Every FromSoftware Souls-like game, from Demon’s Souls to Elden Ring is beloved and praised by fans and critics alike. These games are known for being punishing, yet highly rewarding. However, some of these games are harder than others.
We can start by admitting that all of these games are difficult. But it’s undeniable that these games can be ranked by difficulty. A few of them are more forgiving, while some are an outright nightmare.
Without further ado, the following is a ranking of every FromSoftware Souls-like game by difficulty.
While it is still a difficult game, Demon’s Souls is by far the easiest FromSoftware Souls-like game to date. The combat is much simpler, more forgiving, and more straightforward compared to the later titles. Its main hurdle is if you struggle to fully comprehend its World Tendency mechanic.
Demon’s Souls also has a lot of bosses that are very gimmicky, which makes it easy to deal with them as long as you know how the boss fights work.
Dark Souls 2
Dark Souls 2 is notable for being the only FromSoftware Souls-like game to not be directed by Hidetake Miyazaki. However, the directors fully captured and understood what it takes to make a Souls-like title.
Dark Souls 2 is ever so slightly easier compared to its predecessor and successor. Its bosses and regular encounters are more forgiving. Even its level design is easier to understand.
The one thing that makes Dark Souls 2 really difficult is how punishing some of the boss runs are. Getting to a few of the bosses in Dark Souls 2 from the nearest bonfire can be as hard, if not harder, than the boss fight itself. One great example of this is the run to the Blue Smelter Demon.
Dark Souls is the spiritual successor of Demon’s Souls, and the game that put FromSoftware on the map. People loved and appreciated how challenging and rewarding the game was.
The most challenging aspect of Dark Souls is how its level design works. It can be discombobulating navigating the world of this game, but much like its combat, it’s awakening once you fully grasp its intent.
Some of the game’s end-game levels, though, are outright harrowing. Places like the Tomb of the Giants, Lost Izalith, and the Duke’s Archives are memorable for being difficult to navigate.
Dark Souls is somewhat easier compared to games like Bloodborne and Elden Ring because of how straightforward the boss fights can be. The bosses move slower and unpredictable moves are few and far between.
Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3 is the final game in the Dark Souls trilogy. Of the three, it has the best designed and most well-balanced boss fights. However, that doesn’t mean they’re easy. What makes Dark Souls 3 harder than its predecessors is how challenging a lot of the bosses in the game are. Bosses like the Nameless King, the Abyss Watchers, Sister Friede and Father Ariandel, and Slave Knight Gael are as thrilling as they are unrelenting.
One thing that makes this game easier than the rest of the games on this list, though, is how linear it is compared to what you can expect from FromSoftware’s Souls-like games in terms of level design.
Elden Ring is FromSoftware’s latest title as of 2022, and a culmination of everything they know so far. It takes the Souls-like formula and places it into an open-world setting. What you get is an experience that’s open and full of freedom, yet it remains difficult and punishing.
The main aspect that makes Elden Ring highly challenging is its boss fights. Elden Ring fully embraces the unpredictable movesets, long-winding attacks, and duo bosses. Some of the game’s end-game bosses are the hardest bosses in the series.
Malenia, Mohg, the Godskin Duo, and even the Radagon and Elden Beast encounters are all difficult and hard to read. The only reason why this game isn’t harder than the next two games is because of its approachability options. This doesn’t refer to sliders that you can adjust in the game’s settings. This refers to the mechanics the game offers to you as the player that make encounters easier.
There are Spirit Ashes in the game that help you fight bosses and other enemies with a powerful companion. It has a lot of weapons and spells that are completely overpowered. As long as you know how to take advantage of the game’s combat mechanics, you can make this game easier for yourself.
Whereas the Dark Souls trilogy and Demon’s Souls force you to be patient and calculating when it comes to combat, Bloodborne forces you to get into enemies’ faces and become more aggressive than them. This simple deviation from the usual pace of combat players are used to in a FromSoftware Souls-like game works in the context of Bloodborne.
The enemies and bosses here are much more aggressive. The levels can also be downright terrifying, which brings a different level of difficulty altogether.
A lot of the bosses, especially those in the DLC, are notoriously tough. Bosses like the Orphan of Kos, Ludwig the Accursed, and Lawrence the First Vicar are some of the most difficult bosses in the series.
Sekiro, Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro is a complete reimagining of what a FromSoftware Souls-like game can be. It doesn’t function similarly to the other games in the series in terms of combat, but the Souls-like formula is still evidently present.
Unlike the other games, Sekiro forces you to play as one character who wields a singular weapon. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given how it complements the game’s combat system. The bosses in Sekiro are unpredictable, unrelenting, and downright powerful.
Once you fully grasp Sekiro’s combat mechanics, it becomes a much easier game. However, out of all the games in the series, it has the highest difficulty ceiling. You’ll die way more than twice before you can fully understand what it means to be an unstoppable shinobi in Sekiro.