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Why the Mythic Storm King is a poor final boss

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I want to preface this by stating that the Mythic Storm King is, despite its intrusive flaws, still enjoyable. Although said fun grows lackluster as teams collect mythic weapons and make the fight a breeze, it is not as time- and resource-investment heavy as permanent modes such as Endurance are, making it not seem like a bore to play repeatedly. It differs from the original Canny story Storm King enough to still feel challenging yet not impossible.

However, where it does lack is what it is at the heart of the mission: a final boss fight. As of the writing of this post, the "Stand and Fight" campaign has come to a close and the MSK rests at the end of Twine Peaks, the final zone, indicating it is meant to be the final mission, and as such in other games, is the final boss. This, in my opinion, is where the main flaws of the mission lie.

So, what exactly should a final boss be? It should represent the accumulation of all the work in the game you have done prior. Each skill you have learnt since the very beginning should be put on display somewhere in the battle. This should not include just specific features, but also game design itself which I shall elaborate upon in the examples. Yet another key characteristic should be that the boss should be built-up throughout the story. You want your players to be invested in the boss throughout the gameplay so that finally facing down the boss will feel like an accomplishment in and of itself. Finally, depending on the game genre, it should still make the player crave more and not immediately lose interest in the game after completing it on a base level.

One at a time: first, the boss should challenge everything a player has dealt with. I believe this is one of the greatest flaws that the MSK possesses. Aside from its most basic genre category of 'Shooter,' what is STW known for? Its building. Despite how the meta acts, the game was always designed with the intention of building elaborate bases that are both beautiful in design and effective in combat use. On the other hand, the Storm is known for monsters that break through your defenses like Sploders and Smashers on land and Lobbers/Flingers in the air, so enemies destroying your base should never be unexpected; although the monsters may be strong, a good defense will always be able to outcompete the storm. This all comes to a standstill when the MSK smashes towers with the flick of a wrist, rains meteors from the sky destroying everything in the nearby vicinity, does not set off traps, and, of course, does Spinjitzu and destroys everything thats not directly on the floor. The only viable builds seen in the mode are arches that are just there to confuse Husk AI and floor spamming so as to not touch poisonous water. This is all excluding the lack of elemental Husks that are present in all other missions, the mode being so fast paced that the only viable heroes are Ninjas which are only supplemented by War Cry since it helps allies that exclude the Soldier them self which devalues the experimentation of Heroes, an enclosed space that is so barren exploration that is normally key is rendered useless, every mode excluding limited-time modes and two base game modes being about defense while this culmination of the game is purely on offensive survival, the challenge for the toughest commanders being completed before the day ended who then proceeded to carry everyone else who did not have to experiment on their own, and countless more ignorance of the game itself in favor of what ends up being basically a standalone fight, so much that it was almost entirely reused in BR and was not dependent whatsoever on the strategies learnt in STW aside from STW players having prior experience with the attack patterns.

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Next on the chopping block is that the story should build up the menace of the boss so the player feels accomplished when beating the fight or even just reaching it. This is done slightly better than the prior characteristic discussed, although still not very well. Up through Canny Valley: Act 1, there was no mention of the Storm King at all, which I cannot blame the game itself for. The story was advancing at such a snail's pace that the designers likely had no idea where they even planned on ending it. Since the central antagonist was the faceless storm throughout the first two zones, the player could never technically beat the storm since when the storm provides enemies and purpose to all other modes, so when/if the player defeated the storm, the game would theoretically just end there. It was not until the release of Canny Act 2 that the Storm King was even mentioned, and Act 3 sequentially where he was initially defeated until the premise was just reused with the same suped-up mechanics for the most recent release of MSK. Since he was revealed so late into the story, there was no time to put enough characterization to make him strongly memorable on his own until the player actually fought him. Even the mystery of what the King looked like was spoiled by the Fortnite mode selection screen showcasing him in all his glory when anybody even tried to load the game up just weeks after he was available to fight, still remaining as the screen right now. Many strong games and other media fall victim to this fatal flaw when creating their villains; for every good Ennard and Palpatine, there's a comparatively boring Yaldabaoth and Eternatus who are revealed so late that even a great game may struggle to make them seem important in a short timespan. Although this problem was a result of the game development itself instead of the actual fight, it is still important to care about when making a boss.

Lastly, the final boss should not make the player want to end, instead still giving reasons to play whilst satisfying the player. The MSK does half of this fine, but the other half is lackluster. Specifically, the only thing that completing MSK provides that is unique to it is mythic weapons. No other content becomes open after the king’s defeat. The weapons, especially the launcher, take much of the challenge out of defeating minibosses in everyday missions along with killing the King again for the other mythic weapons in the future. This makes all normal missions much easier while not affecting LTMs that use unique inventories, and the cost of the weapons/ammo isn’t much of a blockade since the materials used to craft are only annoying to obtain rather than difficult and requiring skill to get; however, that’s another issue with the gamemode entirely as opposed to just the boss. While the mythic weapons do pull players towards the mode to complete it, once they get the weapons, the game will be much easier afterwards and will lose much of any semblance of challenge that was left.

I don’t want to discourage Epic from continuing to develop fun fights. Although its novelty is beginning to diminish already, it still feels fun not only to earn rewards but also to help others complete and see their reactions. On the other hand, the fundamental problems lie in the heart of what the mission represents rather than its content itself. I hope Epic takes some of these ideas to heart as they continue to advance the story of this game as long as it can be taken.

Thanks for making it this far or just skipping to the end, —Squid.

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