Three Terrible Boss Mechanics That Need to Die
Destiny is a pretty multifaceted and sophisticated experience that offers a variety of experience that’s hard to find elsewhere. But all encounters, regardless of their diversity or novelty, mostly end in a familiar encounter: a boss fight. Whether it be a story mission, strike, raid or gambit, the final boss is both the main course and cherry on top of the Destiny experience.
Why? The satisfying rush of burning a massive health bar down? The catharsis of annihilating something ten times your size? The cumulation of skill, gear and muscle memory given violent release? Whatever our reason, the mechanics that draw out these fights can often heighten this pleasure. Clever mechanics can draw out the anticipation with clever puzzles or tense co-ordinations.
Other times, however, they spoil the fun. Some mechanics are just bad. They draw out the encounter unnecessarily, they don’t reward skill, and they just aren’t fun. These are three such mechanics.
That Fallen Captain has a health bar, you’ve got a shotgun. This should be a simple matter, then; walk up and blast away. But pump a few shots into the hefty lad and he’ll stomp his foot, sending you flying into the air. What purpose does this serve exactly? It adds the extra skill factor of…a twenty second walk back to the boss? Or is the lesson that we should only attack from a distance? In this case, does the game want us to shoot them with a primary weapon?
It’s a truly bad way of unnecessarily elongating fights. The intention is clearly to force players to use primary weapons, but it does nothing to prevent players from using snipers, grenade launchers, rockets or similarly fast-killing weapons. So, I mean, f*** shotguns in particular?
Don’t even get me started on how many times a boss stomp has flung my character into the wrong map geometry and killed me. The “architects” will get my due time in vengeance, but that absurd boss stomp will get it first.
This mechanic isn’t inherently bad, at least not conceptually. As seen in The Pyramidion Strike’s Brakion fight, the use of teleportation means players are forced to turn on a dime, and tactically reorient themselves mid-fight. It complements the fight well, as players can’t simply sit back and unload damage.
Sadly, such executions are few and far between. Teleportation is far less compelling when the boss teleports out of the path of your rocket. Or, when you’ve thrown you grenade to apply burn, the boss simply teleports and completely cancels it. It’d be one thing if teleports were telegraphed and we had to make tactical decisions around them. As shown by The Pyramidion Strike, forcing players to adapt is a great application.
HVTs and Public Event bosses frequently use teleports in ways that are outright cheap, just to drag fight durations out. Going after a Fallen Captain? He’s got roughly 20 seconds left to live. Or, he can teleport around, randomly, playing peek-a-boo with you for the next minute. It’s not challenging, it’s not rewarding to overcome, it’s just annoying.
I’ve hedged my criticism of the previous two mechanics because they’re good in some circumstances. I can’t do that for this. Immunity is one of the absolute, most horrendously god awful mechanics in Destiny.
Like the previous mechanics listed, immunity is used to artificially draw out fights. But immunity has no correct usage, and when it is used, it’s far, far more infuriating than any other artificial obstacle. It’s most commonly found in Destiny’s strikes where bosses need to last through multiple “cinematic” phases.
But if I'm 580 Power Level, and I’m fully capable of melting the boss in 45 seconds, god damn it, let me melt the boss in 45 seconds. I don’t want to see the bullets bounce off with “immune” “immune” “immune.” If I’m so absurdly overpowered versus the boss I'm facing off against, then artificially extending the fight isn’t making it more interesting. It’s making me bored. Now, I’m humoring the game, not engaging with it, much less being challenged.
Destiny's bosses are both the meat of the experience and the cherry on top (really weird mixed metaphor, I don't endorse topping meat with cherries). As such, their challenge is key to realizing the game's best aspects. If they can't put up a respectable challenge, then fun is much harder to find. When Strike bosses and HVTs use mechanics that aren't challenging, just time consuming, it becomes that much harder to appreciate the challenge.