Columns Soulsborne Boss Fight Rankings Worst to Best

Soulsborne Boss Fight Rankings #139-130 | Column from the Editor with a Guest Writer

We all know what’s going on with these articles at this point, so let’s delve right into this week’s picks for #s 139-130! For a reminder on the criteria for judgment, see here.

139. Crystal Sage (Dark Souls 3)

Andrew: A relatively overlooked fight, Crystal Sage is a mandatory boss just beyond the PvP haven that is the Crucifixion Woods within the Road of Sacrifices. This is overall an ’evolved form’ of Demon’s Souls’ Fool’s Icon, though it doesn’t do anything to actually improve upon that gimmick and is slightly lesser-than as a result. The gimmick in question involves the Sage, upon beginning second phase, creating clones of itself to fight with it- these clones will all die in one hit and are very distinguishable from the real deal. Only by locating and beating down the real thing can the player make progress to the point of winning the fight.

This is overall an easy fight, especially on repeat playthroughs. A player who is good with fast, aggressive playstyles can win this fight in about a minute. The fight has a tendency to somewhat prey on passive play styles found in newer players, and the gimmick is harder to deal with if the player is initially unaware of what’s going on. That’s what gives this fight even the slightest bit of difficulty whatsoever.

Lore is a strong suit for this boss. In the world the player finds themselves in, the Crystal Sages were essentially a clan at one point, meant to serve under Lothric Castle. One of them, found later when exploring the Grand Archives, was Prince Lothric’s mentor who ultimately convinced him not to link the first flame. The other one, fought here, allied itself with the Undead Legion, providing a reason for it being so close to the Farron Keep. It isn’t known if allying itself with the Undead Legion forced it to first break ties with Lothric or not. Given that the Crystal Sage has interesting, relevant lore that it represents very well, a decent grade was fitting.

The boss area for this fight was decently designed. In the corners of the area lie destructible pillars which can block a sorcery slung from a Crystal Sage once. This can help the player travel across the area to find the Crystal Sage they’re supposed to attack while not making the endeavor outright trivial. The gimmick is overall fairly engaging and not too frustrating. All in all, a workable grade for fun makes sense here.

Mango: For this fight, difficulty got a 10, as the Sage does hit moderately hard with its spells and can get a little overwhelming when its clones come into play during second phase. Since this boss is mandatory in order for the player to reach the Deacons of the Deep fight, I gave it a 12 for lore. This boss can be a bit annoying for newer players, but was overall enjoyable on repeat playthroughs and gets a 12 for fun.

138. Yharnam, Pthumerian Queen (Bloodborne)

Andrew: Ugh. This one had so much potential, and it could have easily ended up in the top 25, even top 10. Alas, here we are. Queen Yharnam is the very final mainline Chalice Dungeon boss to be fought. The journey just to reach her is unspeakably tedious, with absurd amounts of grinding and even potentially farming for very specific resources to advance across five different chalice dungeons, nineteen different boss fights and an unreal amount of monotony given how similar the layout in each area of each dungeon is. For all of the sweat and tears that go into this fight, it absolutely would have been worth the wait had it not been for one specific mechanic that will get touched base on. Either way, the average player is likely motivated at the prospect of earning a Playstation Platinum trophy, often acquired with victory in this battle being the last trophy needed for the Platinum. As a result, it still holds importance for that much at least.

Queen Yharnam was given an incredibly complex moveset with a reasonable health bar. She wields the Blade of Mercy, weapon favored by Eileen the Crow, and will also sling magic capable of quickly poisoning the player. She is a tad sluggish at the beginning of the fight, and players will often take off about a third of her health with little effort to start off. Given that her health pool isn’t the highest by any means, a relatively middling grade for difficulty makes sense.

Given that the major setting of the game, Yharnam, was named after this character, it should come as no surprise that lore value here is top notch. Apart from here, she will also appear in the Nightmare of Mensis. Here, she isn’t going to fight the player and will die in one hit if they attack her. Overall, it can be safely concluded that Yharnam gave birth to a Great One known as Mergo, who would have likely manifested into a deific being had the player not killed it during the Mergo’s Wet Nurse boss fight. We also gain a little bit of context on the Shadows of Yharnam fight, as consistently when they appear, she hasn’t been far off, making them seem to function as body guards to a degree.

Fun tanks because of one of the downright stupidest mechanics ever seen in a Soulsborne fight. If the player attempts to strike Yharnam more than twice in a single combo, loud baby laughter will be heard and the player will randomly get frozen in place by a magic of some kind, allowing Yharnam to get a free hit or two on the player. This remains consistent throughout the whole fight. It cannot be understated just how this mechanic serves to not only complete kill the pacing of this fight, but also to impose artificial difficulty and make the fight very unfair on the player. One of the core foundations of a strong fight in Soulsborne has stemmed from the rhythmic movements of both the boss and the player; the player learning how to properly react to a boss movement and either retaliating or positioning themselves to retaliate as promptly as possible. This mechanic serves to completely undermine this dynamic, and it insultingly does this in what is arguably Soulsborne’s fastest paced game to boot. This singular mechanic stops this fight from being arguably top 25 or even 10. To reiterate, punishing a player for doing what they’re supposed to try and do- get in hits on the boss, and freely allowing the boss to strike back for doing this is just horrid, and instead causes what should have been an epic encounter to languish in mediocrity instead.

Mango: Difficulty for this fight gets a 16 due to its overall challenging mechanics and Yharnam’s stats. If you’re a completionist, you have spent countless time bashing your fave against the wall to get here, so finally arriving will give you a great amount of relief and triumph. That alone prompts me to give this fight a 15 for lore despite it being a completely optional fight. Fun gets a 12 due to its overall challenge being quite high.

137. Crossbreed Priscilla (Dark Souls 1)

Andrew: Locked away within the cold, frozen landscape of the Painted World of Ariamis, Priscilla is an optional boss with a neat gimmick. Residing in the smallest overall area in all of Soulsborne, it’s not too likely to be a particularly memorable or lengthy experience.

Priscilla isn’t initially hostile and has a very small health pool, enabling the player to get in easy hits. The main gimmick is pretty simple- Priscilla will often go completely invisible, and the only way the player can track her is via footsteps in the snowy area they’re in. While it can be tricky at first, the gimmick wears itself out quickly. As a result, this fight doesn’t get too much for difficulty.

Lore behind Priscilla is quite strong. Priscilla was conceived by Gwyneviere and fathered by Seath the Scaleless. Curiously, this seems to have had a profound effect on her magical capabilities, as she is uniquely capable of wielding Life-Hunt, a power so fearsome that it intimidated the gods themselves. It was so problematic in fact that it led to the very creation of the Painted World of Ariamis and the subsequent banishing of Priscilla to this remote, empty world. This world was even locked off to anyone lacking a very specific item- the Peculiar Doll. Even then, it is further guarded by a slew of swordsmen known as the Painted Guardians, stowed away in Anor Londo, incidentally known as the City of the Gods. Given this, it’s no real wonder Priscilla isn’t initially hostile. It also should make the player feel bad when they realize they killed Priscilla despite all of this.

Priscilla’s gimmick is alright, but it’s a patchwork job at best masking an otherwise underwhelmingly mechanical boss. Other than that, this fight isn’t anything special, and receives a relatively low grade for overall fun value.

Mango: For newer players who don’t know how to fight her, this fight can seem very difficult, so I gave it a 12 for difficulty. As it happens, you don’t actually have to fight her and could simply decide to go right through her room and leave the Painted World of Ariamis, prompting me to give her a 12 for lore. This boss doesn’t really standout much, so I only gave it an 8 for fun.

136. Ceaseless Discharge (Dark Souls 1)

Andrew: Another entry trapped within ’Development Hell’, Ceaseless Discharge is an instance of a merely alright boss that had a lot of potential to just be better. Still, it isn’t anywhere near as poorly made as other bosses within the Demon Ruins/Lost Izalith hellhole, and it fittingly finds itself on the lower end of this list, but not the dead bottom.

Difficulty is relatively low, but can definitely trip a player up. Ceaseless Discharge only actually has two attacks, but the telegraphs on either are very similar, counterplay to both attacks is very different and punishment for failure to dodge is eating a ton of damage. Unfortunately, having only two attacks means this fight is about as far from mechanically complex as it gets, and a good player should be able to adapt to this fairly easily.

Lore for this fight is incredibly interesting. Ceaseless Discharge is the lone son of the Witch of Izalith. He’s had a really bad go of things since the witch tried to basically recreate the First Flame, as the ensuing catastrophe left him with lava-filled pores all over his body, causing most of the Demon Ruins to be uninhabitable by the player until his defeat. He was given the Orange Charred Ring to ease his suffering, but the idiot managed to drop the ring in his own lava, which eventually formed the Centipede Demon. Finally, one may notice he isn’t initially hostile upon entering the boss area. He can be made hostile doing one of two things: attacking him first, or looting a dead body in the boss area that has a clothing set on it. Who does the clothing belong to? His dead sister, whom he has been watching over up until the player does this. You monster!

Fun is a tad tricky to judge in this fight, but the most notable part about it is a bitter sweet notion that this fight had the perfect setup to be designed so much more uniquely than it was. If the player aggroes Ceaseless Discharge and then flees, he will follow them throughout the Demon Ruins until they straight up leave the area completely, basically becoming an environmental hazard. The idea of a boss being an environmental hazard hadn’t been used up to this point- this would get later rectified by Dark Souls 2’s Executioner’s Chariot, and the idea worked quite well as it likely would have here.

Mango: Playing passively and simply fleeing at first sight will eventually cause this boss to kill himself, so difficulty got a 6 from me. This boss is the only son of the Witch of Izalith, and his defeat is needed to clear the area of lava and allow the player to move through the Demon Ruins, so I gave it a 12 for lore. Finally, this boss can be summed as just a big hitbox that does a lot of damage, so I only gave it a 4 for fun.

135. Living Failures (Bloodborne)

Andrew: Residing within the Research Hall, the Living Failures take the cake for the most humiliating boss name ever. Their fighting prowess gives credence to their title, but the narrative value and overall design of the fight saves it from being at the dead bottom of this list.

As their name implies, this is a gank fight. However, for the most part, Living Failures that the player isn’t targeting will be pretty passive, only occasionally firing a big, slow arcane beam of sorts in the player’s direction that is very easy to dodge. They can all be parried, and the transition to second phase is only marginally harder. The reason it doesn’t get a dead zero for difficulty is that all of their attacks hit absurdly hard and can kill in 2-3 hits easily. Combine that with their numbers advantage, and the player cannot afford to simply sleepwalk through this one.

As their title implies, the Living Failures are unsuccessful attempts on the Healing Church to recreate the Great One, and were essentially discarded and left for dead. The boss area is fought directly next to the area where Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower is fought, and that isn’t an accident. When traveling through the Research Hall, the player will uncover notes and a few items that depict Lady Maria as somewhat of a deathbride; someone who mainly existed to provide comfort and refuge to these people as they were experimented on and basically tortured. As such, though these particular variants were eventually disposed of, it seems Lady Maria may have taken pity on them and provided them with this garden next to her quarters as a means of sheltering them.

On one hand, this is a gank fight, which has historically been very hit or miss in the fun department. On the other, there is an enormous structure that is not destructible in the dead center of the area, and the player can use this to shield themselves from the Failures’ projectiles as well as split them up for some one-on-one time with one of them. The Failures are not fleet of foot, meaning one-on-one time is actually incredibly easy even without use of this structure. If the Failures were made to be just a tad more aggressive, perhaps at the expense of their damage output to a minor degree, this fight would likely have been better all around as a result.

Mango: These Failures are all incredibly slow and greatly telegraph all of their attacks, so difficulty gets a 5 for here. Given that these guys are just failed lab experiments basically tossed into the nightmare, I gave them a 9 for lore. Since these guys are pretty much just huge punching bags, I gave them an 8 for fun.

134. Blood-Starved Beast (Bloodborne)

Andrew: Depending on player decision making, the Blood-Starved Beast may yet represent a ’welcome to Bloodborne!’ type encounter. It is the second large beast boss fight the player can access after the tutorial Cleric Beast, residing deep within Old Yharnam. It is well known for stressing player resources and dodge strategy, while being a heavy hitter at a low level.

Difficulty isn’t too high, but this fight is definitely not completely trivial. On one hand, Pungent Blood Cocktails will distract this creature and give the player a wide open window to get in a lot of hits, reposition themselves, and heal if need be. As such, bringing the maximum of ten of these makes this fight significantly easier. However, the Blood-Starved Beast’s reputation as somewhat of a noob killer stems from how easily it can poison the player during its second and third phases. A player who waltzes in here without at least a few Antidotes is probably going to struggle, though a few can be picked up at the far end of the boss room. As well, the beast has a grab attack that will one-shot a player who hasn’t leveled up their vitality by at least a little bit. However, it can easily be parried into oblivion.

This is an optional boss and a nameless beast at that, so lore is unsurprisingly not terribly prominent here. It stems mostly from two external factors- the boss area and an item the beast drops when defeated. For the former, the fight takes place at the Church of the Good Chalice . From dialogue had with Gehrman the First Hunter, we know that this church would eventually receive and distribute blood vials used to heal the Ashen Blood scourge to a network of chalice dungeons which harbored refugees who had contracted this illness. This is further reinforced by the fact that the beast drops the Pthumeru Chalice when defeated, enabling the player to explore the Pthumeru Chalice dungeons.

The boss area for this fight was incredibly well made. The Blood-Starved Beast is very aggressive, but it has long attacks with poor tracking. This can allow the player to try and bait these combos out, and then hide behind a pillar so that they can ’drive’ the Beast into it and get some hits in as it aimlessly strikes the indestructible pillar. These pillars can also offer protection, giving the player a split second to quickly heal or apply an offensive buff if desired. As well, the Blood-Starved Beast is the first boss capable of consistently afflicting the player with a harmful status effect. Although it can poison the player just a bit too easily which can seem unfair, it’s ultimately a necessary mechanic that, if not present, would crush just about any real difficulty this boss has, and would make everything else about it worse as a result.

Mango: This boss is both fast and can easily poison the player, so I gave it a 15 for difficulty. This boss is completely optional unless you want to do the chalice dungeons, so I gave it just an 8 for lore. Finally, putting this thing out of its misery just made me feel much better than leaving it alone, so I gave it a 12 for fun.

133. Cave of the Dead Gank Team (Dark Souls 2)

Precursor: The names of these three individuals are, from left to right, Varg the Ancient Soldier, Cerah the Old Explorer and The Afflicted Graverobber. As a means of truncating its would-be enormous boss name, the label ’Cave of the Dead Gank Team’ was made.

Andrew: Probably one of the weirdest fights in Dark Souls, these oddly dressed graverobbers are an optional boss found in Dark Souls 2’s Crown of the Sunken King DLC. On paper, you’d be forgiven for assuming this to be just another lame gank fight. However, there is a bit more to this fight than initially meets the eye.

Difficulty for this fight is very high. Right from moment one, the player is in a bad numbers disadvantage. These three all complement each other well; Varg is very tanky, hits like a truck but is very slow, the Afflicted Graverobber is decently fast and hits decently hard while being made of tissue paper, and Cerah trades out speedy close quarters combat that the Graverobber possesses for a strong greatbow, sharing his other traits. The player is going to have to do a ton of kiting. One on one time will be difficult if fought solo, so the player is going to have to tediously hit-and-run until at least one of them is dead.

Lore for this fight is pretty much ’there’s a cave with valuable stuff in it, and these guys are robbing it.’ There is no real context as to why a fight even occurs. Within Sanctum City and directly above ground of where the fight takes place, the player will find three opened treasure chests with nothing in them in the Scholar of the First Sin edition, whereas the vanilla version has these chests closed with items in them. Given the loot the player earns after winning this fight, it is reasonable to assume this trio arrived to those chests first and looted their contents. That’s about it.

The boss area for this fight was beautifully designed for a gank fight. It is very big with indestructible structures the player can use for crowd control. As well, two of these guys come with the most bizarre cosmetics. Varg is basically cosplaying as Havel the Rock for some odd reason, wearing all of Havel’s armor, using his greatshield and his signature Dragon Tooth weapon. The Afflicted Graverobber is wearing Lucatiel of Mirrah’s signature mask. How and why did these people get these items? As the player will later find, Lucatiel is very much alive and well with her mask intact. This weird cosmetic dynamic is amusing and adds to the fun value. Unfortunately, it’s yet another gank fight in a long series of suffocating gank fights, so the player can be forgiven if they’ve simply had enough of it by this point and didn’t appreciate this fight.

Mango: If you don’t know how to use good crowd control to fight a group, this boss can feel quite oppressive and it gets a 14 in difficulty from me. These are pretty much just guys who look like they’re waiting to find someone to kill, and since that’s about it, they get just a 3 in lore from me. While I personally enjoy gank fights, if you don’t, this boss will be hard to enjoy, so I gave it a 9 for fun.

132. Demon of Song (Dark Souls 2)

Andrew: Speaking of wacky cosmetics, Demon of Song is visually a giant skull using a giant frog carcass as some kind of armor. Now that’s aesthetic quality! Jokes aside, Demon of Song is the boss of the much maligned Shrine of Amana, presenting closure to one of the most infamous maps in Soulsborne.

Difficulty is fairly middling here. The gimmick is that the Demon of Song cannot be hurt as the skull retreats for cover within the frog corpse it resides in. Once it comes out, it will use an attack with a huge telegraph and high cooldown that gives the player ample opportunity to get in hits. However, these attacks hit like a truck and have long range, meaning the player must be vigilant in dodging them lest they quickly be defeated.

Lore takes after the absurd yet intimidatingly dark dynamic seen in the Covetous Demon and Mytha the Baneful Queen. As the player travels through Shrine of Amana and gets closer to the Demon of Song’s boss area, they’ll begin to hear singing come from the boss room. The Demon of Song uses these melodies to lure prey in close, where it then proceeds to eat their flesh. It is aided in this endeavor by a handful of unnamed women living in decrepit huts found along the way, who initially appear friendly to the player. These women also sing in similar fashion.

Fun in this fight is derived from two things: the notion that the player can finally, mercifully put Shrine of Amana behind them and the actual mechanics of the fight itself. Specifically, the player can essentially play cat and mouse to a degree here, as they endeavor to get in hits when the Demon finally comes out from its impregnable frog shell. All in all, not the most epic of duels, but a fight worth appreciating.

Mango: This boss can only attack when it exposes itself to damage, so I gave it a 12 for difficulty. This boss just looks like a grotesque frog laying around in a lake, so I gave it a 6 for lore. There isn’t really much to like about this boss, and I gave it a 5 for fun to reflect that.

131. Phalanx (Demon’s Souls)

Andrew: The first boss in Demon’s Souls the player is meant to defeat, Phalanx is found in the Gates to Boletaria. It’s essentially a gigantic blob of Hoplite soldiers defending a central core.

Difficulty on repeat playthroughs is indeed a joke. However, for a player facing this boss for the very first time, Phalanx’s massive weakness to fire isn’t super clear, so attacking the Hoplites without trading blows can prove tricky. As it is early and the player hasn’t even been able to buy things from the Nexus just yet, they likely won’t have much for resources. As a result, this boss is well suited for a brand new player despite being very easy on subsequent playthroughs due to having an enormous weakness to fire.

Lore is somewhat amusing for this one. The Phalanx demon formed off the soul of a former knight of Boletaria known as Oolan. Oolan was a skilled marksman who hid behind her henchmen’s sturdy shields, as to best ensure her own safety by not being on the front lines. It is fairly ironic then that, when the Hoplites here are defeated, Phalanx basically falls apart.

Weaving in and out of shots from the Hoplites, trying to find an opening to damage Phalanx itself or simply ravaging it with fire are all fun aspects of this boss fight. Having connectivity to its own area is a neat idea, as the player will find numerous fire bombs they can use to trivialize this fight- but will they know not to instead use them in the run up?

Mango: Phalanx is so incredibly easy that nobody should ever die to it, so I gave it just a 1 for difficulty. This boss amounts to just being a giant blob guarded by smaller blobs, so I gave it a 4 for lore. Again, I want to reiterate that this boss is literally just a blob, and hitting it a few times will end the fight. I gave it a 5 for fun.

130. Godskin Noble (Elden Ring)

Andrew: One of the Godskin duo, the Godskin Noble turns up frequently through Elden Ring. It is one of a few bosses done up to deah, as a recurring dungeon adversary, an overworld miniboss, and a mandatory fight on two different occasions.

The Godskin Noble is about as large as Executioner Smough while being significantly faster with a rapier and boasting a projectile. During second phase, he gains a new attack where he will simply drop to his side and try rolling over the player for major damage. With a lack of any real weaknesses but no particularly oppressive strengths, a decent grade for difficulty was appropriate.

Like the Apostle, the Godskin Noble found solo is one of many who dispersed Farum Azula once the Dusk Eye Queen was killed. It is unknown why they spread out far in the Lands Between, but there is at least an explanation as to why they’re not in what could be considered their home.

Fun is extremely hit or miss, as Godskin Noble can be fought several times in all different types of environments. Without question, the best encounter with him is had at the Volcano Manor, done in an area seemingly made for him. With close proximity pillars capable of halting his roll attack, blocking his blackflame and offering brief respite to quickly heal, it is definitely the fairest place to fight him. On the other hand, he can also be fought in plain, open field at the Altus Plateau, where the player gains access to Torrent to try dodging his attacks with a bit more careful maneuvering on horseback. Still, there is one seriously annoying problem with Godskin Noble that tanks his fun grade a bit- he is extremely overused. Not counting the Godskin Duo fight, he can be encountered a total of seven times out of 141 boss fights found throughout the game. Given his lack of standout narrative impact, this was a bit questionable and served to greatly hinder the value of his better encounters.

Mango: When he starts rolling around all the time in second phase, Godskin Noble can get very annoying and quickly, so I gave it a 14 for difficulty. While this boss is important to fight at Volcano Manor, it’s a frequently recycled, reused fight, so I gave it a 5 for lore. Fighting this boss just feels like a chore because of how often it gets reused, so I gave it a meager 2 for fun.

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. 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: