After beginning our massive series of ranking Soulsborne bosses recently, we continue the list today with our number 189 through 180 selection. We’re still discussing some less than stellar picks at the moment, though we’ve at least managed to rise above true garbage in the Demon Firesage and Red Dragon. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for today.
For a reminder on the criteria for ratings, see here. As with last week, today’s piece features longtime Soulsborne player Michael ”Mango” Givigliano as a guest contributer.
189. Prowling Magus & Congregation (Dark Souls 2)
Andrew: This might just go down as the weirdest boss fight From Software ever developed. It pops up quite early on in the Brightstone Cave Tseldora- a player in a hurry could probably reach this boss in less than a minute after arriving upon the area. At first glance, this boss also seems to have nothing to really do with either the area or even the Dark Souls 2 story at large. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for this one to become a meme in all the wrong ways.
In terms of challenge, the mere thought that this fight could actually be difficult to someone is pretty amusing. Seriously, I have no idea how it could be possible that someone comes here, has a genuine interest in winning the fight, and doesn’t. The Congregation is a small swarm of pathetic zombies with no more health or damage output than the Hollows seen up to this point, along with two magic casters who spend most of the fight standing completely still. The Prowling Magus is hardly anymore formidable, and though he can do good damage if left alone, the fact that none of his allies are threatening in the slightest naturally makes him a target. He is also paper-thin fragile, and will die at Pinwheel speed.
As far as lore goes, it might not seem it, but this fight at least has something to offer. The Congregation consists of a group of people who took refuge when the Brightstone Cave Tseldora was overwhelmed by spiders from the Duke’s Dear Freya. Eventually, the Prowling Magus was essentially commissioned by Nashandra at the Drangleic castle to arrive and drain these people of their souls. Unfortunately, there are too many questions left unanswered for this boss to get more than a few points for lore. If the Prowling Magus was meant to essentially kill the Congregation, why do they team up here? Why does Nashandra want the Congregation’s souls drained? Better yet, if she does, why not just kill the spiders in the area and do the deed herself? Why hasn’t the Prowling Magus taken care of business- is it that he just arrived when the player does? Perhaps the most important- why was this never expanded on at any point in the game? The Brightstone Cave Tseldora is a pretty small area- instead of brainlessly congest it to hell with spiders and mercenary soldiers, why not include a plot device of some kind that could’ve tied in to the fight? At least the boss has something to contribute to the game, narratively, though it isn’t much.
In terms of fun, there admittedly isn’t too much, as the fight should be over in about 30 seconds even for a player who is not very good at the game. However, the design of the boss room is actually really well done, making it too bad that the challenge couldn’t properly complement it. Specifically, there is a series of benches towards the far end of the front door that the player could’ve used to take cover from the Prowling Magus, or split the Congregation and give themselves a better numbers situation. Of course, why would anyone actually go to that extent to fight them when a few swings of a greatsword or castings of a spell will kill everything almost immediately? Still, good area design gets the boss a point for fun.
Michael ”Mango” Givigliano: Nobody should have any problems beating this boss, as it is very easy. I gave it a 1 for difficulty. The easiness of the boss fight hurt it’s lore, so I only gave it a 5. Overall, this boss is very underwhelming, so it only gets a 5 in fun for me.
188. Miranda the Blighted Bloom (Elden Ring)
Andrew: If you wanted to make an argument that Prowling Magus & Congregation aren’t the oddest boss ever, this would probably have to be their main challenger for that claim. Miranda is quite simply a giant, highly poisonous and magically potent flower who is content to sit in one space and flail about wildly as she gets hacked, slashed and destroyed in no more than 30 seconds.
As far as challenge goes, it’s too bad because Miranda’s niche simply doesn’t hold up in Elden Ring specifically but would’ve been far more threatening in virtually any other Soulsborne game. Upon beginning to fight her, the player will practically instantly end up getting poisoned. There is no point trying to cure this poison until the fight is over, because Miranda is sure to immediately afflict the player with this status again if they do. Unfortunately, poison is incredibly weak in Elden Ring. The player will have Miranda dead and buried long, long before the poison comes even slightly close to returning the favor. In another game such as Dark Souls 1, Miranda’s modest but reasonable health bar combined with how easily she can afflict the player with poison would’ve actually made this a reasonable challenge due to poison being much stronger in those games. As it happens, Miranda is not really capable of threatening the player in any other way. She has one attack, Light of the Stars, which will actually do really good damage if it hits. Sadly, the player has about ten whole seconds to react to it before it would actually hit, meaning it is disgustingly easy to dodge.
Miranda has nothing to offer from a lore perspective. She is fought in two locations, both being stuffy underground dungeons. This unfortunately means she is about as far away as humanly possible from anything of particular narrative importance. Gee, it’s almost as if she would have been better off just being put in a different game or something.
As far as fun goes, there is a certain adrenaline surge that occurs when the player is afflicted with a status. Miranda’s ability to do this almost immediately is likely to tense an unknowing player up quite a lot, and they will possibly mistake her to actually be threatening initially. The rest of the points this fight gets for fun are credited to how hilariously weak and pathetic Miranda is.
Mango: Overall, difficulty got a 10 for me. This boss is a little tricky to deal with. Unfortunately, plenty of enemies who look very similar to Miranda show up all over Elden Ring, so she only gets a 5 in lore for me because she looks the same and doesn’t meaningfully distinguish herself. Since Miranda is a fairly annoying fight, I only gave her a 5 for fun.
187. Royal Rat Authority (Dark Souls 2)
Andrew: It might read that the Royal Rat Authority is the boss you are fighting, and this fight does indeed take place. However, the ‘true’ boss to this fight would be a small swarm of toxic rats residing in the area before the big one shows up. Before the Royal Rat Authority spawns, one rat must be killed, and typically the others will go as well before the actual fight begins. The problem is that if these rats afflict the player with Toxic, the fight is essentially over and the player will almost assuredly lose. If the player kills them off without suffering Toxic, the following fight is so ridiculously easy that it may as well be over then and there. As such, the result of what should be a long-scaled boss fight is essentially determined about five seconds after crossing through the fog door.
In terms of difficulty, the aforementioned dilemma is what gave this boss a single point. When the small swarm of toxic rats are killed, if the player is free of toxic, this fight will be laughably easy. It is essentially as if Great Grey Wolf Sif grew slightly taller, thus being easier to run through and under, and completely lost a weapon entirely. The Authority’s health bar is also fairly small, so it shouldn’t take the player long to claim victory. Of course, if afflicted with Toxic, even if the player has an item to remove this status, the Authority will be up in their face and will make using such an item before dying practically impossible.
As far as lore goes, both the Royal Rat Authority and another boss being talked about on this list soon have one thing in common: they were installed by the Rat King as a trial of sorts, so the player can prove themselves to him. Immediately, a single question pops up- why do we care what the Rat King thinks of us? Especially in 2022, when Dark Souls 2 PvP is all but dead? Even if PvP was alive and well, the player won’t get much of value by leveling up their Rat Covenant anyway. Beyond this tiny little blip on the radar, the fight doesn’t offer anything to the game’s narrative.
As far as challenge goes, this boss is probably the worst example of a challenge in From Software gaming. No, that’s not because it’s ultimately a very easy fight, but because the only way the player could conceivably lose this fight is quite stupid and undermining of a mechanically complex game such as Dark Souls 2. As has been touched on, if the player kills the small swarm of rats without being toxiced, they have basically won the fight and the reverse can also be said. That means that any sort of difficulty which could be had is completely and utterly independent of the main attraction, which is a massive farce.
Mango: If you’re a melee fighter, you can only hit this boss on its feet because of how tall it is, which is a bit tricky to deal with. Along with the swarm of toxic rats at the beginning, I decided to give this fight a 10 for difficulty. Because the boss’ presentation is a bit random and it isn’t quickly clear why it’s here, I only gave it a 5 for lore. Beginners to this fight aren’t going to know how to deal with it very well, so I only gave it a 5 for fun.
186. Witch of Hemwick (Bloodborne)
Andrew: Bloodborne’s easiest fight, another gimmick from From Software fell flat here. Though the concept and boss room are well put together, the fight is just too easy and slow paced for it not to appear towards the bottom of this list.
As far as difficulty goes, this is yet another ’gank’ boss fight or, a fight which involves the player consistently being at a numbers disadvantage. From Software has consistently struggled to find a balance between making these types of fights too easy or fairly lazy with an artificial challenge. There is no exception to be found here, as similarly to the Prowling Magus & Congregation, the quantity of enemies the player faces simply fail to threaten them meaningfully. As a result, it unsurprisingly gets a 0 here.
The lore behind the Witch of Hemwick is vague, and does require some fairly significant exploring of the player to unearth. What does develop isn’t much to behold either. Essentially, the Witch of Hemwick is the overseer of Hemwick’s eye collecting. The Healing Church regularly uses body parts, mainly eyes, to conduct rituals with and relies on Hemwick gathering as many as possible to supplement this. This is reflected by the Witch’s aesthetic experience, having a bunch of eyes attached to her body. When defeated, she will also drop a Bloodshot Eyeball, a helpful item needed to strengthen the player’s equipment. Unfortunately, this has very little bearing on the story at large. At most, we know that Hemwick is where the Executioners live, so when spotting an Executioner at Central Yharnam or the Cathedral Ward with multiple caskets full of bodies, we know that the Executioner was sent here by the Witch to collect eyeballs. Other than that, it has no implications outside of this specific fight, justifying its low overall grade for lore.
As far as fun goes, this is a similar situation to the Prowling Magus & Congregation where a well designed boss area goes to waste, but deserves appreciation nonetheless. With there being two Witches as well as 2-3 Shadows pretending to help them, the player could in theory use a small bridge hovering over the floor to try and split up the Witches and Shadows, who notably move at noticeably different speeds. In doing so, the player could more easily secure brief one-on-one time with something and use the opportunity to get in some hits. As it happens though, the Witch has a clone of herself, and neither will actually move via walking or running, instead standing perfectly still until deciding to teleport somewhere else. The AI behind the Shadows is weird too, as even if they clearly spot the player, they will sometimes walk past or even away from them. It is only if the player decides to attack them first that they’ll take much of an interest. Some bodyguards they are.
Mango: New players may struggle with the mechanics of this fight, so I’ll give it a 5 for difficulty. This boss really isn’t a good idea to skip since beating her is the only way to unlock the ability to equip Caryl Runes, so I gave her a 12 for lore. The second phase’s mechanics offer a twist to newer players, so I gave it a 5 for fun.
185. Celestial Emissary (Bloodborne)
Andrew: Yet another gimmick boss fight of From Software’s creation, it’s unfortunate that so many creatively designed boss fights find themselves on the lower end of the list. Fortunately, there are much better ones ahead. Here, we have another gank fight. The main gimmick, however, is that out of a large swath of smaller emissaries that will initially swarm the player, only one of them is the actual boss. At first, the real deal will blend in behind the mob. The real deal is distinguishable by having white hairs over its scalp that the others do not. Upon hitting it a handful of times, it will grow threefold and will attack this way for the rest of the fight.
As far as difficulty goes, you won’t find much of it here. It is noteworthy that the real deal will hit like a truck, two shotting almost any build if the player isn’t over levelled. However, it attacks so slowly and has such limited range that its attacks are quite simple to dodge or even interrupt if you’re bold enough. Its henchmen are pathetic, putting up no real fight and dying very quickly.
In terms of lore, we have a vague, difficult to access amount of it here. Basically, the Celestial Emissary is the closest thing to recreating a Great One that the Healing Church ever managed to achieve. This is weird when you consider that the Living Failures, an end game boss, are much stronger than the Celestial Emissary. This calls onto point the main critique for this fight’s lore; the Celestial Emissary should be way, way stronger and tougher to kill considering its status. If not that, it should at least have some kind of representation from the Healing Church dispatched to help defend it in lieu of the smaller enemies that fight with the Emissary instead; it could’ve potentially manifested into Bloodborne’s iteration of an Ornstein & Smough-esque fight. Sadly, this did not come to fruition, so it will harbor a major loss of points in lore, as the fight is a very poor representation of it.
Mango: This boss fight doesn’t really threaten the player at all, so I gave it a 1 for difficulty. This boss was developed very oddly narratively, so I gave it a 4 for lore. Finally, it got just a 5 for fun because it simply isn’t that entertaining. Being so easy removes a lot of entertainment factor.
184. Royal Rat Vanguard (Dark Souls 2)
Andrew: From Software definitely drew inspiration from this fight to make the aforementioned Celestial Emissary, as it has basically the same exact dynamic. The only difference is that the rat the player is supposed to attack doesn’t manifest into a big baddie like the Celestial Emissary does. In spite of this, it gets the slightest edge over Celestial Emissary.
As far as difficulty goes, this would be what ultimately gave Vanguard the nod over Celestial Emissary. No, this fight isn’t exactly ’hard’, but it at least requires significantly more attention and situational awareness than most Dark Souls 2 bosses, even if that isn’t saying too much. The player will need to whisk and weave their way through tight corridors in a very small, cluttered battlefield that is also quite dark. There are roughly a dozen rats which will attack the player, and they’ll all be replaced once killed, so the player won’t want to waste time and resources on anything other than the Vanguard. However, due to how small the area is and how many rats there are, they’ll undoubtedly be forced into doing so. As such, because it is quite possible to get overwhelmed doing all of this and it could conceivably cause the average player to fail at their first attempt, it gets a mild rating for difficulty.
As previously alluded to under the analysis for the Royal Rat Authority, there really isn’t much lore to be found here. The Rat King installed the Vanguard here as a means of testing the player. After interacting with the Rat King once the boss is defeated, it’s also somewhat implied that he simply did not trust or appreciate the player’s presence and wanted the Vanguard to ultimately drive them away. This only takes place if the player defeats the Vanguard before fighting the Authority.
As far as fun goes, there is a major problem that severely holds this fight back. After embarking upon a long trek through an area, a player will ultimately want to be rewarded with a spine-tingling, adrenaline-induced challenge with the big baddie waiting behind the fog wall. Finding the big bad to just be a massive array of regular enemies can be disappointing. Having said that, juggling the need to damage the Vanguard, kiting a swarm of rats, managing the player’s Petrification build up and using the environment to facilitate all of this can be an entertaining experience, so it at least got a few points for that.
Mango: The large amount of rats can get overwhelming in this fight, so I gave it a 5 for difficulty. This is usually the first chance the player has to join the Rat Covenant, so even though this fight is optional, I gave it a 2 for lore. I didn’t feel it was a very engaging boss fight, so for fun, I gave it a 3.
183. Sir Gideon Ofnir the All-Knowing (Elden Ring)
Andrew: If you travel through the Lands Between and happen upon the Raya Lucaria Academy, you’ll probably find quite a lot of Duelist’s Furled Fingers lying around- summon signs signaling an intent to engage in PvP combat, specifically structured duels. If you’re interested and decide to pick up a handful of fights or so, you’ll find players who have optimized their builds to make them as effective as possible. One particular build idea that works well is centered around sorcery magic. Expert players adept at chain casting or novice players that tend to just spam sorceries mindlessly both have one thing in common; they can throw a lot at their assailants and quickly. Gideon Ofnir is essentially an AI version of such an opponent, an adept magic user who will throw a lot at the player with little reprieve.
Difficulty here is actually slightly malleable depending on three NPCs in this fight: Mohg, Lord of Blood, Malenia the Goddess of Rot, and Sorceress Sellen, an NPC with a large questline who can sell sorceries to the player. If the player defeats the former two before the Erdtree is burnt, finds Gideon at the Roundtable Hold and tells him about the experience, he will be able to use Mohg’s Bloodboon Ritual and Malenia’s Scarlet Aeonia in this boss fight. As for the latter, if her questline is not finished before burning the Erdtree, Gideon will have access to Comet Azure for this fight. Having said that, despite how strong these three spells are, they don’t actually raise the difficulty by a significant margin. In many ways, Gideon is not too different from fighting a real player. Just like a real player, his healthpool is drastically lower than a typical boss fight. Once the player gets in his face, his lack of close quarters defense means he will either die or take loads of damage on the spot. The main challenge is getting past his relentless waves of sorceries to get in his face at all.
As far as lore goes, Gideon has one small thing going for him- he is the leader of the Roundtable Hold, which incidentally serves as the game’s passive hub world. Other than this and his boss fight, he has no impact on the game at large, justifying his low grade.
In terms of fun, Gideon is quite akin to fighting an incredibly spammy sorcery user. Those fights aren’t terribly engaging when it’s a real player because, let’s be honest, even though there isn’t anything wrong with playing defensively, a fight where two players clash swords up close instead of throw things at each other from afar is doubtlessly more energizing and enjoyable. Though it’s difficult to find a truly dull PvP battle, Gideon’s would come close.
Mango: Gideon is very frail and can be killed quite quickly. This lets me give him a 10 for difficulty. As someone who helps introduce the player to the game’s mechanics at the Roundtable Hold, a 15 for lore makes sense. Fun gets a 6; you can fight him from a range where he can be very deadly, though fighting him up close is decently fun as well.
182. Tibia Mariner (Elden Ring)
Andrew: One of many Elden Ring bosses to end up recycled, Tibia Mariner at least has some replayability as this boss is tied to a lucrative questline where the player can eventually earn an Ancient Dragon Somber Smithing Stone.
As far as difficulty goes, forget it. The Tibia Mariner barely ever bothers to so much as attack the player, even when the player is right up close and personal. The most threatening thing it can do is call forth a handful of pitiful skeletons and teleport a short distance away.
As far as lore goes, the Tibia Mariner is indirectly related to the Beast Clergyman and, by association, Black Blade Kindred and Maliketh the Black Blade. When defeated, it drops a precious Deathroot that the Clergyman is desperate to collect. He is so obsessed with these Deathroots that he will pay the player handsomely for continued delivery of them, starting off with a fairly uninteresting weapon that eventually becomes a strong Ash of War, Incantation, and then a highly coveted Ancient Dragon Somber Smithing Stone. Of course, this begs the question- Maliketh the Black Blade is incredibly strong, so strong that he could probably beat 50 Tibia Mariners all at once, not exaggerating. So why can’t he simply track these Tibia Mariners down and destroy them himself? As it is, Tibia Mariner’s lore being completely dependent on an NPC to have any substance does mean it can’t get too many points in this category.
As far as fun goes, Tibia Mariner’s aesthetic design holds it up here to a mild extent. It undoubtedly draws comparisons to the mythological Charon, Ferryman of the Underworld who is responsible for safe passage over River Styx. It sure is too bad Tibia Mariner couldn’t help us out in that regard for the trek through the Lake of Rot.
Mango: The Tibia Mariner is a simple boss who doesn’t change at all during any of his fights, so I gave difficulty a 3 here. He isn’t important to the game’s main narrative, so I gave him just a 2 for lore. Though his mechanics don’t change, he has more health and does more damage each time you face him, so for fun, I thought this was worth giving him a 5.
181. Capra Demon (Dark Souls 1)
Andrew: Capra Demon tends to go hand-in-hand with the Bell Gargoyles as representative of a ’welcome to Dark Souls’ type boss. By now, the player will have fought the Asylum Demon and Taurus Demon, who are relative pushovers. Capra Demon is indeed typically going to end up being a new player’s “wall”, a boss the’ll potentially lose to several times before finally claiming victory.
As far as difficulty goes, this is a very hard boss if you’re brand new to the series. This is almost certainly the first particularly hard ’gank’ fight the player has had to handle, unless you have the foresight to try and throw some firebombs over the small doorway separating Lower Undead Burg from the boss room. Even if you do that, dealing with a gank fight in an incredibly narrow, closed in area without room for maneuvering can be quite difficult. As the player enters the boss room, it won’t be the Capra Demon, but rather a small selection of Starving Hounds that will attack the player. They are heavily advised to deal with them as fast as possible, because if the Capra Demon is able to get in the player’s face before the dogs are killed, things could get really bad and fast. Even in a one-on-one, the player’s very basic weaponry and armor will have to clash swords with the Demon dual wielding two Demon Machetes, a late game weapon, while also being fairly agile wielding them, so the fight certainly isn’t over once the dogs are dead.
In terms of lore, there truly isn’t much to be had. What we do know is that, due to its noticeable height increase over Capra Demons found within the Demon Ruins, this Capra Demon is a Major Capra Demon, while the others are Minor Capra Demons. Down the road in Dark Souls 3 when fighting the Old Demon King, a corpse of a Major Capra Demon can be found on the ground. Because this particular one is being killed in the Lower Undead Burg, it’s not terribly likely that they’re the same thing, but who knows? Unfortunately, that lack of clarity and overall broad importance on the game’s narrative at hand means this fight doesn’t get much credit for its lacking lore.
As far as fun goes, that would have to be this fight’s main shortcoming. The area this boss is fought in was laughably poor and, where points are given to Prowling Magus and Witch of Hemwick for having great boss rooms, points are similarly taken away here for having a terrible one. The main reason is that the player is put at a distinct numbers disadvantage and, barring use of an exploit such as the aforementioned method with fire bombs, isn’t given what an average player would need to overcome this. Even though there is a staircase the player could theoretically use to try and split the Capra Demon and dogs up for one-on-one time with one of them, it’s a patchwork job at best that does nothing to help in the early stages of the fight. Other than that, the area as a whole is just too small to enjoy an important fight like this one.
Mango: With the player having to deal with both the fast and strong attacks of the Capra Demon and the dogs at the same time, I gave this fight a 10 for difficulty. Capra Demon drops the Key to the Depths that is needed for progression, so I gave it a 10 for lore. The interesting dynamic of fighting a gank boss made me give this fight a 10 for fun.
180. Onyx Lord (Elden Ring)
Andrew: Another of Elden Ring’s recurring boss fights, Onyx Lord is overall a relatively forgettable boss that likely didn’t become anyone’s favorite. It can be fought a total of three times.
In terms of difficulty, if the player manages to not encounter Onyx Lord overlevelled, they’ll be treated to an experience not too unlike that of fighting Sir Gideon Ofnir. Onyx Lord doesn’t have the same massive repertoire, and compensates for this by actually having some means of close quarters defense, but the fight doesn’t play out too differently. Once the player gets within melee range, Onyx Lord’s short healthpool will be exposed and the fight should end relatively quickly.
With respect to lore, via the Onyx Lord’s Greatsword, we can tell that they used to be called Alabaster Lords at one point. Curiously, actual Alabaster Lords found in the game wield Greatswords, the Onyx Lord in its boss fight wields a curved sword, yet the ’Onyx Lord’s Greatsword’ is, true to its name, a Greatsword. There isn’t any expansion on this at anypoint in the game and, due to its negligible impact on the broad narrative as a whole, results in Onyx Lord getting just a few points for lore.
In terms of fun, this fight is, as previously mentioned, a similar experience to fighting Sir Gideon Ofnir. Onyx Lord may have the capability of threatening the player up close to distinguish themselves, but their healthpool is simply too low for this to make a serious difference.
Mango: Onyx Lord is definitely capable of causing problems with his long range gravity magic, so I gave him a 7 for difficulty. Lore only gets a 4 since he really isn’t too important on the game as a whole, though you do get to fight him a few times throughout the game. This is a fairly enjoyable fight, so I gave it a 10 for fun.
Join us next week, as we venture into #179-170!
Michael ”Mango” Givigliano, is a woodworker residing in the town of Alvin, Texas. He has managed to finish a ’Soul Level 1’ playthrough of Dark Souls 3, a run where Mango did not at any point spend Souls to level up his character before finishing the base game and DLC. He has also finished a ”broken-broken straightsword” play through, where he used the game’s weakest weapon with even weaker stats as a result of depleting its durability to beat the game. His favorite From Software game is Dark Souls 3, and his favorite boss fight would be against Slave Knight Gael. You can find his YouTube channel, where he occasionally uploads Elden Ring and Dark Souls 3 content, here