Last week’s piece discussed From Software’s hardest, most challenging bosses. Today, we will analyze the company’s long history and discuss bosses from a more thematic standpoint. In other words, which From Software boss is, quite simply put, the coolest?
This list will examine From Software’s ten coolest, least to greatest in order. Of course, the notion of what is ‘cool’ is obviously subjective. If you absolutely love the Soldier of Godrick or another game’s tutorial boss and enjoy fighting them, there is nothing wrong with that.
Before we begin, there were a great deal of honorable mentions for the list. Due to their quantity, it made more sense to put them in the beginning of the article rather than right before #1. Here they are:
- Darkeater Midir (Dark Souls 3) and Mohg, Lord of Blood (Elden Ring) would have made the list, but I decided I’d go with some new names that were not a part of last week’s challenging boss list
- Moonlight Butterfly (Dark Souls 1)
- Twin Princes (Dark Souls 3)
- Borealis the Freezing Fog (Elden Ring)
- Artorias the Abysswalker (Dark Souls 1)
10. Penetrator (Demon’s Souls)
This guy is unbelievably awesome. His entrance is absolutely perfect and gave rise to the weird but iconic tendency for every From Software game to have one boss whose opening cinematic involves them throwing a corpse at a player. Here, the player has been pursuing a Fat Official who has basically been trolling them for two, going on three entire worlds. The Fat Official makes it into a desolate building, laughs at the player, and appears to have beaten them to a locked off area where they can continue mocking them. Out of nowhere, a large black blade gets shoved into the Fat Official’s chest, impaling and killing him, whereupon his corpse is flicked off the blade and at the player. It’s as if the Penetrator just said “Enough playing around, it’s time to get serious!” which is just an incredible way of bringing him in. He gets in over Artorias from Dark Souls 1 because it was him, not Artorias, who began this trend.
9. Margit the Fell Omen/Morgott the Omen King (Elden Ring)
The voice acting for Margit and Morgott, who are essentially the same person, is just amazing. The script writing is also stellar; being simply and harshly told to “cease these foolish ambitions” when beaten is a spit in the face, but also a taunt or a dare that will encourage the player to try again as soon as possible. Margit is the game’s first mandatory boss, and right away he is loaded with mechanics that will become a fixture for the rest of the game. He has delayed attacks that make roll spam ineffective, a generally unique set of timeframes and openings to memorize in order to properly take him on. Morgott in particular, but Margit to a lesser extent, also have incredibly long combos that have to be respected but are fair and leave openings to players who are able to dodge or shield them properly. The setting for fighting Morgott is the Elden Throne, which eventually serves as the last place the player enters later at the dead end of the game. The setting is well done and very fitting for a battlefield, with a good, rich atmosphere that’s also simple and lacking in annoyances to interrupt the flow of the fight. As such, Margit and Morgott are well suited for this list.
8. Martyr Logarius (Bloodborne)
Hoo boy, if From Software ever nailed it for atmosphere on a boss fight, you’d be hard pressed to convince me they’ve ever done it better than this one. The fight is paced beautifully, with slow and serious but monotoned music accompanied by Logarius slowly approaching the player as he simultaneously fires sluggish but incredibly deadly arcane explosions at them. As the fight picks up, so do both Logarius and the soundtrack for the fight. He goes from casually strolling into zipping around the area, flying, rushing, thrusting his scythe at the player and continually trying to cast an extremely deadly arcane power that shoots damaging pelts all over the place that the player must make sure to interrupt. The soundtrack also enters somewhat of a crescendo, which will no doubt cause the player’s heart rate to double or triple as they’re now trying to balance all of the powerful attacks Logarius can throw at them.
The battlefield itself is well designed, set on the roof of the Cainhurst Castle. It’s covered in snow while not being linear and featuring two places the player could fall to their doom if they aren’t careful. For simple theme and atmosphere, this fight was an automatic to appear somewhere on this list.
7. Yhorm the Giant (Dark Souls 3)
This fight is incredibly important from a lore perspective. Yhorm is a Lord of Cinder, a benevolent but misguided Giant whose death is necessary to link the fires within the Firelink Shrine. If the player has completed Siegward of Catarina’s quest line by this point, they’ll be receiving his aid in this fight as well. As it happens, Siegward and Yhorm were formerly essentially brothers in arms, adding to the emotional impact of the fight as well.
Appearance wise, Yhorm is an intimidating but awe-inspiring assailant. In his second phase, his body begins to burn ripe with embers, and every time he attacks with a fist attack, it will cause a sizable eruption of flames where he strikes. His weapon of choice, the fittingly named Yhorm’s Great Machete, is indeed a great machete in both senses of the word ‘great’. It’s also a potential reward for winning this fight, giving the player even more incentive to want to complete it.
6. Great Grey Wolf Sif (Dark Souls 1)
Little do most people know that, before Zacian-Crowned came to the world of Pokémon, that From Software had already created a large wolf with a sword in its mouth that is a tough foe in combat!
Jokes aside, Sif is both fun to fight and adds a lot of lore and emotional impact to the game. Interestingly, he can actually join forces with the player to fight Manus, Father of the Abyss.
The emotional impact is unbelievably huge in this fight, arguably more so than anything else From Software has constructed. The player’s purpose is to ultimately defeat Artorias the Abysswalker, as he has been corrupted by the Abyss and is no longer the heroic champion he once was. Here, Sif is at an incredibly sad crossroad; on one hand, Artorias’ death is ultimately necessary. On the other, Sif is essentially Artorias’ pet, a very loyal one at that, and will not allow the player to waltz in and kill him, even if Sif himself knows it’s what must be done. This is also probably why Sif can potentially join forces with the player to fight Manus, as Sif would probably want to avenge Artorias’ death against the man mainly responsible for corrupting Artorias.
The saddest, yet most powerful part about Sif’s fight is that, when killed, Sif will essentially die right next to where Artorias’ grave is, symbolic of his eternal loyalty to Artorias. The emotional impact alone makes Sif a standout choice for this list.
5. Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower (Bloodborne)
“Only an honest death will cure you now” is probably the most memorable liner in all of Bloodborne. Quite fitting for what manifested into the game’s most memorable fight as well. Lady Maria isn’t terribly different from fighting another real player at first, as she initially doesn’t display the ability to do anything a player couldn’t in her first phase. Her second and third phases are where things get tough, as her signature Rakuyo blade can deal frighteningly high damage to the player when she inflicts a self bleed onto herself to power it up. In spite of this, the fight is incredibly well balanced. Skilled, patient players who hit her on her openings and know when to back away will succeed. On the other hand, panic rolling, trying to heal at bad times or getting way too greedy attacking her will make the fight short and cause the player to lose very quickly.
This fight is fun to take part in, but it’s selling point to appear on this list comes from the value it brings to Bloodborne’s lore. It has been heavily speculated that the Doll, responsible for leveling the player up at the game’s hub world, is Lady Maria herself with a significantly altered mental state, or perhaps cloned somehow. She resides with Gehrman at the hub world. Incidentally, Lady Maria was Gehrman’s protege, and this relationship broke off when Gehrman took a romantic interest in her that was not reciprocated. Considering Gehrman essentially owns the hub world and seems apt at manipulating the visuals of this world, this all makes sense. To back this up, once Lady Maria is defeated, the player can return to the Doll, whereupon she will comment on how her ‘shackles have been removed’ and will thank the player.
As such, Lady Maria’s fun and loose boss fight combined with the impact it had on the game’s lore make her a great pick for this list.
4. Dirty Colossus (Demon’s Souls)
The journey to reach this boss is tedious and painful, but the encounter itself is visually worth it. Put simply, Dirty Colossus is probably the first boss From Software made that strikes genuine fear into the player. It’s like fighting a gigantic zombie dripping this weird sewage-like waste off its body that’s about three times taller than the player and stares at them with these lifeless, soulless, blank white eyes. If that’s not enough to unnerve you, then I don’t know what is. Dirty Colossus isn’t too much of a challenge, with a very exploitable and massive weakness to Fire and being relatively sluggish. However, the boss’ design and impact on atmosphere makes it a great pick for this list.
3. The Pursuer (Dark Souls 2)
If you’ve ever played Resident Evil 3, you could draw a lot of comparisons between Nemesis and Dark Souls 2’s The Pursuer. Both of them show up early and often, both of them have a higher power who essentially constructed them, and both higher powers did this because they want the player eliminated as swiftly as possible. The Pursuer isn’t the final boss of the game like Nemesis, but he otherwise functions similarly. He shows up early, he shows up often, and boy is he a menace on the battlefield. Like Nemesis, The Pursuer is one huge dude with a large amount of damage resistance who is capable of hitting back hard. Funnily enough, much like Nemesis, The Pursuer gets stronger every time he is defeated and later returns to the fray, up until the player permanently eliminates him during his formal boss fight in the middle of the game. If you go into this game blind and never use third party sources to spoil yourself, you’ll find yourself looking over your shoulder a whole lot, as you’ll never really know when this guy is going to pop up and ruin your day. This was the first and, unfortunately last time thus far that From Software created a boss with this dynamic. Hopefully they do this again in the future sometime.
T1. Micolash, Host of the Nightmare
Micolash is a flawless boss fight experience who is a genuine joy to fight. Atmospherically, this fight was beyond perfect. Unlike most fights, there isn’t this single, static battleground to fight Micolash in. The player must trek through a small labyrinthine maze to reach Micolash initially, fighting off his small army of skeleton warriors along the way and eventually cornering the fleeing Micolash in a small, cramped up room where his first phase is fought. The fight isn’t terribly difficult, but if the player over extends even once, they could get ended in one single hit by his lethal Augur of Ebrietas. After bringing him to his second phase, he will feign death and instill false hope into the player, only to have a ‘just kidding!’ moment and migrate elsewhere, deeper into the hell that is the Nightmare of Mensis. Fighting his second phase here exposes the player to him spamming the deadliest Arcane tool in the game: A Call Beyond. After defeating him, he will genuinely wail in agony and then die, horrified at the thought of waking up from his self-constructed nightmare.
Atmospherically, the dense fog that treads upon the ground the player walks is creepy and supplements the creepy soundtrack fitfully. The lighting is also poor, but not so much that it hinders the player’s ability to travel the maze area and gets annoying, striking a perfect middle ground. The fight itself is the perfect blend of lore impactful, decently challenging and emotional, making it a shoo in to appear on this list as tied for the coolest boss in From Software.
T1. Starscourge Radahn (Elden Ring)
Thematically, this boss fight is flawless. Radahn himself has an unprecedented level of pre-fight hype, as if you vs him is meant to be some kind of pay-per-view event. Arriving at the Redmane Castle, a festival is ongoing where a great deal of influential characters have gathered to witness and, in some cases, even participate in the upcoming duel. Radahn himself is designed well, a former tout general driven mad by scarlet rot who consumes the corpses of all that he defeats. The battlefield in Caelid is desolate but wide with a perfect shade of crimson red in the sky to give the fight one last dreary edge.
At the beginning of the fight, Radahn comes out guns blazing, barraging the player with loads of great arrows, meteorites and earth shaking tremors to trip them up as they try and approach him. He’s no prettier up close, wielding a massive greatsword and being roughly three times the player’s height while boasting incredible aggression and speed.
The build up to this boss fight was amazing and made it feel like an epic, gladiatorial duel that would be talked about for generations to come. Sadly, the fight itself isn’t actually terribly challenging, but this is a mere bump in the road for the picturesque lore and atmosphere that it had to offer.