Ranking of Souls Bosses
This idea nestled in my head about 40 minutes ago and I haven’t been able to fall asleep yet; figure I might as well knock some of this out tonight. I will be including every Souls/Soulslike to date before I’m unable to keep up with the deluge of Soulslikes in the future. Apologies to Salt and Sanctuary but I’ll just be figuring in the bosses that I remember, which isn’t very many. For now lets do the top 5 and bottom 5.
Maria of the Astral Clocktower
It should be noted I come at the Bloodborne DLC from the perspective of only having played it on NG+7, this led to great misery in some cases and eternal joy and wonderment in the case of Maria. Every time I clear the game now I make sure to fight her twice, if I win on the first try I die on purpose just to have that ridiculous amount of fun twice a run.
The epitome of cool, probably objectively the best boss in the series and just an utterly incredible fight when fought with a melee character (i.e. the vanilla state of the game); I do have Scholar on PS4 but don’t think I’ve fought Darklurker yet there, hence the lack of a video (though there will continue to be none for Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls)
By far the best “large” boss in the series, Amelia’s vast array of attacks and sheer speed always make for a harrowing experience; without having anything too cheap or overpowered in her arsenal to make this feel unfair.
Gwyn, Lord of Cinder
Gwyn of course comes with the caveat that about 70-80% of the playerbase looked up how to fight him instead of actually fighting him and the cheesy parry method won the day; but in the absence of that an incredibly intense, awesome fight with the best music and atmosphere in the series. Darklurker can be cheesed as well but most people at least get rocked a few times before they realize that, in the case of Gwyn it feels like people just pulled out google immediately and refused even to try. This is simply the curse of Souls and information proliferation on the internet, it will be a very common theme moving forward.
It’s interesting that a boss in both the beta and Last Chance Trial turns out to be the best overall in the game, his AI does eventually get matched in Level 270 NG+ dojo missions so fret not if you’re still hunting for a similar challenge. Again avoiding cheesy parrying/Guardian Spirit/Sloth/spear loop/etc usage is required to get the most out of this boss but in a general spacing/stamina management war perhaps the foremost out of any souls fight. Early on he tends to have enough gusto to hold his own and not be totally demolished in a huge momentum swing; but obviously when your gear gets better that’ll happen.
Honorable Mentions: Ornstein and Smough, Gehrmann, Gascoigne, Artorias, Mirror Knight, Orphan of Kos, Kalameet, Fume Knight, Alonne, Manus, Sinh, The Nameless God (Salt and Sanctuary), Nameless King, Sister Friede, Flamelurker, Tower Knight, Storm King (Demon’s Souls), Shima Sakon, Okatsu (230 NG+ Dojo Mission version), False King, Executioner’s Chariot, Smelter, Ivory King, Worshiper (Lords of the Fallen), 5 or 6 more Nioh bosses (debating over which)
Bottom 5 (5-1)
Probably the worst part of Demon’s Souls, the fight itself is okay if boring/generic; but fighting him on the narrowest boss platform in the series is straight up bad design. An awful, tedious fight that everyone just hyper modes now.
The second phase of this fight is alright, too bad the first phase is awful (numerous unpunishable high damage attacks, two one shot moves that have unpredictable hitboxes) and he also has 40-45k life on NG+; one of the only fights in the series where an NPC is always going to be more efficient than simply playing well simply for the AI manipulation; not having to deal with first phase bullshit while you steamroll him with one of a handful of high DPS weapons is the way to go for NG+7 and beyond. Of course if you don’t have that high DPS you’ll be slogging here for a while.
Dark Souls II manages to avoid misery for the most part but there’s no better way to describe this monstrosity, I guess they eventually tuned him to be okay but one of the few fights that was almost completely impossible in co-op and basically only possible via forced AI repetition/OP shit in single player. I appreciate a big fuck off dragon that always one shots you but you can definitely do it better than this.
The original shit fight, it should be mentioned I one shot this boss the first time I played the game; but that just is the boss; your build wins or it doesn’t: the end. Straight garbage.
Laurence the First Vicar
This boss is pretty poor on NG, but on NG+7 it’s just utter shit; terrible attack patterns; comical amount of health (near 50,000), asinine last phase. The Bloodborne DLC overall makes it worse aside from weapon variety and Laurence, along with Ludwig, is the biggest reason why. The worst.
Dishonorable Mentions: Pinwheel, Prowling Magus, Curse Rotted Greatwood, Twin Princes, Yhorm the Giant, King Allant, Leech Monger, Dirty Colossus, Old Monk (offline), Priscilla, Giant Lord, others
I like Bed of Chaos, a puzzle boss that retains its challenge after the first go around is a definite plus in my book. Every other puzzle boss is trivial after the first time so only something with extreme novelty can be good. Dragonrider is the easiest boss but the speedrun method is just so fucking fun to do every time.