Soulsborne Boss Fight Rankings #59-51 | Column from the Editor

With the lengthy series hiatus finally behind us, we can finally look into our illustrious top 50, with today’s piece ending off by finally arriving to that echelon. For a reminder of the judgment criteria, see here.

59. Misbegotten Crusader (Elden Ring)

At first glance, this is just another Misbegotten Warrior- why does it appear so high on the list? The answer can be found within the creature’s armament, the Golden Order Greatsword. One of Elden Ring’s nine legendary weapons, this Misbegotten wields this weapon when fighting the player, and drops it when defeated. This simple change completely alters the dynamic of how this fight plays out.

Difficulty for this one is very high. The Misbegotten are known for being very aggressive, and this guy’s no different. Propelling it’s difficulty is the Golden Order Greatsword, and the creature even knows how to use its Ash of War to complicate things. With no obstacles in the boss room, the player doesn’t have anything other than their own inventory to try and stave off the Crusader’s relentless assault. Fortunately for the player, it’s healthpool is low and it’s poise is still quite bad, so fighting fire with fire is the way to go here.

58. Commander Niall (Elden Ring)

Commander Niall is the boss of Castle Sol. If the player wants to reach Miquella’s Haligtree, going through him becomes mandatory as he guards the other half of the medallion needed for the Grand Rift of Rold to go there.

Difficulty for this fight has a tendency to be very high, unless the player brings a very obscure, seemingly random item that the average new player would not naturally be inclined to bring. Niall has helpers in the form of two Banished Knights, one wielding a halberd and the other dual wielding straight swords. These are very imposing to contend with, not just because Banished Knights are tough anyway, and there’s two of them, but because Niall will use Commander’s Standard to buff their damage output, making them even scarier to face off against. Niall himself is no pushover, using the aforementioned halberd to dish out some pain of his own. His other signature weapon, the Veteran’s Prosthesis, introduces lightning to go with his frostbite attacks. He can close the gap on the player quickly and has a lot of health. This is going to be a test of endurance for the player.

Interestingly, Commander Niall guards a medallion needed to access the Haligtree. Out in Caelid, Commander O’Niell wields scarlet rot powers and drops a key item capable of removing scarlet rot from Millicent in her questline. Both of these men have extremely similar names, the same exact fighting style and they’re both very vaguely involved with Malenia, Blade of Miquella, in what Niall is defending and where O’Niell is positioned. This seems to suggest they possibly have some kind of ties to Malenia.

Overall, this is a well done gank fight. Niall himself won’t attack the player while his knights are alive unless the player attacks Niall for some reason, meaning he acts as somewhat of a buff bot until his men are defeated. This activates his second phase, unlocking his moveset. Having him be passive at the start and having a fully fleshed out moveset for when the player can 1v1 him makes this fight have breadth.

57. Astel, Naturalborn of the Void (Elden Ring)

Note: This specifically pertains to the Astel fight at the Lake of Rot, not the Yelough-Anix Tunnel

Astel pops up as a mandatory boss if the player wants to complete Ranni the Witch’s questline. Additionally, it has a Rememberance, so the player can expect a decent reward apart from simple progression for winning this one.

Challenge for this fight is high. Astel has a series of ranged options that can deal a lot of damage. If the player gets underneath it, where they would be able to dodge all of these options, Astel is likely to bust out its signature move- Wave of Darkness, where it plants itself on the ground and creates three progressively larger circle on delays from one another that will guaranteed hit a player underneath Astel unless they dodge the attack with a perfectly timed roll. Astel’s poise is well below average for a boss of its size, but it’s high mobility and excellent offensive potential make it a tough out for anyone.

56. Crucible Knight & Misbegotten Warrior (Elden Ring)

Though, again, the enemy selection is relatively simple, this is still an extremely well done gank fight by From Software. It also grants the player an amazing reward, the Ruins Greatsword, a legendary weapon, upon winning.

For many years now, From Software has had a blueprint they occasionally like to tap into for gank fights. The idea is very simple- have one enemy come in right from the start to greet the player, then have the second one come in at a very specific amount of time after the fight has started. It’s short, sweet, challenges the player’s skill and build, and is overall a fair fight. The key ingredient is making it so that one enemy is significantly more aggressive than the other, and From Software conveys this with the hyper aggressive, fragile Misbegotten Warrior who quickly receives the support of the slow, hard hitting and tanky Crucible Knight.

This fight is all kinds of challenging for the right reason. By itself, the Misbegotten Warrior poses a significant threat. It is very, very fast, hits hard and is aggressive with lengthy combos. There is a sense of urgency to have it at least heavily weakened before the Crucible Knight shows up, placing the player under a DPS test. If, after 30 seconds, the Warrior hasn’t been slain, the knight will arrive- ready or not, here it comes! When the Warrior is slain, the fight is hardly over, as the knight by itself is a potent challenge. It staggers to very little, has a large array of resistances, and hits extremely hard. It has its own second phase once it reaches half health, and it’s AI is coded to respond very aggressively if the player tries to heal during its second phase, allowing it to usually be able to interrupt these efforts.

While the enemy selection does feel random, and the setting of Redmane Castle in itself feels quite random, at least the Warrior and knight have actual lore to explain why they work together. The Crucible Knights serve Godfrey, First Elden Lord and are rigorous defenders of the Erdtree. The Misbegotten are a race of subjugated “people” who have essentially been rejected and condemned by the Erdtree to eternal servitude. As such, the Crucible Knight could be viewed as a foreman or even perhaps a slaver, while the Misbegotten Warrior is the indentured servant or even a slave.

55. Old King Doran (Demon’s Souls)

This is essentially a ‘secret boss’ of sorts, as the player isn’t actually technically supposed to fight Doran as a boss. His main purpose is to give the player the Demonbrandt, which they’ll do after attacking him until he reaches half health. What’s funny about this is, for the player to earn Demonbrandt in this way involves them hitting Doran as he stands completely still, demanding that the player prove themselves to him if they want the sword. The act of just beating on someone completely stationary to get a reward is funny, and makes the meter dial up to 100 when he decides to actually fight back. This is done by continuing to attack him even after he rewards the player with the Demonbrandt, as this will cause him to heal to full and start fighting back.

Challenge for this fight is… extreme. To say Doran merely hits hard would be doing him a disservice- he hits so hard in fact, that he will pretty much always kill in a single hit. He wields the Northern Regalia, the strongest weapon in the game, and his stats are just out of this world. He does stagger and his AI can be manipulated to make him a little more doable, but squaring up with him in any context is still extremely risky for any build.

Yes, it can be reasonably argued that Doran is perhaps a bit ‘too’ hard for the context of Demon’s Souls. This isn’t problematic for the game at large, however, as again, the player is not required or even prompted to fight him as a boss, so failing to defeat him will not impact their playthrough apart from resources spent trying to beat him. As such, he remains an entirely optional but truly brutal and unforgiving fight.

54. Various Crystallians (Elden Ring)

Note: This applies to all Crystallian fights across Elden Ring which are formatted as boss fights

These fights are where From Software really started getting creative. They may be repetitive, but each individual fight against them is largely different from the last. Crystallians are extremely tanky and have titanic poise- unless you bring a Strike weapon, which is their biggest and only weakness. Given the wide variety of different weapons across Elden Ring, it’s somewhat of a shame we didn’t see more instances of a boss the player is meant to fight with a specific type of weapon.

Challenge for these fight has two main variables; how many Crystallians are there, and what is your weapon layout? Uniquely, unless attacking the Crystallians with a Strike weapon or a two handed weapon, any melee attack made against them will bounce right off as if the player has hit a wall, doing very little damage and leaving the player wide open for a counter attack. If the player has a Strike weapon, they will not only do decent damage and quickly break the poise of the Crystallian, they will easily stagger them as well. Eventually, after taking enough hits even from a non-Strike weapon, the Crystallians will be guard broken, and afterward, will take tons of damage and be easily staggered by anything at all. This point of weakness can be reached close to immediately if using Strike weapons, but will otherwise usually take a round a couple dozen hits.

The choice of weaponry for each Crystallian does make approaching them quite different. Crystallians with Spears are extremely aggressive, rushing in for up to four hit combos with a fourth hit that is masterful at catching the player if they try to roll immediately. The Ringblade is a little more passive but has better mobility to compensate and is difficult to properly contend with on the offensive without a Strike weapon. Finally, there are also magic casting Crystallians, who will sling Crystal based sorceries at the player. Make sure to bring Strike weapons!

53. Abyss Watchers (Dark Souls 3)

Note: Due to technical difficulties, the score for this boss could not be included in the graphic.

The first Lord of Cinder the player can across, the Abyss Watchers are known for being the game’s “welcome to Souls” type experience. An early game boss, they’re fought at Farron Keep.

Challenge for this fight, despite the introduction, would have to be this fight’s biggest criticism. For the most part, this is similar to fighting NPCs, as all of the Watchers stagger, can be parried and can be backstabbed. They lean on dodge rolls a lot to close distance on the player, making them extremely predictable. Every single one of their attacks can be rolled through easily, leaving the player a wide open punishment opportunity, perhaps a backstab. In conclusion, this boss has a very low health bar, even by early game standards. Each phase should take about a minute for the average player to clear.

This is a gank fight, but it does take a unique twist for a gank. At first, two Watchers will fight the player. Shortly after, a third Watcher arises from the ground, but this one will attack one of the other Watchers instead of the player by default. Though the player is technically at a numbers disadvantage even still, it isn’t a suffocating one so long as they do not

Second phase is what brought this boss so close to the top 50, as well as the preceding cinematic. Watching the very last Abyss Watcher, presumably the leader, siphon the Blood of the Wolf and use it to revive himself right in front of our eyes was really cool. This newfound invigoration also powers the sword up with flames, making it deal more damage and giving this Watcher a genuinely threatening moveset. If the first phase had been scrapped and second phase had been given a larger healthpool, this fight could’ve been a top 25 pick for the franchise. Unfortunately, it just misses out due to its lackluster opening.

52. Fell Twins (Elden Ring)

This is an instance where a fairly average, otherwise forgettable boss is completely redeemed and then some by how it’s presented. The Fell Twins are somewhat unimposing, but are presented in a way that initially makes them quite terrifying to fight against. Plus, there is quite a large incentive to fight them, as they drop an amazing Spirit summon and are guarding a Divine Tower used to restore Morgott’s Great Rune, arguably the best Great Rune in the game.

Challenge is mostly tied towards not losing your bearings and quickly and effectively reacting to getting ambushed in a totally dark room. The boss room is literally a giant sea of black nothingness, with seemingly infinite range. Both Fell Twins move at roughly the same speed, one prefers to confront the player with melee, the other one taking a slightly more laid back approach with the Omen Bairn item, firing these wraiths at the player and even breathing them out like a dragon on occasion.

Again, the way this fight is presented is just amazing. The player will have just reached the Grand Lift of Rold after a long series of traveling. They could simply take the lift and be on their way, but they might notice a seemingly random alternate path off to the side of the lift to explore. Where the way to the lift saw the player encounter numerous enemies, only two half-catatonic men with torches feebly dwell this long stretch of land leading into a tower. Approaching these two men will reveal that they are the Fell Twins in disguise- they’ll ambush the player, somehow trapping them in this empty room of dark nothing, and reveal a dead guardsman corpse on the ground of this area, showing why the outside was so barren of enemies- the Fell Twins killed them all! Combine that with the wonderful reward of Omenkiller Rollo and restoring Morgott’s Great Rune, and this boss fight gets the seal of approval from me.

51. Bell-Bearing Hunter (Star Wars Elden Ring)

Seriously, this guy is really, really cool. His entrance is bone chilling, he’s difficult and engaging, and he has a wildly unique moveset that’s a real treat just to watch and fight against. Whoever designed this guy should get a raise, or even a promotion. What’s even better is that there are multiple of them, allowing the player to experience this numerous times. They show up to ‘attack’ a handful of random merchants situated in Limgrave, Caelid, the Altus Plateau and Liurnia of the Lakes.

Immediately, this guy’s breadwinner is his moveset. The Bell-Bearing Hunters’ weapon is the Marias Executioner’s Sword, well known for being a sword that can basically swing or thrust itself. The Hunter will utilize this frequently, sending the sword at the player in various lunges and swings while staying back and eventually recalling the weapon. While swinging the weapon, it will light up a bright red and look very much the same as a lightsaber from Star Wars, hence the title. They also have a huge greatshield on their backs used both offensively and defensively. Offensively, it is incorporated in a couple different attacks they use. Defensively, this shield protects the hunter from backstabs, rendering him immune to them while it’s on his back. As one last excellent aesthetic, the Bell-Bearing Hunter has a grab attack which basically functions like a Jedi choke- he uses some kind of red orb to engulf his arm with red, thrusts his arm forward, and essentially uses telepathy to choke the player’s character briefly if they get hit by this attack.

Join us next week for the commencement of the top 50!


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