Of course, some entries in the series are understandably better than others, with better boss fights to boot. So what makes a good Metal Gear boss? They need to be memorable; their fight needs to have meaning; their arena needs to be well designed; and, most importantly, they need to be fun to fight.
10 Colonel Volgin
The best Metal Gear boss fights are almost like playgrounds, something Metal Gear Solid 3 absolutely excels at. There are a few ways to tackle Volgin as a boss, but the game does except Naked Snake to duke it out man to man. Naturally, there are ways to get around this and they’re all creative.
Snake can just beat on Volgin before pulling out a gun; put on Raikov’s mask in order to briefly trick Volgin; or throw a frog at Volgin. There are a lot of ways to get around the Colonel’s abilities and they all make for one of the most interesting boss fights in the series.
9 Hind D
The Hind D boss fight doesn’t give players much room for creativity, instead serving as one of the most traditional boss fights in the series. On one hand, this means that the Hind D fight lasts quite a while. On the other hand, it actually makes players feel like they’re single handedly taking down a Hind D in real life.
The Hind D battle is a full on endurance match, and it comes at a point in the game where players need to either get their act together or suffer. Its length makes it harder than any other boss up to that point, but this just makes the showdown between Snakes all the more enthralling.
8 Revolver Ocelot (MGS3)
Like with Volgin, Revolver Ocelot is a boss fight where players are given quite a bit of freedom to play around with. Not only are Snake and Ocelot on opposite sides of a canyon (allowing more interactivity between planes,) Ocelot has his Ocelot Unit watching the fight, meaning that players can trigger reactions from them.
They can cheer for Ocelot, boo Snake, or outright laugh at the player for playing poorly. Snake can shoot a beehive in order to trigger bees that attack Ocelot, and even shoot Ocelot’s cap off mid-fight. Should Snake walk up to the ledge of the arena, players can even activate a duel with Ocelot.
Fatman is an easy boss to underestimate. Not only is he a bit on the grotesque side, his arc in Metal Gear Solid 2 feels the most disconnected from the overall plot. That said, he makes for an incredible boss fight, easily one of the best of the Dead Cell fights. Fatman basically builds off the foundation that Vulcan Raven laid in the first game.
What this means is that players have a massive arena to experiment with along with the ability to use just about every single weapon in their disposal. There is no wrong way to fight Fatman. Of the Metal Gear Solid 2 boss fights, he’s the one that offers the player the most variety.
6 Vamp (MGS2)
Tragically, Fatman is not the best Dead Cell boss fight. That honor belongs to Vamp. Specifically, his first boss fight in Metal Gear Solid 2. Like Fatman, this is a battle where players are allowed to use just about everything at their disposal. The only key difference is that this fight takes place way later in the game.
As a result, Raiden’s arsenal is much larger. More importantly, the stakes are the highest they’ve been up to this point. If Raiden can’t defeat Vamp here and now, it’s over. Of course, Vamp doesn’t end up dying, but that just ends up elevating MGS2’s already incredible plot.
5 Metal Gear RAY (MGS2)
The last third of Metal Gear Solid 2 really is something special, especially once players reach Arsenal Gear. Weird and downright horrifying at times, Sons of Liberty sets in a new tone, one that leaves players (and Raiden) questioning for the rest of the game. It all culminates in a showdown between Raiden and a bunch of Metal Gear RAYs.
What’s interesting about this fight is that Raiden has to defeat more RAY units the higher the difficulty is. On European Extreme, this boss fight easily ends up the most challenging boss battle players will need to deal with. Like the Hind D battle, it’s a traditional boss fight, but it’s handled impeccably well thanks to context, atmosphere, and the gameplay loop.
Theoretically, the Solidus final boss fight should not work. After an entire game of gunplay, players are quickly expected to learn how to use a sword for the final battle. Thankfully, Metal Gear Solid 2 actually features an entire gameplay sequence where players can practice using the blade.
By the time the Solidus fight starts, they won’t be experts, but they’ll know how to maneuver their weapon. This makes for an interesting, climactic showdown as Raiden desperately tries to kill his father figure, all orchestrated by The Patriots. It’s an intense, if deceptively morbid, note to end the game on.
3 Liquid Ocelot
Metal Gear Solid 4’s final boss fight, the duel with Liquid Ocelot is a spectacle unlike any other. Taking players through four generations of Metal Gear history, the hud reflects all four Solid games up to that point, even sampling music from Metal Gear Solid, Sons of Liberty, and Snake Eater. The whole battle makes for a beautiful ending to the Solid Snake saga.
Like with the Solidus fight, players are expected to master new mechanics for this showdown. Thankfully, it’s all CQC so the battle is at least rooted in MGS4’s core combat. As a final boss fight, it’s one of the best in the entire medium, bringing the series to a poetic, if brief, conclusion.
2 The Boss
The Boss is basically the Liquid Ocelot fight, but less on rails and way less self indulgent. An arena battle, Naked Snake can tackle The Boss just about any which way he pleases. There are even snakes in the arena that Snake can use to his advantage. At the 5 minute mark, “Snake Eater” plays and the final boss fight draws to its close.
It’s a beautiful way to close out Snake Eater, putting Naked Snake and The Boss’ relationship on full display. In many respects, it’s the ultimately realization of the arena boss fight stemming all the way back to Vulcan Raven in MGS1. Though there is one boss that does a better job in that regard.
1 The End
The End is not only the greatest Metal Gear boss fight of all time, he may very well be the best video game boss period. The amount of leeway that Metal Gear Solid 3 allows it audiences is unreal. It’s possible to just wait out the boss fight entirely, letting enough time pass in real life for The End to die of old age.
Choosing to fight him properly is the way to go, though, as his boss fight takes place across an enormous jungle with Naked Snake needing to hunt for his foe as The End tries to snipe him out. It’s a tense, memorable battle that eases players into Snake Eater’s incredible second half.