Image source: Guild Wars 2 Wiki
At some point, every MMO turns into a battle zone of prideful players claiming which game was either the first or to come around. Most of the time, the criteria for a title to land atop the ‘best’ list would be based unfairly on its raid boss scene—or how difficult and enjoyable its endgame content is. For the sake of fanning the flames on the age-old arguments, we’ve rounded up of the finest endgame raid boss experiences of the past two decades.
It should be noted that due to the nature of these game’s ever-expanding content, most, if not all of these bosses can no longer be experienced in their original way. This list serves merely as a way to chronicle the time members of the community often cited as a high-point in their game’s lifespan.
Living Liquid - Final Fantasy XIV
Image source: zoequeenofthecastle.wordpress.com
Living Liquid—also nicknamed by keen-eyed 90s kids—was the first real blockade in 's first expansion. The penultimate encounter of the top-level raid scenario earned the title of ‘Raid Breaker’ much like a certain other boss we’ll detail next.
Taking on many forms as a shapeshifting fluid, Living Liquid severely punished players unable to quickly communicate with their team. With the need to juggle a ton of mechanics (and blobs) at the same time while still expected to push crazy damage numbers, teams had to find ways to ease the pressure on their more powerful members—a tactic luck wouldn’t always permit.
Nearly every little mistake against this shimmering muscleman punished teams with death. By the end of its first month of availability, only 212 individuals managed to beat the puddle (around 36 teams) of a 4-million-strong player base. Countless groups threw in the towel here.
Algalon the Observer - World of Warcraft
Image source: WoW DB
Algalon was a secret, optional boss featured beyond a great door in Ulduar—arguably one of the best raid scenarios of World of Warcraft's long history. Only accessible for a one-hour period each week after clearing the structure's 'final' boss, Algalon the Observer was a spiritual return to punishing raid bosses of yore. Nicknamed ‘Raid Destroyer' by a Blizzard employee before release, Algalon ignited community discussion that he might hearken back to the Burning Crusade days of brutally difficult encounters. They were right.
It took almost 2 months for players to stop this killswitch of the gods, and another month for the game's finest to do so without a single death. The skies of Dalaran would even show the stars whenever the apparition’s judgement was thwarted, announcing through a town crier that their server’s finest had saved their skin.
Tequatl: The Sunless Dragon - Guild Wars 2
As one of Guild Wars 2's timed world events, Tequatl required strict coordination between over 50 members, forcing multiple parties to form up and take on specific roles. A small team of six would be encouraged to man siege cannons—with another 20 typically employed to split up and protect them—leaving 30 to 40 players tasked with going toe-to-claw with the wyrm itself.
Finding 50 to 60 competent players willing to communicate over voice comms was the least of their worries. With ArenaNet's server congestion methods seemingly working against the idea of the encounter, players often found themselves in the 'Overflow' world after being ejected by a server struggling to handle the influx of bloodthirsty heroes—a metaboss, if you will.
Absolute Virtue - Final Fantasy XI
Image source: Retrosensei.net
When Square Enix set this boss free on Vana’Diel in Final Fantasy XI, nobody quite knew how to deal with it—and they never would. Absolute Virtue cycled through each class’ powerful two-hour cooldown skills every 45 to 90 seconds while gradually regaining health, increasing its damage resistance, and dishing out more pain as the fight went on.
Due to its sheer amount of abilities and variables, players wouldn't beat Absolute Virtue for a long time—even after an infamous 18-hour brawl with party members succumbing to physical fatigue before the night was up. With Square Enix combating bad press of the incident by patching in a two-hour despawn timer, the beast is said to have never been defeated in its originally intended manner. It eventually took the abuse of a team full of classes capable of rotating 'Perfect Defense’—a powerful skill introduced long after the encounter—to take Virtue down.
Each method of exploiting Absolute Virtue was subsequently patched, with forum threads sometimes reaching close to 100 pages packed with attempted strategies and the encouragement of curious onlookers. Nothing came close to this level of OP absurdity ever again.
Bandersnatch - TERA
Welcome back, King Caterpillar! The Hard Mode version of the Wonderholme raid divided opinions just as much as its original difficulty. Players would often cite overlooked bugs (not a pun) and optimization issues as reasons why most couldn’t reliably clear the encounter, but most would recall the overall experience as a step above what came after.
Due in part to TERA’s fresh take on MMO combat, its raid bosses—or lack of these days—were not all too different to some of the larger single-player monsters seen in the field. The Bandersnatch, on the other hand, was a unique creature that showed just how easy it was for a giant angry grub with a cube floating above a skewered, sentient hand to slaughter an experienced group in no time.
Behemoth - The Dark Age of Camelot
Image source: Jeux Online
Mythical and mysterious, Behemoth was seen as the sasquatch of The Dark Age of Camelot. Hiding around the bottom of Darkness Falls and only accessible through a random teleportation during another raid encounter, players would flock to forums for years, swapping tall tales about his true size, power, and the likeliness he’d ever see the pointy end of their sword.
Forums were sparse with information about how to take the Behemoth down. Some continued to cry of his undefeatable state after watching groups 60 people get torn up like tissue paper, while others claimed his death—through exploits or not—only yielded a sack of coins. Either way, it seemed Behemoth was truly intended as adding an insult to injury for those unfortunate enough to be whisked away to his lair during the Legion battle beforehand.
Avatus - Wildstar
Wildstar may not have lived up to its many years of hype, but that didn’t stop Carbine Studios from delivering one of the most punishingly long-winded World First races in MMO history. Shortly before the Datascape was scheduled to half the designed encounter size, a 40-man team, Enigma, shot down Avatus after a seven-month feud.
While the lengthy race came and went with no worthwhile weapon drops, the Wildstar subreddit spent the night congratulating everyone involved and wishing their best to the other famous guilds who didn’t quite reach the finish line. Numerous members of the studio staff even logged in to praise them for their efforts.
The Temple of Tiamat - Neverwinter
Another strictly timed encounter ready and willing to sow chaos with strangers, Neverwinter's Temple of Tiamat opens for five minutes every hour, sending players, whether in a party or not, into a randomly assigned group of 25 adventurers. 20 minutes is all you get with a massive hydra, and heading in unprepared can easily dash any hopes of a clean win. If you’re not able to adapt to a team of strangers, this one likely isn’t for you.
Dark Falz Luther - Phantasy Star Online 2
Sega may still be dodging their promise to bring this one to a Western audience, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of eager players from jumping into the game through a fan-translation project.
Dark Falz turned the area into a Bullet Hell Shooter with 12 people all trying to roll around with gigantic swords, energy balls, and black magic while aiming to blast through a clock mechanism on a titan that looked like it crawled out of a demon’s early morning nightmare.
Venril Sathir - EverQuest
Image source: everquest.allakhazam.com
Sure, it might be acid to the eyes close to two decades later, but the original EverQuest still holds a place in the hearts of many ongoing MMORPG fans, even if it tested their patience. But waiting on a random spawn timer for Killer Croc here was a trip many casters would have to subject themselves to at one point or another.
The encounter often required up to 40 players and hinged on a 3-day respawn clock for a single epic-tier weapon. Keep in mind, this was before loot sharing became popular. One weapon is one weapon. Weak links in the group's synergy could frequently cause Venril to regain a fraction of his health with a simple bad reposition. Pair that with a large group in a small room and you had a pretty high chance of unleashing the salt.