Boss fights are a staple of video games. As gaming has evolved over the past 40 years, taking down gigantic and intimidating bosses has been a go-to mechanic for testing gamers’ skills in a surefire spectacle. 2020 was a great year for gaming, including big blockbusters sequels and unexpected hits. These gems of video game entertainment also held some pretty fantastic boss fights, which will surely go down as some of the most memorable moments in this gaming generation. At the end of every console generation, developers like to go all out. It’s no wonder that some of the best boss fights of 2020 blew our minds. To acknowledge those fearsome foes that we had a blast destroying, we’ve crafted this list of the best boss fights of 2020.
If you think we missed any particularly explosive fights or climactic battles, be sure to sound off in the comments! Keep in mind, this list is ordered chronologically by game release, starting with games that were released in January. If you see your favorite boss further down or higher up on the list, its placement has little to do with the quality of the boss fight itself. In our opinion, every boss fight is badass in its own right.
Note: This list will contain spoilers for the following games: Zombie Army 4, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Pixel Ripped 1995, Iron Man VR, Ghost of Tsushima, Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One, and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. While we did our best to avoid unnecessary spoilers, several final boss encounters will be detailed.
The Best Boss Fights of 2020
Zombie Army 4: Dead War – Hitler’s Hell Machine
In Zombie Army 4: Dead War, you and up to three other friends battle hordes of zombies in an alternate reality wherein Hitler harnessed the powers of the occult to unleash an undead army on the world. Your battle to kill the unholy hell-spawn takes you across the continent of Europe, through Hell and back, ending your adventure in Rome, Italy. In the crumbling ancient city, you face off against a reincarnated Hitler in a final confrontation of epic proportions.
Before you can put another bullet in Hitler’s head, you have to take down his absolutely mammoth hell machine. This towering tank is outfitted with nine artillery guns that shoot homing rockets and kamikaze zombies, which you must blow up using heavy machine guns. This is all the while you’re dodging tons of infantry zombies and a giant laser weapon, of course. Once you topple the hell machine, you must blast through a horde of Hitler clones, providing an appropriately violent and wacky climax. Any game that lets us kill Hitler over and over is worthwhile in our book.
Final Fantasy VII Remake – Hell House
Final Fantasy VII Remake is a game that needs little introduction, as the hype surrounding this modern retelling of the classic PlayStation RPG has been extremely high for a long time. Instead of offering fans a completely faithful trip down memory lane, Final Fantasy VII Remake often subverts expectations by throwing in new story beats and climactic sequences. When the main cast finds themselves competing in an underground fight arena against their will, things start to ramp up in difficulty, culminating in one of the most fearsome enemies in the entire game… a house.
In the original Final Fantasy VII, the Hell House was a rare enemy but an enemy nonetheless. In Remake, this four-walled fright-fest gets a proper upgrade, resulting in one of the best boss fights of 2020. If you’re new to the world of Final Fantasy VII, the pure fact that you’re battling a sentient house will be enough to throw you through a loop. For those who are familiar with the nightmarish Hell House, you’ll likely be more worried about its second, far more deadly phase. Generally speaking, the Hell House fight capped off a fun series of fights in a better-than-average battle arena, adding a dash of unexpected weirdness to keep things interesting.
Pixel Ripped 1995 – Polygon Dragon
If you’ve never heard of Pixel Ripped, don’t feel too bad. It’s an indie virtual reality game that didn’t get much coverage upon release, which is a damn shame. In our Pixel Ripped 1995 review, we praised the game’s incredibly nostalgic atmosphere and fun retro gaming homages, citing it as one of the better entries in the PlayStation VR library. Like the previous game, Pixel Ripped 1989, Pixel Ripped 1995 is a fantastic love letter to old school gaming, putting players in the shoes of a young gamer experiencing childhood in the 1990s. The game is packed with fun sequences that blend the pixelated aesthetic of the 90s with more realistic visuals, resulting in some exceptionally cool boss fights along the way.
In this super trippy boss fight, the evil Cyblin Lord infuses the power of 3D gaming into his pet dragon, turning it into a crude, polygonal foe. With a toy spaceship in hand, the player must dodge and shoot at the dragon while moving through rings. It’s an awesome homage to the original Star Fox on Super Nintendo, and one of the best VR boss fights I’ve ever played. Things start out simple enough, but before long it turns into a hectic light-show of laser blasts and brightly colored rings. My only complaint is that the fight is over far too quickly. If they fleshed out this concept into a standalone game, I would play it in a heartbeat.
Iron Man VR – Superior Gunsmith
Iron Man! Everyone knows Iron Man, right? If you’ve somehow missed this iconic Marvel superhero in the past decade, he’s here with his very own standalone virtual reality game to get you acquainted. In this PlayStation VR exclusive, you step in the iron-shoes of Tony Stark, the cheeky billionaire who spends most of his free time working on personal flight suits outfitted with massive explosives. After leaving behind his day job of manufacturing weapons for international war-torn countries, Tony Stark tries to live a better life. Unfortunately, a specter from his past refuses to let go of their grudge, and begins to tear down everything Tony holds near and dear.
There are a ton of fun mechanics in Iron Man VR, from the smooth and wickedly fast flight system to the explosive aerial combat. Spread across twelve intense story missions, you’ll battle robots in multiple cities around the world. Although there are a handful of boss fights in Iron Man VR, none of them are able to match the spectacle of the final fight against Superior Gunsmith. Gunsmith, a once-friendly AI made in Tony’s own image, has finally reached its boiling point, overtaking a giant Iron Man mech-suit and attempting to squash Stark for good. Superior Gunsmith is a remarkably large enemy, which makes flying around him and popping off repulsor blasts tons of fun. Superior Gunsmith plays the role of “oversized final boss” well, resulting in a fun and impressive display of the power of VR.
Ghost of Tsushima – Lord Shimura
Ghost of Tsushima had some exceptional levels of hype around it, but developer Sucker Punch still exceeded expectations when they released this new samurai adventure. Set during the Mongolian invasion of Tsushima Island in 13th century Japan, Ghost of Tsushima follows a samurai named Jin Sakai. After suffering a terrible defeat at the hands of the Mongolian invaders, Jin must strengthen his resolve and sharpen his sword skills on hundreds of enemies in order to reclaim his home. Featuring a silky-smooth combat system, tons of missions and side-activities, and a vivid and evocative visual style, it’s no mystery why Ghost of Tsushima also had one of the best video game boss fights of 2020.
When compared to some of the other boss fights on this list, the duel against Lord Shimura might not be as explosive or bombastic, but that’s kind of the beauty of it. For story context, Lord Shimura is Jin’s father figure and acts as an ally throughout most of the adventure. In order to defeat the Mongolians and save Tsushima, Jin has to utilize some unsavory techniques, ruining his honor and costing him the respect of his uncle. At the very end of the game, Jin and Lord Shimura clash blades in a challenging but beautiful duel to the death. As you struggle to parry Shimura’s frantic attacks and start to inflict notable damage, it’s hard not to consider the complicated history the characters share. The fight concludes with a choice: do you grant Shimura a warrior’s death or walk away, unable to slay the last family member you have? This final boss fight ends Ghost of Tsushima on a somber and emotional note, encouraging you to reflect on the story as a whole.
Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One – The Seraphim
After wowing players with its breakneck-paced combat and ultra-bloody presentation, Doom Eternal dropped a high-quality DLC for its fans, The Ancient Gods Part One. In this short but sweet expansion, players must once again foil a demonic plan to invade Earth by blasting through three levels packed with unholy scum to kill. Most of The Ancient Gods Part One revolves around the all-powerful Doom Slayer locating and reviving the Seraphim, an ancient being that originally granted him super-powers. By the third level of the DLC, it becomes apparent that the Doom Slayer has other plans for the Seraphim, ultimately betraying him and choosing to revive the Dark Lord instead. Of course, this justly pisses off the Seraphim, resulting in a boss battle for the ages.
The fight against the Seraphim stands out as one of the best boss fights of 2020 due to its difficulty, which is brutally hard but rarely unfair. The Seraphim is pretty weak, so you can melt his health quickly if you’re using the right weapons. It’s when the Seraphim starts summoning other powerful demons, utilizing his “spirit shield” to become invulnerable, when the fighting gets tough. In addition to dealing with ultra-powerful demons that will slay you in a few hits, you must also dodge around a series of light beams that pass over the arena, damaging you every time you touch them. When you do finally manage to eradicate the spirits and weaken the Seraphim’s shield, the fight ends in a bit of whimper, but the satisfaction of completing the battle remains.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – The Builder
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla continues to offer an exciting combination of history and fantasy with this great entry in the long-running franchise. As you explore a vast, open-world map, you undertake quests, fight bad guys, and level up your hero. Valhalla plants players in the midst of England’s Dark Ages, putting them in the shoes of Eivor, a fierce and noble Viking warrior. For most of the game, you explore the sprawling English countrysides, cementing your hold on the region by invading villages and upgrading your settlement. However, after spending a good chunk of time frolicking through the hills, you are able to travel to the mythological world of Asgard, home of the gods of Viking lore. Here, you undergo a series of quests that see you working with a mischievous character called “the Builder”. Predictably, the Builder turns out to be an enemy in disguise, quickly shape-shifting from a human to a massive frost giant.
By the time you reach Asgard during your playthrough, you’ll probably think you’re pretty capable of dispatching anything that stands in your path. Once the Builder takes his true form though, you might doubt that for a second. Equipped with a massive hammer and a handful of magic spells that restrict your movement, the Builder is no push-over. Generally speaking, the Builder is not only the largest and most intimidating boss in the first half of Valhalla, but one of the game’s most colorful and impressive to behold. If you keep your cool and utilize dodges and precise arrow shots, the Builder isn’t too tough to take down. However, the reveal of the Builder’s true form and the simple cool factor of the fight earns it a spot on our list of the best boss fights of 2020!
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best boss fights of 2020! If you’re looking for other great gaming lists, check out our Halloween horror game picks for 2020, or any of our ranked gaming lists! What was your favorite boss fight of the year? Let us know if we missed any exceptionally spectacular battles in the comment section. Have a great 2021!