10 Boss Fights That Change Radically Halfway Through

A split image showing Jetstream Sam in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Karl Heisenberg in Resident Evil Village, and Radagon of the Golden Order in Elden Ring

The best video game boss fights are unique experiences. They test the player in a way nothing else does. Even when they use the same mechanics and basic gameplay as the rest of the game, they stand apart from other fights. For example, they might test specific builds, skills, or player habits.

RELATED: 10 Boss Fights That Change The Game Unexpectedly

Some bosses go further than being one unique experience. They provide two wholly different challenges within a single fight. The boss’ moveset might change when weakened, another ally might step in to fight for them, or the entire battle may shift to something new. Some of the most memorable boss fights have dramatic shifts partway through.

10 Ludwig The Accursed


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Bloodborne‘s The Old Hunters DLC is beloved for its boss fights. Fans consider the bouts against Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower and the Orphan of Kos some of FromSoftware’s finest. However, one fight stands out as The Old Hunters‘ most memorable.

Bloodborne‘s Ludwig the Accursed begins his boss fight like any other beast. He’s grotesque, fast, and attacks by flailing his limbs at the player. Halfway through, he undergoes a significant transformation. Ludwig sees his ancient weapon, the Holy Moonlight Sword, and remembers his former self. He regains his identity as Ludwig the Holy Blade. The second part of his fight is against a giant warrior wielding a sword and magic.

9 Heisenberg

Resident Evil Village

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Ethan fighting Heisenberg with a tank in Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village‘s gameplay changes more often than most Resident Evil games. House Beneviento resembles a modern horror game with no weapons. Chris Redfield’s section towards the end ramps up the action until it feels like a first-person shooter. However, one of the biggest changes comes in Heisenberg’s boss fight.

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Ethan begins the fight in Chris Redfield’s homemade tank. Contrary to every other boss fight, he engages Heisenberg with unlimited ammunition, a cannon, and a vehicle’s mobility. Ethan loses the tank for most of the fight’s second half. It becomes a much more conventional ordeal. Ethan has to preemptively dodge attacks and use his limited weapons to bring Heisenberg down.

8 Saren

Mass Effect

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Saren talking to Shepard on the Citadel in Mass Effect

Mass Effect has two main villains, and its final boss fight pits the player against both. Saren is the most visible antagonist for most of the game. He’s a rogue Spectre whom the Council tasks Shepard with hunting. However, the planet Virmire reveals the Reaper Sovereign as the true mastermind.

Saren’s first phase resembles an earlier encounter with him on Virmire. He’s a conventional enemy who fights with mobile platforms and biotic powers. In the second phase, Sovereign possesses his cybernetics. He becomes much faster and harder to hit. It’s even more jarring for characters with high Charm or Intimidate. The fight transitions from a simple conversation to a duel with Sovereign.

7 Jetstream Sam

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Jetstream Sam preparing for his final fight with Raiden in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Most bosses in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance change their movesets throughout the fight. However, few go through as game-changing a transition as Jetstream Sam. Sam begins as one of the game’s most conventional bosses. He’s a fellow swordsman like Raiden. It’s his strength, speed, and aggression that makes the fight so hard.

Jetstream Sam’s fight changes when Raiden disarms him. Without his sword, Sam changes his moveset dramatically. Contrary to expectations, he becomes even more challenging. Sam’s moveset gets more mobile and aggressive, and his attacks disrupt Raiden for longer. The fight changes again when Sam rearms himself, combining the strengths of both phases.

6 Radagon Of The Golden Order

Elden Ring

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The boss cutscene for Radagon of the Golden Order in Elden Ring

Radagon of the Golden Order seems like a fitting final boss for Elden Ring. He’s been a significant lore presence throughout the game, with his whereabouts proving a constant mystery. When the Tarnished finally duels him in the Erdtree, it feels climactic. Radagon is a fair, challenging fight. However, he is only the first phase. When he dies, the Elden Beast emerges to fight the Tarnished.

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The Elden Beast has a markedly different moveset to Radagon. It is much more mobile, often teleporting around its vast arena. It also uses a variety of chained magic attacks in contrast to Radagon’s predictable melee and magic combos. The two can’t be fought separately. Players have to best Elden Ring‘s Radagon before they can fight the much more contentious Elden Beast.


Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>PROXY attacking Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Every Star Wars: The Force Unleashed level ends with a climactic duel, often against a Jedi. On Imperial Raxus Prime, the final boss is instead PROXY, Starkiller’s assassin droid companion. PROXY first attacks by imitating several prior bosses like Shadow Guard, Maris Brood, Rahm Kota, and more. It’s a test of memory for the best tactics against each boss.

PROXY’s second phase is far more dramatic. He imitates an enemy never seen in the game before. PROXY transforms into fan-favorite Star Wars villain Darth Maul, complete with a brand-new moveset. The player has to tread carefully during this stage of the fight, as PROXY becomes far more aggressive and unpredictable.

4 Zorah Magdaros

Monster Hunter: World

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Nergigante fighting atop Zorah Magdaros in Monster Hunter World

Zorah Magdaros is fought several times throughout Monster Hunter: World. It serves as one of the climactic monsters for each part of the base story. However, neither half of its fight is traditional Monster Hunter combat. One half is in the style of the franchise’s siege monsters. Players have to damage Zorah Magdaros with cannons and ballistae before it destroys a barricade.

The other half is more unique. Players walk around on Zorah Magdaros’ immense form to destroy weak points. During this time, they can even fight another boss, Nergigante, atop Zorah Magdaros’ back. The two halves are as unlike each other as they are any of Monster Hunter: World‘s other fights.

3 King Dice


<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>King Dice throwing dice in Cuphead game

Most of Cuphead‘s bosses undergo some transformation or moveset change throughout their fight; few are as pronounced as King Dice’s. The first part of his boss fight isn’t even against him. The player has to parry dice to move along a board. King Dice summons minibosses for them to fight when they stand on a red square.

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It’s only when the player reaches the end of the board that they fight King Dice himself. He’s a relatively simple boss himself. He has low health and only uses one attack. He’s markedly easier than several minibosses he summons. There are marked differences between the board game and the actual fight.

2 Yu Yevon

Final Fantasy X

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The party fighting Yu Yevon in Final Fantasy X

Yu Yevon is the final encounter in Final Fantasy X. However, the fight to bring him down has a great many phases. The first is against Jecht, in the form of Braska’s Final Aeon. This is, in a sense, the last proper fight in the game. After that, the player has to fight each of Yuna’s Aeons and then Yu Yevon himself.

However, the fight becomes very different after Jecht’s defeat. Braska’s Final Aeon is a fight like any other. If the player makes mistakes, they can die. After defeating Jecht, the player’s characters gain Auto-Life status. Even if they lose their hit points, they get revived. In effect, Final Fantasy X ends with half of a genuine boss fight and half of a playable cutscene.

1 Bowser

Super Mario Galaxy 2

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Mario confronting an enormous Bowser in Super Mario Galaxy 2 final boss fight

Bowser is fought several times throughout Super Mario Galaxy 2, as with many Mario games. However, his final fight takes a very different tack halfway through. Its first phase is like many other boss fights throughout the game. Mario moves around a small planet, dodging Bowser’s attacks and waiting for him to create projectiles. Mario then knocks those projectiles into Bowser.

Bowser appears defeated. However, he then consumes the Grand Star and grows to immense size. The fight then shifts its style. The two fly through the void of space as projectiles appear. Mario has to use these projectiles to stop Bowser from closing to melee range. Both phases use similar principles, but with very different gameplay.

NEXT: 10 Boss Fights That Test Every Skill Their Game Teaches


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