Why 'learning boss fights' is not feasible in Last Epoch

video is probably easier to watch, but I write scripts, and this is a forum, so here we go:

Hey guys, Thyworm here, and today I want to talk about why you’re struggling with boss fights in Last Epoch. Are you bad at the game? Are the bosses too difficult? Are you undergeared or underleveled? I don’t think it’s necessarily any of these things. Let me explain.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, and last week Mike in his stream touched on this topic again, after a viewer asked if he thinks bosses are too difficult. I think it’s safe to say this viewer was struggling, probably. And I think plenty of people are, especially new players. Let me play the clip, and then we get into it.


In this short section, Mike is saying 3 things.

  • You can improve your character. That means in all sorts of ways right? Better gear, better skills, better build. And for new players, I would definitely recommend following a build guide, I have plenty of those, they’re very extensive and beginner friendly, and it just allows you to play the game without having to worry too much about if your character is going to be okay at higher levels. And then, as soon as you understand more and more of the game, you can make your own builds. You can subscribe for more build guides and opinion pieces like this, or like the video, I appreciate it.
  • You can learn the boss fights. And my argument in this video is going to be that Last Epoch makes it extremely difficult to learn the boss fights
  • Mike thinks the bosses aren’t overpowered. And I agree with that, mostly.

Let’s talk a bit about bosses in Last Epoch. Mike said this as well, and I think he’s right in mentioning that boss fights in Last Epoch require both mechanical knowledge of the boss fights, and a decent build and gear. The latter you can simply work on, but getting the mechanical knowledge of boss fights, that is very difficult. I agree that bosses are not overpowered, but I do feel Last Epoch does a bad job teaching new people boss fights, and giving them opportunities to fail and retry.

First, let’s talk about teaching boss fights. Last Epoch is designed in a way that boss fights do not mechanically change at higher tiers or difficulty. The fights are completely the same fights, it’s just that ability scaling and damage scaling and health scaling is cranked up significantly. I guess it makes sense, but it is also problematic, because the first time you encounter these bosses, they are typically so weak that mechanics do not matter at all. The tier 1 dungeon bosses are a joke. The tier 2 dungeon bosses are a joke as well. You don’t have to worry about the mechanics at all. The tier 3 bosses can get challenging, and the tier 4 bosses oneshot you, and then people suddenly start complaining. Maybe the devs would argue that you had ample opportunity to learn the fight in lower tiers, but I would argue that’s simply not true, because nothing incentivizes you to learn the fight. You can kill the bosses without knowing any mechanics, like in the Diablo 3 example Mike gave. I think it would be much better if the lower tier bosses had fewer mechanics, but the ones they have are still very deadly, so you learn some of the mechanics already, and if you screw it up, you actually get punished. This way, you help the players understand this isn’t Diablo 3, but it’s actually more like path of exile, where boss mechanics matter, and where boss abilities are deadly. That would be a way to properly learn boss fights, and it would make the different tiers more interesting as well, because the bosses don’t only get harder because they scale, but because they actually gain extra abilities. It makes sense then, that these new extra abilities are also deadly, because the players are already conditioned that boss abilities are deadly. It will require some tweaking of course, you can’t end up with a boss that has 5 deadly abilities, but make it do a percentage of your health, instead of flat numbers, for example, so people get a good jump scare and figure out, like Pavlov’s dog, that they cannot take these mechanics lightly. I’m sure the devs can think of a solution here. And besides, I would argue that a tier 4 boss actually has 5 deadly mechanics against most builds, so ultimately it wouldn’t change much. It’s just that people learn the fight better.

Now, you might say, that I’m suggesting people should get oneshot at lower tiers as well. And yes, I am sort of advocating for that, because it would teach people the mechanics. However, I’m advocating for it, because I feel Last Epoch needs a second change, on top of the first one where they teach the new player the fights.

What Last Epoch lacks, is a system where players can actually retry boss fights after they die. For some reason, Last Epoch is taking a super hardcore approach here and is extremely punishing, and I have no idea where this design philosophy is coming from. It seems to me this is contradicting the idea that Last Epoch should be a game more catered towards people that feel PoE is too complicated. That’s literally a design pillar of Last Epoch, by the way, keeping it simple. But they’re not keeping it simple for new players when it comes to bosses. Not at all.

If you die to a boss, you need to restart the entire dungeon. Or you need to restart the entire boss fight in the monolith, which costs stability, which you may not have, meaning you now have to do echoes again and only then you can give it another try. And this isn’t the first time Last Epoch implements something that seems just ridiculously punishing. Some of the more OG players might remember that the first iteration of the monolith of fate reset the ENTIRE MONOLITH, when you died in an echo. Yes, ladies and gents, the devs thought it was a good idea to completely kill basically your entire stability bar if you died in a timeline. I don’t know why. It was changed, of course, due to feedback. Similarly, this video hopes to change something as well.

Because I feel, especially for new players, but also for myself, it is very problematic that if you die on a boss, you get punished super hard. And what is interesting, there are almost no other games that do this. For example, take path of exile. That game has incredibly hard bosses, much harder than bosses currently available in Last Epoch, and with much more mechanics, phases, entire worlds changing, you name it. But they always give you 6 attempts to try a boss fight, because you get 6 portals. It can take a while before you spawn that boss again, like Sirus in particular, but overall, they give you opportunities to learn the fight. Even though the bosses are much harder than in Last Epoch, and they sometimes have insane oneshot mechanics, you still feel you have a fair shot at killing them, or a fair shot at learning the fight. Even a game like Elden Ring, that Mike talked about as well, has these stakes of Marika and sites of grace, or bonfires, little checkpoints in front of difficult boss fights, so that if you die, you can simply resurrect a few meters away from the boss, and try again. The game gives you plenty of chances, infinite chances even, to learn the boss mechanics. If you can’t kill the boss, it doesn’t feel too bad, because you know you can just get some levels and gear and come back later, and give it 30 more tries. I think that’s great design. Even a game like World of Warcraft, which has these massive raid bosses with numerous mechanics, even that game does not let you clear the trash every time you want to fight the boss, right? That would be insane. It would be like forcing your players to do the entire dungeon again. Oh wait, Last Epoch is actually doing that. WoW however, is not designed like that. You can just revive, buff up, and give it another try, for around 2 hours or so, and only then the trash respawns. Final Fantasy 14 got rid of trash entirely and just puts you directly into the raid boss arena, quite often. And in both cases, you basically get infinite tries, as long as people keep playing.

In Last Epoch, this doesn’t exist. Oh, you got nuked by the bugged and poorly animated Lagon, tough shit, no retries for you. Of, you didn’t see the clock ticking at Julra and got oneshot? Tough shit, please complete the whole dungeon again and we’ll see you in 10 minutes. Let’s see how well you learn a fight if you can attempt the fight every 10 minutes. Oh, the final boss of the arena killed you? Please do another 40 waves and hope you get the same boss again. It’s madness and poor design.

Mike states you can learn the boss fights, but I argue with these 2 points you actually can’t learn the boss fights, especially as a new player. Last Epoch needs to implement something like portals, sites of grace, or a checkpoint with some tries, or this issue is only going to get worse. And it is a real issue, because the frustration these bosses cause is making people quit. I didn’t play Last Epoch for months after getting oneshot again by Lagon, because he was still bugged, and I had to do the entire timeline again. It’s nonsense, it shouldn’t be in the game, and Last Epoch needs to fix this. The boss fights are typically well-designed and fun, but currently way too punishing and not offering players opportunities to learn the actual fights.

But that’s it. Let me know your feedback in the forum, or by liking or disliking the post. Thanks for watching, and for making it to the end. See you soon, love you all, bye bye.


I completely agree with you!

Some “Stake of Marika” at the dungeons to retry the fights could be really nice improvement. Its frustrating to do the dungeon all over again to be oneshotted time after time. And the dungeons are much easier than the boss at the t4. Thats another thing I have been thinking,: should the t4 dungeons be harder to reflect the boss fight.

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An excellent post, very well argumented and written.
Thanks, and congratulations!

I absolutely agree with your key point: not being able to repeat a boss fight without a grind between each try is bad design, and doesn’t make sense. It makes the bosses artificially “harder”, but just because they are, as you point out, harder to learn.

I could see that happening, yes.


However, I disagree with a few details in your post (sorry).
Specifically, you repeatedly mention “new players”, and that is where I don’t follow your logic (or just disagree with it).

  • To start simple:

If new players have a harder time with a boss than players who have been around longer, it means, by itself, that you CAN learn. If you couldn’t, new or old players would be in exactly the same boat.

  • More subjective:

In my opinion, it should be exactly the opposite. Start with exploring skills and mechanics for yourself. Once you know a little bit how the game works, start looking at builds to get deeper ideas and synergies.
I strongly believe that most people struggling are in trouble BECAUSE they try to follow a build without understanding how it works, and they end up using their skills poorly, or having useless affixes, or missing important defenses because the build creator forgot to mention it…
Learning a boss fight is needed, sure. But learning the game’s mechanics is also needed, and following a build from the start makes it a lot harder and longer.

No offense meant to build-makers, they are very useful in the community, and some build ideas are great. But not for a first character. Of course, it means your very first character probably won’t do corruption 500 or clear T4. That’s fine. It is a first character, it is not supposed to be your best character ever…

Final note, thanks to Thyworm for taking the time to write, in all his posts or builds.
Be it builds or any kind of discussions, I love reading a good text (and his are always very nice), but I never watch videos or streams.

Hey man, thanks for the response, nice to get some thoughts on this.

If new players have a harder time with a boss than players who have been around longer, it means, by itself, that you CAN learn. If you couldn’t, new or old players would be in exactly the same boat.

True of course. this sentence in particular was a bit exaggerated. I do mention earlier that it’s very hard to learn boss fights, it is of course possible, ultimately. I mean, I learned them too, but I question the way how. We agree on that part though.

And on the build-part, it is subjective of course. I am not making 500 corruption builds, more just like fun builds that sometimes turn out really well in terms of corruption viability, but I can see your point. I think it’s up to the players, but if you want to experience the end-game at least to some extent, and you want a bit of a smooth ride there, a build guide is a decent way to start. That is also more in line with how I personally play these games. For me, builds are a tool, not a means. They’re a tool to do fun content with. Because LE lacks end-game content, I think builds have become a goal in itself, but for me that’s still not the case. This is also why I don’t mind build guides, and I follow build guides myself in PoE, still after 3,5k hours in that game.

Oh, and I still haven’t killed T4 bosses. Just can’t be bothered to rerun those entire dungeons when I die.

If EHG decided to allow respawns to the area before every dungeon boss on all T1 attempts - would this be a simple way to address this issue?

I mean, nothing really good drops at the level 20, 45 or 55 (each dungeon minimum) so what would be the harm of just allowing respawns on T1 dungeons with the bosses resetting each time.

As I understand the thread, the idea is for lower level, not build guide, new/learning players with new chars to be able to more easily understand & learn the mechanics without having to find keys and restart the whole dungeon grind again?

Campaign bosses already allow this, so why not the lowest level Dungeons which are accessed / opened during the campaign anyway?

Am I missing something that would make this simple solution invalid?\

Or why dont they just add side quests that allow doing the dungeons as part of the normal campaign process with respawns so that people can try and try again like any other quest?

I am not sure, part of the argument that OP brought up is that new players have no reason to learn the machanics because at t1 they are so weak that they can be safely ignored.

Personally I am not sure why we need keys for t1 dungeons in the first place.

Because then people would expect them. I think Thyworm had a reasonable point that the game doesn’t do a great job at teaching people the Dungeon boss fights & that a number of respawns for the dungeons would be OK because of the cost of entry (the keys are rare-ish). I disagree that the mono bosses are “too hard” to learn because you loose stability when you fail them since getting that stability back is pretty easy and you can even store up to double the stability requirement before doing the mono boss.

Have you tried doing the Lightless Arbour “on level” at lvl 16 or so (ie, the level of the zone before)? It’s not a trivial dungeon at that level.

Personally I have not.
I levelled a new character in the patch, and I did not drop a key before getting well into monoliths.
I suspect this experience is not uncommon.

However, I mentioned this because that was the point of the original post.

So then perhaps some side quests could address this “learning” requirement in some way? Like speaking to a dude just before the boss who hints that you need to move from one side of a platform to another or stand near something and then move or something more specific…and warns you about one-shots… I personally hate handholding like this and would rather just discover things by trying & dying, but with the oneshot mechanic in the game, it might be feasible to offer this “optional side quest” kind of thing to address those that are likely to become frustrated… I see the learning as similar but probably harsher than the gear checks that some campaign bosses have… harsher because of the grind and keys needed to redo it…

Monos - for me monos have zero problem with boss learning… I see monos as outside of the game progress and if you want to play monos then you need to understand you are going to get your arse kicked and need to learn as you go… Unless you are in HC, failure with monos, as you say, doesnt really have much of a penalty - a few extra echos to run at most… and because of its “end-game level” intention, I dont think any learning/handholding is warranted…

As Llama8 mentioned, for a new levelling character the T1 boss fights are more than hard enough to use to learn…

I think that all special content needs gates of some sort - like keys - to keep them aspirational and add hype to being able to access these areas. I do however think that because the three dungeons are accessible in the campaign stages and are not like monos - entirely separate from the story - that there should be some sort of initial “free” entry - even if its just a side quest where some arbitrary dude hidden away on a map somewhere gives you a key and whispers of hidden glory/treasure… (yes yes… someone will cheese this by collecting keys for alts)…

This whole thread is pretty interesting and it shows how decisions made by the devs have repercussions that may not have been thought of or intended… e.g. one-shotting mechanic leads to frustrating new users with learning bosses on gated content that doesnt have respawns or has “rare” gated access…

Yes, and the paucity of keys is an issue, though given the “level-skip for alts” nature/intended functionality of the t1 versions of the dungeons, I don’t think it’s reasonable to complain that the lvl 20/whatever the other dungeons are is reasonable if one is doing them massively over levelled and geared.

That’s entirely different to one shots and issues with learning the mechanics (which I kinda agree with for dungeons).

I am not sure what we are arguing for here.
I was under the impression that we are discussing on weather or not T1 dungeons are good for learning the mechanics of the fights or not.

With this in mind, I stated that when doing it overlevelled, you are not learning the mechanics.
Then it was mentioned that if you are not doing them overlevelled the mechanics are not trivialized and therefore need to be learned.
However that was not my experience.
Keys are rare (and that is ok), and therefore by the time the first key dropped I was already massively overlevelled and overgeared.

So my conclusion is that, in the current state of the game, the fact that with a low level character a T1 dungeon is a good teaching tool is irrelevant since it will not be the experience of many players.
The only circumnstance where you are doing t1 while not grossly overlevelled is for an alt character.
However, if you are levelling an alt, presumably you have already done the dungeon with your main character at that point, so it is not really a learning experience.

I feel it is fair to say that if you were not overlevelled, the T1 version of the dungeon is a good way of teaching mechanics.
Ultimately, I think that the solution is the would be the one that Vapourfire suggested, put a quest on it and give free entry, with respawn at least once.

The cheese issue is easily circumventable by locking the free entry to t1 of the dungeon only, or by simply not tying the entry to a key at all (it would be a special quest area that does not require a key for the version of the dungeon you are beating for the quest).

My point about the T1 and T2 dungeons being easy would not hold true if people do the content on-par. But realistically, at least up until this point, as people pointed out, that isn’t happening. Keys don’t drop, the level-skip idea is very inefficient and overall, people tackle these dungeons being overlevelled and overgeared. And then all incentive is lost.

Assuming for a bit (new) players do T1 dungeons on level par, then the issue remains though, I would argue. one oneshot and you have to restart the entire dungeon. I would imagine at tier 1 you may get oneshot as well. I think in general, this is an issue. A few attempts in such a dungeon would help a lot here. And indeed, as people point out, there is already an opportunity cost to this as well, in the form of keys. Might as well give us a few attempts for that.

While I think theres probably an argument for it being hard to learn fights, I think making the argument ‘you cant learn boss fights’ followed by a reasoning for this being ‘well you have to clear the dungeon again to get to it’ is just inherently flawed.

Either you cant learn the boss fights, and no matter how easy it is to retry it you still wont, because you cant learn the boss fights. Or you can learn the boss fights, and you’d personally prefer it be less of a grind between each attempt.

I’ve personally learnt all the boss fights, thats my personal experience. There can defintiely be points made towards how punishing it is in terms of time needed to get to the boss again when you make a mistake, but its just clickbaity rubbish to lead off with ‘you cant learn them’.

Also, no offense, but i see in a comment you make the point that you haven’t killed t4 bosses. I’m not sure you can comment on the difficulty of learning bosses in the way you are, i.e. seemingly trying to be objective about it. When you haven’t gone through the entire thing (i.e. learnt the bosses enough to do them on t4). Knowing that you haven’t actually done them it makes your points make a lot more sense however, as your points clearny aren’t ‘i can’t learn the boss fights, so i have to overgear my way through them’. But instead ‘I haven’t learnt the boss fights, so I have to overgear through the first 3 tiers, and now I can’t do tier 4 bosses because I haven’t learn them, and overgearing them requires beating them first’

Now that’s definitely a good point, if you never actually try to learn the fights, or just play the game outside of bosses enough beforehand, you’ll be in a position where you actively have to make the choice to learn the fights so you can do them. And if you don’t make that choice, the games only going to offer you that opportunity, when you’re pushing t4.

However I think it’s fair to say that this design is perfectly fine, it’s more accessible this way than the game forcing that on you.

((A good comparison of this with other games, wow for example, is that if you just ignore mechanics in a normal raid because you overgear it, you then get to that boss on heroic and have a much harder time progging through it, than if you purposefully bring attention to the mechanics in normal, so your raid can learn them in a situation where learning doesnt have the same risk as on the higher difficulties))


I wanted to farm Vessel of Strife and was playing my new Beastmaster approx level 91 who had not done any dungeons, I did T1/2/3 Julra completely fine, while doing T4 I tried to dodge the spinning beam apparently got touched and died immediately, 2.1k HP, 300 resting ward, tried again and when her dropping that void puddle I got hit twice by it whille running out in Spriggan form with 43% movment speed, ded

I loaded my Abomination Necromancer who I had already killed Julra a bunch of times when EHG released them

Defensively I have 4k resting Ward, capped res, 66% crit avoidance, after 5 fights I died 4 times and got one kill

I died to almost every mechanic as basically a one shot, I play on a controller so movement skills are trash in the fight. died to the wave attack which did all my hp, the spinning laser which killed me in 2 ticks as I tried to dodge it, her lightning/cold slam as I was too close and when avoiding her rift puddle I used transplant and nicely dashed me into the corner of the arena and died instantly. In fight #5 I got hit with the wave but I ‘only’ took about 3100 damage

Not really, not unless its T4, you dont learn anything from T1 damage wise. Giving a boss 410% damage is the problem, its hard to know exactly how dangerous something is when it does basically no damage at T1 then immediately starts one shotting you at T4. Maybe its the fact I play on controller but I find this fight pretty difficult, even in PoE on most content you get 6 deaths per attempt so its much easier to practice

Ill fight them more probably tomorrow and practice. Some of the issue as well is the fact you have to farm T4 bosses to even have a chance of obtaining certain uniques, the drop rate could be changed to include T3 at a lower rate


From reading this though, it seems like you knew what to avoid, and the issue was execution? The point OP is trying to make is that learning what to avoid is the issue, and honestly what you’ve said seems like it runs in counter to that and just points out that you can learn these abilities on the lower tiers.

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you’re taking it a little bit too literal here, I feel. The overall point is clear, right. I know in one sentence I said you can’t, and that is of course not true, but it’s about the feasibility of learning boss fights. And the lack of opportunities here.

I have killed T4 bosses, Julra so far, and the arena ones, but I can’t be bothered to actively farm them, is what I meant. Reason why I can’t be bothered, is because one little mistake wastes 10 minutes of my time, and that’s not worth it. I probably killed Sirus 100 times by now, in PoE, but I still enjoy the 6 portals, because sometimes you just mess it up. And then it’s nice, and reasonable, you can dive back in.

So what threshold of defence do you need to survive a single attack, if everything like that kills me whats the points of having defence

People play on a controller, they dont have precise movement abilities and will get hit easier

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I mean, if you want a discussion about the difficulty of fights, or the progression of the game itself as it pertains to going through tiers, then make that point. Otherwise you just sound clickbaity and that generally always leads to a pointless discussion, because people are talking from different places, and moving goalposts all the time.

As it stands I’m not really sure what point you’re actually trying to make. If you can learn the bosses, then what is the issue? That you have to spend 5-10 minutes clearing the dungeon on the way? That t4 abilities are too one-shotty relative to t3? That the fights in general rely on one shot stuff too much? That you don’t get to die at 50%, and go back in with the boss still at 50%? That you don’t get to use multiple portals to cheese through mechanics?

I mean this is why if you watch races in arpgs, the builds being used dont worry about surviving certain specific boss stuff, but instead build to survive stuff leading up to that. Because as you say, if you can’t super overgear it, your defenses wont matter to certain abilities.

Also the point about controller is an entirely different point, i have no idea how the games balance feels on controller because I don’t use it, but it’s probably good feedback for the devs to be contained in its own thread.