How Halo Infinite Learned From the Warden Boss Fight

Halo Infinite is starting to show a lot of promise with its gameplay and design appearing to harken back to the series' Bungie-era roots as well as positive reception from the free-to-play multiplayer (with some controversial decisions on progression notwithstanding). Alongside placing Master Chief and his battles against (former) Covenant races at the forefront once again, Infinite aims to evoke the imagery of the original Combat Evolved with its more-open sandbox and freedom on how to approach combat encounters. But Infinite aims to add a whole slew of new features to change things up and surprise players, including a new focus on boss fights.

A recent showcase for Halo Infinite's campaign this week introduced two named Banished foes for the Master Chief to pit his strength and wits against: the Brute engineer Trimonious and the Elite swordsman Chak'lok. Their presence in Infinite reveals them to be unique versions of regular enemies with stronger shields, more health and complex movesets that make the usual strategies against their standard enemy counterparts far more difficult to achieve. Players must rely on the environment, their knowledge of the arsenal and increased mobility in order to triumph against them.

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The Halo series has had a tumultuous history with its boss fights, always struggling to make one worthy of the beloved enemy NPCs. Halo 1 had no discernible "boss fight" to speak of, with the climactic Warthog Run making for a far more satisfying finish than any bullet sponge would have been. Bungie decided to add some actual boss fights in Halo 2, but these were often much maligned as the weakest part of the game; the Heretic Leader and Tartarus were considered regular enemies with unfair advantages and curb-stomping the Prophet of Regret could hardly be considered a "boss fight."

Realizing that making bullet sponge enemies with stupid gimmicks was not the best way to handle a boss fight, Bungie elected not to make any for Halo 3, opting instead to make stronger Brute enemies with the Chieftain--evoking Tartarus while still allowing players to use normal anti-Brute tactics--and make massive, sprawling gunfights with Scarab Tanks that force the player to use multiple tactics. While they did have a slightly more traditional boss fight with the rampant 343 Guilty Spark, the fight was extremely short due to the power of the Spartan Laser and was at least somewhat satisfying for players who've wanted to kill him since Halo 1.

When development of Halo transitioned from Bungie to 343 Industries, Halo 4 marked a turning point as gameplay started to take focus away from the Covenant sandbox of unique enemies and a stronger focus on firepower and mobility with the robotic Prometheans. The increased graphical detail and new cinematic approach meant that Halo 4 used quick-time events for storytelling and any personal encounters, a decision mocked by many players as the Didact is swiftly defeated with the push of a button. Halo 5 aimed to rectify this with actual boss fights against the Wardens, but players decried the Wardens being out-of-place, alongside their absurdly unfair damage output and sponginess making all but the strongest of weapons borderline useless.

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343 Industries' approach to boss fights in Infinite is markedly different from how Bungie attempted them in the original Halo trilogy and Reach, while also showing how they have learned from their previous mistakes with 4 and 5. They learned from Halo 5's Warden that they should place a greater emphasis on the boss' placement in an arena, making for a more personal and challenging gunfight that the player can't easily cheese. At the same time, knowing that Halo's greatest strength was its unique enemy behaviors making several encounters memorable, 343 made sure that Infinite's bosses were recognizable as stronger versions of regular enemies with more unique move-sets.

From what is seen so far, Chak'lok and Trimonious serve as promising examples of how Halo can approach its campaign villains in more satisfying boss encounters. Making them act more like stronger regular enemies avoids clashing with Halo's normal gameplay loop against Covenant enemies, while also evoking the same dread, challenge and triumph players had when encountering a Golden Elite Major with a Sword for the very first time. Naming the bosses and giving them proper introductions is also a surefire way to make them more memorable in the eyes of the player, with Chak'lok in particular already being well-liked for his debonair entrance and high respect for the Chief.

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Vladimir Olivares (138 Articles Published)

Vladimir Olivares is a writer, illustrator, and short film-maker based in the United States. Fond of comic books, manga, movies, video games, and TV shows of various different genres, he is knowledgable in classic comic book history and is well-versed in other forms of graphic novel media of varying genres, ranging from fantasy, noir, and science fiction, both from Western authors to that of Japanese manga. Vladimir is currently working as a freelance writer for Valnet, Inc., covering Comic Book Resources. Follow him on Twitter at @valolivares123. and check out his art page on Artstation.

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