Fatalis Destroyed Me, a Fine Example of Good Encounter Design

Written by Allen

October 20, 2020

I was thinking about making a guide about the final boss of Monster Hunter World. But I’m willing to bet that there’s tons of other guides you can find on youtube by now. So instead, let me give you a tour of what the boss fight will be like, and why it’s one of the best boss fights I’ve ever had to struggle through, ever.

For starters, what you are facing is Fatalis, which deserves its mythical status within MHW’s lore because of where it came from. Not everyone would know this considering how old the series is, but Fatalis is the first final boss of Monster Hunter. Yes, the first monster hunter, where it all started on PlayStation 2.

He looks like what you’d see on stories of the medieval west, and is one of the few creatures that is considered ‘evil god’ in the world of Monster Hunter. One who would kill anything that’s alive if it can find it, and even mock the hunters it slays.

The game spares no quarter in describing how the black dragon is bad news, and how everyone, including you will be part of the team that takes it down. The interesting part is how the story will set you to partner up with the first people you met at the start the game, so it feels like everything is starting to come full circle. Things get heated as Fatalis decides to arrive way ahead of schedule and you have to hold it off. So let’s get to the encounter itself.

The fight begins with you alongside with the A-Lister, this is pretty much the only time you’ll ever get an AI partner that’s not a palico in this game, so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t really do much more than shoot some heavy bow-gun shots that pretty much amount to nothing. However, he is more than ready to throw you some healing soon as you look like you need it.

This is a test meant to see if you are indeed capable of handling the boss itself, it even does so much as to throw you 5 carts and a set of siege weapons to not only give you a wider leeway to take on this monster, but a good start you can consistently make use of. This also doubles as a tutorial =meant for you to learn how this fight is supposed to work. This tutorial ends when you’ve taken enough health away from the dragon to proceed to phase 2. Where your good old buddy, Excitable A-Lister, sacrifices himself to save you from the flames of Fatalis. (Spoiler, people don’t die in Monster Hunter, he’ll be okay). From this point on, you can take on the boss fight like you would any other quest. Restarting it won’t put you through the tutorial again, and you can now use an SOS signal to call on other players.

Phase 2 introduces the rest of the arena in your Fatalis fight. Giving you access to more turrets, one of them, my favorite, the roaming ballista. These many tools are something you’ll want to take full advantage of to improve your chances at achieving your goal for this phase, which is breaking the head.

In this stage the fight gets a little wilder, with the black dragon being capable of flying. Again, there’s a new set of attacks that you have to learn and adjust to along with the ones you already know. The game balances this out by giving you tools to reliably attack Fatalis’ head, binders to keep him still, and balistas to shoot him down when you can’t reach him. Once you’ve done enough damage to him, he’ll once again display his destructive prowess. Forcing you to retreat to the castle gate, this is the end of Phase 2. The gate only works once as well, as he easily melts it to nothing, a stark reminder of how he brought tragedy to Castle Shrade.

As the third phase begins you better have broken that head, because he’s going to enter a further powered up mode. In this mode, unless you’ve managed to partly break the head, he will start breathing blue flames, which will likely kill you in one hit. On top of that, Fatalis will have a few new tricks you’ll have to learn, or risk dying to. You must endure this fight until you hear the words “The Dragonator is ready.” Hitting this force of destruction with both stakes should bring him down enough to take you to the final phase.

At this point, all you have left is your skill and tenacity, and the hunt isn’t over. Despite the massive damage that Dragonator gave to your opponent, it’s still alive. You’ve exhausted every trick you can use to take down Fatalis, the thing is so has the dragon. It now comes down to how well you’ve mastered this fight. The music changes. It’s the song you’ve heard all the time for this game, one of the main themes since Monster Hunter on PS2. You hear ‘Proof of a Hero.’

What better way to cap off the most successful game in the series than with the boss and the song that started it all? Even if I never picked up any earlier titles, it really felt like a culminating moment for the game. As if a journey had come to its conclusion. It took me 3 days, but finally silencing the scariest monster in the game, given what it put me through and how it had crafted this fight to end the way it did, was cathartic.

Mechanically speaking, this boss fight is also very well-designed. First off, it gives you a 30 minute time limit, meaning you can’t just keep playing defensively and whittle him down. But leaves enough to make most builds viable, so long as they’re strong enough. In fact the first successful runs I had was with a healer. This becomes a big deal when you realize that lots of games tend to make only one or two builds viable, you can see this commonly happen with endgame MMO bosses where you must have certain gear or only play in a certain way to be able to survive some big attack or resist a status it keeps giving the players. The fact that Fatalis doesn’t really give any statuses aside from weak burning damage gives you very little to worry about, and allows you to make pretty much any build you want, where the fight simply asks if it is strong enough. This wasn’t the case with Alatreon, however they made it abundantly clear that fighting him would carry some special rules along with it.

There’s also a way to reliably flinch Fatalis, allowing you many chances to save yourself and allies from certain death of some of his attacks. On top of that, they placed a lot of in-map tools for you to incorporate into your strategy against him. So while this is arguably the hardest foe you’ll fight in this game, it really wants you to win, even giving you more chances than usual to come right back and continue the fight.

From learning how to use your weapon, dodge or block attacks from monsters, to using your slinger and even the environment to your advantage, and even have some special mechanics to go with it. It even tops if off by making these cinematic set pieces within the fight to really drive home the feeling that you’re fighting the greatest monster you’ll face in Monster Hunter World. The showdown with the evil dragon isn’t only a conclusion, but a call back to everything you’ve gone through and learned through your journey in this game.

But it won’t give it to you for easily. This is after all, the final boss, the final hurdle they gave you to get through. And you can probably do it too, with some practice, grit, and courage.

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