You're Not The Boss Of Me

If Halo 3 were going to have boss battles, who would your opponents be?

That's an idea that occurred to me after participating in an HBO forum thread that started out talking about a rather idiotic article wondering if Halo 3 would suck, and ended up morphing into a discussion of boss battles.

I'm not really sure how boss battles got into Halo 2 in the first place. Perhaps somebody asked for them. Perhaps it was felt that Halo 2 needed "bigger" encounters than the first game; conflicts with individual characters instead of anonymous Covenant foot soldiers.

Whatever the reason, some of them worked fairly well, and others garnered a lot of negative feedback, particularly the fights against the Prophet of Regret and Tartarus. Most of the criticism stemmed from the arbitrary and repetetive natures of those encounters; how the rules varied significantly from how the rest of the game was played, and how they evoked stereotypical gameplay situations perhaps better suited for other genres.

With Halo 3, there are still a number of recognizable characters in the story who are potentially sources of conflict for our main characters, the Master Chief and, presuming he returns, the Arbiter. Might any of these be the subject of a boss battle? If so, how might Bungie alter the way those battles work compared to Halo 2?

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Brute Chieftain

Why: With Tartarus out of the picture, the conflict between the Elites and the Brutes might die down unless a new leader appears. Given that Tartarus had Truth's approval for his actions on Delta Halo, it seems likely he might select a new leader of the Brutes, or at the very least take under his wing whomever succeeds the former chieftain.

Why not: We've already fought Tartarus once and it wasn't much fun. Bungie might make the fight different by changing the arena and weapons, but still might end up feeling like a rehash of the first fight. Given that the Brutes seem to believe what Truth is telling them about the Great Journey, defeating the ignorant might leave a hollow feeling.

Prediction: No brute boss battle in Halo 3.

The Arbiter

Why: The inclusion of the Arbiter as a playable character proved to be a controversial choice. Not everybody welcomed the change of pace. Some don't want to see him return. What better way to cement that than to let the Master Chief square off against him?

Why not: Bungie seemed to be diligent about avoiding certain kinds of conflicts in Halo 2. The Arbiter only fought against other Covenant units or the Flood, never against humans. I think they wanted you to identify with the character, which would be tougher if you were fighting both sides of the same battle throughout the game.

Prediction: The Arbiter may or may not come back, but in any case, I don't think you'll be fighting against him. Bungie kept the two sides apart in the past game, and my guess is that if the Arbiter is back, they'll either keep them separate again or at least make sure he and the Chief are fighting on the same side.


Why: The tentacled mess has got his clutches on Cortana, Regret, and 2401PT. He's commandeered High Charity. What's his next move? Nobody knows. Given that he's got a vested interest in stopping the Halo system from being activated, though, it's a fair bet he might try to get to the Ark. What does he want with Cortana? We also don't know. It's probably nothing good, though. Add to that the fact that he's the hive mind behind the seeminly mindless, drooling, oozing Flood we've dreaded fighting for the last two games, and who could resist wanting to take him out?

Why not: Gravemind doesn't seem very mobile, so unless they go the teleportation route again, it's difficult to imagine how a battle against him wouldn't turn into the kind of travesty that the final encounter in Quake was. Add to that the fact that it's not likely to go very well for anybody if the Halo system is fired, and it's hard to imagine what the motivation would be for fighting him.

Prediction: The conflict between what the Covenant want, what the Flood want, and what humanity wants is central to the Halo series, but something tells me that Gravemind's role in that is not going to be settled with a mano-a-blobo with Gravemind. No boss battle with Audrey in Halo 3.

343 Guilty Spark

Why: Before you start tuning up, let me finish. We've spent the last two games trying to stop Halo installations from firing, working against either a Monitor who wants to use us to fire it, or against elements in the Covenant who want to fire it for their own reasons. The Flood problem doesn't appear to be getting any better. At some point, either 343 Guilty Spark or one of his brethren is going to say that's it, we've got to set off these rings again, and as far as we know, that isn't a good idea for whatever life forms are making this galaxy home at the current time. How far is the Monitor willing to go to make sure that happens? Since the effect of the weapon is, presumably, going to kill all sentient life that could be host for the Flood, it would hardly seem to matter if one or two needed to be killed a little earlier in the process of finding a willing Reclaimer.

Why not: So far, Guilty Spark has proved to be well nigh indestructible. You couldn't damage him at all in Halo 1, and at the conclusion of the game he either escaped (or survived) the destruction of Installation 04. He doesn't appear to have any offensive capabilities of his own, or at least has not demonstrated any so far, so it's hard to see how a boss battle against him would be any different than another fight with a bunch of sentinels or enforcers. If it turns out he has gone some high-powered weaponry stashed inside that little sphere, fans many wonder aloud what kept him from using it before.

Prediction: Although I think a large contingent of Halo fans would love to take a shot at Guilty Spark that could actually do some damage, I have a feeling we're not going to get the chance. He was pretty hands-off on Delta Halo, perhaps because it's not his installation. If he ends up tagging along to Earth, the situation might well be the same. If there's a fight against a Monitor in Halo 3, it might be against the Ark's Monitor, assuming it has one.

Prophet Of Truth

Why: Whether Truth or Gravemind is the quintissential devil in the Halo story is a point certainly open to debate. In fact, if neither turns out to be a real "bad guy" but just opposing forces acting in enlightened self-interest, that makes the story all the better. Still, it's hard to like a guy that fails to live up to his name. One wonders whether he's really just as deluded as his flock, or if the Covenant faith is itself a deception, a tool used by him and perhaps other hierarchs to further some unseen ends. He tried to have the Chief killed, and it looks like he may have tried to kill Regret as well, before we got to it. And he certainly didn't lift a hand to save Mercy. He ordered Tartarus to betray the Arbiter. If anybody deserves a good smack upside the face, it's Truth.

Why not: If fighting Truth is going to be as much fun as fighting Regret, then please just go ahead and skip it. With the Scarab and the Heretic, we couldn't really be sure Bungie was actually giving us boss battles. The Scarab, by itself, isn't really an enemy, it's more of a mission objective. The Heretic you kill just like any other Elite, except for the occasions where you meet him early and you don't get a chance. His holographic doppelgangers were a little unbelievable. After all, how does a hologram hold a real gun, anyway? You can, however, can take him and them down the same way you attack other targets. It was when you got to Regret that it became clear something funny was going on. The gimmick of boarding his chair as if it was a vehicle was neat, the first time we did it. Asking it to be repeated over and over to get the kill on Legendary was a bit much. As for the "unique attacks" one originally thought Prophets would be getting, well, that turned out to be Hunter blasts (Halo 2 beams, not the cooler Halo 1 plasma mortars) and teleportation, just about the oldest and most clichéd boss trick in the book.

Prediction: Of all the remaining major characters in the story, I think it's most likely there will be a direct physical confrontation with Truth, if for no other reason than it'll be the only way to find out if he actually believes in the Great Journey or if he's just trying to trick the galaxy into committing suicide for some unfathomable reason. If Bungie's already got a neat idea for how Truth is going to fight that is better than Regret's swivel chair of death, then so much the better.


Why: Ahh, save the best for the last. Your truest companion and friend, no? Et tu Cortana? What did you think was going to happen, a summer in a cottage on the Hamptons? She's stuck up there with Gravemind, and we already know she's "in trouble" according to Bungie. If Halo 3 was about her rescue, events would be moving in the other direction. But they're not. I sense a coming fusion of disparate personalities like what happened to Thoth and Durandal in Marathon. The result, in that game, turned out to be benign. Don't hold your breath this time. The concerns of all the Cortana-doubters to date might just have been justified.

Why not: Too predictable, isn't it? Since fans saw the first Marathon symbol associated with Halo, they've been waiting to see a rampant AI go crazy and try to kill stuff, and Halo 3 might be their last hope. So to let Cortana go crazy now is just too easy to see coming. Besides, it creates similar problems to the Guilty Spark and Heretic battles; she's only a hologram with no real resources of her own, so it would have to be a proxy battle. Although perhaps if she and Gravemind did combine, the resulting combination would make a worthy opponent.

Prediction: Hard to say. I think Cortana is definitely going to surprise people in Halo 3, and that's mostly why I think she's not going rampant; it's just too easy. I think it more likely that the combination of Cortana and Gravemind will propose a course of action that neither the Covenant nor the UNSC will want to support, and it may be up to the Chief to decide which way things go.



About battling humans... heh - during the Buyer's Remorse chapter of the Sacred Icon level (where you're playing as the Arbiter), you come across an area where you can see (and hear) the humans fighting the flood. I wondered on a recent play through - can you actually hurt them?

At the chapter opening, I ran there as quick as I could, and zoomed in with the carbine. I was able to identify at least two marines through the fog. It turns out that they go down with only one or two shots, and that your reticle does in fact turn red (with the dot for headshots) when placed over them - they are in fact enemies in the game code.

I really felt like a traitor doing it, though. :)

I tried doing the same-- never managed to get close enough.

I never doubted that you'd be able to shoot them; there'd be no reason why not. But despite the fact that it'd be a completely plot-appropriate mission for the Arbiter, Bungie never sends you on a "clear all the remaining humans from this area" sort of mission, or a "kill the humans, then take the index" sort of mission.

Contrast that to, say, Uprising, where half the time your mission objective is "take revenge on the Brutes".

Rampant for over se7en years.

What about another spartan? Perhaps the one Doc Halsey took off with, or maybe one deluded by something Cortana could do to manipulate news and information. What is John were spun as a bad guy, and the UNSC tried to bring him down?

That would be interesting if we could battle her, but how would it work? I mean, she is a hollogram, right?

So were the Heretic's holodrones. They still dual-wielded plasma rifles.

I can say it's physically impossible for a hologram to do so, but it wouldn't be inconsistent with the halo universe if she did use real-world weapons.

Rampant for over se7en years.

I'm going to puke if Cortana's hologram jumps about dual-wielding swords or rifles. It was bad enough with the Heretic Leader's magic holodrones, with Cortana's hologram firing away real'd make everyone wonder why the hell she didn't do that on Alpha Halo, and bail poor old MC out of a mess?

Bosses suck. If Cortana has to fight the Chief, I'd rather see her do it indirectly and in a more subtle manner than a crude boss fight. Perhaps she could vector in Sentinels or Flood forms to the Master Chief's position, and anything under her control could stand out with better AI or something of the sort. And they shouldn't be overdone; they should be spread out the way the sentinels were on Two Betrayals, or perhaps not much denser than that. The fight with the four sentinels at the beginning of TB was the closest to a boss battle that Halo got in my opinion, but it was devoid of the typical boss stupidity or nonsense.

[quote=UrsusArctos]IThe fight with the four sentinels at the beginning of TB was the closest to a boss battle that Halo got in my opinion, but it was devoid of the typical boss stupidity or nonsense.


You really thought that was a boss battle? All it takes to nail those guys is one plasma pistol alt-fire each. Done. One of the easier encounters in the whole game, really. Sentinels never seemed tough enough to me, given that they were supposed to be created by the Forerunner to control the Flood.

If I had to pick a boss-like encounter from Halo 1, maybe I'd pick the Gold elite at the end of SC, or the first pair of Hunters.

Or maybe one of the really tough spots-- like the grav lift room, or some unique spot like the PoA's engine room.

Rampant for over se7en years.

The hunters are really easy. All you have to do is let them ram at you, move out of the way real quick and shoot the orange spot in their back.

Except the first time people played the game, many did not know this.

For that reason, I still find Halo 1 hunters more fearsome than the Halo 2 hunters, even though they are more dangerous and do not have this flaw.

Rampant for over se7en years.

Oh, yeah. I never thought of that.

Well I dont think that there was anything in halo that was difficult enough to call a boss battle. Hunters, setinels, and the golden elite were all easy to kill to me. Hit the hunter with a rocket or shoot the orange part with a pistol. I just shoot the setinal with a plasma rifle or a shotgun, and yes the overcharged plasma pistol works too. When I had to fight the golden elite with the sword I just blew it up wit my rocket launcher or at the beginning I park my worthog with marines next to the door where you first see the golden elite. Then when the time comes and you meet him again he is usually dead because the marine in the turret of the worthog would blast him to bits. I cant think of anything good enough to be considered a boss.