Demon's Souls is inarguably one of the most impactful games over the past 15 years. I'd even argue it's the greatest game of all time. Sure, its successor Dark Souls got a lot more attention, even spawning a unrelenting wave of poor of game critique, "Game X is the Dark Souls of Genre X." But that really serves to show how great the series has been and continues to be. It all began with Demon's Souls in 2009, and I've been with the series since that beginning, and it was love at first play.
To me the series represents the gold standard of the boss battle. There are so many horrifying designs, cool characters, interesting mechanics, neat tricks and gimmicky gimmicks that keep the longstanding video game tradition as relevant as ever.
Even with more and more imitators cropping up, there still isn't anything quite like the games From Software have been putting out since Hidetaki Miyazaki took the helm. The Demon's Souls remake may be being handled by another development team in Bluepoint Studios, but I'm optimistic it will deliver the cult classic that started it all to the many new fans the series has garnered over the past 11 years. So let's celebrate its release with a list of the Top 100 Boss Battles from Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Dark Souls III, Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and their respective DLCs.
If a boss you liked didn’t make the cut, feel free to let me know and I’ll try my best to justify why it’s the 101st best boss battle of the series.
Here is some of the science behind the choices as well
- · Name/Lore/Character/Themes
- · Music
- · Aesthetic/Spectacle
- · Arena/Environment
- · Mechanics/Novelty
- · Precedence
- · Challenge
- · Fun
Beware of Spoilers below.
100. King Allant - Demon's Souls (2009)
I’m not sure there’s a worse boss battle that can result in the best ending to any game in the series. The audacity to put out a game that is difficult in ways games stopped being difficult, and to end it with writhing slug that can barely defend itself. Brilliant.
99. Asylum Demon - Dark Souls (2011)
For many it’s probably their first taste of what the series has to offer. You enter the arena without a weapon and are forced to flee, only to return with a triumphant plunge of your weapon into its skull. It’s a great introductory fight, but it loses some points for being a copycat of the Vanguard. It also isn’t helped that the Stray Demon and Firesage Demon are also just bigger copies. The Dark Souls III incarnation isn’t a boss, but it does add some welcome firepower to this now staple creature of the series.
98. Dirty Colossus - Demon's Souls (2009)
I still like the Dirty Colossus fight in the context of Demon’s Souls, but after five more games it became the base model of too many enemies and bosses to come. Thus it barely made the cut on the merit of being the boiler template.
97. Dragon God - Demon's Souls (2009)
The Dragon God is one of the most interesting anomalies of the series. If you manage to beat the tutorial boss, he will punch you in the face killing you instantly. The actual boss fight is a sort of stealth encounter where you have to trigger some ballistae to incapacitate it. It’s still breathing, and its breath is hot enough to burn you to a crisp. You then having the privilege of putting down this dragon as it still slowly breathes is an almost surreal experience. At the time, it was a tense encounter, and not all that weird considering Demon’s Souls was the first game in the series.
96. Watch Dog of the Old Lords – Bloodborne (2015)
Hidden in the chalice dungeons is this boss with a cool name. It’s a pretty good fight too. There’s almost a rhythm to fighting the Watch Dog. Perhaps it’s weird to say about a game that is all about a series that is all about this, but its moveset feels more readable and telegraphed, so you have time to plan rather than rely on instinct and reaction time.
95. Skeleton Lords - Dark Souls II (2014)
It’s not especially difficult by the time you’re likely to reach it, but that works in the Skeleton Lords’ favor. What might’ve been an annoying mob fight is just pretty fun. Three giant skeletons to fight at once, and whenever you slay one, a bunch of new skeleton enemies rise from the grave to assist the remaining lords.
94. Throne Defender & Throne Watcher - Dark Souls II (2014)
The Defender and Watcher are an interesting duo, because if you kill one too quickly, the other one will revive them and you’ll be back at square one, so you need to whittle them both down at the same time. Each is a fearsome foe in their own right, but together they are tandem not to be trifled with.
93. Smelter Demon - Dark Souls II (2014)
Smelter Demon is a pretty vanilla boss fight, except for one thing. Its insides are burning up so hot that you will burn if you get too close. This presents a problem, as the boss’s moveset invites you to attach yourself at its hip, but if you stay too long, you’re toast.
92. Burnt Ivory King - Dark Souls II: Crown of the Ivory King (2014)
For being the last boss of all the Dark Souls II DLC, the Ivory King is certainly challenging enough. It’s both interesting and tedious as a result of the preamble battle that takes place before the King arrives, you might be joined by allies if you found and freed them in the world before this battle. Enemies will jump through portals to join the fray and you’ll have to battle them for a while before the King shows up. Having to redo the closing of the summoning gates every time can be annoying. As tedious as it can be watching him walk through the fiery portal to join the battle is a grand entrance and the straight up fight with him is quite good.
91. Demon of Song - Dark Souls II (2014)
This one makes it almost purely on aesthetic. It’s gross, I don’t like it… It’s a gargantuan frog with a human skull face and human arms… The fight is pretty good, I guess, but it’s mostly hard to think about, because it just makes me uncomfortable. From, give your art guys a raise, jeez.
90. Cleric Beast – Bloodborne (2015)
Bloodborne’s first boss fight does a great job setting the stage. The Cleric beast can be aggressive, but it strikes a good balance between challenge and fun as the first boss. When you’re greeted with the “Prey Slaughtered” screen you’re reminded you’re the Hunter and beasts like this are indeed your Prey.
89. High Lord Wolnir - Dark Souls III (2016)
It’s a big spooky scary skeleton that has a bunch of spooky scary skeleton bros. Wolnir is more of a spectacle fight, a type of fight each game in the series has that I appreciate. These fights break up the pacing and feature some interesting ideas. The arena is an endless cave with a creeping fog/breath that is an instant kill if you’re not careful. It’s not nearly the most challenging fight, and some might say that smoke Wolnir breathes is cheap or that the golden weak spots are stupid and obvious, but I think the execution along with the mechanics present elevate it enough to make the cut.
88. Dragonslayer Armour - Dark Souls III (2016)
Dragonslayer Armour is like many other fights with armored knights an odd twist. There’s some weird skeletal dragons in the distance breathing fire and raining down weird acid balls. When the armour falls, the dragons fall with it.
87. Blood-Starved Beast – Bloodborne (2015)
This boss is aggressive and leaves you little time to waste, because it is happy to poison you if you stick around. The frustration of poison makes it all the more rewarding to slaughter.
86. Sir Alonne - Dark Souls II: Crown of the Old Iron King (2015)
This is the great samurai duel of the series. Atop his ivory tower Sir Alonne waits for his challenger. It’s in the same mold of many end game fights. Sir Alonne keeps his guard up and striking quickly and precisely, leaving little room for error. He can also sustain himself with his Life-draining attack.
85. Folding Screen Monkeys - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
A unique fight in the series, defeating the Monkeys tests your understanding of each monkey and how you might be able to reach and assassinate them. And after you slay each one, their ghosts will then start to chase you around as you try to figure out how to kill the next. It’s more of a puzzle than most fights in the series, and I really appreciate that even after six games they are still coming up with fresh ideas.
84. Iron Golem - Dark Souls (2011)
Part of this boss is a bit of a retread on the other half of the Tower Knight fight of Demon’s Souls, in that you can bring it to its knees by slashing at its feet, but fighting on a narrow bridge at the feet of a giant axe-wielding tin can be quite a stress test. For kicks you can try to lure the golem into the abyss below, and if you want to keep your distance the golem is also happy to send gusts of wind at you with its axe. It’s a well-rounded fight.
83. Vicar Amelia – Bloodborne (2015)
Vicar Amelia largely made the cut because, as has already been discussed, Bloodborne’s gameplay elevates boss battles by itself, and because her relentless screaming feels desperate in a way that makes you uncomfortable. Also, while it’s not unique, it is rare for bosses to be able to heal in the Souls series, and she is one of the few that can sustain herself if you don’t keep up the pressure.
82. Rom, the Vacuous Spider – Bloodborne (2015)
Rom’s arena is like an inverse of the Abyss from Dark Souls. It’s infinite white. It’s odd how such simplicity in design can be so awe-inspiring. The bulk of the fight is avoiding and picking off Rom’s spider minions from behind. You can go straight for Rom, but he likes to teleport around and unleashes some devastating magic, so the spiders might complicate things. It’d probably be a better fight without the extra spiders, but it’s still a good one regardless.
81. Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower - Bloodborne: The Old Hunters (2015)
There are more than a few bosses that fit into the same mold of Lady Maria. She loses some points for being a later incarnation of that mold. Make no mistake Lady Maria is no joke, and even though much of her moveset is familiar, Bloodborne is a much different game than other Souls games, so relying on that knowledge will only get you so far.
80. Elana, Squalid Queen - Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King (2014)
This is one of the most difficult fights in the entire series, and that’s where it receives most of its points. Elana’s summons can really through a wrench into your plans especially considering some of those summons can be a smaller version of Velstadt, the Royal Aegis (another boss). This fight is all about managing the crowd and finding openings, or getting lucky with Elana summoning a couple of harmless critters instead of mean monsters.
79. Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin - Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (2015)
The revised ending of Dark Souls II brought us Aldia, who is a welcome addition to the boss pantheon, but probably the weakest final boss fight in the series, save Allant which was going for a whole different thing. But that should tell you more about those other fights than the sin scholar. Like Nashandra before him he is more of a caster than a brawler. As such, the fight lacks the intimacy of many of the other end game fights, but the fire of Aldia is well worth fighting with.
78. Yhorm the Giant - Dark Souls III (2016)
The return of the Stormruler is a neat nostalgia trip. Launching wind into the void of a face the Giant has is both a spectacle and fun.
77. Flexile Sentry - Dark Souls II (2014)
Swords in the front, clubs in the back. This is another interesting attempt to lock players out of the attaching themselves at the boss’s hip, because it has no backside, only sides. Not only that the arena in which you’re fighting is slowly filling up with water, so if you don’t finish the sentry quickly, you’re only going to get more slowed down by deepening water.
76. Phalanx - Demon's Souls (2009)
The Phalanx isn’t not insurmountable by any means, but it remains one of the most uniquely designed encounters of the series. It being on the easy side so early on also creates the faulty impression that you might know what you’re doing. Devious.
75. Aava, The King's Pet - Dark Souls II: Crown of the Ivory King (2014)
Aava is a pretty good fight, but is made more interesting by the fact that if you don’t do some things elsewhere in the castle beforehand, they are going to be completely invisible when you fight. Like some a couple of other bosses, this presents you with an interesting optional challenge. Do you want to fight blind? It’s possible to prevail this way, but you’ll probably want to save yourself the hassle and complete the stage first.
74. Living Failures - Bloodborne: The Old Hunters (2015)
Bloodborne is full of tragic and gross things. The Living Failures is another example of both in ugly harmony. These failed experiments are unsettling and wield the power of the cosmos, making them an intense mob to fight.
73. Leechmonger - Demon's Souls (2009)
The Leechmonger is gross and it flails about in a way that makes it so you don’t want to get close. The problem is, it’s constantly regenerating, so if you don’t kill it quickly, you might not kill it at all.
72. Amygdala – Bloodborne (2015)
The Amygdala is the fear center of the brain, so it’s not hard to see how this gigantic brain-headed spider like creature of nightmares got its name. It presents one of the more difficult fights in the game, as it’s so massive it’s hard to balance seeing what it’s doing and being close enough to strike. It also shoots lasers and that’s pretty cool.
71. Lady Butterfly - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
Lady Butterfly is the first battle of Sekiro that really trains you in on how you’re “supposed” to play. It’s a raw battle of rhythmic timing, and once you get it down it’s deeply satisfying.
70. Covetous Demon - Dark Souls II (2014)
You’d be forgiven if you didn’t even remember this boss battle from Dark Souls II. All it practically does is roll over and die, which is unfortunate, because there is a great mechanic lost in this fight if you do slip up. This demon has a move that gobbles you up and spits you back out naked and unarmed. Talk about being good with your tongue.
69. Ajudicator - Demon's Souls (2009)
Speaking of tongues, The Adjudicator is also pretty good with one. The first time I played Demon’s Souls I was very Bow and Arrow oriented player, so I fought this boss taking pot shots from above, because I was too afraid to face it head on and it licked me a lot of times because of my fear. Little did I know that this boss is much easier to fight on the ground, and it even teaches you all about the series staple, attaching yourself at the hip with its glaring weakspot.
68. Seath the Scaleless - Dark Souls (2011)
Finally getting a chance to slay Seath after he kills and imprisons you makes his defeat quite satisfying. It doesn’t come easy though, because you have to start the fight by breaking a crystal the essentially makes him immortal. He’s also capable of cursing, instantly killing you and taking away half of your maximum health.
67. Spear of the Church - Dark Souls III: The Ringed City (2017)
This covenant based boss allows you to be a boss fight. It gets quite hectic with lots of summons, so you’re fighting several players at once, and if you’re not summoning friends of your own, because you want to beat all the bosses without summons, as I have it feels like luck of the draw is one of the more significant determining factors to prevailing over the Spear of the Church. Still, it’s a cool name for a boss and how many other games allow you to be a boss battle?
66. Abyss Watchers - Dark Souls III (2016)
The Abyss Watchers are interesting in that it’s almost a team fight. The Abyss watchers are locked in an eternal battle amongst themselves and you showing up doesn’t faze them one bit. Once the second phase kicks in it becomes the more traditional duel we’ve come to expect from the series, and it’s a pretty good one.
65. The Witch of Hemwick – Bloodborne (2015)
The Witch of Hemwick is probably the easiest fight in Bloodborne, but it’s still one of the more interesting. First off, there are actually two witches and each will summon a nigh-indestructible minion that slowly chases you around the arena while she shrouds herself in some sort of cloak that only wears off when you get close enough. It’s a game of cat and mouse, lest ye forget, you bear the hunter’s mark.
64. Royal Rat Vanguard - Dark Souls II (2014)
I don’t know why I like this boss battle as much as I do. Something about the name and absurdity of having a boss that is just a bunch of rats shambling out from all sides. It’s just a fun encounter.
63. Sanctuary Guardian - Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (2012)
You might think you’ll get to warm up when you get reach the DLC area of Dark Souls, but you’ll instead find you are immediately greeted with an exciting boss battle with an aggressive lightning infused manticore. That’s one hell of a warmup. It’s also one of many bosses that hides a weapon drop in its tail, so you’ll have to prioritize and cut it off if you want the goods.
62. Owl (Father) - Sekiro Shadows Die Twice (2019)
In the Great Shinobi fight, Owl seems to be fighting out of desperation to reach his goal. Owl (Father) is the second time you face the bulky ninja, and this is more a duel of honor. This time Owl seems to have misplaced his bag of ninja tricks, but he's replaced them with new techniques and is going to show you why he's called "Owl." Apart from his second phase, which grants him the especially cool ability to phase in and out of existence, this is as pure a clash as any in Sekiro.
61. Champion Gundyr - Dark Souls III (2016)
Gundyr is the ultimate realization of the first Red Eyed Knight who steamrolled me on that fateful bridge in Demon’s Souls. I’ll never forget that Knight, and thus Gundyr gets a lot of points for reminding me of him. It doesn’t hurt that it’s an all-around solid fight too.
60. Gwyn, Lord of Cinder - Dark Souls (2011)
The final showdown of Dark Souls is a fiery one. The piano injects a somber tone, and juxtaposed to Gwyn’s relentless aggression and forceful grunts, you can feel his desperation. It’s quite the duel to end on.
59. Gravelord Nito - Dark Souls (2011)
The lord of the dead certainly lives up to his title. Battling him by himself would be simple, but we should know by now, it’s never that simple. In addition to wielding powerful dark magic, Nito also commands a legion of undying skeletons that will endlessly rise again after you dispatch them. It’s the kind of fight that can get away from you if you let it, and very fitting following the descent through the Catacombs and Tomb of the Giants.
58. Demon Prince - Dark Souls III: The Ringed City (2017)
The Demon Prince is almost too much. It tests your endurance like no other fight in the series. Fighting two giant demons at once and then after you’ve defeated both of them one rises from the grave becoming a super demon. It’s Ornstein & Smough on steroids. It’s one of a few fights in the entire series against fantastical monsters that they really nailed how the monster should fight. It’s also one of the most visually spectacular fights in the entire series, and unlike most of the spectacle fights, isn’t relying on any gimmicks.
57. Guardian Dragon - Dark Souls II (2014)
The Guardian Dragon is the first proper dragon fight of the series. It’s usually exciting to fight a dragon, but to have it executed properly takes it to another level. Are you locked in the giant bird cage with a dragon, or is it locked in there with you?
56. Nashandra - Dark Souls II (2014)
Nashandra evokes the Grim Reaper and provides a thrilling end game fight. Unlike most of the end game fights, Nashandra is more of a sorceress. So instead of the classical duel, we get a fresh battle with a witch. A traditional end game fight wouldn’t have had the same punch in the context of the rest of Dark Souls II, as there were plenty of those already, so the end game fight we got turned out to be a great choice. Curse also worked a little differently in Dark Souls II, so Nashandra’s curses can whittle down your maximum health bar little by little throughout the fight, and it’s not a mechanic we’ve seen before or since in a Souls’ Boss arena.
55. Shadows of Yharnam – Bloodborne (2015)
When snakes start coming out of their tits, you know it’s gonna be a bad time. Evoking the Nazgul of The Lord of the Rings, the Shadows of Yharnam can feel like a hopeless fight. It’s 3v1 and they all behave a little differently and get mad once you pick one of them off.
54. Genichiro Ashina - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
Genichiro is the man who takes off your arm in beginning of Sekiro. He’s your rival, and he will stop at nothing to achieve ultimate power. Your duel will be a lot of cling and clang, and his last phase is your introduction to the electric Way of Tomoe. It’s one of the series’ most satisfying duels.
53. Great Shinobi Owl - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
The first time you face the Great Shinobi Owl he has the bag of tricks you’d expect from a ninja warrior. Smoke bombs, poison mist and shurikens, but he’s also no slouch with his giant katana. He can also prevent you from healing if you get by one of his bombs, which can create a lot of tension. Also interesting is that Great Shinobi Owl uses no moves in which you're able to counter. Kind of neat such a big tool for the player as Sekiro gets taken away by dad. It feels like a deliberate choice, as even though Owl believes you to be in the wrong enough to fight to the death, when you defeat him, he's proud of the shinobi warrior you've become.
52. Armor Spider - Demon's Souls (2009)
One of the things I most appreciate about Demon’s Souls bosses is the number of ways you can tackle bosses. The Armor Spider is one such boss, and one of the more unique bosses in that it’s completely stationary. The fight takes place in a tunnel that opens up where the spider sits. The long tunnel makes the idea of a ranged battle exciting. Not only does this spider spit webs, but also lots of fire. It’s also well positioned to take on players in melee with its blade-like legs. Its versatile moveset caters to all playstyles. Also spiders are scary so, I’m glad I can have a good fight where I don’t need to confront my fears head on.
51. Crossbreed Priscilla - Dark Souls (2011)
Crossbreed Priscilla will allow you to walkout of the painted world without a fight, so it feels wrong to attack the giant catwoman. If you attack her she’ll turn invisible and the best way to track her is to look for her footprints in the snow, either that or wait to be struck out of thin air.
50. Vanguard - Demon's Souls (2009)
It’s the first Souls boss. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s a supposed to lose fight. If that doesn’t set the tone I don’t know what will. And even if you do beat him, you’re just going to get punched in the face. Also it’s essentially the first incarnation of the Asylum Demon.
49. Scorpioness Najka - Dark Souls II (2014)
This is a much better version of the Quelaag fight. Instead of a Spider Arachne though, this one is as the name implies, a Scorpion Arachne. Instead of lava spitting Najka uses more traditional soul arrow magic, but the most exciting part of this boss fight is that she can burrow underground and strike from beneath.
48. Pinwheel - Dark Souls (2011)
If Pinwheel wasn’t so easy, it might be a top 10 fight. No, seriously. Generally, your first actual foray into the catacombs comes after you’ve rung a couple bells and exhausted the path the Undead Burgh has led you down. Then you fight Pinwheel and it dies in like two, maybe three hits? Like, you probably killed it before it even attacked. Wow, what a fight. But braving the catacombs first, before going to the Undead Burg will give you a much more thrilling second boss encounter than the Taurus Demon. I bet you didn’t even know Pinwheel can duplicate itself, and then duplicate itself again.
47. Gyobu Masataka Oniwa - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
He is Gyobu Masataka Oniwa, and while he doesn’t present a significant challenge, he does offer a fun fight against a man on horseback. This battle is no doubt as fun as it is, because it allows you to make use of all of the tools available to you as Sekiro, the grappling hook chief among them.
46. Mytha, the Baneful Queen - Dark Souls II (2014)
Mytha is a good standard boss fight. She’s a fierce Medusa like monster with an aggressive moveset. Interestingly though, it’s pretty easy to miss a crucial part of making this boss fight much more approachable. If miss the fact that you’re supposed to burn down the windmill you’re probably not going to make it past Mytha unless you can deal a lot of damage real fast. Mytha’s arena is covered with poison, a Souls staple. So not only will you take damage quickly, your movement is also restricted. Setting fire to the windmills gets rid of most of the poison, and makes the fight a lot more manageable. It presents an interesting optional challenge to see if you can indeed get past her without ditching the poison, and setting the stage before a boss fight is a cool idea that’s been with the series since Demon’s Souls, but Dark Souls II remains the only game in the series to take a deep dive into that idea since.
45. Divine Dragon - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
This spectacle fight is maybe the most visually spectacular of them all. Sekiro’s lightning riposte is one of the most satisfying things to pull off and this boss fight really trains you in on that mechanic. The fact you’re fighting a gorgeous and gigantic dragon just adds to the enjoyment.
44. Moon Presence – Bloodborne (2015)
The true final boss of Bloodborne is as pretty aggressive and it has a move that it likes to use that instantly puts you at one hit point. Somehow, even with that cheat code, it doesn’t ever feel as tough as the boss you fought just prior.
43. Manus, the Father of the Abyss - Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (2012)
The finale of Dark Souls’ only DLC is one of the most appropriately dark encounters in the series. Manus is a powerful bruiser with powerful dark magic. He’s aggressive and has a ton of health. It’s an endurance test above all and he likes to make sure you will have as little time to breathe as possible throughout the entire fight.
42. Orphan of Kos - Bloodborne: The Old Hunters (2015)
Some say Kos. When you enter the arena, it looks like the orphan has just now been born, and judging by the coming fight, he’s not happy about his mother’s demise. The orphan is an attacker, and loves to beat you down relentlessly with his weird utero appendage, and when he does pause from clubbing you, it’s only to pull some egg bombs out of it and huck them at you. He spreads his wings and somehow becomes even more aggressive when you get him down to about half of his health. To many this is the hardest fight in Bloodborne. I’m not going to say it’s not difficult, but I scrapped by with a pretty quick victory over the orphan, and it was almost certainly a lucky one given how many times I was set to one health.
41. Gehrman, the First Hunter – Bloodborne (2015)
It’s only natural that the person guiding your path, would be at the end of it. Don’t be fooled by his wheelchair, because he is a spry old man. Many of the final bosses in series are a classic duel, but because of how Bloodborne plays and the tools at your disposal, the duel with Gehrman is the one that feels most like a mirror match.
40. Micolash, Host of the Nightmare – Bloodborne (2015)
Some Say Kosm. Ultimately Micolash is just fight with NPC, but the way it’s presented makes the fight so much more enjoyable. The way cackles and howls as he flees. It truly feels like he’s toying with you, and the result is a boss battle is unlike any other in the series.
39. Bell Gargoyles - Dark Souls (2011)
The Bell Gargoyles are might be the most iconic moment in the original Dark Souls. Ringing the first bell of awakening upon their defeat is the grand initiation your new favorite game series. The fight starts off with one Gargoyle, but if you don’t dispatch it quickly, another will join that likes to breathe more fire is happy to join the fray to complicate matters. It’s also one of the game’s first instances of hiding loot in a tail. If you want a neat weapon, that’s just one more thing to keep in mind if keeping track of two bosses wasn’t already enough.
38. Lothric, Younger Prince & Lorian, Elder Prince - Dark Souls III (2016)
It’s a battle against two brothers, and not only can you see their connection, but feel it. The younger prince will not will not allow the elder to die, and likewise the elder fights to protect the younger. If you kill the Lothric, the younger will just resurrect him, so Lorian is your main target. The battle is rife with bright magic and with Lorian resting on the shoulders of his elder brother, it’s hard to find openings to pick him off. It all makes for a thrill of a fight.
37. Pontiff Sulyvahn - Dark Souls III (2016)
Pontiff Sulyvahn is a fairly traditional fight until his shadow arrives, and that shadow is what makes the fight so great. His shadow follows up copying his every move. The result is a tense showdown, where you have to manage two bosses instead of one, but as the new addition may disrupt your timing, you can do the same to the pair and create a fight that is much more manageable.
36. The Duke's Dear Freja - Dark Souls II (2014)
I’m not going to lie, I really like the name of the boss, like way too much. It starts off pretty annoying with a cheap cluster of spiders crowding you upon your entrance, but the rest of the fight is excellent. This massive magical spider will shoot lasers if you stray too far and stomp you into the ground if you get too close. It’s without a doubt the best cure for archniphobia
35. Tower Knight - Demon's Souls (2009)
The Tower Knight is a good fight and is a prime example of what Demon’s Souls excels at with its boss battles. It gives you options, you can exploit the knight’s Achilles heels, or take your time and whittle him down when opportunities present themselves, but the last impact of The Tower Knight is this… Demon’s Souls at first seems like it’s on the straight and narrow. There’s some fantasy with dragons and magic, but you’re largely squaring off against soldiers and knights. After you’ve successfully braved the burning bridges and open the next set of gates, it really sets in how hopeless Demon’s Souls wants you to feel. You’re surrounded by archers and greeted by this towering knight. “The True Demon’s Souls Starts Here.”
34. Old Hero - Demon's Souls (2009)
The Old Hero of Demon’s Souls when aggravated goes on quite the offensive, but as you might figure out from his blindfold, he is blind. So if you don’t make too much noise you can a few shots in before he reacts, and when he tries to return the favor you can lose him and do it all over again. It’s a neat idea, and executed well enough to create a tense encounter where you can play a version of cat and mouse where the mouse fights back.
33. Slave Knight Gael - Dark Souls III: The Ringed City (2017)
The final sendoff to the Dark Souls franchise is an excellent showdown between you and the unassuming angel of death, Gael. Gael is the one who sends you to the painted world and Ringed City to save humanity, seemingly knowing he is going to go mad and you will need to finish his quest. He certainly goes mad and will put you to the test with a suffocating barrage of magic and melee in a thunderstorm. It’s as a good a sendoff to the landmark series as any.
32. Demon of Hatred - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
What’s a Dark Souls boss doing in Sekiro? The massive demon will put up one hell of a fight, and in the context of Sekiro, he is one of a kind. In Sekiro, you’re generally fighting things approximating natural proportions and the Demon of Hatred is a chance to fight something much less so. His scorched earth moveset will tempt you to throw out all you’ve learned, but that’s part of this fight’s charm.
31. Grey Great Wolf, Sif - Dark Souls (2011)
Sif is a frightening foe. Artorias’s loyal pup puts up quite the fight wielding its giant sword. It’s one of very few boss battles that actually gets weaker as you get closer to victory, the way Sif struggles and limps is almost enough to make you stop fighting the fight because you don’t know if it’s good anymore.
30. Soul of Cinder - Dark Souls III (2016)
Dark Souls III goes out with a bang with the Soul of Cinder. Seeming to be your character from the first game, it takes on several fighting styles and will use them all interchangeably. The myriad of ways this boss will take you on treats you to a nostalgia trip, and is a fitting way to roll the credits for such a fine series.
29. Father Gascoigne – Bloodborne (2015)
Your first real test in Bloodborne is appears to be duel between hunters, that is, until one hunter goes rabid. Gascoigne is one of the best two phase fights in the series. His first phase is cold and calculated, but his second ferocious and wild.
28. Aldrich, Devourer of Gods - Dark Souls III (2016)
The return of Gwyndolin as a corrupted mess is an intriguing one, and in an almost complete turnaround, he presents one of the series’ most difficult fights instead of one of its easiest. Aldrich, has plenty of attacks at his disposal and will make use of all of them. He still likes to use his bow, and this time it’s a lot more difficult to dodge, because of all the other magic he wields. It’s one of Dark Souls III’s most well rounded and finest encounters.
27. Black Dragon Kalameet - Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss
Kalameet is the first straight up dragon fight of the series, and it’s an excellent encounter. While it makes for a great fight, Kalameet doesn’t quite make use of the space in all the ways you’d think a dragon would. Fortunately, the black dragon makes up for that with its menacing glare and varied moveset.
26. Penetrator - Demon's Souls (2009)
Stealing the kill on the clown man is unfortunate, but it is still a good deed that ought to be rewarded with a high ranking. The fight is great regardless, and if you helped a certain NPC you might even get some assistance in the battle. Penetrator is one of the most menacing foes you’ll face Demon’s Souls, and he definitely has the best entrance. “That’s Penetrator’s music!!!”
25. Dragonslayer Ornstein & Executioner Smough - Dark Souls (2011)
Yeah, yeah, yours and everyone else’s number one is my number twenty five. Ornstein and Smough are a dynamic duo, and when you manage to kill one the other gets superpowered and angry. It’s an excellent encounter, one of the best the original Dark Souls has to offer, but there’s no shortage of “unfair” encounters in the series, and I think it has been done better before and since these bros stomped so many players into submission.
24. Storm King - Demon's Souls (2009)
Manta Rays are cool. They’re slightly less cool when they’re launching spears into you from the skies, but still pretty cool. Storm King is one awe-inspiring Manta Ray. The sheer size dwarfs all other bosses in the series. It’s not exactly challenging, once you know what you’re doing, but this is one of the best spectacle fights the series has to offer. The Storm ruler came back for Yhorm the Giant in Dark Souls III, but this is where players were first given a chance to wield the devastating weapon. It’s a shame that it only works in boss arenas, because launching the wind at baddies while you can sure is fun.
23. Executioner's Chariot - Dark Souls II (2014)
The Chariot is probably viewed as a bit of a mixed bag, but I think it’s one of the most fun boss fights in the series. It starts off a bit gimmicky with a run to a lever, but it culminates in fighting a couple of beasts that knows they’re on the backfoot, and you can tell how much they’re fighting not to kill you, but for their survival.
22. Martyr Logarius – Bloodborne (2015)
Cainhurst Castle is quite the treat to run through, and Logarius is a fitting end. He’s is one of the most challenging fights in the series and features plenty of interesting moves and mechanics that ensure you mustn't lose focus even for a second.
21. The Looking Glass Knight - Dark Souls II (2014)
The lead up to this boss sets the stage for what you know will be an awesome fight. It’s pouring rain, lightning is flashing. You just have to get past the red-eyed stone satyr statues that come to life as you walk by. You are greeted with a sight you’re probably all too familiar with, a big dude in shiny armor, but this one has a curious mirror shield. And when he slams it down, and another player comes out, you know it’s on.
20. Darkeater Midir - Dark Souls III: The Ringed City (2017)
Slaying dragons will always be at least somewhat cool even if the fight stinks. Fortunately for us, Midir is both a dragon and an excellent fight. Challenging, fun, and rewarding for the hassle he put you through out of the boss arena. In the lead up to the encounter if felt almost as though you were on the hunt, backing him into a corner that is his lair.
19. Dark Sun Gwyndolin - Dark Souls (2011)
Dark Sun Gwyndolin is carried by the infinite hallway gimmick to be sure, but this is simply one of the more purely fun boss encounters of the original Dark Souls.
18. The Nameless King - Dark Souls III (2016)
We fought some dragonriders in Dark Souls II, but they weren’t actually riding dragons. The Nameless King duel is one of the series' best. To even reach the duel part you have to slay his dragon. And if that wasn’t cool enough, you fight him in the sky… on clouds.
17. Genichiro, Way of Tomoe & Isshin, The Sword Saint - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
The ultimate fight of Sekiro is perhaps the best in that class. Each of the three phases will test you on everything the game tried to teach you up to this point.
16. Fool's Idol - Demon's Souls (2009)
The Fool’s Idol is assembly of cool boss ideas all wrapped into one encounter, or two… or three… four? The fight itself features some stealth and misdirection and it feels unlike any other fight in the series since. And even when you defeat the doll, if you don’t find a puppeteer you might just have to do the whole fight over and over until you do.
15. Artorias the Abysswalker - Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss (2012)
One of the series’ finest duels features the Abysswalker. Artorias is one of several suffocators, and besting him and his relentless attack is justifies all the lore hyping him up and him being the namesake of the original Dark Souls DLC.
14. Darklurker - Dark Souls II (2014)
The best fight of Dark Souls II is unfortunately hidden behind the obscure questline for the hard to find covenant, Pilgrims of Dark. More fortunately that the Darklurker fight makes it worth all the digging around you’ll have to do to face them. The fight is with this angelic sorcerer is all anyone could ever ask for in a magic battle.
13. Flamelurker - Demon's Souls (2009)
This is the first suffocator. The Flamelurker is relentless in its attack and unrivaled in its fury. It’s hard to find an opening, but that makes it all the more satisfying when you finally triumph over the fiery beast.
12. Guardian Ape - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
I don’t know what to say. This boss slings literal shit at you and farts poison clouds. It sounds goofy, but in the arena it is serious business. This fight is pure fun, and the twist at the end of it just elevates it that much higher.
11. Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos – Bloodborne (2015)
Ebrietas exemplifies all of the things I love about Bloodborne. She bridges the gap between fantastical Victorian dream world and the alien stars. Her design is off-putting and alluring at the same time, and she puts a fight worth remembering. Also, many bosses have a seemingly unavoidable “move.” Ebrietas has what I like to call “the move.” And every time I saw it coming and did nothing to stop it.
10. Maneater - Demon's Souls (2009)
The Gargoyles are certainly better known, but this was the first boss that makes you go “Wait a minute… Really?” Not only are you fighting this gross flying man-faced manticore, in the dark, on what might be the narrowest bridge of all time, where falling off means your doom, and it seems like the boss’s main gameplan is exploiting that, but also when he drops to half health, another one shows up. It’s hard to beat the satisfaction of finally besting something so fairly unfair.
9. Ludwig, the Accursed - Bloodborne: The Old Hunters (2015)
For my money, this is the hardest boss in the entirety of the series. This horse-man is merciless. He is broken up into two phases, and fortunately for us and our controllers the second phase is much more manageable.
8. Mergo's Wet Nurse – Bloodborne (2015)
It’s probably not as difficult a fight as it could be given how late in the game you fight the Wet Nurse, but it’s one of the coolest designs in all of Bloodborne. Blades are coming from every which way and occasionally she will shroud the arena in thick purple fog to strike randomly from the shadows, and it makes for an always tense encounter.
7. Sister Friede - Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel (2016)
This fight might still rank this highly if it was just a one phase fight. It’s one of the few battles in the series that feels as much a battle of wits as skill. The second and third phases take it to another level of challenge and endurance. Her monstrous self-flagellating father enters the arena raising the encounter to what is perhaps the most suffocating in the entire series.
6. Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon - Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King (2014)
Fighting dragons is cool. Without a doubt, the battle with Sinh feels the most like the romantic knight stories of old. Deep in his lair, Sinh, unlike other dragon fights, does everything you’d think a dragon would be capable of doing, so not only is he the most thrilling to fight, but also the most challenging.
5. Yharnam, the Pthumerian Queen – Bloodborne (2015)
It’s almost certainly a hot take to rank this as the best Bloodborne fight, and it’s a shame that the best boss fight in Bloodborne just has to be hidden behind all those wretched chalice dungeons. This fight isn’t particularly difficult, but it’s one of the few that just doesn’t sit right from the second you traverse through the fog door.
4. Four Kings - Dark Souls (2011)
The Four Kings are sometimes the Five Kings funnily enough, and they are my highest rated boss in the original Dark Souls. While it owes a lot to the fighting in the blackly infinite arena that is the Abyss, the fight itself is also one of the game’s most challenging and thrilling.
3. Old King Allant - Demon's Souls (2009)
While you can tackle the bosses of Demon’s Souls in many different orders, this is truly ultimate fight of Demon’s Souls. The Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, Gerhman the First Hunter, Slave Knight Gael, Isshin, the Sword Saint. All of these boss battles are excellent ends to their respective games, and have surpassed the False King in terms of the challenge they present. What they don’t have however, is a move that will de-level your character. Savage.
2. Maiden Astraea - Demon's Souls (2009)
The music of Demon’s Souls to me, captures the feelings of the fights more than any other game in the series, and Maiden Astraea’s fight is the best illustration of that. This is the fight of the series that most makes you think about your role in all of this. Her protector Garl Vinland doesn’t want to fight, only protect. You are asked to leave. But what’s with the arena? The pool of blood filled with clawing babies? There are several paths to victory, and all of them will make you wonder about what is really going on and what you’re doing.
1. Old Monk - Demon's Souls (2009)
The most ingenious idea for a boss of all time, maybe ever. The Old Monk might just be a dude with homing soul mass and a wild robe hat, but you can be that dude and become the barrier to progress for other players. Brilliant.