I recently finished Dark Souls III, clearing almost all bosses—with the exception of the Nameless King and Ancient Wyvern because I couldn’t care enough to track them down—and since finishing it, I’ve been thinking of the From Software games catalogue, figuring out what the best bosses are. Admittedly, I haven’t played Demons’ Souls so whatever list I come up with is incomplete.
But still, this is my list of the best bosses in the Dark Souls and Bloodborne series. These ranking take two major things into consideration: challenge and memorability, because if we’re truly honest, in Souls games and Bloodborne what we remember the most are the boss fights. The lore is great but boss fights are what people talk about, they’re the highlights and low points of any of their games.
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10 – Asylum Demon: The first Dark Souls boss is a surprise to say the least. The game teaches you the basics of gameplay inside the walls of the Undead Asylum, and even introduces you to a friendly NPC that gives you your first Estus Flasks. Then you open some doors, go inside and boom, there he is in all his fleshy glory. He’s a vicious enemy that is very easy once you figure him out, but a fantastic start to the game.
9 – Gwyn, Lord of Fire: Gwyn’s an easy boss fight, too easy for Dark Souls to be honest, but he’s still memorable for me because his boss design reflects the overall game theme and lore. In his prime, Gwyn was a powerhouse, but now, faded and hollowed and dying like his first flame, he’s so weak you can even parry him. He’s on his last legs, he’s “fading embers” made flesh.
8 – Soul of Cinder: The final boss in Dark Souls III is yet another callback to Dark Souls bosses, though in this case he’s also a reference to Dark Souls players, taking the appearance of a charred version of the poster-character from Dark Souls and using sorceries, pyromancy and even using Dark Wood Grain Ring-style movements. He’s fairly simple to kill and he’s yet another dude in armour with melee weapon at that point. But he’s the one reference in Dark Souls III I didn’t mind. You can even parry him in second phase, though I found it easier to just bait him.
7 – Queelag: Who can forget this beautiful thing? She has the body of a flaming spider and torso of a gorgeous naked girl. Queelag is the first boss in Dark Souls that forces you to react to several things at ones. The spider half has some attacks while the human does other things and there are also environmental dangers. Add to this that you might have gotten there battered and poisoned and you’ll see why she’s on the list. Also, her boss soul weapon was my favourite in all of Dark Souls and I never found anything like it in any of the sequels.
6 – Blood-Starved Beast: This howling monstrosity comes early—or late—in Bloodborne’s story, particularly because it’s entirely optional, only needed to unlock chalice dungeons. But if you do fight it, it’s a fight that punishingly teaches you how to wait for an opening and to create one if you need. The Blood-Starved beast is highly agile but then starts adding a vicious poison to its attack and by the end, it’s covered in the stuff, making the last 30% of its health a real race for survival.
5 – Abyss Watchers: This is my favourite boss fight in Dark Souls 3, particularly since it’s partially a rehash from the number 1 on this list. What makes it very cool is that when you first see the Abyss Watchers you think, “Oh no, not another council fight.” Council fights being those where you fight two or more enemies where killing one triggers more skills in the other(s). But no, you fight one major guy and the others come in and can even help you, as the Abyss Watchers tend to fight among each other. Phase two is strong, intense and gave me a powerful rush of endorphins when I nailed it!
4 – Orphan of Kos: Screw this guy, really. The boss most responsible for rage-quits in Bloodborne. The Orphan of Kos is the hardest boss in the game, but he’s not really a fun one, particularly because he’s extremely punishing and random. He doesn’t feel challenging like other fights, where you can figure out the flaws in your strategy, but instead you depend a lot on luck with him.
3 – The Fume Knight: Oh how I hated this guy in Dark Souls 2. He’s the toughest boss in the entire game and is so because he’s absolutely vicious. His first phase is manageable if you’re not very good at rolling, but the second one makes blocking impossible. It’s high on this list because it forced me to switch up my play style to match the boss encounter, instead of using my go-to turtling strategy.
2 – Ornstein and Smough: The Bash Bros of Dark Souls, Ornstein and Smough are the most memorable bosses in the entire Souls series, and a nice council fight. You can’t just focus on one of them, as they don’t ever stop attacking. And then when you’ve taken one of them out and you’re happy, then one powers the other for the doubly intense phase two. I remember shouting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Like a Daniel Bryan fan when I finally felled them!
1 – Lady Maria of the Astral Clock Tower: Hunter fights are the best in Bloodborne. They use the same rules as you do and it’s the closest PVE gets to PVP, which suits me just fine. Lady Maria also has some nice references in lore and her introduction video is awesome. But most importantly her fight is the fun kind of challenging. Her moves remain the same throughout the fight with just changes in how punishing they are. You can learn to overcome your mistakes and finally put her to rest. She is the best-designed and paced boss in all From Software’s games.
So, there’s my list. Do you agree? Or is there one I should’ve included and why the hell didn’t I? Let me know in the comments.
I hope we get a Demons’ Souls remaster at some point on PC or current or next gen consoles, as I really want to play all games in the Souls series.