RPG Confessions: I Hate Required Grinding Before Final Bosses
As I have grown older and have figured out what appeals to me and what doesn’t, one particular RPG trope has begun to really grind my gears. While not as common as it once was, I’m sure that we’ve all come across an RPG that does this in some fashion: the story kind of trails off and leaves you to your own devices. Many different enemies appear on the map for you to pick off. Or, you could just choose to make your way to that ominous part of the map where the final boss lies. And why wouldn’t you? After spending hours upon hours chugging through the story, you feel like you’re ready to take the final step in beating the game.
Your team is healed up, everyone is at level 50, and you’ve stocked up your item bag so that potions and revival vials are practically spilling out with every step you take. You’ve made sure all your skills and abilities have been leveled up as far as you can manage. The last boss you fought gave you a bit of a challenge, but you prevailed. Now it’s time to finish the final chapter. You enter the final area, watch as the final boss descends into madness, the battle starts and…
Their level is…much higher than the last boss, and the boss kills your entire team in one hit. Congratulations! Apparently, you were meant to spend the next x amount of hours grinding just to face the final boss.
I hate required grinding before final boss battles.
Not a Case of “Git Gud”
Now, before you bring out the pitchforks, I am going to tear apart one argument that I’m sure is going to be brought up: git gud. I have no problems with strong final bosses. In fact, I like having to think about the moves that I take and figuring out when it’s best to heal, attack, defend, and so forth. I like strong bosses…when the fight is strategic. I don’t like when their stats and levels are inflated because you’re meant to go and grind out in the fields for hours on end.
Let me be clear, I don’t mind grinding. At this point, it’s a way of life for JRPG players and one that I’ve grown accustomed to. However, there’s a difference between needing to get a few levels higher, versus a few dozen. I don’t even mind being a little bit weaker than the final boss (in fact, a lot of the time, I expect that to be the case). But when their powers have been relatively consistent throughout the entire game, throwing a super powerful boss right at the end leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth – unless it’s a post-game or secret boss, that is. That makes sense.
This is not a situation where I need to “git gud.” No, this is a situation where, more than likely, grinding would solve most issues. And that is exactly the problem. When it comes to grinding during a game, I’m a bit more willing to do that because typically, any level differences are miniscule. Of course, I have sat through games where the level difference (specifically the stat difference) is much greater and only irritation and pettiness is driving me forward.
But with final boss grinding, it’s just the final boss and ending cutscene. Sure, that’s the end of the climax and the results of your hard work. At that point, I know the end of the game is in sight. I can see it over there, for goodness sakes! But locking out that final boss by drastically increasing its levels and stats leaves a bad taste in my mouth personally and makes me not even want to complete the game after that point.
Making It Possible to Beat The Boss Despite Level Difference
Now, if there’s anyone who knows how to rush through content underleveled and deal with the consequences of not fighting enough wild monsters in the grass, it’s me. I constantly have to grind, because I don’t fight wild encounters after a certain point. As I lovingly say every so often in the SwitchRPG Discord, I love making things difficult for myself, and not on purpose. But I can usually still prevail in boss battles by using my quick wits and because I did go and grind just outside the boss area until I was better off, or RNG shined in my favor with some critical hits.
But the point is, if a game hasn’t been strict about needing to be a certain level and letting players skirt by with stat increasing/decreasing skills, why not do the same for the final boss? Why keep your boss levels consistent for the entirety of the game, only to throw that up in the air at the end? Don’t throw that out of the window at the end just to artificially make the game challenging. Do that from the start so I can be mildly irritated right from the beginning.
Make your boss levels increase consistently. That’s literally the solution.
Although honestly, what would probably solve this issue is making the enemy levels/stats scale with your own, so that grinding doesn’t really do much in that case (unless certain skills unlock at certain levels). It can keep that level of difficulty by not allowing the player to just become overleveled and sweep through the entire game, while also eliminating the need to grind.
Of course though, that does remove the option for the player to become overpowered, as I’m sure that’s something that some people do. Then again, that’s what difficulty settings are there for. So truly, what would be the actual solution? Stay consistent with your leveling, gosh darn it!
But what do you guys think? At this point, I’m just whining about a thing in JRPGs that rarely happens nowadays. Was this relic of the past something that you enjoyed, or am I not alone in my irritation? Let me know!