A game’s genre tells players something about its gameplay. A survival horror game features limited resources and tough enemies. A stealth game emphasizes remaining unseen and sneak attacks. A first-person shooter encourages players to go in guns blazing and shoot enemies until they’re defeated.
These mechanics inform players of the core gameplay loop. While it’s uncommon for this loop to change, some games make an unexpected shift to a different gameplay style to keep things fresh or throw players off guard. Often occurring during boss fights, these shifts force players to adapt if they want to survive.
10 The Resourceful Rat Turns Things Into A Boxing Match
Enter The Gungeon (2016)
Enter the Gungeon spends most of its time as a top-down, roguelite shooter. Players dodge enemy attacks in two dimensions and return fire, doing most combat at arm’s length. Some fights change this in small ways, but none do so as much as optional boss the Resourceful Rat.
The Resourceful Rat’s first two phases are much like any other bosses in the game. It makes use of unique attacks, but the fight is still squarely a top-down shooter. In its third phase, everything changes. Enter the Gungeon suddenly becomes a boxing game heavily reminiscent of Punch-Out!! The player must block punches and punch back to win, something they never have to do again afterwards.
9 The Demon Of Hatred Plays More Like A Dark Souls Boss
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
One of the biggest challenges in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is learning the game’s unique mechanics. Sekiro has its own specific combat system, despite being made by Dark Souls developer FromSoftware. Players must learn to parry attacks and break the enemy’s guard, rather than dodge and trying to whittle down their hit points.
After an entire game of breaking Dark Souls habits in its players, Sekiro includes a boss that needs to be handled like one. The Demon of Hatred can’t be beaten with parries and counters, and his posture is a challenge to break. Instead, the fight encourages players to avoid his attacks and focus on his health bar — very similar to a Dark Souls boss fight.
8 Sullivan Can’t Be Defeated With Weapons
Dead Rising 2 (2010)
Dead Rising 2 is known for its extravagant and fantastical weaponry. Conventional weapons exist, but they pale in comparison to the player’s self-constructed items. The game encourages players to find ridiculous weapons and to massacre zombies with them, from chainsaw bikes to lightsabers to plate-shooters.
The final battle against Sullivan feels very odd as a result. He takes almost no damage from ranged weapons, and counters melee attacks. Sullivan even disarms the player if they try to attack him with weapons. Players spend the entire game slaughtering zombies with the coolest weapon around, only to use the game’s unarmed combat system to defeat the final boss.
7 Doopliss Changes The Game Between His Boss Fights
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (2004)
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door‘s Doopliss doesn’t change the game during either proper battle with him. Both times, the fight simply requires the game’s typical RPG combat. However, he changes the game a huge amount between these encounters, changing the player’s objectives.
After the first fight, Doopliss steals the player’s identity and party. As such, Mario doesn’t spend Chapter 4 exploring new areas and using his party to fight and solve environmental puzzles. Instead, Mario spends it backtracking between Creepy Steeple and Twilight Town, alone or with only a single new companion to aid him.
6 Donna Beneviento Challenges The Player To Hide And Seek
Resident Evil Village (2021)
Throughout Resident Evil Village, the bulk of the gameplay comprises survival and action horror. The player explores the village and battles the many enemies within. This continues for most of the game, including the segment where the player controls Chris Redfield. House Beneviento represents the biggest change to the gameplay, especially the final confrontation with Donna Beneviento.
The player spends all of House Beneviento unarmed, having to run and hide from threats. The final boss of the section doesn’t need to be shot, stabbed, or blown up. Instead, the player simply needs to find the Angie doll three times before a time limit runs out. If they do, Ethan kills Donna Beneviento without a single shot.
5 David Makes Stealth Mandatory
The Last Of Us (2013)
Stealth is always an option in The Last of Us, but it’s never a requirement. The player can take on zombies, clickers, and human foes through sheer firepower if they want. Joel’s sections focus on players having options, but the fight with David becomes the only encounter in the game that removes them.
David is bigger and stronger than Ellie Williams, and he’s better-armed. If the player attempts to fight him head-on, they lose in seconds. Instead, they have to sneak around the restaurant, using the environment to hide from and distract David. Ellie can only land a hit by sneaking up on David, something she needs to do several times.
4 The Vox Populi Fight Like A Tower Defense Section
Bioshock: Infinite (2013)
Bioshock: Infinite doesn’t have a genuine final boss fight. Taking its place is a massive action setpiece against a huge Vox Populi force. For most of its gameplay, Bioshock Infinite is a run-and-gun shooter, with mobility and power usage emphasized over remaining still and trading fire with enemies.
The Vox Populi attack Booker and Elizabeth aboard the Hand of the Prophet airship, attempting to destroy its power core. Booker DeWitt spends the final fight defending a static position rather than charging enemy positions. The player also gains access to the Songbird, something they can’t do at any other time.
3 The Player Gets An Army To Fight Starscourge Radahn
Elden Ring (2022)
Elden Ring, much like other FromSoftware games, focuses on one-on-one melee combat. The game lets players summon Spirit Ashes or other players to even the odds, but nearly every boss is meant to be battled solo. Starscourge Radahn remains the exception to the rule. One of the strongest warriors in the Lands Between, Radahn lives up to his reputation.
Fr the only time in the game, the player receives a small army to fight Radahn. Throughout the fight, they can use summon signs littering the floor to call in reinforcements, breaking the game’s limit on summoned allies. Players can fight Radahn in traditional one-on-one style, without summons, but his immense power forces must rely on backup.
2 The Prophet Of Regret Is A Wave-Based Boss
Halo 2 (2004)
Most of the Halo series outright lacks boss fights. Enemy forces focus on quantity over quality, often lacking unique foes the player battles only once. Halo 2 is one of the few games in the series to include boss fights, each of which represents a change in ordinary gameplay.
The first and oddest is the Prophet of Regret. Regret has shields the player can’t shoot through and hordes of reinforcements. The fight forces players to wipe out Regret’s soldiers, and then climb his throne to punch him to death. The player must do this several times, with higher difficulties, but they’ll never do anything similar for the rest of the game.
Metal Gear Solid (1998)
Metal Gear Solid is a stealth series with periodic action segments. Its boss fights vary, but they often involve players stealthing around the battlefield or dealing as much damage as possible. The fight against Liquid Ocelot’s Metal Gear RAY is a severe shake-up for one reason: the player gets their own Metal Gear REX.
The fight plays out like a mecha game, rather than the stealth, close-quarters combat, or gunplay the game typically features. The player uses recharging weaponry on a much greater scale than the rest of the game’s combat, resulting in one of the franchise’s most extravagant battles.
NEXT: 10 Weirdest Nintendo Bosses