Ranking the Soulsborne Games

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BaneFireLord

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Never been a fan of the series and never have beaten any of them, but of the one's I've played some amount of, Bloodborne > Dark Souls 1 > Dark Souls 2. I've played a lot more of DS1 than Bloodborne, but Bloodborne's lore and world were far more interesting.

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Shindig

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Man, I am just flowing through this Blooborne playthrough. I think that and Dark Souls 2 really help momentum by making souls easy to come by. Bloodborne's levelling happens really quick, though. The bar feels lower so you can build yourself a strong character with relative ease. Stamina doesn't take much effort to become a non-going concern so you can pour points into hitting harder and staying alive longer.

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inevpatoria

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#53  Edited By inevpatoria

@humanity said:

@shindig: Some of the later stages of Bloodborne are maybe less memorable but I do think as a whole it is quite a good experience. It's not Dark Souls 1 where like half the areas of the game are absolute trash. There is a pervasive climate to it all that even despite the lesser level design of some of the spaces beyond our opening playground are still quite enjoyable in their own right.

But yah, Central Yharnam is THE area of the game.

This is a really interesting take. Part of it is that From's late-game areas are where the difficulty is supposed to ramp up to a climactic fever pitch, but that difficulty is often translated into nonsense mechanics introduced without proper antecedent (I think of Dark Souls's Crystal Caves, for instance, or Bloodborne's Nightmare of Mensis, or even Sekiro's Fountainhead, where, for the first time in the game, status effects are conferred on sight).

The last third of a From Software game is always where the studio drifts from the relative purity of its systems to introduce something that feels, if not artificial, then at least unnecessarily additive and borderline unfair, depending on your perspective.

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darkmoney52

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@inevpatoria: In the case of sekiro, I think the addition of a new kind of danger worked by coinciding with the change to a new, much more fantastical, location.

Bloodborne actually did something similar in introducing that kind of enemy when you first reach the nightmare. Although it did feel like a bit of bs there.

Honestly, I think theres a strong argument to be made that sekiro just got better and better as it went.

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Humanity

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#55 Humanity  Online

@inevpatoria: That is a very astute observation. I do agree that From games generally start to fall apart towards the end, whether it be from level design or simple fatigue. This happens in varying degrees of course. The Nightmare of Mensis you mention is a location that should be fantastic as the whole Cthulhu cosmic nightmare begins to manifest from a mere feeling of dread to an actual location.. but it just ends up being tiring.

Weirdly enough I decided to quickly skim through a playthrough of Bloodborne and despite having played through that game about 3 times I think I realized how little I remembered of the structure beyond Yharnam. It also struck me once again how I absolutely didn't understand anything that was happening in it. You walk to a place and a giant thing picks you up, then you're teleported to a study.. a then into the nightmare.. I used to watch lore videos as I was really into the game and I still retained little information about the convoluted narrative of Bloodborne.

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Shindig

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You killed a God caterpillar and the world broke. But it's all a dream anyway so whatevs.

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DonutFever

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Bloodborne > Dark Souls > Sekiro > Demon's Souls > Dark Souls III > Dark Souls II

I like all these games, but there's a pretty big gap between the DS sequels and the others for me, it feels like they're made by a different team within From. I'm curious how Elden Ring will turn out, assuming it's the same team but maybe a new world with new lore will make it more interesting.

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Justin258

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So my answer to this one's going to be very non-committal. Dark Souls 1, 2, and 3 are some of my favorite games of the 2010s and I'd say I like them all pretty much equally. If someone were to put a gun to my head, I'd say 1 -> 3 -> 2, but the race is so close that it doesn't really matter. 1 has my favorite level design, 2 has the broadest range of viable character builds, and 3 has the best bosses. Each one is genuinely great and I'm kind of always up for playing any of them.

As for the other three - Demon's, Bloodborne, and Sekiro, I don't really have much of an answer. Demon's and Bloodborne run at sub 30FPS and have bad frame pacing. If that makes you roll your eyes... sorry. As time goes on and I lean harder and harder into PC games, I find it more and more difficult to even touch a game that runs at 30, especially one that doesn't even run at a consistent or smooth 30 like Demon's and Bloodborne. For Demon's, I also feel like Dark Souls 1, 2, and 3 are all superior to everything that Demon's does, and its lack of an Estus flask system is sort of the final nail in the I-don't-want-to-play-anymore- of-this coffin.

For Bloodborne and Sekiro, I love their environments and art direction and atmosphere as much as any of the Souls games, but Bloodborne makes the sad mistake of getting rid of Estus Flasks (for some insane reason) and has the aforementioned bad framerate. I'd probably play more of it if either problem got resolved, but I don't want to deal with both. I've tried to get into Sekiro multiple times but I never liked parrying in the Souls games. I'd rather dodge, tank, or attack from a distance, thank you very much. Sekiro does an admirable job of building its gameplay around parrying but I hate doing it and I utterly and completely failed at getting anywhere in Sekiro. I'm not made for that game and it's not made for me. It looks gorgeous and runs beautifully on PC, though, props to them for that.

Worth noting that some part of me does still want to get through Bloodborne and Sekiro, so one of these days I might actually do it. It might be this year or ten years from now, or might never happen. Those two games are kind of always in the back of my head, just because I really do want more of that Dark Souls 1/2/3 goodness that I loved so much, I just can't seem to get into either whenever I do sit down to try them.

Oh well. I've played some of The Surge 2 recently and it seems all right.

@sweetz said:

I have a very weird relationship with these games. I don't like difficult games, yet I've ended up playing quite a few of these when they go on sale (or they're free on PSN) out of some sort of weird "academic" fascination. I do like the world design and exploration aspect of them, but I take no pleasure upon muddling my way through them.

I'm getting along ok with Dark Souls 3 at the moment - way better than DS2. I'm so glad they moved away from consumable health items and just went back to regenerating Estus flasks. I never understood why they felt like that had to mess with that system in DS2 and Bloodborne in the first place. I like that they basically introduced a mana bar instead of spells having a pre-defined number of uses...but I'm still not good enough to play a "caster" character in these games.

I was interested in Sekiro, but from everything I've heard and seen of the game, I would get super, super frustrated with it and I don't think I'm going to bother attempting it.

Uh... Dark Souls 2 does have Estus flasks. You can get up to 12 of them and they work the exact same way that they do in the other games. Life gems are more of a supplementary thing. Also worth noting something that almost no one ever seems to notice about DS3 - you still lose a portion of your total health when you're not kindled.

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rawrz

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Lords of the Fallen

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Shindig

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I enjoyed that but they definitely stepped up with The Surge.

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sweetz

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#61 sweetz  Online

Uh... Dark Souls 2 does have Estus flasks. You can get up to 12 of them and they work the exact same way that they do in the other games. Life gems are more of a supplementary thing. Also worth noting something that almost no one ever seems to notice about DS3 - you still lose a portion of your total health when you're not kindled.

I guess the early game stands out more in my memory than the late game, which makes sense because I had a very tough time in the early game. I remember burning through estus flasks very quickly and being worried about using up the gems. Early game is tough in DS3 too, but they start handing out the additional flasks pretty quickly.

Also I know you lose a portion of health when not "embered" in DS3, but don't you eventually get down to 50% health in DS2 vs a flat 30% reduction in DS3? Even though you take a bigger up front hit in DS3, it somehow feels less punishing than taking a hit every time you die in DS2.

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Justin258

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@sweetz said:
@justin258 said:

Uh... Dark Souls 2 does have Estus flasks. You can get up to 12 of them and they work the exact same way that they do in the other games. Life gems are more of a supplementary thing. Also worth noting something that almost no one ever seems to notice about DS3 - you still lose a portion of your total health when you're not kindled.

I guess the early game stands out more in my memory than the late game, which makes sense because I had a very tough time in the early game. I remember burning through estus flasks very quickly and being worried about using up the gems. Early game is tough in DS3 too, but they start handing out the additional flasks pretty quickly.

Also I know you lose a portion of health when not "embered" in DS3, but don't you eventually get down to 50% health in DS2 vs a flat 30% reduction in DS3? Even though you take a bigger up front hit in DS3, it somehow feels less punishing than taking a hit every time you die in DS2.

I was trying to remember what being "human" was called in DS3. I kept thinking Kindled but I didn't think that was right. Ooops.

The hit is less in DS3. It's also easier to deal with because it doesn't show the part of your health bar that's missing, whereas DS2 does, taunting you with that latter half that you can't fill up. Still, it feels like DS2 always gets shit for that mechanic and no one ever seems to remember that it is a thing in DS3.

For my part, when I started playing DS2 I just pretended like half my health bar was my max health and just gave up on getting the other half unless I was having some real trouble with a section, in which case I'd pop an effigy and consider it a bonus. It wound up working out pretty well for me, as I had an abundance of them when I finished the game the first time, though I definitely understand why this would turn you away from the game. Maybe this is why I tend to just not drop many points into the health stat in these games.

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sweetz

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#63  Edited By sweetz  Online

I finished Dark Souls 3 last night. I still like it better than DS2, but not as much as DS1.

Maybe my memory of DS1 is skewed, but in DS3 it seems like getting from boss to boss, at least in the base game, is far more difficult than the actual bosses, and I don't remember DS1 being like that. In DS3 there are quite a few bosses that I beat on the first try. I died far more navigating through the areas. It feels weird in a game that people naturally associate with boss battles that wading through the regular enemies was, at least for me, the much more difficult and frustrating aspect of the game.

In spite of that, I was enjoying it quite a bit, but then I played the DLCs and they are both obnoxiously, punishingly difficult in terms of both regular enemies and the bosses. Struggling through them almost undid all the good will built up from the base game.

Lastly, I still can't stress enough how much I hate the invasion aspect of these games. By the very nature of what it is, the people who invade are pretty much guaranteed to be better than you at the game. It's like, "Hey need a random reminder that you suck? Here you go, have some asshole to screw up your progress!" I know I could play offline, but the world messages are really an important part of the atmosphere Dark Souls. I wish there was a mode that allowed world messages only (and NPC co-op and invaders); giving up access to human co-op summons could be the trade off for not having human invaders.

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Rohsiph

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Dark Souls - The ways the world looks around into itself perfectly captures the legendary essence of what the Kings Field games truly excelled at.

Nioh 2 - Its Nioh 1 but more of it and refined. As others have said, threads the needle between Sekiros speed and Souls customization. Plot isn't as gloriously wackadoodle as 1, but no one is here for the plot, otherwise Surge 1 would be up top.

Bloodborne - Its really cool, man. I'm a sucker for Lovecraftian stuff.

Demons Souls - Although the world isn't interconnected, it has a really great tone and atmosphere that's second only to DS1.

The Surge 2 - Plot is a huge letdown compared to the first, but the gameplay is super tight. The somewhat more modern than scifi locales are also a delicious change of pace from most in the genre. Really hope Deck 16 does a Surge 3 that captures the best of 1 and 2.

Nioh 1 - William. You start the game in the goddamn Tower of London then end up in Japan for the rest of it. I love the absurdity.

Surge 1 - The gameplay is so satisfyingly methodical... nearly every weapon demands commitment to succeed, but the enemies also have to commit to their attacks so it never feels unfair once you rap your head around it. Also the plot is basically what if all the things I research as a philosopher focused on new and emerging technologies all go wrong at once, and the choice to force everyone to play as Warren the Wheelchair Dude actually works out in a pretty cool way.

Dark Souls 2 & 3 - These are a tie for me. 3 has better interconnectivity and the pseudo remix thing going on is super interesting. 2 has much more memorable locales and bosses, and the best Fromsoft DLC. Neither has any single element that stands out to make me consider putting them higher in the list compared to everything above.

Sekiro - I wanted to love it. Honest. By the end, I hated it. I followed YouTube guides to Cheese the bosses. Why? It demands both insane speed and insane precision while, at least on PS4 Pro, it feels like every third input is eaten because there are no graphics options to prioritize framepacing. The bosses are pretty cool for the most part, but I had to fight a few dozens of times, and one in particular over a hundred times, because the game kept eating my inputs and punishing me by taking away at least a quarter of my life bar per hit. I suffered through and got the platinum because I have to have all the Soulsborne platinums, and maybe sadly or unfairly this means I'll probably never give it another chance unless there's dlc and a PS5 framerate boost. Fuck this game... Nioh 1/2 goes for the speed , Surge 1 and slightly 2 goes for the precision, and they are so much better for giving slack on the other end. Pick one or the other, not both... unless your engine can promise to never drop an input. EVER.

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tfarcevol

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Bloodborn

Dark souls 2

Dark souls

Dark souls 3

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ikramit

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DS1, Sekiro, Bloodborne, Demon souls ,DS3, DS2

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friarmark

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Dark Souls, Dark Souls 3, Bloodborne Dark Souls 2: SotFS

I've completed every Soulsborne that I've started and loved them all. DS3 is the best game of the lot, but DS was my first Soulsborne. The mystery and discovery during my first experience Soulsborne can't be recreated, and for that Dark Souls will always be my #1.

*Have not played Demon Souls or Sekiro

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sakesushi

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Dark Souls - A refining of the core tenets of Demon Souls, then injecting a unique sense of exploration I had not experienced in a game to that point. A lot of nostalgia there, but that nostalgia's worth its weight in gold to me.

Bloodborne - With Jan replaying this game on the site and a buddy of mine currently playing it, I decided to pull this back out and co-op with him. My first playthrough felt like a successful reimagining of the Souls formula in a new, intriguing setting. Playing through it again, I've been chatting with my buddy and looking things up as we play, and being able to dig through the lore, compare my build and playstyle to his, I can see how this tops so many peoples' Souls list.

Sekiro - Bloodborne but play like this in a medieval Japanese setting. Happily, I obliged. The somewhat straightforward and forward-facing story was kind of strange and a little flat to me, but the gameplay and setting hit all the right marks for me.

Demons Souls - Sometimes it's nice to find out the hype is real, and it was for me with Demons Souls. I remember liking Dark Souls by miles when I played it, having dropped the World Stages structure, but everything we love in a Souls game is in this, and you always remember your first.

Dark Souls 2 - I'm not entirely sure what it was that rubbed me wrong with this game. I still enjoyed it, but I didn't get those same feelings of wanderlust and curiosity as I got with every other Souls game above.

Dark Souls 3 - Have not finished - only defeated a handful of bosses - so it really shouldn't be on the list. Wasn't in the right headspace when the game came out, but I hope to remedy that soon!