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Broken Armor Boss Battle

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Should change its name to "Glass Jawdad"

Sometimes, a boss has impervious armor you have to destroy before you can deal damage to them. This concept can take a number of forms. At its most basic, it acts simply as an addition to the boss' health pool — attack until their armor is depleted, then continue until their health is gone as well. Most of the time, however, attacks will have no impact whatsoever until the armor is removed, which may be done in a number of ways. Sometimes you need certain items or weapons to defeat them with; bombs or other explosives are a common choice. Occasionally, the "armor" is Some Kind of Force Field instead of physical plating, requiring the disabling of whatever is keeping it running before the boss can be attacked. In some cases, the armor will reform after a set period of time and need to be cleared off again.


This may serve as a variation to Shielded Core Boss without the Mooks or non-traditional armor guarding the boss.

Compare and contrast the Invincibility Power-Up, where you usually have to wait for your enemy's invulnerability to wear off on its own, and Armored But Frail, where an enemy has poor stamina but makes it up for it with high defenses. This can often overlap with Seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight, especially before the specific mechanism needed to chip off the armor becomes clear. See also Heavily Armored Mook, for a similar concept applied to weaker enemies.

If the problem is not the boss' armor, but instead some kind of Healing Factor that must be overcome, see Anti-Regeneration.

See also Armor-Piercing Attack, Anti-Armor, and Destructible Armor.



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  • God of War: Pandora's Guardian is completely invulnerable at the beginning of the fight thanks to its armor, and has to be stunned and then hit with a burning log launcher repeatedly in order to destroy its integrity, allowing Kratos to finally destroy it with regular attacks, and damage the boss for real.
  • Hollow Knight:
    • The False Knight is a puny maggot wearing a stolen suit of armor as a shell. The player character can gain no Soul from hitting its armor, only its weak fleshy head which it exposes several times during the battle.
    • Uumuu cannot be damaged until its protective membrane has been pierced, which the Knight is unable to do alone. Fortunately, a short time into the battle, Quirrel arrives to help out.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Darknuts, powerful foes that tend to alternate between being Elite Mooks and minibosses, often fall into this. In the 3D games, landing hits on the armored knight causes parts of their plate armor to fly off, rendering them more vulnerable to attack as the fight progresses. However, after being reduced to light armor and chain mail they cast aside their BFS and switch to a lightweight rapier or barehanded martial arts, going from a Mighty Glacier to a Lightning Bruiser.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: The Helmasaur King's face is covered by a large helmet that protects its only vulnerable spot, and which Link needs to break apart before he can defeat the beast. Its counterpart in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, the Gemesaur King, is completely cloaked in armor — masses of rock and crystals cover every part of its body, and all of its armor needs to be blasted off with bombs before Link can attack the weak spot in the monster's forehead and actually cause it damage.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening:
      • The boss of Bottle Grotto is a Genie in a Bottle, who can only be attacked properly once Link has smashed his bottle by throwing it against the wall.
      • To defeat the Armos Knight, the miniboss of the Southern Face Shrine, Link must use arrows or charge into it sword-first to break off its armor, after which it will be possible to damage it with further arrows or regular sword strikes.
      • Turtle Rock's head is covered in rocky armor that Link can't pierce. Link must use bombs to break off its shell, exposing a fleshy head beneath that can be harmed with his regular weapons.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages: The Armos Warrior is the miniboss of the fourth dungeon, carrying a gigantic sword and shield that make him invulnerable. To defeat him, you need to bait him into throwing his sword at you and get him to hit himself with his own sword when it comes back to him until both sword and shield are broken. After that he can be damaged normally, his attacks now consisting of throwing himself at you and stunning himself when he hits a wall.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker:
      • The Helmaroc King wears a metal mask that Link must shatter with the Skull Hammer before he can damage him properly.
      • Gohma begins its fight encased in a thick rocky carapace, but the area it's fought in has a very weak ceiling with a dragon's tail dangling through it. Link can use the Grappling Hook on the tail to collapse the ceiling onto Gohma, repeat until its carapace is completely destroyed, then use the Grappling Hook on its eye to bring it into stabbing range of his sword.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: In order to defeat the dragon Argorok, Link must grab its tail and use the Iron Boots to pull it to the ground three times. Each time he does so some of its armor falls off, and the third time, the last of the armor is removed. The dragon can now be attacked with Link's sword.
  • Metal Gear Solid: In the fight against Metal Gear Rex, you have to destroy Rex's sensor dish in order for the vulnerable interior to be exposed.

    Fighting Games 
  • Punch-Out!!: The second fight with King Hippo has him protecting his belly with a manhole cover. You cannot deal real damage until you figure out how to take the cover out.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: The Subspace Emissary has an enemy, the Armank, to whom damage can only be done if you destroy the dragon arm. When you do so, a vulnerable green blob pops out for a short period of time.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The Glyphid Dreadnought has armor covering its thorax that must be destroyed to damage the Dreadnought itself, which regenerates after the Dreadnought takes enough damage or if enough time passes. The Glyphid Hiveguard has a strange variation on this: killing enough of its Sentinels will make it expose some fleshy bits, and destroying all three will then make it expose its thorax for a short time, just like the Dreadnought.
  • DOOM Eternal: The main body of the Doom Hunter is protected by a shield generator which must be temporarily disabled by the Plasma Rifle before the boss can take damage. The Doom Hunter eventually abandons its sled once it has taken enough damage, losing access to the energy shield in the process.
  • Killing Floor 2
    • Dr. Hans Volter can bring up a shield when his health reaches certain thresholds. Attacks to the shield do not affect his health, and if players do not bring the shield down in this brief window, Hans will charge toward one of the players and drain their health to replenish his own. Breaking the shield in time prevents him performing his healing and also staggers him, allowing players a few free hits.
    • The Abomination has three large armour pieces covering his head, chest and back. These have their own separate health bars, at least one of which needs to be removed before players can consistently deal damage to him. This especially applies to grenades which (aside from Frag Grenades and Nail Bombs which use shrapnel objects that can hit exposed flesh between armour pieces) will only affect whatever armour pieces are still there, dealing no damage to his health.
  • Quake IV: The Nexus, a Flunky Boss giant brain shielded by a force field. You need to bring down and hit the brain before it regenerates.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order: The fight with General Strasse has him piloting a mech with a bullet-repelling Deflector Shield powered by a thunderstorm. There are two zeppelins tethered at the edges of the boss arena that channel lightning strikes into the shield generator. These must be shot down before you can damage the mech... though fortunately, there are also two artillery cannons at the arena's corners that are perfectly placed for this.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening:
    • Cerberus covers himself in ice armor that absorbs gunfire and melee attacks and needs to be broken off with repeated attacks before his body parts (his three heads and two forelegs) can be damaged. At random intervals once at least one body part is uncovered, he'll repair the ice armor to repeat the process.
    • Nevan surrounds herself with a cloud of bats that will deflect bullets and interfere with melee attacks. Killing all the bats will leave Nevan stunned for a few seconds during which she can be damaged directly... until she teleports away and re-summons them.
  • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: Galak Fyyar has a shield emitter on his head, and neither the emitter nor Galak can be damaged unless you temporarily bring the shield down.

  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • On Alterac Pass, both teams' cores are replaced with bosses that need to be defeated to win. They start the game with 30 Armor, but lose 10 armor each time a friendly keep is destroyed. You don't have to break their armor to kill them, but doing so will make it much, much easier.
    • Deathwing passively has four armor plates that each provide 10 armor. One plate will break each time he falls below 75%, 50% and 25% health, and they can only be restored using his Z ability or a late-game talent. It's part of his "Play as a Boss" hero design.

  • Runescape: The Bulwark Beast has rocky armor that makes it immune to melee and ranged attacks. Players must either resort to magic attacks, or use a pickaxe (one will spawn in the corner of the arena if the players don't have one) to hack its armor apart.
  • World of Warcraft features an entire boss fight just to open a gap in the armor atop the Spine of Deathwing, the meanest dragon on Azeroth — the actual Final Boss encounter face to face with him comes after. The fight mechanics include prying up his armor plates in an effort to completely dislodge enough of them.

    Platform Games 
  • Kirby's Return to Dream Land: During the Disc-One Final Boss battle against the Grand Doomer, it'll coat itself in impenetrable stone armor when its health bar is nearly depleted. This forces Kirby to grab the Ultra Sword ability, the only thing that can actually break it, in order to defeat the extradimensional threat for good. [[spoiler: A similar segment happens later in the game when Kirby fights the real Final Boss, Magolor.
    • The fan-made Kirby: Revenge of Dream Land adds another one of these in the form of Whispy Woods, who coats his body in impenetrable silver armor just like he did in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. In order to break the armor and finish the boss battle, Kirby needs to attack the spiky balls he summons while fending off his minions as they drop down from above.
  • Kirby Star Allies: Grand Mam can't deal damage if you attack her armor, but said armor can break with multiple shots with the friend star. She also has Bombs for hands which you can explode with Cutter/Fire ability.
  • Skyblazer: Ashura carries a giant shield that prevents all of Sky's attacks from hurting him — but it can be knocked out of his hand using the Fiery Phoenix spell.
  • Sonic Adventure 2: Doctor Eggman's fight against the Egg Golem is complicated by the fact that the Golem has a very tough stone exterior preventing it from taking damage. To defeat it, Eggman has to shoot it with his Volkan Cannon to punch holes in the stone, then fire missiles at the exposed parts.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin 3 makes use of this trope through its use of Rock Pikmin, which specializes in smashing hard objects and features the use of crystal as a material that no other Pikmin type can break or affect.
    • The game's first boss, the Armored Mawdad, is covered by a crystalline shell that renders it impervious to your Pikmin's attacks, as they just bounce off its armor without causing any damage. In order to defeat it, you must use Rock Pikmin to shatter its shell and expose its soft flesh, at which point all Pikmin types are able to harm it. This extends to breaking the two purely crystalline mandibles the Mawmad used to corral Pikmin towards its mouth, which if shattered severely limit its ability to control and herd off your forces.
    • The Quaggled Mireclops has a single vulnerable area, a large fruit-like bulb, that's encased in a large crystal. You need to partly shatter it to start the battle, but a large quantity remains present around the bulb once the fight begins and the Mireclops can only be damaged once the crystal has been entirely removed.
    • A later miniboss, the Calcified Crushblat, is entirely encased in a solid shell of thick, bumpy crystal that makes it completely impervious to attack unless you destroy it with Rock Pikmin.
  • Warcraft III: Some boss characters have "Divine"-type armor that makes them immune to anything except "Chaos"-type attacks. Getting units with chaos-type attacks to defeat divine-armored enemies becomes a plot point in two of the campaign missions:
    • When the orc hero Gromm Hellscream angers the demigod Cenarius, he and his men drink demon blood from a corrupted pool, transforming themselves into Fel orcs and giving them the ability to kill Cenarius.
    • Illidan Stormrage devours the skull of Gul'dan, transforming him into a half-demon and giving him the ability to defeat the demon Tichondrius.


    Role-Playing Games 
  • Breath of Fire IV: Ight is a Seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight since it carries a large shield that negates almost all attacks against it. However, if Ryu is knocked unconscious during the fight, he will revive, transform into the Kaiser Dragon and unleash Kaiserbreath twice; the first use will obliterate Ight's shield, and the second will destroy Ight itself.
  • Fable I: The Hero's treacherous mentor Maze uses a shielding spell that the Hero has to overwhelm before he can deal any damage. He also periodically teleports away and refreshes the shield.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 4: In the Nuka-World DLC, Overboss Colter wears a suit of modified Powered Armor which is almost impossible to damage. Fortunately, the armor also has a Weaksauce Weakness: a water pistol found in the area before the arena where Colter is fought can short circuit the armor's electrical components and allow Colter to be damaged normally.
    • Fallout 76: The Imposter Sheepsquatch has an impenetrable force-field that is connected to 3 pylons. In order to disable the shield, 3 players must make direct contact with the pylons, draining their health while other players fight the Imposter Sheepsquatch itself.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age: Poseidon can be fought as soon as you gain access to Piers' ship, but can't actually be damaged until you find the three prongs of a magic trident and get them reforged. The trident only needs to be used once in the battle to break his shield, but is still somewhat useful afterwards as it increases Mercury resistance.
  • Mario & Luigi:
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: Chuckolator begins its battle wielding a wooden shield made from its barrel, which prevents the Bros. from being able to attack it with hammer-based moves; it can still be hit by jumps, but doesn't take much damage from them. Breaking the shield is necessary to defeat it in good time, but doing so allows it to attack more often as well.
    • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam: The Final Boss fight involves Bowser having armor formed from Paper Bowser and his minions. Mario and company can only attack the armor — but once the helmet is broken off, Mario and company can attack direct Bowser directly before the armor reforms. Additionally, when the armor is intact, Bowser can immediately negate and then counter Paper Mario's Trio Attacks, so Paper Mario is limited to normal attacks until the armor is broken.

  • Gradius: The Core Battleships require the Vic Viper to destroy the barriers first before you can reach their cores and defeat them.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • Warframe:
    • Lieutenant Lech Kril's armor makes him invulnerable to damage until the coolant tubes on the back are all cut, forcing him to purge it and leaving him vulnerable.
    • The Orb Mother bosses are protected by such heavy armor that the Tenno have to take extensive preparations to even scratch them.
      • The Profit-Taker Orb is surrounded by a virtually impregnable Deflector Shield. Tenno has to disable the satellite powering the shield, analyze it, and then shoot its constantly changing elemental weakness to bring it down. Its armor is also designed to go on a warship, forcing the Tenno to bring out their Archguns to penetrate it.
      • The Exploiter Orb lacks the shielding of Profit-Taker, but her armor is similarly tough and she's only beaten when she's forced to overheat, allowing the Tenno to rip out the armor surrounding her cognitive drives and render her vulnerable.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Demonic Beasts are protected by barriers that provide Damage Reduction and other buffs. Destroying one by attacking it repeatedly will temporarily remove this protection, while destroying all of a beast's barriers before it can use its special attack will also stun it for a turn.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • Avatar: Colonel Quaritch battles Jake in a powerful AMP suit mecha. Since Jake's arrows are poorly suited for dealing harm to it, Jake attacks the windshield and cracks it until Quaritch can't see out of it. This forces him to open the suit's canopy and therefore expose himself to incoming arrows.
  • Iron Man: In Tony's duel with Stane, the massive Iron Monger suit is completely impervious to Tony's attacks. After an attempt to disable it with cold weather fails, Tony goes for an exposed power line on its neck, shutting off its visual systems and forcing Stane to open the armor and expose himself so he can aim.