS3/Xbox/PC

The first Assassin’s Creed title was one that was received with mixed opinions, and although Ubisoft Montreal’s creation received many rave reviews and several awards, the gaming community was split in how it perceived Assassin’s Creed. However, despite its flaws, it was still a well-developed title, and the final boss battle with Al-Mualim completed an excellent story arc with his betrayal of the Assassins, despite being a long-standing mentor to the Order, and one that facilitated protagonist Altaïr’s growth. What set this battle apart from, for example, the battle with Robert De Sable, the title’s other main antagonist, was that it introduced a supernatural influence with the Apple of Eden, a fixture which would dominate the series for several titles afterwards, allowing Al Mualim several magical and illusionary powers to confuse the player.

 

10 of the Best Boss Battles of this Generation

10 points to anyone who can find all 3 player characters in this picture

Necromancer – Castle Crashers – PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC

While Castle Crashers had no deep, engrossing story to speak of, it was still a captivating title, simply because of its frenetic, side-scrolling action and the light-hearted approach that the developer had taken while producing it. The result was a title that was fun, humorous and had lots of fan service, yet still managed to have some difficult boss battles thrown into the mix. The most intense of those has to be the Necromancer, the Evil Wizard’s second-in-command, and a mysterious character who appears without a backstory in-game, appearing in the Volcano Town to summon foes to hinder your progress. His battle is particularly tough as he raises the corpses of different enemies which you will have battled throughout the title, from thieves, to barbarian soldiers to fire demons. After you have defeated his minions, he lands on the ground to fight you personally, and is a tough boss to best, as his abilities (at the very least) match any of the basic Castle Crashers’, be it speed, strength or magic. As an added bonus, the Necromancer can also be unlocked when playing through a particularly level on the title’s Insanity Mode.

Radec

Radec’s interests include cuddling, baking and CARNAGE!

Colonel Radec – Killzone 2 – PS3

Killzone 2 was a vast improvement over the first title in the series, looked sombrely beautiful and took gamers out of the regular bound of first-person shooter gameplay to the very hostile world of Helghan, the homeworld of the Helghast, their iconic masks, and their sinister British accents. While the majority of the title involves you fighting large scale battles with Helghast soldiers on ground and in vehicles, the fight with Radec takes a one-on-one perspective, and challenges the player to adapt or die. Although it still takes place in a large environment (where you were fighting a Helghast squad shortly prior to Radec’s arrival), Radec’s cloaking ability and melee skills make him difficult to trace or get away from. This means the player is often chasing shadows of a quick, efficient killer who can kill the player in one or two attacks. However, the battle always feels like a last-ditch, adaptive fight, rather than a grind, which is how Guerrilla Games ended Killzone 2 on a high note.

Crawmerax

Ha! Invincible? Unlikely!

Crawmerax the Invincible – Borderlands (Secret Armory of General Knoxx) - PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC

Gearbox’s Borderlands took the world by storm with its over-the-top action RPG gameplay and grim sense of humour. The title was notorious for challenging players with powerful bosses and Crawmerax the Invincible was definitely the toughest of the lot. If the name were not enough of a sign that you were in for a hell of a fight, just take a look at him. In addition to being several levels above the player by default, Crawmerax has an insane amount of health and some devastating attacks which can take fully levelled Vault Hunters down in as little as 2 hits. He also has minions (also default at a higher level than the player) who he will periodically spawn reinforcements for. He was nearly impossible to beat without a full party of members and dropped Pearlescent loot, the rarest loot in Borderlands, to those fortunate enough to defeat him.

Ra's Al Ghul

The Demon’s Head rises from his Lazarus Pit

Ra’s Al Ghul – Batman: Arkham City – PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC

Batman: Arkham City had a good deal of long-standing foes that the Dark Knight had accumulated over his eventful career, but none have a more delicately balanced friend/foe relationship with Batman than the Al Ghul family. Both Talia and Ra’s are tentative allies of Batman’s, Talia being a romantic interest to Batman, and Ra’s considering him a worthy opponent and a possible leader of the League of Shadows. In Arkham City, a dangerously ill Batman tracks down the lair of Ra’s Al Ghul in order to gain a sample of his blood to synthesise a cure to Joker’s weaponised virus. When Batman tricks Ra’s into believing he has decided to take the Demon Trials and later reveals his ruse, Ra’s battles him in the Demon Trials dimension, wanting either himself or Batman to die. The sheer supernatural setting of the entire battle takes you out of the title’s very mortal questline, although it is integral to its progression, as well as being an insane and rewarding fight that was a lot of fun to experience.

10 of the Best Boss Battles of This Generation

Starkiller – well he was a bit of a downer…

Imperial Star Destroyer – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was a very popular Star Wars title, as it gave users a lot of control over the Force powers of Starkiller, Darth Vader’s apprentice. Nowhere are these Force powers better utilised than on the Imperial-controlled version of Raxus Prime, where after shooting a space station out of orbit with the planet’s mining cannon, Starkiller pulls an Imperial Star Destroyer – something the size of a fairly large city – out of the sky and into the ground several miles in front of him, amongst attacks from several TIE Fighters, and ends up having to dodge it before it comes to a full stop. This exhibited Starkiller’s massive potential as a Jedi, as well as creating one of the most memorable cutscenes in recent history as the dust settled on the aforementioned junk planet.

While these are not nearly all of the boss battles which deserve mention in this generation, these are 10 of the finest boss battles I have had the pleasure of playing. I am certain that there will be some notable boss battles before the impending end of this generation of gaming, specifically with titles such as Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen and The Last of Us set for release in 2013.

If you have any boss battles that you feel should have been included, or that you think deserve honourable mentions, please don’t hesitate to tell us in the comments! 

Now moved on, Bracken is an aspiring tech and gaming journalist. Is anyone even reading this?

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  • AG_Sonday

    Some of these seem dubious but a great list nonetheless :P
    It’s a pity that boss fights seem to be waning in games these days. If you’re looking for some memorable boss fights I suggest you take a look at Asura’s Wrath.

    • CataclysmicDawn

      Which ones would you say are dubious, AG? :P

      I think it’s a sad thing that so many boss battles are omitted in an attempt to keep enemies realistic, or human as such.

      • AG_Sonday

        Probably the Star Destroyer and Ra’s. I can no longer recall which bosses I would have put in their place but then again, this is your list and your opinion :P

        • http://egmr.net/author/cavie Caveshen Rajman

          I didn’t particularly enjoy the Ra’s fight, but I can agree that it was both rewarding and refreshing at that point in the game. The Star Destroyer, oh my fuck that was epic but it took a billion retries before I properly managed it.

          • CataclysmicDawn

            We’re on identical wavelengths here :D

        • CataclysmicDawn

          The Star Destroyer was mostly because of the massive shock value it added. It was really epic that your one measly Jedi, who at times could be taken down by Shadow Guards (difficulty related), was pulling this massive starship straight into the ground.

          The boss battle with Ra’s was because it took you away from the perpetually grey Arkham City and threw you into this supernatural environment. Added to that, I thought Ra’s was a total badass, and fighting him, his clones and his sand monster thing was epic.

          Hey, I don’t mind people opposing these choices. It’s possible I could have made some glaring omissions.

  • http://www.therealgamers.net/ Matt Clarmont

    Iron Maiden from Twisted Metal. Maybe I am just an old guy but I come from a time when HARD boss battles were a PLUS in gaming yet Twisted Metal catches SO MUCH flak for their AMAZING entries…not only are they tough but they are incredibly unique, visually amazing, and just fuckin awesome. Put it at #11, writer!

    • CataclysmicDawn

      I’m assuming this is from last year’s Twisted Metal release? I’ve been holding off getting that because I wasn’t impressed by the demo…

      I’ll definitely try take a look at that! If I ever write a follow-up article, I’ll make sure I’ve done that boss battle. Thanks for the input :D

      • http://www.therealgamers.net/ Matt Clarmont

        Yup, that’s the one. THe earlier bosses are also awesome but the final one is the most fun, if you ask me. If you DO decide to pick that game up, though, be forewarned…it is a VERY difficult game even on the easiest setting.

        • CataclysmicDawn

          When I played the demo, I noticed that it was very difficult, but the only reason I never bought it was due to financial constraints.

          Thanks a lot for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!

  • Timothy

    Loved the list Brackdog. You’re right about one thing, you have missed a couple bosses the world of JRPG’s has introduced and perhaps a couple others I can think of. Nevertheless, awesome list, love the inclusion of the Necromancer from Castle Crashers

    • CataclysmicDawn

      Why thank you, TimBig :D

      Yeah, from what I have heard and seen through vids, JRPG bosses can be things of legend, but in any case, these were all battles that I found challenging, but not tediously so.

      That Necromancer was the embodiment of the perfect sinister villain. He summoned undead enemies, interacted very little with the character and looked convincingly demonic, all while being cartoony!

  • Sahil Lala

    “Current” gen aside. Here’s a list off the top of my head.

    1. Metal Gear Rex – MGS1
    2. Crawmerax the Invincible -Borderlands
    3. Smough and Ornstein – Dark Souls
    4. Reaper – Mass Effect 3
    5. (Final boss) – Dead Space 2
    6. The “TRUE” boss in Asura’s Wrath’s DLC – Asura’s Wrath
    7. The Twins – Nier
    8. Sin – FFX
    9. Kefka – FFVI
    10. Ultimate Hazama or Ultimate Hakumen – Blazblue CS

    • CataclysmicDawn

      Awesome list, sir! Unfortunately, I have missed many of these characters, and clearly some very good battles.

  • http://egmr.net/author/cavie Caveshen Rajman

    Putting some proper thought into it, I’m actually surprised at how many really good games don’t have the greatest boss battles. I’m thinking The Witcher 2 (which arguably had some of the best ‘battles’ ever but nothing special in terms of boss battles), Mass Effect, Gears of War (maybe in the PC version of the first one where you played cat and mouse with a brumak) and so on. Obviously anything with human enemies is out as well. The only other game that sticks in my mind is Lollipop Chainsaw, which threw out the book on boss battles in some epic style. Seriously, play it if you haven’t already.

    • CataclysmicDawn

      I fully agree actually! I started off with this article thinking “Okay, cool, surely I can think of at least 20 bosses off the top of my head” and then started writing. I ended up narrowing it to 10 bosses, and still looking at my library for clues at times.

      I’ve heard good things about LC’s combat, but I’m not really inclined to fork out for it. I’d rather wait for it to be on PS+ or something.

      • http://egmr.net/author/cavie Caveshen Rajman

        Dude it’s selling for like R200 now, I think. That’s an absolute steal considering you can buy it on Friday, play it, then trade it in on Monday. :)

        • CataclysmicDawn

          Fair, I suppose. Still far down on my priority list, with Dark Arisen coming soon.

    • Beanz777

      ‘The only other game that sticks in my mind is Lollipop Chainsaw, which
      threw out the book on boss battles in some epic style. Seriously, play
      it if you haven’t already.’

      D: I shall take your word for it and start that game very soon, it’s sitting on my shelf unopened.

  • themuIe

    That list is so weak. Including Bosses from Brutal Legend (I beat it on hard my first try), Assassin’s Piece of Shit Creed, and Batman AC? dude, you gotta play some games…

    • CataclysmicDawn

      What bosses would you recommend putting in then? Although I think you may be confusing difficult and well-constructed, because the Brütal Legend boss battle, I agree, was easy. I didn’t choose battles for the difficulty, I chose battles for how well built and entertaining I felt they were.

      I mention difficulty a couple of times, but mostly to give some perspective, not to highlight it.

      • themuIe

        Well, you’re mostly missing hack n’ slash games that always tend to have great boss fights. Games like Devil May Cry 4, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Bayonetta. Then you’re missing Metal Gear Solid 4, just unacceptable as it has some of the best boss fights this gen all in a single game. You’re also missing RPGs like Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls, Lost Odyssey, Final Fantasy XIII, Valkyria Chronicles, which also have awesome boss fights. No surprise all the games I listed are Japanese (without intention, I just realized that), nobody does boss fights better than the Japanese, no one.

        • Darrius

          Seconded,

          So neither one of the Beauties from MGS4 made his list, neither did Vamp, or the Metal Gear, nor Liquid Ocelot at the end. Not one boss from any of the Japanese beat’em-ups (although Zeus made it, and deservedly so).

          • CataclysmicDawn

            Thank you for the input, Darrius.

            If you see the comment I just posted to themule, I mention that I missed most, if not all of those games. Not something I’m exactly proud of, but an unfortunate truth.

            Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed the article! Thanks for reading.

        • CataclysmicDawn

          I’ll take a look at some of those. Unsurprisingly, I’ve missed them, since on release, they were way above my interest level.

          But thanks a lot for the read and for your input!

  • tkk

    bull shit list

    • CataclysmicDawn

      What would you have rather seen on here then?

  • ephics

    NO DARK SOULS LOLLOOLLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOOOL
    (oops, sorry didn’t see the didn’t played yet)

    • CataclysmicDawn

      I did say there wasn’t going to be any Dark Souls in the disclaimer up top.
      EDIT: (xD)

  • Robert Gittings

    Where’s MGS3 – The End?

    • CataclysmicDawn

      MGS3 is last generation. PS2.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brendon.bosch Brendon Bosch

    Great covering your bases with the SOULS games. Great list but i had to skip a few for fear of spoilers. Which reminds me i have castle crashers to finish still

    • CataclysmicDawn

      Ha! I knew I’d get some rage if that disclaimer hadn’t been there, so I covered that xD

      Ah, sorry about that. Hopefully you’ll return when you’ve finished them so you can read my leftover paragraphs :D

  • Beanz777

    Nice list but I would’ve included:

    The Guardian – Darksiders 2
    The Bunk3r – Borderlands 2 (To solo that thing makes the battle epic)
    /spoilers/ (Mid game boss) – Dead Space 3
    Poseidon – God of War III (I think that battle set that game off incredibly)

    Other than that I agree with a lot of what Sahil said :D

    • CataclysmicDawn

      Haven’t played Dead Space 3 and Darksiders 2.

      Poseidon, maybe. He was a good start, but Zeus was also a good end

      Bunk3r was also too easy for me. I played cover/shoot the whole battle and he went down with a whimper.

      Le copypasta

  • http://avproductreviews.com/reviews/denon-2313/ denon2313

    I agree with most of these accept for Zeus…he was waaay to easy to beat!

    • CataclysmicDawn

      I found him fairly simple too, to be honest, but it was a good, long and varied fight.

  • Brandon Roberts

    any bravely default boss battles