Nowadays, the vast majority of video games, even when not pure action games, include fighting enemies on the way. There may be a lot of weak ones
or a few tough ones
, they may be humans
, you may kill them half-heartedly or with great enjoyment
but they will be on your path to prevent you from Saving the World
, rescuing the Damsel in Distress
, finding your lost memories
or eating your pizza
. And at some points, you will have to fight big enemies, much more fearsome and dangerous than the others
) with an appropriate tension buildup.
But some games go around this. Even though you fight your way through numerous Mooks
and death traps, no climactic battle against a boss ever comes. There can be several ways to explain and/or compensate the absence of bosses:
- The fighting, even if present, is actually secondary to the action and the developers want to focus the intensity on other aspects, like the general atmosphere or the HSQ of the scenario.
- The climactic battle(s) will be against an army of mooks instead of a single boss, placing the player against seemingly impossible odds to create tension.
- Sometimes, you expect enemies to be bosses, but they are fought and finished every bit like normal Mooks in the end. The difference with a mere Anti-Climax Boss being that they aren't just easy, they are identical to Mooks so you can't call it a Boss Fight.
Polar opposite of a Boss Game
where all the fights are Boss Fights
. Not incompatible with Cutscene Boss
Note this trope is about the absence of bosses in a genre where their presence is the norm
. Endless Games
and Construction And Management Games
are generally bossless for obvious reasons, as well as Strategy Games
where the notion of "Boss Battle" is pretty much meaningless (potential aversions may be added as examples though). And of course, no need to list the games where there are no enemies in the first place
The extreme end of Hard Levels, Easy Bosses
open/close all folders
- In the Batman Begins game, you fight Victor Zsasz, the Scarecrow and Henri Ducard, but they fight in exactly the same way as the Mooks, right down to the way they're taken down.
- Battlestar Galactica Online dispenses with World of Warcraft-style storied raids and bosses to focus on PVP and sector control. As a result, the lategame challenge comes from swarms of Elite Mook or enemy players instead. The closest things to bosses are the outposts, but those are more like King Mooks, if Damage Sponge ones.
- The Monsters University level of Disney Infinity has unusually nasty mooks, but just ends abruptly after the last story mission with nothing like a boss in sight.
- The video game adaptations of The Godfather series. The "bosses" are the dons of the other families but they're easy to kill, the real challenge is fighting all their mooks. The sequel adds different levels of King Mook between the dons and the street-level rent-a-mooks, who correspondingly aren't that tough either.
- In Soul Reaver 2, a good part of the game is slaughtering the soldiers and demons who want you dead, but curiously, there is no Boss. The Sarafan counterparts or Raziel's "brothers" at the end seem like they will be bosses but they turn out being like normal mooks, just tougher, and the Soul Reaver prevents you from dying anyway. The real Oh Crap moment comes after this battle.
- In Tomb Raider III, every single artifact you come across is guarded by a boss character who uses the powers of the artifact to kill you. However, the Element 115 artifact in the Nevada level is only guarded by regular mooks and has no one trying to use the said artifact to kill you. Since the levels by region can be played in any order you want, some players may feel a bit cheated that the artifact isn't guarded by an epic boss. However, considering that the level comes directly after a level where all your weapons are taken away, the developers most likely considered that most players wouldn't be well equipped enough to take on a boss so soon with minimal gear.
- In Uncharted 3, the closest thing to boss fights in this game are basic fistfights against a guy who has a bit more HP than usual.
First Person Shooters
- The Call of Duty series never really had any bosses, with practically all enemies fighting the same and taking the same number of bullets to kill. Modern Warfare 2 upped the ante with the addition of Juggernauts, but in general all the major, plot relevant foes are either killed in a cutscene, quick time event, or as easily as any other mook.
- Call of Juarez: The Cartel doesn't have any one-on-one boss fights, unlike the previous 2 games. The closest it gets is fighting an enemy gunship at a few points in the game.
- Far Cry 2 is a game consisting of Mooks and only Mooks, due to attempting to be more realistic than its mutant-battling predecessor. There aren't even any Giant Mook or Elite Mooks. Even the assassination targets are just bog-standard enemies. This is averted in Far Cry and Far Cry 3, which do have at least one or two traditional boss fights.
- The Halo series is known for this, with Halo 2 being the only real exception. The boss fights in Halo 2 were highly criticized, so apparently Bungie decided boss fights just weren't their thing.
- Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 opts out of boss fights in exchange for finales involving huge hordes of the infected. These fights are often coupled with some other task (get from point A to point B, fill the car with gas, restart the generator, etc.) and while climactic, involve no real bosses. Granted you might get a few more Tanks or other special infected than usual, but since they can all be encountered at random intervals during normal levels, they can't really be considered bosses.
- The Medal of Honor series has generally avoided boss fights and other elements that would conflict with its more realistic tone. There have been a couple of exceptions, though, namely Baron Sturmgeist in Frontline and the officer battles in European Assault.
- Every level in the Commander Keen games is devoid of bosses, with the exception of the final level in the third (the Grand Intellect), fifth (the Shikadi Master) and spin-off episodes (Boobus Tuber).
- The second episode (game) of Cosmos Cosmic Adventure doesn't have any bosses at all, and the first and third only have a Final Boss (the same in both cases).
- Dustforce. The boss-looking Evil Counterparts from the intro and trailer are actually multiplayer characters.
- Electro Man by xLand Games. The last level is particularly brutal, and may serve as the "boss" of the whole game, but, due to the nature of the game, there's never once any real bosses.
- Eversion has no bosses, but it makes up for that with its more famous attributes.
- The 2D PlayStation game Heart of Darkness is like this. The final battle is against a huge number of mooks but you never actually fight the Evil Overlord, he's just destroyed in the following cutscene.
- Mutant Mudds has no bosses, instead focusing on the platforming levels. Once all of the Plot Coupons are collected, the Mudds are defeated, and the game is won.
- The first two Oddworld games involve killing a lot of guards in usually gruesome ways, but since Abe has no weapon nor actual fighting skills there is nothing in the games that looks like a Boss (well there are "bosses" but not in the video game sense. Abe actually has to possess those and guide them to voice locks only they can open ― and only then kill them by dispossessing. So the trek to the lock becomes a "boss encounter").
- In Prince of Persia, Jaffar is the Final Boss only in the sense that, unlike any other enemy, you have to kill him; he fights like all the other Mooks, and though he does have more health, that advantage is nullified by an obvious weakness. Only the SNES version has real Boss Battles.
- Neither of the Speedy Eggbert (aka Speedy Blupi) games have any bosses.
- ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron has lots of tough Earthlings and they all have to be captured before finishing the level, but there are no bosses and the final challenge of the game is an underwater maze.
- A large portion of Chips Challenge is spent dodging, killing or even creating mooks (through a clone machine), but there's no boss in any of the 149 levels of the game.
Role Playing Games
- Deus Ex: You do engage several elite enemy operatives, but they are not much stronger than a regular mook, if better armed and augmented, and die almost just as easily.
- The same is true of Deus Ex: Invisible War. Probably even more so than the original, as all the elite operatives were just regular enemies with somewhat more health. They didn't even have any special abilities even though plot-wise they were supposed to.
- Dishonored plays it straight save for the possibility of Daud, who not only has similar powers to Corvo but is quite resilient and has Contractual Boss Immunity. However, he can also be dealt with sneakily.
- Mass Effect 3: There are only two bosses in the game, and one of them is closer to a beefed-up Phantom than anything. The second being one of the three Reapers (the first and third encounters function more as environmental hazards than enemies with which Shepard can interact).
- The Ultima series in general is known for not having bosses at all, with many of the games being more about actual role-playing than pure combat. Some of the games do have a final confrontation against a unique enemy, but they're usually not noticeably tougher than regular enemies.
- The Alan Wake series seems to avoid boss fights, instead using large numbers of regular enemies combined with a few Elite Mooks for major encounters.
- There is only one type of enemy at all in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. They are mooks which grapple the protagonist and drain his body heat away.
Third Person Shooters
- In Max Payne, there were many fights against "boss" mobsters who could withstand boss levels of punishment before being defeated. Max Payne 2 does away with these fights almost completely. There's only one enemy who's at all tougher than a regular Mook, Kaufman, and even he goes down in less than a dozen shots. The final boss fight is mostly a Puzzle Boss, although you do shoot him up after solving the puzzle. Max Payne 3 is mostly like Max Payne 2 in this regard, although there is one boss fight against an armored Giant Mook about 4/5ths of the way through the game.
- Spec Ops: The Line, which like Call of Duty features Juggernaut-like enemies but otherwise no conventional bosses (with the arguable exception of Walker's hallucination of Lugo).
- Warp, hosted by FreeArcade. Reach a certain distance and you pass automatically.
Wide Open Sandbox
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag only has one enemy resembling a boss, with the other main targets being more of a Puzzle Boss, focusing on how to assassinate them.
- The nearest you'll ever get to a boss in L.A. Noire is an important enemy with a slighly better gun than usual, unusual car chase (such as the one against a tram), or the occasional scripted Good Old Fisticuffs fight or "shoot the villain before he shoots the hostage" minigame. The emphasis being on detective work.
- In Red Dead Redemption, the closest thing there is to a Boss Fight is Edgar Ross in the epilogue but it's played like a normal duel (except you don't have the option of sparing his life). As for John's old companions, two are summary executions and the last throws himself from a cliff.
- Spore: the closest thing is has are Grox and even then they act more like Elite Mooks.
- Another possible exception is the simply ENORMOUS wandering creatures that can sometimes be found on a planet (basically kaiju-sized versions of "normal" Spore creatures). For your space ship, these aren't much of a threat (a player can even develop the technology to create such enormous creatures). But if the player should happen to encounter one in pre-Space stage on their homeworld, they will one-hit-kill pretty much any creature and even in the civilization stage they can do the same to most vehicles. That said, in the Tribal stage, taking one down can provide an incredible amount of harvestable meat for the player's village.
- Ending C in Grand Theft Auto V pits the player against all of the antagonists at once, but none of them have unique strengths and go down as easily as any random pedestrian; Steve Haines and Devin Weston, in particular, don't even get to be truly "fought", as the former is sniped and the latter is kidnapped in a cutscene.