There are few more divisive issues in modern gaming than boss fights. I’d have thought that a ridiculous claim to make had I not been on the receiving end of literal death threats for previously suggesting boss fights should be skippable. So there’s no doubt there will be a combination of consternation and delight at the news that God Of War: Ragnarök introduces mid-boss checkpoints for those who want them.
Having previously not dared to say, due to the terrifyingly complicated list of different embargoes on Ragnarök review code, I’ve been secretly delighted by the discovery of this incredibly helpful feature for the last week or so. I can finally share it! Within God Of War: Ragnarök’s accessibility settings is an option to give miniboss fights a midway checkpoint.
Now, let’s be abundantly clear: This is an option. It’s off by default, it’s not trumpeted by the game, but in the middle of the superb collection of over 70 accessibility options, under the Combat section, appears “Miniboss Checkpoints.” Switching this on means if you can battle a boss to halfway down its health bar, then lose, it’ll be at that mid-point when you restart.
The game notes, “This option is meant to be activated if a Miniboss has provided an insurmountable challenge. It is locked in No Mercy and God Of War difficulty.” But of course, for people who simply hate boss fights (and we are legion), it’s an option that just makes these tiresome difficulty walls less of a frustration.
Such news is never met gracefully. When accessibility advocate Steve Saylor tweeted his enthusiasm for the option, making clear that he too believed it a boon for all players, not just those with disabilities, of course people rushed in to point out how terrible this is. Always using reductio ad absurdum to explain what a slippery slope this is, people’s peculiar fear is that this sort of option will somehow become forced upon them should it prove popular with anyone else.
Read More: God Of War Ragnarök: The Kotaku Review
“Wouldn’t that just defeat the purpose of a boss battle?” asked one typical response on Twitter, continuing, “At that point just make the game an interactive movie or something.” It’s such a peculiar refusal to understand the issues involved, given that Ragnarök is a game primarily based around constant combat, only occasionally interrupted by the far harder boss fights. This daft idea that giving a clearer path through these spikes somehow reduces the entire game to a passive experience is frustratingly persistent.
The alternative, that those who fiercely defend boss fights seem so often unable to comprehend, is giving up. You’ve paid your eye-watering $70 for a copy of a game, but then early on encounter a situation that—no matter how many times you try—you cannot get past. That’s it. The game’s over for you, your huge amount of money wasted. At this point, the only option to see what happens beyond this point, ironically, is an entirely passive experience: Watching it on YouTube.
Making boss fights something significantly easier to get past, for those who want that, is such a positive move for games, and I dearly hope that others will ignore the noise from the “git-gud” assholes and copy Santa Monica’s actions here. Or even go further, and set options to simply skip right past them, to get on with playing the other 95 percent of the game. And no, no one is suggesting that happen to Elden Ring or whatever. But where boss fights are insurmountable challenges that wall off the majority of a game, it’s hubris to refuse to concede ground.