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majormitch

Playing FF7 Rebirth is giving me the Bad Thought of replaying other FF games.

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My Ranking of From Software Games

This list is exactly as it sounds: my personal ranking of the modern From Software games. And no, I'm not going to call them "Souls" games or "Soulsborne" games or "Soulsbornekiro" games or any other monstrosity. But you know the games I am talking about here: these are the video games made by From Software (and the remakes of said games) starting with Demon's Souls in 2009, and which follow in that lineage. It's one of the few series of games I've played every one of, and thus feel qualified to rank. This ranking is based on my personal, subjective preferences along, and I will amend it over time as new FromSoft games come out. I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Last updated on June 9, 2022 (original list creation)

See my other rankings of: Metroids | Marios | Zeldas | Final Fantasies | 2D Castlevanias | Fire Emblems | Gaming Years | Consoles and Handhelds | From Software Games | Nintendo Franchises

List items

  • While it wasn’t first, Dark Souls was the game that really codified the formula in the larger consciousness. All of the series’ hallmarks were here, and operating at their peak: the nuanced character customization, the hard-hitting combat, the sense of mystery and discovery, the thick atmosphere, the memorable characters and bosses, the intricate and varied level design, and so on. In fact, it’s primarily the level design that puts Dark Souls above the others for me. It was large and interconnected without being fully “open,” striking a near-perfect balance of explorative freedom and clever intentionality. Dark Souls was a grand adventure to get lost in, and embodied the best of what this series is about.

  • Depending on what day you ask me, Sekiro is my favorite FromSoft game. I cannot stress enough how good its combat was: fast, precise, and incredibly satisfying in a way that the other games on this list cannot match. It may be my favorite third person action combat to date, and contained my favorite boss battles of any game on this list, and some of my favorite moments too. Then when you throw in all the other design touches that make FromSoft games so special, Sekiro was hard to deny. They made the exact right changes to make Sekiro its own fresh and cohesive game, while still undoubtedly being a FromSoft game. That’s hugely impressive. Sekiro rules.

  • Like millions of others, I had a grand time exploring Elden Ring’s large and detailed world. It made better use of its open world than most, content and confident to let players explore what they wanted, when they wanted, without littering the map with icons and directives. It was full of exciting secrets and mystery too, yet the longer I played the more I missed the tightness of the other games on this list. There was still a good amount of open world bloat and repetition in The Lands Between, and its balance and pacing eventually suffered under all that weight. It was still a fantastic game, but for my tastes I think FromSoft is at their best under more focused design.

  • Demon’s Souls has a reputation as a rough first pass of the modern FromSoft formula, yet I think in many ways it remains one of their purest efforts. Compared to its brethren, there was virtually no fluff to be found, and every area and boss was distinct with a strong sense of identity. I also enjoyed being able to tackle its many different levels in any order, and of course, all of the series’ trademark design was firmly in place from the start. And while being first gave Demon’s Souls an unfair advantage in novelty and mystery, I can’t hide the fact that it remains one of the most memorable video games I’ve ever played. Demon’s Souls has my heart.

  • I initially missed the more intricate character building and customization of the games that preceded it, but Bloodborne’s more actiony and more aggressive combat won me over in the end. It was a tighter and more consistent game that was always fun to play, and managed to tweak just enough systems to be distinct and fresh. I also dug Bloodborne’s vibe. While it sported less environmental variety than the other games on this list, it made up for it with a strong aesthetic identity. It also probably had the best soundtrack of the bunch? Anyway, Bloodborne was cool. Though I would be happy to never grind blood vials again…

  • Dark Souls III cuts two ways for me. On the one hand, it was clear mastery of the formula FromSoft had been iterating upon for multiple games. The movement and combat were tighter, the audiovisual presentation outstanding, the level design was honed to a tee, and its many systems were more streamlined. On the other hand, this many games in, the novelty and mystery were understandably dulled. The result was a Very Good FromSoft game that also rarely surprised me. Expecting it to all over again may have been too high of a bar, but that’s the main thing holding back this otherwise stellar entry.

  • The Demon’s Souls remake was a wonderful technical showcase for the PlayStation 5, and a powerful reminder of what made FromSoft’s modern brand of video game so special from the start. It also wasn’t fundamentally different from the original Demon’s Souls. That made its impact as a remake not as meaningful as the other games on this list. Don’t get me wrong: I had a great time revisiting Boletaria with all the associated bells and whistles of new hardware. But it’s hard to place a remake any higher than this without more substantial changes.

  • Despite sitting at the bottom of this list, I liked Dark Souls II a lot, for many of the same reasons I liked every other game on this list; I’d still take my least favorite FromSoft game over most video games. But among stiff competition something had to finish last, and this was easily the roughest game of the bunch. Relatively repetitive enemies and bosses, inconsistent level design, and some dissonant structural changes made this sequel not click for me as much as its brethren. Take it for what you will, but that made Dark Souls II my least favorite among a batch of great games.