It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger! Today, we’re sizing up our favorite final bosses and picking which one truly reigns supreme! To check out Andy’s ridiculous pick, head here: Andross: The Best Final Boss of All Time. Now, let me detail why my pick is the one true greatest final boss.
You’re the commander of a starship. You’ve already defended the galaxy against a threat so unimaginable, so dangerous that you can barely wrap your head around it. And now entire populations of human colonies are disappearing without a trace. No sign of conflict, no sign of injury, no sign of attack. Yet everyone; man, woman, and child, are all gone. And the only one who can stop this from happening is you.
This is the premise of Mass Effect 2. (Spoilers for Mass Effect 2 ahoy!)
You assume the role of Commander Shepard, the first human Spectre and agent for the council. And you’ve just died. But you’ve been resurrected by Cerberus, an organization whose sole purpose is the advancement of the human race over all other species. As bigoted as they are, however, they are also your only hope for helping the colonists. You work with them, recruit your team, and discover the source of the disappearances: The Collectors.
But even though you know the culprit, you’re still not sure why the Collectors are gathering humans. In fact, you don’t realize their true purpose until the very end of the game. At this point, you’ve fought countless enemies, risked your own and your crew’s life, watched innocent people die, and even lost members of your ship. But you go plunging into the unknown anyways, desperate to try and stop the Collectors and to discover their true purpose. And discover it you do.
At the end of the suicide mission, the last mission of the game, where it is distinctly possible to lose characters you love in battle, you come to the ultimate enemy. The reason that the Collectors have been harvesting humans from colonies. The ultimate perversion that the Collectors have created: The Human-Reaper.
This is the ultimate monster that the Collectors have created. A human reaper. A reaper is a machine, made in the image of the species that it is comprised of, using that species’ genetic material. Millions of humans died and were reduced to genetic material in order to make this monstrosity. Countless lives, families, your own crew, died to make this machine. It is an affront to dignity, to humanity, and to everything good. And fortunately, you get to kill it.
Aside from the final mission of this game being one of the greatest final levels of any game ever, this culmination is the most satisfying kill you get in the game. It roars to life, unknowing and uncaring of its own horrendous origins, and begins to claw at you, to shoot at you, and do everything in its power to end your life.
You have to scramble to kill it, taking any opportunity you can to hit it in its weak spots. You command your teammates to cover you while enemies attack from the side as you desperately try and weaken this monstrous foe. It’s just like the other reapers, simply knowing that you are destined to not exist anymore and that it will be the only remnant of humanity that remains. Even though it is a newborn Reaper, it clearly has the Reaper mentality born into it. As Sovereign said:
And the Human-Reaper feels no differently. It doesn’t know much, but it knows that it wants you dead.
Now, is the combat in this fight particularly different than the rest of the game or final bosses that have come before? No, it’s really not. You’re fighting a huge monster while smaller enemies attack. Been done in this game before. There are also weak points that you have to hit in order to actually do damage and continue the fight. Not exactly supremely innovative, I’ve seen it in countless video games before it.
But the point of this fight isn’t that it’s revolutionary.
The point is that you’re fighting everything that you’ve worked at in the rest of the game. You’ve spent the entire game trying to figure out where these colonists have gone, what the Collectors are trying to do, fighting for the lives of countless human beings. And for what? To discover that they’ve been taken, destroyed, and twisted into this monster. It’s devastating.
It’s especially impactful because you’ve had to watch your own crew die and be turned into this abomination. I remember my first play through, I had to watch Kelly die, and I was mortified. I was shocked and distraught over her character’s death in front of my very eyes. Then I had to fight the thing that she was used to make. It’s fucked up, is what it is.
But that’s what makes the fight great. That’s what makes the fight satisfying. That’s what makes it so important. You’re angry, you’re disgusted, you’re depressed by what you see in front of you. But that makes you all the more determined to beat it.
The Human-Reaper is the best final boss of all time because you are so emotionally invested in its defeat. It’s one thing to be told an enemy is an abomination, it is another thing entirely to feel it in your very bones. By the time you see it, you truly hate the Human-Reaper and are invested emotionally in its defeat. You want it dead in your very core and feel so satisfied when it finally falls. It is the greatest feeling you will ever have playing a video, the most justified and earned kill in any game ever. The death of a true abomination.
That is why the Human-Reaper is the best final boss of all time.
So what do you think? Am I on the money or is Andy? Sound off in our poll below!