Top Ten Memorable Bosses from the God of War Trilogy

I often wonder how ancient civilization, tribes or communities would depict their cultures if they understood and could use modern technology. More recently as I prepare for the God of War spiritual reboot releasing on April 20th 2018th I wonder how they would react to see their gods, demons, kings, queens, scholars and war heros completely decimated, all for the sake of maybe being called a memorable boss fight.

Could even the most diabolical and sinister Greek minds imagine that every major figure in their culture would be gutted, torn, crushed, shredded to pieces, bludgeoned, burned, and just outright murdered by a fictional Spartan for the sake of entertainment? Could we just smile at them afterwards and say “Hey at least some of the lore and themes intact, right?” It’s just sitting underneath the oceans of blood and chaos unleashed by Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta, during the original God of War trilogy. Take note ye Nordic gods, for the God of War himself, is treading toward your gates, and he doesn’t play well with others’ mythology. Let’s take a quick dive into the 10 most memorable boss fights in the original God of War trilogy.

#10 – Ares (God of War)

Seems only fitting to start this list with the first fallen god from whom the franchise has based its name. Ares could be seen as the catalyst of Kratos’s entire journey in a sense. He saved Kratos from death on the battlefield, imbued him with godly weapons and then tried to mold Kratos into his own personal champion. The game did a great job of building up to this fight, even having you pass by the location of the final battle earlier in the game and walk on the instrument of Ares’s death. This is a three-part duel, starting with all the weapons and abilities Kratos acquired throughout the game, then a psychological battle against himself, and the final showdown with a new weapon. In his final moments, Ares did make a good choice of words on his knees, telling the new God of War, “I only wanted to make you a great warrior” to which Kratos barks back, “you succeeded” as evidenced by this list.

Pandora's Guardian getting beaten by Kratos in God of War II

#9 – Pandora’s Guardian (God of War)

This boss might seem like an outlier on this list, especially for people who have replayed the first God of War multiple times, so let’s say it is a very personal choice. I’m thinking of the first time I had a showdown with this armored minotaur, I remember being so surprised by his design. It was so different from everything else, being that his armor was so mechanical, complete with moving parts and exhaust ports. The image of Kratos standing fearlessly as the beast lets out his war cry stayed with me, it was then I knew Kratos was truly fearless. Despite the extremely heavy armor, Pandora’s Guardian can backflip like a ballerina and do parkour with the best of ’em. I had not seen anything like it in my youth. Like so many boss fights in gaming, convenience plays a role, and a very handy lever will launch a projectile at the giant Minotaur, helping Kratos remove the armor to really get under this Minotaur’s skin.

#8 – Hercules (God of War III)

“Wait, thee Hercules?” That was my first thought when Aphrodite first presented her champion to Kratos during his ascent of Mt. Olympus in God of War 3. My image of Hercules at the time was shaped by the 90’s cartoon, and by the live-action TV show, which my dad was a huge fan of. While I was somewhat taken aback by this truly mammoth, scarred, and extremely jealous version of Hercules, Kratos stood unimpressed as usual, reminding me that the world’s strongest man is still just a man. Despite trying to literally drop the entire arena on Kratos’s head, it backfired miserably for dear old Hercules, and God of War fans were rewarded with another classic Kratos moment, where he takes Hercules’s weapons and performs some Spartan plastic surgery on Hercules’s face.

#7 – The Hydra (God of War)

Such humble beginnings. You probably didn’t need this list to remember this fight, but in case you do, let me jog your memory. It involves a corpse, some pressure plates, two small watchtowers, oh, and a family of enraged and hungry sea serpents. Since pretty much everyone on board is dead, it seems like the burden of making dinner is on Kratos, and the Hydra and its little friends aren’t being patient. Kratos loses his temper a bit (surprise surprise), and the Hydra finds out he bit off more then he could chew, as fans of gore get to enjoy buckets of blood rain down and get all the eye candy they need. This boss fight was a great initiation into the world of God of War, showcasing quite literally a bit of everything that would become the many call-signs of the franchise. Epic music, compelling backgrounds, puzzles, monsters, QTEs done right, and Kratos’s version of improvising.

The Kraken Screaming in Anger in God of War II

#6 – The Kraken (God of War II)

Moments before this boss starts, Kratos was repeating past mistakes, letting rage drive his blades in the dark. The cost this time was the life of his fellow Spartan, who just informed Kratos that Zeus himself came down and annihilated Sparta overnight. The Kraken creeps into the background behind Kratos, who barely has any time to accept the fact that he is now the last Spartan. Another classic God of War boss using everything that the franchise is known for, including Kratos’s amazing improvisation skills, much like the Hydra boss. It also includes one of my personal favorite finishers that gave me both shock and laughter the first time.

#5 – Sisters of Fate (God of War II)

The finale of God of War 2 pulled out all the moves, and was another battle that benefited from amazing build-up. The three sisters, Lahkesis, Atropo, and the deformed Clotho, had a great mixture of mystery and intimidation behind them, even Zeus himself would not raise his fist toward them. This battle also provides one of my all-time favorite moments, and reminded me of Back to the Future part II in some ways. During the battle Kratos is hurled back in time to the final battle of God of War, he finds himself on the blade that would eventually kill Ares, and must defend it from the second sister, Atropo, as she seeks to change history and allow Ares to live. The final leg of the fight shows one of the most grotesque enemies the franchise has to offer. The battle also requires Kratos to use most of the weapons and key items he acquired along the way, unlike the final Ares battle.

Zeus fighting Kratos in God of War III

#4 – Zeus (God of War III)

The final battle with Zeus is a moment that God of War diehards had been dreaming about. For years players were consistently mocked, deceived, outsmarted and even killed by the king of Mt. Olympus. Zeus was truly prepared to pay any cost, in wealth or blood, to keep the world in his hands, and his secrets like being Kratos’s father. Zeus was always one step ahead, though he was both a tactical warlord and a complete coward at the same time. The developers knew how important this battle was, and I think it has aged quite well despite some initial criticism. Some say it is a bit drawn out, but I think it had to be. I would even say it’s the closest hack-and-slash games may ever come to something like Solid Snake vs Liquid Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 4. This over-the-top finale is in no rush to roll the credits, forging a path of destruction through multiple locations, including a somewhat symbolic battle near Gaia’s heart. This battle also contains one of the more psychedelic sequences in God of War, before one of the longest and most satisfying finishers in the entire series.

#3 – Cronos (God of War III)

Have you ever seen a mountain get up and walk, or fly into battle? That’s exactly the sight players got with the emergence of the titans in God of War 2, which got heads spinning and rolling all across the world of gaming. It spoke volumes about the sense of scale the God of War franchise was aiming for. Even the mighty Kratos, who always stood tall against enemies larger than himself, seemed like a housefly when literally standing on the fingertip of a Titan.  It was inevitable that Kratos was going to have to find a way to topple a mountain, despite also being related to them through Zeus. The only question was: how? Kratos’s answer was simply one fingernail at a time, and I’ll just say, I’ve never complained about a hangnail since. After ripping out nail and flesh from his own grandfather, Cronos, Kratos climbs the aging titan’s rotting, sick and filthy skin, shedding blood all along the way. The final moments of this battle are the reasons fans love God of War so much, reminding all the imitators at the time that there is only room for one game full of QTEs.

#2 – Colossus/Helios (God of War II)

Although not the largest character by far in the God of War franchise, the Colossus of Rhodes showdown is still one of the most iconic battles in all of gaming. This massive statue is a tribute to the sun god Helios. However, Helios himself was never half as intimating as his own monument. This boss was both part of the environment, part of the opening stage, and also contained one of the best platforming segments in the entire franchise. He provides a huge challenge to the new God of War, countering, and even besting Kratos a few times. Players will have to climb and literally break their way through the insides of the Colossus, while occasionally getting to see a burning Greece through the wounds inflicted on the statue during the battle. The battle also costs Kratos all of his godly might, as engineered by Zeus, who then coldly kills Kratos shortly after. Being that the Colossus is a tribute to Helios, I think this battle is unfinished until Kratos comes face-to-face with the sun god himself and removes the head of Helios in stunning detail, all because he needed a flashlight.

#1 – Hades (God of war III)

Kratos about to fight the god of the underworld in God of War III - Hades

Lots of people say they’ve been to hell and back, but few have ever actually managed to accomplish it, especially when its king has his eyes set on their soul. Fearing no man or god, Kratos escaped the hands of hell on numerous occasions, but only finally decided to face its ruler after a few visits. The realm of Hades in God of War 3 is my favorite location in the entire franchise, complete with interesting puzzles that also feed into the lore of Hades. I’ll spare you the whole “Hades was just a manipulated pawn” spiel and stick to the clash of blades between these two vengeful souls. The immortal Hades has his flesh ripped out pound-by-pound, and despite his best efforts, he can’t keep himself together. When trying to face Kratos head-on doesn’t work, Hades tries to widen the field, but to no avail. The fate of hell is weighed on a match of tug of war to the death. Hades loses and is embarrassingly strung up by his own weapons and turned into an immortal piñata. Kratos decides to create his own adage, “if you can’t kill em, reap’em,” giving the harborer of souls a taste of his hooks.

I’m sure there is going to be some contention with this list and differing opinions, Kratos has delivered so many unforgettable moments in gaming that no single list could do it justice. We here at Gaming Instincts hope that the reboot of God of War will deliver even more incredible bosses and experiences, and we want you to experience it with us. That’s why we are giving away the new God of War – check the following link for the giveaway.