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.