The battles in Vindictus are quests or missions of MMO norm except they define the instance with parameters specific to that battle. The program then creates a map from a defined set of map pieces, populates the map with enemies specific to the battle, and sends the party forward to conquest. There are some strictly defined parameters to each battle, and the boss for each battle is probably the one that characterizes the whole battle. (This is especially true for people needing specific items only available from specific battle bosses.)
While there are bosses for each battle, the first battle with something that feels like a powerful, armor-breaking boss is in the Decisive Battle. Decisive Battle leads in like the many prior battles, but when players get to the end it is clear that the giant red gnoll holding a two-handed mace weighing as much as a truck who has is back turned and is ignoring the heroes is a boss. This is the Gnoll Chieftain.
Unlike all the prior bosses where it was easy enough to just pull of heavy combos, kind of dodging attacks, and having fun with pottery and granite shards, the Gnoll Chieftain isn’t going to allow any of that. His human-sized hammer can easily knock off half a player’s life. Eating hammer will also usually send the player sprawling to a multi-second knockdown. And of course, the tank can’t block his attacks without advanced skills.
The first time I did it I randomly grouped with one other person playing Fiona, the tank character. We were about to leave with three players, but the third wheel got mad because we wouldn’t vow to beat the battle within 13 minutes. About halfway through the boss fight I firmly realized that we would have never succeeded with a time limit.
The Fiona player wasn’t that good, but it was because we were both learning. I think my teammate was used to throwing up the shield when a boss attacked. This time he was sent sprawling. After being smacked in the face by the hammer, I became much more conservative in my attacks. Usually I would wait for an attack, rush in, pull off a 2-3 hit combo, and then rush back out just netting a few inches between my face and the Gnoll Chieftain’s steel-toed kick. It took a long time, a lot of granite slabs, all my spears, and a lot of broken equipment to finally bring that bad boy down. But, we did. It was a triumph.
My favorite part was how without any verbal communication the other player and I just fell in to a rhythm. We both had seen what was working, and we were adapting on the fly. When we got back to port, our special moment was gone. We both knew it. I am pretty sure I will have others, and I can’t wait to have some more complex battles in Vindictus.