[Top 10] Best From Soulsborne Games (Ranked Fun To Most Fun)

[Top 10] Best From Soulsborne Games (Ranked Fun To Most Fun)
(Almost) The Whole Squad


 

 

What the success of Demon’s Souls did was it brought From to the attention of the world and eventually paved the way for one of the most brutal yet rewarding video game series to ever come out: the Soulsbloodsekiroring (name pending, though everyone just refers to all 7 games as the Soulsborne series), which tests the limit of your patience and the strength of your controller.

The series is known for its punishing difficulty, which makes even the toughest of gamers rage and squeal. You can just go on Youtube and search for a compilation of gamers raging at various bosses or areas in the game and be pleased to find hundreds of hours of content, it’s truly glorious. This, however, is also what makes the community of these games so strong, as everyone is connected through our shared pain and strife, but also through our shared elation of overcoming the challenge.

I should preface the actual list by clarifying that I don’t think any of these games are bad as I love them all. However, some may be more dated and not as much fun on subsequent playthroughs as others, with some even having mechanics that are not enjoyable. So, without further ado, let’s start the list with:

7. Demon’s Souls

Ahh, the classic. The father. The one that started it all. Demon’s Souls is the first game that uses Fromsoftware’s modern game design philosophy of firm but fair, a way of designing their games to be very challenging, but never unfair.

Demon’s Souls was instrumental to the success that From enjoys today as it was,quite literally, the blueprint of the series, one which they not only based their following games off of but also kept improving again and again in order to finally give us the masterpieces we enjoytoday. This alone is enough to give Demon’s Soulsall the praise in the world but the fact of the matter is this: 13 years after it came out, it’s still good.

It should be noted that while I have played the original on the PS3, my review here is mainly based on the brilliant remaster Bluepoint games did for the PS5, which fixes a bunch of technical hiccups the original had, as well as VASTLY improving the graphical fidelity.

Demon’s Souls has some of the best atmosphere of the series. The grim and decrepit castles of Boletaria are just breathtaking and really sell the entire feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness and are quite honestly the best part of the game. Plus, the combat is pretty fun when you get the hang of it, though it was obviously improved in further iterations of the game. All this is definitely made way better when you think of the fact that this was the first of these games to come out, with mechanics that all the series still uses today. That’s nuts!

Despite all this, Demon’s Souls has the worst boss fights in the entire series. Save for a notable few, the others are just gimmick bosses that really require a certain tactic to take out, as compared to the tense and skill-based fights of the later games. This really matters as the boss fights of this series areone of the main things these games are known for.

Gameplay can also feel extremely outdated if you play the original on the PS3, though the remaster did fix some of this. All in all, this is a great game to play, but one that pales in comparison to the games that follow it. But still, thanks dad!

 

6. Dark Souls

Ahh, here it is, the mandatory controversial pick of the list. This choice will most likely have people scowling and writing angry comments, but the fact of the matter is that the entire game has to be looked at, not just one half of it. 

Demon’s Souls was the game that started the entire Fromsoft formula, but it was 2011’s masterpiece Dark Souls that truly perfected it into what we have today. This game was, and still is, an absolute masterclass in world design and level building, at least for the most part. The game truly begins in the hub area of the game called Firelink Shrine, which the player slowly over the course of the game, realizes that it also serves as the center of the world, with it having branching paths to all other levels of the game.

With everything being so interconnected and all areas leading back to one place really lets you know of the level of craftsmanship the developers have in order to do this so well. There may not be many feelings in gaming as amazing as when you take an elevator out of an area and the sudden “OH CRAP” moment you have when you realize that the elevator or secret path just led you back to Firelink.

The best part is that it isn’t a loosely connected world either, when you run the entire thing back in your head, you truly see that it makes sense for everything to be placed where it is. You can really see why this game was as revolutionary as it was in this regard.Gameplay, though somewhat basic compared to later entries in the series, is still vastly superior to most other games in the market, especially those that came out in the same year as Dark Souls. The lack of omni-directional rolling is a feature that is definitely not missed after playing the other games in the series as it often felt clunky to avoid hits. The boss fights in Dark Souls are a mixed bag, with some being exceptional and others just being boring, though the DLC had 2 of the best fights in the entire game.

Now, as incredible as the atmosphere and world design is, the real reason this game is the second lowest rated for me in the series is the second half.  It is common knowledge that the game had to be rushed out on shelves as the director, Hidetaka Miyazaki, had not fully completed the game to the same level of details the first half yet, so what it lead to was one of the worst declines in quality we have ever seen in a game.

This rush led to completely unfinished areas, copypasted enemies and bosses, vast expanses of absolute nothingness and areas that just plainly made no sense. For every Anor Londo, you had a Lost Izalith. Playing through this part genuinely feels like a completely different game. It is nothing like the meticulously crafted levels of the first half of the game, instead opting for useless and artificial difficulty, all topped off with arguably the worst boss in the entire series, the Bed of Chaos. Eww.

I maintain that if Dark Souls ended after Anor Londo, or if the second half of the game was made to the same quality as the first half, this game would definitely be in the top 3, and would even be in the argument of being the top pick of this list. Unfortunately, we have to make do with what we have.

 

5. Dark Souls 2

Here it is. The black sheep of the family. Most lists that you see on the internet about the Souls series usually place Dark Souls 2 at the very bottom, saying that it doesn’t feel like a Souls game at all. To these lists I say….. you stink. Most people tend to place the original Dark Souls very high up yet will simultaneously agree that the second half of the game is terrible. Like what’s going on? What do you mean? Are you only counting the first half as the whole game?

Dark Souls should not only be looked at by the part that is good, the entire experience should be objectively critiqued, and that includes the whole second half of the game. 

Dark Souls 2 was a bold choice in game design, especially when compared to its predecessor. The narrative was more straightforward and the overall lore fairly more linear and clear, the combat, while at its heart remained the same, was more flashy than before because of all the new animations and variety. These changes were pretty polarizing, with most people either hating them at worst or just being fine with them at best.

The fairest criticism that people have of this title is the extreme departure of level design and how it actually regressed from the original game, where areas were tightly packed and their placement made sense and all were interconnected, to Dark Souls 2 having very bare bones level design, where areas lead to other areas in a way that makes no sense (a windmill elevator that leads to a castle in the middle of a lake of lava? Seriously?). Most areas more often than not left a lot more to be desired as they were comparatively basic in terms of level design and only really had a couple of shortcuts per level.

Where Dark Souls 2 really shines is in its replayability, as it allowed for a vast variety for build options that the games before it really didn’t have, which means that many people could play the game differently each time and experience new kinds of fun to be had. Largely the boss quality of DS2 is pretty meh, but with crazy new magic spells and insanely whacky new weapons to try, fun can be had there as well. Oh and let’s not forget those 3 DLCs, which are absolutely amazing. 

The version of the game remastered for the PS4 and Xbox One, Scholar of the First Sin Edition, really redeemed the game as it offered a fixture of most of the issues people had with the game, as well as including the 3 incredible DLC’s all within it. 

DS2 gets a bad wrap, but don’t let that discourage you from picking it up and giving it a try, you won’t regret it!

 

4. Sekiro

I want to make a note here that all the games from here on out, I love a lot and don’t really find too much wrong with them. The rest of the list from here on out is just me explaining which experience was the best for me.

Sekiro is amazing. This game is hands down the underdog and is considered by many to be the best game in the series. The combat system of this game is just…. wow. Gameplay wise, it is definitely the biggest departure from the rest of the series as it promotes extreme combat aggression while the purpose of the other games is to methodically whittle down the enemies health bar, this game instead has you focus on the enemies posture bar, which is only brought down by continuous successful hits and parries to their moves, eventually breaking into a deathblow that takes away their entire health bar. This by its nature forces you to attack and keep attacking.

Timing is also a bigger focus in Sekiro than in any other game because you need to parry or ‘deflect’ the enemies attacks with perfect precision in order to break their posture in between the hits you’ll be dishing out to them. Couple this with ‘prosthetic tools’ which take residence in your controller's right trigger. These are really cool moves that also do either health or posture damage, or both, and can be leveled up to be made into cooler variants further. Just brilliant.

With the creation of Sekiro, you can tell that Fromsoftware were just showing off, first they made the incredible, traditionally designed Souls games, then out of nowhere, they shook up the formula like crazy and brought some of the most masterful and satisfying gameplay in Sekiro. Nuts!

Despite this change up, Sekiro remains a Fromsoft game to it’s core, retaining it’s brutal challenge while at the same time, delivering insane spectacle and some of the best boss fights ever put in a video game. The final boss of the game is one that will always make me smile when I think of it.

Though difficulty and the challenge are integral to the series and are things that I will never complain about, the only criticism I could have about Sekiro is that the learning curve is just way too steep. This is by far the hardest game in the series for me and I can only say I got a proper grasp of the combat like 80% of the way through the game, and even then I can only say I ‘mastered’ it only my third playthrough. If you’re someone who is going into Sekiro after playing the other games in the series, you pretty much have to unlearn almost everything you have picked up on throughout the series as the change in gameplay is drastic.

Despite this, Sekiro remains a special game that is just too good to pass up and one that will make you feel like a badass shinobi once you’ve mastered its combat. Just keep up the aggression, keep attacking and don’t stop. Remember, hesitation is defeat.

 

3. Dark Souls 3

The third installment of the legendary Dark Souls series is by far the best one. Fight me. One of the most levied complaints against this game is that it relies too heavily on fan service in order to give weight to its moments.

Is that really that big of an issue? I don’t think so. This is the last game in a series so monumental that it changed the whole landscape of the industry and we will obviously never see it or any series like it ever again. Of course there will be callbacks, because there SHOULD be callbacks. Personally, I did get a little emotional after seeing Artorias being referenced with the Abyss Watchers, I did like that we can fight Oolacile’s Darkwraiths, and yes, I LOVED that we revisit Anor Londo.

These things make the game feel like a true sequel, as it is supposed to. With all the things I like about DS2, it always felt like a standalone game and never like a proper sequel due to the lack of references and departure from the previous game.

DS3 truly is a compilation of the best of the Dark Souls games and is probably the most fair in terms of difficulty and challenge in the entire series. 

This game just felt so special as you always felt that you were watching the end of the world right before your eyes and at the same time, the end of a story that has been 3 games in the making. Building up from what DS2 did so well, DS3 offers even more weapons and magic options, which even further increases build variety and encourages people to try these builds out, whether they keep playing the story again and again or if they play online against other players in an online PvP mode that remains active to this day.

DS3 has boss fights that, in my opinion, are better than most of  Sekiro’s boss fights. Save for a couple, each one has incredible lore behind it and the spectacle is just jaw-dropping, with almost all of them having an incredible challenge to overcome. Pair this with boss music that just perfectly fits the boss and is just a treat to listen to, you have an unforgettable experience. Hell, there’s even a boss in the game that is essentially the answer to a mystery that has been on the minds of gamers since Dark Souls came out in 2011, and one that more than lives up to the lore and legend of the character.

The lore in general of this game is very bleak, but really builds on and improves the lore of the entire series and brings it all together seamlessly and brilliantly. Couple this with the 2 exceptional DLC’s and you have a game that will not leave your mind for a long time. Also, the final boss of this game’s final DLC is just as good as the last boss of Sekiro!

 

2. Bloodborne

I’m going to cheat a little bit. The top 2 games of this list are among my top 5 favorite games of all time, because of which I cannot choose which one I like more, so I am going to say that these 2 occupy the same place in my heart. I don’t think that one is better than the other, though they each have certain aspects that I prefer.

Starting off, we have Bloodborne, Fromsoftware’s 2015 masterpiece that many argue may just be the best game of all time. Hell, even Hidetaka Miyazaki called it his favorite game to make! Bloodborne is nothing short of outstanding, a stroke of brilliance so masterful that people purchase a Sony console just so they can play this game.

Firstly, we have gameplay, which is the Dark Souls formula but angrier. Bloodborne prioritizes fast and aggressive gameplay much like Sekiro, opting for quick-stepping instead of the traditional Dark Souls rolling. Instead of giving characters shields to protect themselves like in Dark Souls, the game goes out of its way to dunk on the uselessness of shields, reserving the players off-hand for a firearm that they can use to shoot and riposte an enemy in order to land a critical hit.

Then we have the weapons themselves, which are quite few in number, compared to the Dark Souls games, with the Bloodborne weapons being only numbered at 26. However, the way each weapon is made is that it transforms into a longer or heavier version giving it an entirely new moveset, effectively doubling the amount of weapons there are in the game. It’s incredible. Each weapon has its own characteristics and specialties which changes the way you play the game.

Then, we have the atmosphere and narrative. The atmosphere is like Demon’s Souls turned up to 11, with eerie and haunting locations and enemies. Halfway through the game, there is a tonal and atmospheric shift as the game goes from being a Victorian era horror game to being something H.P. Lovecraft would be proud of as it shows cosmic horror in a way that has never been shown before. The story of the game is the same in that regard, as it starts out with you as a hunter hunting beasts to turning into a Lovecraftian nightmare. For the sake of the surprise, I won’t spoil anymore.

Lastly, the music is the best of any video game I have ever played, period. Not only are the boss themes just eerie and terrifying, they’re composed in a way that they too mirror the story of the game and the boss.

*SPOILER ALERT*; For example, the first main boss of the game is a fellow hunter named Gascoigne who has gotten ‘blood drunk’ and can no longer discern friend from foe, or man from beast. The fight itself has 3 phases, wherein the 3rd phase, Gascoigne himself turns into a beast. The music during the first 2 phases gives a feeling of this unrelenting hunter who wants to kill you no matter what and always keeps your nerves on edge. When he transforms into the beast, the music suddenly gets erratic, with violins playing terrifying repeating notes, perfectly mirroring his new beastly and animalistic aggression. It’s glorious.

Bloodborne has the best boss fights in the entire series in my opinion, even better than DS3 and Sekiro, as well as having the best DLC, which many consider to be the overall best content of the entire game. To anyone who hasn’t played this, do not sleep on this game, it is an experience waiting to be had.

 

1. Elden Ring

Tying with Bloodborne for the crown of being the best Fromsoftware game is their most recent endeavor, Elden Ring. Quite simply, this has to be at the top, it takes the best aspects from each of the Soulsborne games and brings them all together into one, cohesive masterpiece. 

The scope of this game is almost unseen before in the industry. Being From’s first attempt at a truly open-world game, this game was ambitious from the jump, and really shouldn’t have been as good as it was. Seeing the hype around Cyberpunk 2077 and how it all came crashing down, most people were super wary of Elden Ring after details of its scope came out, and rightfully so. What Fromsoftware ended up doing was not only meeting the hype, but surpassing it completely as the game turned out to be far better than anyone expected.

The game has an incredible atmosphere like Demon’s Souls, impeccable level design like Dark Souls, the build variety of Dark Souls 2, the incredible quality of boss fights like Dark Souls 3, amazing combat mechanics like Sekiro and the narrative cohesion, mood, music and story quality like Bloodborne.

It really is the best of all worlds. Elden Ring takes this and wraps it all up in an absolutely MASSIVE open-world that is chock full of secrets and mysteries that the player uncovers. Whatever a person’s reason is for having a favorite Soulsborne game is literally a part of Elden Ring.

It also happens to be the easiest of all the games to get into, where the super hard stuff only comes towards the end of the massive game that takes around 150-200 hours to finish completely, with some players going even past that. The game offers the most tools to the player in order to make the entire experience as easy as possible. People only really complain about difficulty in Elden Ring because they have to find these tools themselves instead of having their hands held and told where everything is, which would remove the entire satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that you feel for finding things yourself.

There is so much more I can write about Elden Ring, but I honestly prefer to say as little as possible because everyone who claims to love video games should experience this adventure. It is the culmination of everything From has done and learnt since Demon’s Souls came out in 2009 and it has perfected pretty much every aspect of it. This is one of those special pieces of art that comes along only once in a lifetime and is a love letter not to the series only, but to every fan who has loved and supported these games along the way.

P.S. Malenia is still a horribly designed boss and I hate her.

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Being naturally attuned to magic and bearing the strength of a thousand men, it's safe to say I'm used to adding a creative flair to my stories, always striving to tell engaging tales.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Whatever I can get my hands on
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dark Souls 3