Have you defeated a boss by exploiting a bug or a cheesy strat?

(Image credit: 2K)

It's not always your fault. Sometimes a boss gets stuck on a bit of level geometry, or halfway through a wall. So what if you spend the next five minutes safely hacking away at their protruding limbs until they die? That bug's not your fault. You just chose to exploit it.

Sometimes though, it is our fault. We grenade bosses off ledges, pepper them with arrows from the other side of a fog wall, or look up that one position where Crawmerax the Invincible can't reach us and then squat there shooting him till he dies.

Our weekend question is this: Have you defeated a boss by exploiting a bug or a cheesy strat? Here are our answers, plus a few from our forum.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Dave James: OK, it's not necessarily cheesing a big boss per se, but by fully embracing the vampire lifestyle in Oblivion on my first playthrough it let me fly through the myriad annoying Oblivion gates in no time. Making sure I was right on the edge of full-vamp whenever I hit a gate meant my powers were at their height and I could leap tall buildings in a single bound... or at least jump up and across bridges, circumventing most of the surrounding towers inside an Oblivion gate, and on to the top of the main one. Then I'd go invisible, grab the Sigil Stone, and be on my way, often without the goons being any the wiser.

Jacob Ridley: I was the proud owner of a Gjallarhorn in Destiny, so yes—too many times to mention.

Alan Dexter: Back when I did play WoW, one of my favourite things to do was run old raids where I could generally one shot bosses with little danger of getting hurt. Not really an exploit per se, but clearly not really as the game was intended to be played.

Andy Chalk: I do this at every opportunity. Boss fights are bullshit, a tedious holdover from old arcade standups designed to separate idiot kids from their parents' money with maximum efficiency, and if I can bypass that crap by hiding in a corner and spamming grenades, then you better believe I'm going to do it.

(Image credit: Larian)

Phil Savage: During the final boss fight of Divinity: Original Sin 2, there's a moment where everything goes Very Bad. When a certain character is reduced to a certain amount of health, they teleport everyone to a different room, spawn more enemies, and just generally flood the entire arena with elemental effects that consistently screwed me over. I think it's a pretty bad fight, and one that I didn't see my team being able to win. But up until that point, DOS2 had been pretty consistent with its systems and spell effects, so I tried a different tactic. I damaged the character just enough to destroy their armour, and then used my summoner to simply turn them into a chicken. Then I focused them down with rogue until the character was down to the threshold where they'd normally cast their fight-progressing spell. The line of dialogue played as normal, but then nothing happened. Because they were a chicken, and chickens can't cast spells. We never moved to the next stage of the fight, so I won the game by killing off everybody in the first, much easier room.

Chris Livingston: I'm struggling to remember which game it was, but I know it's happened in plenty: a boss getting stuck on some scenery while I chipped away at it safe and sound. I think it may have happened most recently in Fallout 76, not with an event boss but with a Deathclaw in a cave. It just stood there, facing the wrong way, and I shot it with my wimpiest weapon until it was finally dead. No regrets. I'm not honorable enough to leave the cave and come back to see if the AI is working better. I'll take any advantage I can when it's offered up like that.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Jody Macgregor:  At the end of the Oblivion expansion The Shivering Isles you have to fight a god. Jyggalag is a 10-foot-tall embodiment of order with a sword bigger than you are. Also, did I mention he's a god? This is supposed to be a huge, climactic boss fight to make up for being denied one at the end of Oblivion's main questline.

I defeated Jyggalag by jumping down from a ledge onto the top of a big mushroom where he couldn't reach me. From there I weakened him with a magic staff, then shot him with arrows until he gave up. Yes, it was cheesy, but if you know The Shivering Isles you know that it's the perfect place for cheese. I have no regrets.

From our forum

Pifanjr: For Skyrim, this is basically my go-to. Pretty much any enemy can be defeated by getting it stuck somewhere and then shooting it until it's dead. I recently started a new game and stumbled into a dungeon that had a Draugr Wight Lord at the end that summoned a Draugr Deathlord. I eventually defeated it by backtracking to a door that could only be opened with a lever and which was made of metal bars I could shoot through.

Another boss I've only defeated with a cheesy strat is the Taurus Demon from Dark Souls, which can be killed by doing two plunge attacks from the tower.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Mobyduck: I remember when Stealth was still bugged, if had the last trait, you could crouch in front of an enemy and attack them to get a backstab 10x bonus or something like that. I just did that non-stop until enemies died.

I also did the parry strategy to kill Gwin in Dark Souls, which feels like cheesing, since it's so extremely easy.

Rolfil: Several times. When raiding in WoW, like a LONG time ago in ZG and Kara, we found several exploits. But really when you are raiding for 3+ hours having one boss a bit easier than others.

Ultima Online didn't have bosses as such. However if you used archery everyone knew it was broken. Just step next to a mob, move back exactly one pace and the mob couldn't hit you. Only really used it against poison elementals and really didn't play that character much.

For more modern games then no. But I don't play any souls like games with bosses anyway.

The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director's Cut

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Oussebon: Was playing Witcher 1 last week, hit the penultimate boss twice with light attacks (you're supposed to use heavy attacks - light attacks barely dent him) - he cast an explosion and killed himself. All in 2 seconds. That's not how the fight mechanics worked the other ten times I did it (in most of which I also used the wrong attack style through ignorance).

Is it still cheesing if you don't even know what you did to do it? Is cheese still cheese without intent?

Sciophyte: I detest it when a tricky (= ramped up to ridiculous difficulty/length just so it feels more 'bossy') boss fight interrupts the otherwise enjoyable flow of a narrative—so I'll cheese, I'll cheat, I'll throw sand and do groin stuff, whatever it takes to get that tedious roadblock out of my way. And I don't even feel bad about it.

Earliest example I can remember? Ultima Underworld, Labyrinth of Worlds. There was this super-powered lich in one place that pulled an insurmountable "You cannot pass" on me, until I realized that standing on a slim ledge at the side of that room utterly befuddled my opponent, who subsequently succumbed to countless dinky arrows to its desiccated noggin.

(Image credit: Larian)

drunkpunk: I have completed Divinity: Original Sin 2 about 10 times, currently working on number 11. So I have cheesed many, many boss fights. Probably all of them at some point, although some might argue it's more along the lines of taking a more creative approach since the game tends to encourage it. The go-to cheese is probably using a death fog barrel to take down a room of bad guys, or even knocking down Alexander in the first act. I've used ladders or distance to take a character out of combat, just to bring it back in using a big spell. One boss in particular that tends to give me trouble, I've discovered I can teleport far enough away that she ends up out of combat, which allows me to fight the dogs that summon with her, then engage the boss by itself. My favorite way to cheese stuff, although I haven't really done it, is barrelmancy. That's basically filling a barrel or indestructible chest full of stuff to make it weigh a ton, then using telekinesis to throw it at the enemy, which ends up doing a TON of damage (it scales based on the weight of the object).

I know I've taken advantage of cheese in other games, but this one sticks out in my mind the most. Not just because I've been playing it way, way too much, but because there's so many creative ways to cheese things.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.