The Soulsborne games are known for having some of the best boss fights in gaming history. They’re a perfect blend of story, mechanics, and difficulty colliding into one perfect pressure point for the player to overcome.
Across its 13-year history, the Soulsborne series has over a hundred different bosses. We’ve scoured through its colorful past and created a list of the best Soulsborne Bosses for you to enjoy.
Looking for the best fights in Elden Ring? Here’s our list of the best bosses in Elden Ring.
6. Knight Artorias (Dark Souls)
One of the Four Knights of Gwyn, Artorias was the knight to deal with threats from the Abyss. However, this would be his undoing when he and his companion Sif, met their match against Manus, Father of the Abyss. In a final desperate act, Artorias sacrificed himself and his shield to seal his beloved companion away, saving Sif’s life.
When the player finds Artorias, he’s corrupted by the Abyss and has a broken arm dangling at his side. Despite his arm, Artorias’ attacks are fast and brutal, yet nothing in his kit feels unfair. This is best seen when Artorias takes a moment to charge himself up. If he completes that charge, then all of his damage is increased. If he’s interrupted, whether by breaking his stance naturally or through an arrow to his head, Artorias won’t gain the increased attack power. This creates a balanced exchange between the player and Artorias himself.
5. Ornstein and Smough (Dark Souls Remastered)
These two bosses should be the standard for every other dual boss fight in the Soulsborne franchise. The fight itself is both challenging and gorgeous in its execution. Ornstein and Smough are found in an abandoned cathedral with one of the most memorable soundtracks in the Soulsborne games.
Ornstein and Smough are an unforgettable fight because they force player to juggle between Ornstein’s fast, long-reaching attacks, and Smough’s wide and slow hammer strikes. Achieving that task alone requires strict execution of well-timed dodges, and using the arena to divide the two bosses so your Chosen Undead has a chance to deal with each opponent one at a time.
The second phase hints at a deeper story between these two knights. If the player slays Smough, Ornstein will place a hand on Smough’s corpse and then grow to Smough’s size for the last phase of the fight. However, if Ornstein is slain instead then Smough will smash Ornstein’s body with his hammer, imbuing it with lightning.
4. Isshin, The Sword Saint (Sekiro)
After defeating your rival, Genichiro, he’ll use the Mortal Blade on himself, resurrecting the late Isshin. Isshin will then crawl his way out of Genichiro like an insect shedding its skin. The following fight is a marathon of all the skills you’ve learned in Sekiro and remains one of the most mechanically smooth and aesthetically stunning fights in the franchise.
Isshin has three phases. His first phase tests your sword skills with a mixture of quick strikes, large sweeps, and some short-ranged perilous strikes. His second phase has Isshin equip a massive spear and a rapid-firing pistol. Careful spacing and well-timed Mikiri Counters will get Sekiro through this phase since Isshin will mix up his timing and follow-up attacks with either a perilous thrust from his spear or shots from his pistol. His final phase has Isshin add lightning to his attacks. In one of the most cinematic-looking moments, using Lightning Reversal is both the key to defeating Isshin and looking amazing while you do so.
3. Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower (Bloodborne)
There are plenty of bosses in the Soulsborne franchise that feel like a dance, but few fights replicate that feeling as well as Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower. Her opening cinematic does a wonderful job of establishing who she is. She jumpscares you when your hunter tries to touch her and then gently lets your hand go.
Once the fight starts, the music, the clocktower itself, and Maria’s attacks create the feeling of a waltz. Her first phase feels like a regular fight, but her second phase is when the dance begins. Maria’s attacks now leave blood trails and have an extraordinary range, but they’ll miss if you dodge toward Maria herself. This teaches the Hunter to stay close to their dance partner. Maria’s third phase increases the stakes, adding fire to her blood trails and quickening the pace. The choral music and violins will also crescendo as your dance reaches its bloody end, a fitting conclusion to such a beautiful duel.
2. Starscourge Radahn (Elden Ring)
Radahn is an incredible fight because of how well it’s built up. When players reach the courtyard of Radahn’s castle, they’re treated to a speech about the Radahn Festival – a party where Radahn’s followers gather people to see who slay their former lord. The Tarnished is then shown a cinematic that shows how far Radahn has fallen since his fight against Malenia. All of these points create a feeling that you’re about to undergo an almost sacred duty to end the life of a once respected demi-god.
Radahn’s fight underscores this idea by having the player hop on their horse and scramble around the arena to summoning other heroes. Once that’s done, your Tarnished joins a massive brawl that lives up to the words “a celebration of war.”
1. Ludwig, the Accursed (Bloodborne)
Ludwig is a disgusting, twisted amalgamation of the Healing Church’s greatest Hunter and his horse. It’s only fitting that his fight is also the perfect merger of storytelling, game mechanics, and music.
His opening cinematic shows the mutations on his body that make him look more like a crazed beast than a man. He’ll even attack like an insane animal, screeching and howling as he uses his many deformed limbs to blast and tear you apart.
His second phase is what distinguishes him from all of the other Soulsborne bosses. Ludwig rediscovers his iconic greatsword. His voice becomes more human and the light emanating from the blade highlights his human features. He salutes you, and it becomes clear that you’re no longer fighting Ludwig, the Accursed, and instead facing off against Ludwig, the Holy Blade, one of the greatest hunters to have ever lived. He stands tall despite his misshapen form and salutes you. Successfully navigating the rest of this brutal fight is a breathtaking experience for both the difficulty of the ensuing challenge and letting Ludwig die as a man and not a beast.