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Stellar Blade will test you with a new “Boss Challenge” mode on PS5

The Stellar Blade Boss Challenge mode could take inspiration from the likes of Sekiro and Kingdom Hearts when it eventually arrives on PS5.

Stellar Blade Boss Challenge mode: Eve next to a red-colored Naytiba

Stellar Blade director Kim Hyung-Tae has revealed that a “Boss Challenge” mode for the hit PS5 game is currently in the works at Shift Up HQ. Though it’s early days yet, I’m already imagining plenty of ways the upcoming feature could materialize in future Stellar Blade DLC.

In a recent interview with Korean outlet Nate (translated from Korean to English via Google), Kim revealed that, while “future update plans, including downloadable content (DLC), have not yet been decided, a ‘Boss Challenge’ mode is being planned” for one of the best PS5 games.

But what will this unforgiving new mode entail? While a more traditional ‘boss rush’ element akin to Sekiro’s Gauntlets of Strength immediately comes to mind – not least because of the systemic similarities between Stellar Blade’s combat and one of the best Soulslike games – Shift Up could take a different approach.

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Looking at what the studio’s done with its hit mobile game Nikke, there’s scope for a stage-based system where you can fight individual bosses in a specific order. It could replay exactly as it does in the story, with you being matched up against the Elite Naytiba that precede the Alpha. Alternatively, Shift Up may only let you size yourself up against the top dogs. I’m not a fan of this, though, as it narrows down player agency – what if I just want to fight the final boss over and over without having to clear through the rest?

To fix this pain point, Shift Up could borrow from the likes of Kingdom Hearts’ Garden of Assemblage – an endgame area in some of the best games ever that lets you fight data versions of the game’s biggest bads in whichever order you like (provided you’ve met their unlock requirements). Of course, this isn’t a true ‘boss rush’ mode, and I can imagine it won’t offer up the same level of satisfaction for the hardcore Soulsborne enjoyer. With that being said there is a third, hybrid method that I’d love to see the devs explore.

Being able to practice against data-based versions of the major bosses, before taking that accumulated muscle memory into a more traditional boss rush mode is the ideal mashup between these different challenge mode approaches – for me at least. It also offers plenty of opportunities for Shift Up to sprinkle in new costumes for Eve, and Trophies of varying rarity for us to unlock based on the difficulty with which we choose to eventually attempt the gauntlet.

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Of course, for us to accumulate all of this endgame boss data, I would expect Shift Up to gate the feature behind New Game+, giving players the chance to unlock all of the extra skill tree nodes the expanded playthrough has to offer. The downside is that it’s a lot of extra work for the studio to implement, effectively weaving in two different modes. To mitigate this to an extent, the 1v1 element could perhaps be handled through Stellar Blade’s ever-handy training mode, spawning the boss of your choice into the empty arena for Eve to beat up.

Even if my initial ideas are way off the mark, the fact remains that Stellar Blade is the perfect candidate for a boss challenge mode, and this news has got me super excited about future DLC. I adored the designs of the game’s toughest enemies, and I’m chomping at the bit for the opportunity to flex my mastery over its eclectic combat system once again.

For more of the latest on Shift Up’s triple-A debut, check out the Stellar Blade puzzle which is basically a huge PlayStation easter egg. If you’re looking for more great Stellar Blade-adjacent games to play, then I can’t recommend NieR Automata highly enough. It’s also 60% off in the current PS Store sale – a pretty sweet deal if I do say so myself. To stay up to date with the latest from Eve and friends, give our Google News feed a follow.