Want to see what big boss fights should look like?

Graev picked up Monster Hunter Tri last week and he’s been playing it steadily every day.  It’s a game that, as far as I can tell, is all about killing monsters.  As simple as the name and premise sound, the game has an inordinate amount of depth.  The crafting and customization of your play style in this game is mind boggling.  It’s also really hard.  Anyway, I’m writing this because I just watched an epic boss battle play out.  Graev and his buddies online boarded this sand ship that sails the desert sand like a boat on water.  This enormous sand-fish-like thing then jumps out of the water and swims in the sand alongside and attacks.

Below is a video showing the cut scene (you can youtube the rest of the Jhen Mohran fight) which doesn’t exaggerate how the fight players out.

During the fight, the ship sails alongside the beast and the players on it have to shoot harpoons over in order to attach these tethers. They then jump across and attack the monster. They can get knocked off and get dragged behind the ship, leaving them having to get back onto the ship or find a way to swing over onto the beast (usually the tail). Ballistas and Cannons could be shot at the beast and a gong could be rung to hurt the monster’s senses. The monster has weak points such as his outer shell which can be cracked by players jumping on his back. It took them significant amount of time to finish — like 15 minutes. It wasn’t always about constant DPS or or spamming attacks either. There was an element of calculation to the encounter. In the end the encounter was broken down into driving back the monster while sailing, and eventually having it come up and fight you as your ship is stationary.

Why am I telling you about this? Aside from being really cool, I want to know why this type of stuff isn’t more common. Even in WoW, which has the greatest raid encounters available, doesn’t offer this type of fight. Even in ICC during the airship battle, the most unique boss fight yet, it’s still a fundamental encounter bearing a resemblance to most things WoW. I see no reason why the monsters can’t be bigger, the fights more involved, and the style of fights changed. Instancing of raids/dungeons is already common place. The technology is most definitely there. Just do it.

If you ever want to feel really bad about the type of content you’re playing in a MMO, just check out some videos of Monster Hunter Tri. The big fights in it are just ridiculous. As for the game itself, Graev says that it is “fantastic” and he would recommend it to anyone. It’s available on the Wii and in the multiplayer you’ll find “some of the better parts of the game”.

  • Climbing onto a boss to stab its weaker areas sounds like a clear improvement to mindlessly slashing at the boss’s ankles until it dies. Non-dps dependent fights could allow a greater variety in the class balance of the group/raid, while possibly also reducing the gear requirements for attendance too. Sounds fun, assuming the developers can get the fight mechanics to work nicely. It would definitely make most encounters more epic.

  • Well so far fight mechanics get more intricate every expansion in WoW.

    We’ll just have to see what’s in store for Cataclysm. I would really like to see more destructible things around me as I’m fighting the boss, that’s something really cool to me.

  • You have to take into account that a lot of the things Blizzard does is for the sake of a stable game on a wide array of computer systems. Going on such a grand scale would mean MUCH more to process. Therefore requiring better systems. Which Blizzard has been trying not to force. Such a large jump would do just that. You also have to take into account that this is a massive multiplayer in WoW. Which means you would have 25 people doing these “mini-game” type encounters.

  • I’ve been playing tri with all the game time I have left. The boss fights are so epic. You get intensely drawn into every fight, and so few are even vaguely similar…

    I’d love to get together sometime and do a few hunts if I get around to fixing the wifi on my wii again…

  • One of the historical reasons for this was that keeping terrain and monsters separate saved CPU time. It’s much easier to treat monsters (and players) internally as unclimbable blobs. Conversely, it’s easier to handle player movement when the terrain either moves in rigidly specified ways or more often than not, not at all. If Monster Hunter Tri is ever released here, I’ll probably try it out to see how much they have managed to refine the ideas introduced in Shadow of the Colossus.

  • This is a single player game, they can tailor it to the player, in a MMO with lag and positioning being so important, it’s just not feasable to do this. It’s not about the system requirements, it’s about latency, timing, and trying to create an encounter where MULTIPLE people have something to do. It’s easier to script events and to plan your route when you are the only person, things get infinitely more complicated once you add legions of people.

    Also blizzard did try stuff like this with Ulduar and Flame Leviathan, and people detested it. It was a laggy/buggy mess that involved irritating mechanics when trying to coordinate a large group due to how the fight worked. Nowadays it’s not so bad, but mainly because people outgear it so badly.

    Plus technique heavy fights usually require extreme precision on the parts of the players, this can lead to frustration and create a barrier to newer players. In addition for those who have MASTERED it, it becomes a long boring trudge, because unlike a single player game, these bosses have to be done over and over and over again.

  • Mmmh. This looks redicilous. What kind of sand is that? Why doesn’t the monster just smash the boats ?

    .. and how is one guay able to have such a ‘sword’ on the back. If this were metal he’d break down from the weight. Looking at it thus makes it feel like plastic.

    I don’t understand the fascination with big bosses that beg you to kill them, instead of just smashing you.

  • Danath….this is not a single player game… It is not massively multiplayer yes, but it is more than one player, it is online and it is great. I agree the issues that arise in the 25 man environment, but why not create a 5 man encounter with this depth.

  • @Servo

    The more people you have, the more complex it is, you COULD do this with just a 5man environment, the logistics would not be too complex then. But in a MMO game where they have a LARGE number of people playing at once, it gets much much more complex. I can’t say why they couldn’t in a 5man, because they could, but more players generally means it’s just easier for everything to go horribly wrong.

  • You guys have any plans on trying out AoC: Rise of the godslayer ?

    or juggling between alot of games atm ?

  • Because whenever you add things into fights that AREN’T just the standard fare involving your stats and gear versus their HP, people whine and complain. When Blizzard has added in other things (Vehicles for leviathan, dragons for Malygos, airships for the airship fight)…people generally hate it.

  • People want the leet epicz dispensers (ie bosses) to be 1. non-buggy. 2. easy 3. fast. If you introduced a challenging fight like that into WoW you gona have the most epic whine you have ever seen.

  • I agree that this sort of thing is definitely the direction I’d like to see MMORPGs go in… but unfortunately it’s going to take a lot of effort to make it happen as the publishers will need convincing. They simply don’t like to challenge existing formulas that “work”.

  • Complaints about WoW players aside, I think the real answer is that most MMO engines (by which I mean the fundamental base coding of a game that controls how things interact) are just simply not equipped to deal with boss fights like that, especially the five-year old WoW engine. You would have to design a game from the beginning for boss fights like that, which the makers of Monster Hunter Tri clearly did.

  • It’s not about wanting a fast, easy encounter. It’s about the sheer processing power it would take to manage a fight on that large of a scale. Blizzard has always had the position that they want WoW to run on low-end systems. That won’t happen if raids go in this direction. It’s far more to run. Blaming innovation faults on the community is a very ignorant and outright wrong way of doing things. Innovation is in the hands of the creator, not the consumer. The creator knows what limitations they have to keep on their game to keep the large consumer-base they currently have. When they start forcing people to upgrade, then people will start looking for alternatives. It’s really that simple.

  • @Shadrah

    This game is on the Wii – pretty much a byword for “low-end system” 😛

  • @Deigh

    You are completely missing Shadrah’s point, Wii IS a low end-system and the graphics severely suffer for it. Not to mention Monster hunter Tri is not a MMORPG in any sense so the bosses are tailored towards for a few monster hunters, not 25.

  • I think it’s only a matter of time until we *do* see these kinds of boss fights in MMO’s.

    Technology and specs are improving year to year. I think it’s only a matter of time until we reach a point where these kinds of battles become the norm in MMO’s.

    We’re already seeing more and more physics find it’s way into gaming. We’ll reach a point where physics is basically onboard (just like AA and AF).

    When that happens, there won’t be much stopping us from creating giant, dynamic combat sequences like the ones in the vid.

    As for demand, I think after a few more years of “click, click.. have a cookie” MMO style (zero thought/challenge), the market will be ready for an MMO with truly dynamic battles.

    Just give it time Keen. It’ll get there.

  • Whats all this crap about WoW players hating hard fights? When I played WoW back in 04/05 bosses where hard, and it took a long time to learn the fights. I dont remember players whining back then

  • @Nathan, couldnt agree more. Shadow of the Colussus boss fights are awesome and extremely difficult to win.

  • I’ve watched Graev play Shadow of the Colossus. One fight in particular where he has to climb the big giant thing (I assume that’s the colossus?) looked great.