The Worst Areas in Soulsborne: #110-101 | Column from the Editor

From Software has been particularly active since the late 2000s up until now. They started with Demon’s Souls, went through the Dark Souls Trilogy, Bloodborne, then Elden Ring. They also went through a few of them in the process and refurbished them.

Today’s piece, as well as pieces in the future complementing this one, will seek to rate every single area ever found in the aforementioned From Software games. It will not include anything from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. A judgment system has been designed for these boss fights that will try to judge them as objectively as possible.

Unlike the boss fight series we recently finished, we will not be assessing scores for each area. They will be ranked based on the following:

Gameplay- Of course, general combat and interactivity with the map are of the utmost importance. This includes things such as enemy spawns, gimmicks, mini bosses and, to a degree, the boss of the area itself.

Aesthetic- As we will see, many Soulsborne areas are elevated, or dragged down, by aesthetic. The way things are presented is important, especially in larger areas or more challenging ones the player will need to possibly go through multiple times.

This list will not include hub worlds, enormous territories in Elden Ring such as Limgrave or smaller dungeons in Elden Ring.

On that note, let’s kick things off with the bottom of the barrel, #s 110-101

110. Frigid Outskirts (Dark Souls 2)

Hardly surprising to see this frozen hell scape appear at the dead bottom. Of course, this might be the only thing about the area that is easy to “see”. The entire length of the trek through the area subjects the player to a horrible blizzard which greatly obscures their vision. Of course, it does nothing to nearby enemies, who can freely ambush the player all they wish. Speaking of which, the ‘Frozen Reindeer’ really solidify this map as a bottom of the barrel waste of space. They’re fast, faster than the player, they have massive health bars and, of course, are frequently never seen coming until it’s too late. Creating difficult enemies is good and fine, but this simply isn’t fair nor fun.

The boss of the area does it no favors. Lud and Zallen are quite literally just a reskinned version of a different boss found in the very same DLC. Of course, since this is Dark Souls 2, it tries to challenge the player more by simply copying and pasting a second boss. What’s more, they don’t even give the player good rewards.

109. Lost Izalith (Dark Souls 1)

Unlike Frigid Outskirts, this map doesn’t appear because it’s necessarily frustrating to go through. The problem is, it’s long, dull and lacking anything at all to make the player feel even remotely interested or involved. Enemy variety is unremarkable, it’s a bunch of bizarre dragon-esque creatures who have staggeringly low aggro range. Simply put, this map is long and boring.

Of course, the boss of the area is the infamous Bed of Chaos. Needless to say, that’s not a boss any map would do well to be associated with.

108. Swamp of Sorrow (Demon’s Souls)

This area feels like it was made just to piss the player off. This was the first notable usage of poison swamps in a From Software game. Needless to say, the average player doesn’t like these maps and probably never will. Gameplay is just needlessly annoying. We get the classic instance of the swamp itself slowing down the player while doing nothing whatsoever to hinder enemies. Here, it’s particularly egregious though, as the player cannot even roll inside the swamp- their character will stumble in place for seconds if they try, leaving them wide open for punishment.

At least the boss for this area, Dirty Colossus, isn’t horrible. Far from remarkable, but probably the only reason to put this map over Frigid Outskirts and Lost Izalith.

107. Demon Ruins (Dark Souls 1)

Similarly to Lost Izalith, this place is notorious for being rushed. Obvious signs of a lack of proper development are laughably lazy and poor enemy spawn points, a boring, monotonous terrain and a boring, monotonous boss. Seriously, they took nine Taurus Demons, shoved them into some congregation near a few lava pits, then they lined up six Capra Demons single-filed in a random hallway, then ran out of creativity and stopped spawning anything at all.

As said previously, Ceaseless Discharge, the boss of the area, is hardly a memorable boss in any way.

106. Valley of Drakes (Dark Souls 1)

The problem with Valley of Drakes isn’t that it’s particularly offensive but, rather, it simply has no reason to exist. As is, it functions as nothing but a very brief stopgap, serving as a bridge of sorts connecting Blighttown to New Londo Ruins and Darkroot Basin. It has actual enemies and loot, but nothing that proves to be even slightly compelling for the average player.

To add to its generic, boring landscape is the total absence of a boss fight. Why bother coming here?

105. Tomb of the Giants (Dark Souls 1)

Subjectively, this is my personal least favorite map in all of Soulsborne. The reason for this is that the entirety of the journey through it encases the player in total darkness, while subjecting them to some platforming. Of course, it is very easy to encounter a lethal fall due to said parkour and lack of visibility, and this is the biggest problem with the area. Similarly to Frigid Outskirts, presenting a challenge to the player that they cannot reliably overcome with raw skill alone is fairly cheap. What’s the player supposed to do about fighting an enemy they can’t see? How can the player be blamed for falling to their death because they couldn’t see two feet in front of them?

The only reason this map isn’t dead last on this list is because it at least has a decent boss fight in Gravelord Nito. Nothing earth shatteringly epic by any means, but he did end up just outside our top 50 on our Soulsborne boss rankings, so it’s a pretty solid fight.

104. Irithyl Dungeon (Dark Souls 3)

Another instance of From Software seeming to prefer annoying the player to creating a challenging, engaging experience. This map doesn’t just suck because of Jailers- they’re a big part of that to be sure, but the aesthetic of the map is quite lacking as well. It seems to be aiming for a creepy, isolated atmosphere similar to Demon’s Souls’ Tower of Latria or the Duke’s Archives of Dark Souls 1. It doesn’t necessarily do this poorly, but it does nothing to stand out that the aforementioned iterations didn’t.

This particular area has no boss, instead connecting to the Profaned Capital which does have one. The cause of how huge an area Irithyl Dungeon is, this is disappointing.

103. Cave of the Dead (Dark Souls 2)

Ganks, poison, petrification everywhere, no worthwhile loot and a tiring, dreary aesthetic make this experience genuinely annoying and not worth bothering with. Simply put, there is nothing about this map which could in anyway be considered ‘good’.

The boss of the area, the well known “Gank Squad” is a great representation of a lot of what’s wrong with Dark Souls 2 as a whole: it’s a lame gank fight with reused enemies. It does, at the very least, offer a decent boss room to fight in.

102. Dark Chasm of Old (Dark Souls 2)

These areas are wickedly monotonous and tedious to go through, especially since the player has to spend a Human Effigy just to access them. Once inside, the player must slay four NPCs, light a large brazier, and jump down a pit. Of course, the NPCs are just reskins of other NPCs. Of course, this area is quite dark as well with plenty of spots for the player to fall and die easily. In other words, this is a slightly less frustrating version of Tomb of the Giants.

In bittersweet fashion, the area’s boss, Darklurker, is one of the better fights in the entire game. Because he is optional and the trek to face him is costly and annoying however, some players simply won’t bother, which is a shame.

101. Iron Passage (Dark Souls 2)

Another incredibly gank-y area with unfair mechanics and an underwhelming boss fight is the perfect way to end today’s list. Iron Passage’s biggest offense is not only allowing mages to use Promised Walk of Peace to greatly slow the player, but to then place these mages on a small hill where melee characters can’t get to them. What’s the player supposed to do to play around that? Small projectiles won’t work, so this map can pidgeonhole players into investing in a projectile significantly just to fight one enemy.

The boss of the area is literally just Smelter Demon, but given a reskin. The ‘Blue’ Smelter Demon is a disgrace to those who paid money for this DLC pack. Why pay extra just to get the same thing?


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