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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Editorial: Top 10 Souls Series Bosses, Part 1.

Editorial: Top 10 Souls Series Bosses,
Part 1, 10-6.

Dark Souls III, purportedly the final installment in Dark Souls, recently came out to great critical and commercial acclaim, and I've made no secret of my great love for Bloodborne - so it was really only a matter of time before we did an editorial looking at the most lauded and well-loved feature of the Souls and Souls-like games, the bosses.

To clarify, we're including all of From's Souls-like games here: So that's Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Bloodborne, and Dark Souls III.

10. Looking Glass Knight, Dark Souls II.

Getting points for sheer uniqueness, the Looking Glass Knight is probably the only Dark Souls II boss that will end up on this list, and he's here mostly because he has a really interesting gimmick. Armed with a sword and a mirrored shield, the Looking Glass Knight will attack with a combination of sword strikes, lightning attacks (via electrifying his sword from lightning strikes), and deflecting your spells, but that's not what makes him really interesting.

What makes him interesting is that, just like you, the Looking Glass Knight can summon NPCs and other players to help him, effectively using your own tactics and abilities as a player against you. Like you, he can summon up to two, so if you brought two players of your own with you, this can turn into an all-out war with two teams of three (one of whom is massive, shiny, and wielding lightning strikes) clashing against each other.

For extra confusion, regular red phantoms can also enter your game while this is going on, meaning it's entirely possible for a three-way battle in which two of the parties are gunning for your head.

9. The Bloody Crow of Cainhurst, Bloodborne.

An optional boss in Bloodborne, the Bloody Crow of Cainhurst comes at the end of Eileen's storyline. A mad hunter of personal importance to Eileen (his name suggests that, like her, he was a hunter of hunters), with a connection to the Vilebloods of Cainhurst, you encounter the Bloody Crow after he has defeated Eileen and driven her to near death.

The hunter enemies in Bloodborne are always difficult, but the Bloody Crow takes it to a whole new level - he's durable, fast (in fact, he'll abuse the use of the Old Hunter's Bone, allowing him to engage in Bleach-esque flash stepping), strong, can enhance his Chikage sword with his own blood to increase its range and power (albeit while draining his own health), and behaves totally unpredictably.

He's almost unique in that regard, because while most hunters act in a fairly easy to predict way, the Bloody Crow will do things like rapidly dart around the room to confuse you; step in to attack then abruptly flash-step backwards again; repeatedly attack you with his gun instead of using it to parry; and leave openings for you to attack only to jump away when you try.

Personally, I defeated him in the most cowardly way possible, using a combination of his Chikage's health-draining effect and poison darts to slowly sap his health until I could kill him with one or two hits. It was mostly a game of keep-away for me.

8. The Abyss Watchers, Dark Souls III.

I'm usually not a big fan of crowd bosses (although I suppose the Abyss Watchers don't really count, since only one of them is the boss - the rest are just back-up for him or her), but the Abyss Watchers earn points for being ridiculously cool.

Paying homage to Artorias (although in a very Dark Souls twist, homage to him only after he became corrupted by the Abyss), the Abyss Watchers are a band of fighters who are sworn to combat the Abyss - and, by the time you meet them, they are all, collectively, a Lord of Cinder.

They're all absurdly fast, wield a sword and dagger to brutal effect, and occasionally you'll encounter an Abyss Watcher who's nominally on your side (unless you get too close) meaning that, like the battle with the Looking Glass Knight, this is a boss battle that has the potential to become a confusing battle royale. 

The boss has a pretty cool second stage, too, a duel with a single Abyss Watcher, now empowered by flames after assuming their Lord of Cinder form.

7. Ludwig the Accursed/Ludwig the Holy Blade, Bloodborne. 

A much heard about figure in the base game, you don't actually encounter Ludwig, the first hunter of the Healing Church, until The Old Hunters. Rather than encounter him as a hunter, however, you instead find him as a massive, two-headed, horse-like beast, beginning one of the most memorable boss battles in the game.

Ludwig starts off as a pretty fearsome beast, prancing about the room, crushing everything around him, and doing his very best to murder you. He's aggressive even by the standards of a Bloodborne boss, and you get very little chance to relax in this fight. Even summoning an ally doesn't help much, as Ludwig is more than capable of inflicting violence on both you and your ally simultaneously.

It's the second phase that makes him truly special, though, as he picks up his glowing sword, forces himself to become bipedal, and begins fighting again. In his second phase, he's some weird combination of beast, hunter, and magical girl, as this towering horselike monstrosity strides about the battlefield, swinging a sword bigger than you are that produces waves of damaging moonlight with every swing. What was already a hectic battle quickly becomes even more hectic, as the area is filled with blasts of moonlight.

When you defeat him, you can decide whether to comfort his disembodied head, and whether to kill him - or leave him for Simon, another hunter, to finish off.

6. Manus, Father of the Abyss, Dark Souls.

Manus is the closest thing the Dark Souls series has to a main antagonist. Often suspected of being the Furtive Pygmy, all we know about him is that he was a human with powerful humanity, whose humanity went out of control after the actions of the people of Oolacile, causing him to emanate darkness and create the Abyss. 

While we kill him in the first game, this simply causes him to split into fragments that become the queens of Dark Souls II, and come Dark Souls III the Abyss is still very active and powerful.

The battle against Manus oozes atmosphere, as you fight him in almost pitch darkness, as he alternates between lumbering around in the shadows, leaping at you with surprising speed, and extending his limbs into vortexes of hair and darkness to attack you from afar. 

He hits like a truck, is durable, has an absurd amount of HP, and makes full use of those shadows, stalking about in them so that a lot of the time you can only see his eyes and what little light there is glinting off his bone-horn-hair-things.

To make things worse (or better), he has a second phase, where he starts using magic unlike anything seen elsewhere in the franchise, summoning oily black orbs of shadow to attack you.

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