From Dark Souls III to Sekiro to Bloodborne, which SoulsBorne boss has left the most players broken? We analyzed trophy data to find out
FromSoftware’s SoulsBorne games are known for their high difficulty and relentlessly challenging boss battles that require the player to be prepared to die over and over. There are varying opinions about which SoulsBorne title is the most difficult and which bosses are the hardest to defeat, but we tried to have a look at what trophy data, specifically trophy acquisition rates, can tell us about the difficulty of each game and its bosses.
Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II and III, Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Elden Ring. We looked into trophy data of these seven FromSoftware titles to find out to what extent the games are being cleared and which bosses have broken the most players, leaving them unable to continue trying. For all titles, we included only bosses who have to be defeated to advance the story. Please note that the following passages contain spoilers for the titles listed above.
Let’s start off with the 2009 action RPG Demon’s Souls. The game follows a linear path until you encounter the first boss Phalanx. After defeating Phalanx, five different worlds appear before you that can be completed in any order. Clearing all of them unlocks the final area of the game.
Trophy acquisition rates show that the highest percentage of players (about 24%) withdraw from the game without clearing the first boss Phalanx. In the section leading up to Phalanx, you cannot collect items or level up in the other worlds, meaning that success in this initial section basically relies on your skills alone, which could be what’s contributing to the high withdrawal rate.
The trophy equivalent to completing the game, the “World Uniter Trophy,” has a 36.1% acquisition rate. This trophy is received when the player goes down the “Good Ending” route, i.e. chooses not to kill the Maiden in Black towards the end. On the other hand, the “de facto” final boss of the game, Old King Allant, has a clear rate of 42.4%, so it can be said that about 40% of players clear Demon’s Souls, which is quite high. It should be noted that the game was released 14 years ago, which surely contributes to this figure.
Next up is the first installment of the Dark Souls series, released in 2011. Dark Souls starts with a tutorial area called the Undead Asylum. After making it through this section, you need to locate and ring the two Bells of Awakening to make it to Sen’s Fortress and finally to Anor Londo. Upon obtaining the Lordvessel in Anor Londo, you take on the bosses of each area, collecting Lord Souls. This allows you to unlock the final area and last boss.
“Reach Lordan,” the trophy that equates to clearing Undead Asylum, has a clear rate of 86.9%, which is significantly higher than the clear rate of the initial area of Demon’s Souls. However, this percentage suddenly dips down to 61.8% at the Undead Church and 51.3% at Quelaag’s Domain respectively. This is the section in which the player searches for the Bells of Awakening, and also the point in the game where players are suddenly free to explore the areas in any order. In other words, it’s likely that many players accidentally wander off into locations such as the New Londo Ruins or the Tomb of the Giants (meant to be explored later on in the game) and give up due to the sheer difficulty they’re faced with.
The two trophies equivalent to the two possible endings of Dark Souls, “To Link the Fire” and “Dark Lord,” have an acquisition rate of 27.8% and 19.2% respectively. Taking into consideration that the clear rates for the Four Kings that come before the last boss are all around 38%, it can be inferred that the last boss’ clear rate is somewhere between 30 and 32%.
Dark Souls II
Dark Souls II, the 2013 sequel, also lets the player explore freely once they have completed the tutorial area. After lighting the Four Primal Bonfires, you are able to enter the Dangleic Castle, traverse the King’s Passage all the way to the Shrine of Amana and reach the Undead Crypt, where you can obtain the King’s Ring. The King’s Ring allows you to reach the Dragon Shrine, where you receive the Ashen Mist Heart from the Ancient Dragon. The condition for unlocking the final boss is obtaining the Giant’s Kinship.
The acquisition rates for all the Primal Bonfire trophies are below 50% – this is likely due to the fact that these trophies are located in the middle section of the game, as well as the fact that you have to defeat several bosses to light each bonfire. It’s also worth mentioning that “The Last Giant,” a boss in the initial stage of the game, has a clear rate of only 61.5%, so the challenging start of Dark Souls II definitely causes a lot of players to give up early on.
On the other hand, the withdrawal rate after the game’s midpoint is much lower, so it could be said that once you’re past the first half, Dark Souls II doesn’t get drastically more difficult. The trophy “The Heir” accounts for both endings of the game, and it has a clear rate of 33.4% percent.
What about Bloodborne? The 2015 action RPG has a unique mechanic whereby defeating a certain boss causes in-game time and events to progress.
The first boss most players likely encounter in Bloodborne is Cleric Beast, but strictly speaking, Cleric Beast is an optional boss, so we’ve taken Father Gascoigne as the first boss here, and his clear rate is an astonishing 44.6%. This means that Bloodborne’s first boss has successfully crushed the souls of over half of its players. By the way, the previously mentioned Cleric Beast is at a 47.5% clear rate, which is hardly any better.
From that point onward, the trophy acquisition rate for bosses steadily declines. As for clearing the whole game, Bloodborne has three endings with three corresponding trophies, and among them, the “Childhood’s Beginning” trophy has the highest clear rate, but this figure is a mere 15.7%. Mergo’s Wet Nurse, the boss you must defeat right before proceeding to the endings, has a clear rate of 24.9%, so the overall completion rate for Bloodborne is likely somewhere around 20%. This makes Bloodborne one of the most challenging SoulsBorne titles to clear from start to finish.
Dark Souls III
Dark Souls III, the 2016 addition to the Dark Souls series, has a comparatively linear flow. The final area and last boss are unlocked by defeating the four Lords of Cinder and returning all four Cinders to their respective thrones in the Firelink Shrine.
The section between the tutorial’s boss Iudex Gundyr and the second boss Vordt of the Boreal Valley has the highest withdrawal rate in Dark Souls III, however, it is still under 20%, and the subsequent bosses all maintain a relatively high clear rate. Based on the acquisition rates for the three trophies that correspond to the game’s three endings, it would appear that about 35% of players complete the game. Dark Souls III is often described as the peak of the trilogy and lauded as a masterpiece among video games, and this reputation may play a part in its comparatively high completion rate.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro, released in 2019, is the only one of the seven SoulsBorne titles that does not support online multiplayer, having more pronounced action game elements.
The first mandatory boss of Sekiro is Gyoubu Masataka Oniwa, who appears after you get past the tutorial and obtain the Shinobi Prosthetic. Looking at trophy data, the first boss battle seems to have more than 40% of players withdrawing from Sekiro, which is quite the number. It should be mentioned that the section leading up to Gyoubu Oniwa also includes tricky parts such as the Chained Ogre mini-boss battle and the optional Hirata Estate location, which are also likely contributing to this figure.
Sekiro has several endings, but the player is awarded the “Sword Saint, Isshin Ashina” trophy for all endings except for the Shura Ending, which means the game’s overall completion rate is around 27.7% percent.
The 2022 action RPG Elden Ring is open-world, allowing a high degree of freedom in its early stages especially. The first major area, Royal Capital Leyndell, can be entered by obtaining at least two Great Runes. After clearing the Royal Capital area, you proceed to the Mountaintops of the Giants, followed by the Crumbling Farum Azula, and ultimately make it to the Ashen Capital Leyndell, where the last boss battle awaits.
Perhaps due to the high degree of freedom in the game’s early stages, the trophy for reaching Roundtable Hold, a comparatively simple event, has a surprisingly low acquisition rate at 68.7%. On the other hand, after the first half of the game, clear rates don’t seem to drop further significantly, and this could be due to the story’s progression becoming more linear. Even the infamous Godskin Duo has a clear rate of 37.8%, and the Fire Giant that comes right before them is at 39.5%, meaning that the Duo accounts for about 1.7% of players reaching their limit. As an aside, even the optional boss Malenia, Blade of Miquella, which is believed by many to be one of the hardest SoulsBorne bosses, has a clear rate of 31.2%. Since Elden Ring allows for a high degree of freedom in how you approach battle, certain bosses can be defeated with unexpected ease if creative enough.
Elden Ring has three main types of endings, each with a corresponding trophy. Taking into account the acquisition rate of the trophy obtained right before the ending, it can be estimated that about 27 to 30% of players clear the game.
According to the above statistics, Bloodborne has the lowest overall completion rate among the seven Soulsborne titles, while Demon’s Souls has the highest. Although Demon’s Souls is less challenging gameplaywise than the more recent titles, it has also been on the market for quite some time, which is a factor that also contributes to the percentage of players who have cleared it.
Out of all seven titles, the boss that crushed the spirits of the highest percentage of players was Bloodborne’s Father Gascoigne (with the cooperation of everyone else over at Yharnam), with a withdrawal rate over 55%. Bloodborne has some of the weakest armor among SoulsBorne titles, and battle is all about accurately timed dodging and Gun parrying. This means that even experienced FromSoftware game players tend to have a hard time with it depending on their play style, which likely contributes to the low completion rate.
Written by. Amber V based on the original Automaton video published 2023-11-27 18:47 (JST).