From Software has been renowned for their game’s difficulty now for several years, beginning with Demon’s Souls back in 2009 and continuing on with the more financially successful Dark Souls series. In 2015 however, the studio went in a slightly different tone and direction with the release of a true modern video game masterpiece in Bloodborne.
The world that they created is familiar and initially grounded in reality, but quickly becomes something original, frightening, and macabre. It is worth the cost of a PlayStation 4 console to play this title alone. It is that good.
Every aspect of this game is fine-tuned to excellence and the bosses are no different. They carry on From Software’s traditional difficulty to be sure, but the added mechanics of Bloodborne make every fight feel like a heavyweight bout between old rivals: a cautious start at the sight of their grotesque appearance that turns into a blood-thirsty rage as each boss nears its death.
In this article, I will attempt to rank each of the bosses of Bloodborne based upon the difficulty that I had with each one in my initial playthrough. Some became easier in NG+ and beyond, but that will not be factored in for how I rank these Lovecraftian horrors. I will also not be including the bosses that can be found in the Chalice Dungeon at this time but we may try to tackle them in the future.
Spoiler Warning: Many of the descriptions and tips are given in this article are direct spoilers to the main story of Bloodborne and beyond. You have been warned.
Let’s get started.
22. The Witch of Hemlock
What can I say for these lovely ladies other than to tell you that they are an absolute piece of cake? They do have a few tricks up their sleeve, like being able to teleport around the arena and summon the slowest moving bodyguards of all time, but this fight mostly boils down to finding the actual “witch” and beating her to death with whatever you fancy.
They each do have the ability to grab you and do a significant amount of damage if you stay near them for too long, but if you have any level of observation you will be able to see it coming for a mile.
Keep moving from corner to corner in the arena while waiting for the witch to reappear and this fight should be over very fast.
Overall Difficulty: .5 out of 10
21. Celestial Emissary
The more the merrier with these guys. If you didn’t think that this game was headed in a cosmic direction by this point, then you definitely should have noticed it after this fight! These little blue dudes are ripped straight out of the 1950’s “men from mars” type films and comics and at first, can be a little off-putting and creepy.
But as soon as the player enters the fray and begins to take them down it should be pretty clear to them that this fight will be an easy one. Even as the “real” emissary makes himself known by growing a little larger in size, the player should have no fear of these little blue pushovers.
Using Fire Paper in this fight will make cause it to be over in about twenty seconds, (depending on how fast you find the leader) as they melt like butter under the heat.
Overall Difficulty: 1 out of 10
20. Living Failures
And now for some bosses that truly live up to their names in every way. I was pretty disappointed to find these guys sandwiched between two sets of some of the hardest bosses I have faced in all of From Software’s catalog.
These guys make up the third boss fight in the amazing DLC add-on called “The Old Hunters” and when you see where I have the other four bosses from it you might understand what I mean.
Simply stick to one of them until it is dead and rotate to the next. All of their attacks have long windups and clear telegraphed signals so they are pretty easy to avoid. The only attack to worry about is the one where they raise their hands together and conjure a dark orb to hurl at you. Simply move to the opposite side of the pillar from it and it will shield you from it. Nothing to it.
Overall Difficulty: 1.5 out of 10
19. Cleric Beast
It should be no surprise that the first boss of Bloodborne ranks here among the easier ones, but don’t let that make you enter this fight unprepared, especially if you are a first time player of the Soulsborne series. He can still do a lot of damage quickly and his grab attack can be frequent and annoying depending on RNG, (Random Number Generator) which determines how often a boss will perform a particular action.
The tactic for the Cleric Beast is the same as many bosses of the series, get around behind and don’t let up on your attacks. This works especially well in Bloodborne because if you sustain enough damage to one part of the body, most bosses will become stunned and fall down, allowing you to perform a devastating “Visceral” attack for insane damage! Fire Paper and Beast Pellets are also a must-have for most bosses that you will encounter.
Overall Difficulty: 3 out of 10
18. The One Reborn
I really think that the developers were just going for the shock factor with this seemingly “thrown together” boss. The boss actually does have some story relevance and isn’t all that terrible to fight overall, it just feels like they ran out of ideas and said, “I know, let’s copy the Tower Demon fight from Demon’s Souls but with a pile of people parts instead!”.
Climb any of the stairs at the corners of the arena and clear out all of the magic casters on the balcony, then return to the boss and try to strike at its “head” for big damage and a chance to stun him. Just be aware of the nasty bile that he can release all around him and you shouldn’t have a hard time at all.
Overall Difficulty: 3 out of 10
17. Mergo’s Wet Nurse
For as terrifying as the Wet Nurse can be to see for the first time, she really doesn’t pack much of a punch. She signals most of her attacks by raising her many arms holding their many swords high into the air, giving you more than enough time to get around behind her and stay put until she has calmed down.
She can and does go into a state where she summons a few clones to attack you out of a shrouded mist, but the best thing to do here is just to keep moving as most of the attacks are focused on where you were standing when it began. Depending upon which end you want, the Wet Nurse may even be the game’s final boss, which is a bit underwhelming to think about.
Overall Difficulty: 4 out of 10
16. Micolash, Host of the Nightmare
Every Souls-like game has to have at least one gimmick boss and this crazed lunatic fits the bill nicely. Ordinarily, I am not a fan of these types of fights, but the atmosphere both before and during this encounter is something that has stuck with me long after experiencing it.
Basically the idea is to chase him through a maze of interconnected hallways and eventually realize that you need to double back at a certain point to catch him in a room that he cannot escape from. After that, it pretty much boils down to a slightly more difficult fight than a normal mob but not by that much.
He has several lines of dialogue that are unique and compelling throughout the chase but not much to offer once he is cornered. All in all, a great story boss, but definitely not a hard one.
Overall Difficulty: 4 out of 10
After my eyes were opened to the presence of one of these “Great Ones” outside Cathedral Ward, I thought to myself, “I hope I don’t have to fight one of these guys…” But I did have to fight one, and his name was Amygdala.
Ordinarily, my suggestion would be to get underneath a boss this size, but Amygdala has several attacks directed downward and each of his arms seemingly do damage even if they don’t connect with you so staying in front of him and waiting for good windows is the best approach.
If you focus on one leg at a time, like many other large bosses, he will stagger and you can get a Visceral attack in.
All things considered, it shouldn’t take the average player more than a few tries to get the win.
Overall Difficulty: 5 out of 10
14. Darkbeast Paarl
The last thing I expected while trying to make my escape from the Hypogean Gaol was to run into this napping guard dog at the front gate. He is one of a few rare bosses in the game that you can see from a ways off, which only adds to the sense of dread as you approach him.
I put him here just above Amygdala because the fights are somewhat similar in nature, with the obvious difference being the bolts of electricity coming from Paarl’s fur-covered body. Henryk’s Hunter Set is a great armor for this fight as it is extremely high in lightning protection.
Whack on one of his legs, wait until he has staggered and punch him in the face. Some builds may even have enough DPS (damage per second) that he will never have a chance to fully stand back up!
Overall Difficulty: 5 out of 10
13. Vicar Amelia
Think of Vicar Amelia as kind of a “Bell Gargoyles” moment in Bloodborne, a sort of skill check that demands you have the core fundamentals of the game down before proceeding. You may have bumbled your way past the Cleric Beast, and you may have gotten a bit lucky against Gascoigne, but you aren’t going to beat Vicar Amelia without some skill.
It is fairly standard, albeit difficult, fight until she gets below twenty-five percent health as she will then stop to cast a spell to regenerate her lost health. Throwing a Numbing Mist on her before or during her time in prayer will stop the healing process and make this fight much easier.
You are certainly going to want to watch out for her grab attack from the front because nothing will kill you faster than that. You may also want to know how to do transform attacks at this pint as well. You may find a need for them again.
Overall Difficulty: 5.5 out of 10
12. Moon Presence
As the true and final Final Boss of Bloodborne, I must say I expected a bit more for this mysterious entity. He comes to you directly after you defeat Gehrman, which in my opinion is a more difficult and rewarding encounter.
It may be that the developers knew that most players would be short on vials and/ or bullets at this point and decided to back off a bit. That’s not to say that he is easy, because he can definitely put up a good fight, just that he seems that way after the epic duel with the First Hunter.
Overall Difficulty: 6 out of 10
11. Blood-Starved Beast
This is one of those bosses that frustrated me greatly on my first playthrough but she is also one that hasn’t ever killed me on any playthrough since.
This is all due to one very important fact about the Blood-Starved Beast. She is really hungry and she really wants blood. Says so right in her name.
If you use a Pungent Blood Cocktail and throw it in a corner, she will turn her back to sniff the scent and you can get quite a few attacks in. Be sure to watch for her poison animation in the second phase and to use your antidotes sparingly and wisely.
Overall Difficulty: 6.5 out of 10
10. Rom the Vacuous Spider
It seems that one of the staples of a true From Software game is a boss fight with a seemingly impossible arena floor: Four Kings, the Nameless King, the Divine Dragon, and also Rom the Vacuous Spider.
Rom himself does almost no actual fighting in this battle, but that doesn’t make it any easier. He summons minion spiders to hold you off while he prepares to cast giant egg sacs down at you from the sky! When you see him roll over to initiate this attack, run quickly in a large circle around him until they are done.
Keep making your way to him through the path of least resistance available and be sure to bring some fire paper along because I hear spiders love that stuff!
Overall Difficulty: 6.5 out of 10
9. Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos
Ebrietas was a tricky boss to rank for me because sometimes she can be very docile and easy to get in close and stagger and other times she will spam her distance and heavy attacks over and over again, making the fight seem nearly impossible.
It is that uncertainty that has made for a nervous approach on each occasion that I have faced her, but my tactic remains the same as most other big bads. Strafe in one direction and get in behind her as you avoid attacks, then retaliate until she begins to turn to face you and repeat.
Sometimes you will just get lucky, and sometimes you will not.
Overall Difficulty: 7 out of 10
8. Father Gascoigne
If I were making this list based upon my overall enjoyment of these bosses regardless of their difficulty, Father Gascoigne would have a strong case for number one in my mind. His opening cut scene is incredibly memorable and the story you can uncover through one of his daughters in Yharnam is fascinating and tragic, adding even more depth to an already tremendous boss.
He can be incredibly challenging for a first time player of Bloodborne, but especially hard for anyone unfamiliar with the rest of Miyazaki’s games.
He starts off as a better version of you, dodging and strafing to get better angles on you and can also “parry” your attacks if you get too repetitive. At half-health he will transform into a beast, succumbing to the effects of the Old Blood. If you can’t seem to get past this part I have one small suggestion for you, play a little music to help calm him down.
Overall Difficulty: 7.5 out of 10
7. Shadow of Yharnam
This boss is a great example of how practice and repetition can lead to great discoveries, discoveries that make life a lot easier. Say for instance, “Which one of these three hooded Nazgul should I go after first?”, “What types of attacks should I use to kill them faster?”, or “Why, dear God, why is there a giant snake coming out of that dude!?”
Allow me to answer these questions for you. Damage them all equally until they are each at fifty-percent health, then go after the one with only a sword in his hand. After he reaches forty percent health, they will each get more aggressive so kill him quickly.
Move on to the guy with the sword and candle and once he is dead the “pyromancer” will gain the ability to summon a giant snake. Move in quickly on him and do not let up, keeping him staggered until he is dead. Do all of that, in that order, and you might get the win.
Overall Difficulty: 8 out of 10
6. Martyr Logarius
Hmmmm, a scythe-wielding boss at the end of a secret area left in ruins and covered in snow. Now, where have I seen this before? Ah yes, the Painted World of Ariamis!
Except for the fact that I have opposite feelings about Cainhurst Castle. I hated the mobs of the Painted World and loved Priscilla, this time I like the setting of the castle and I hate this stupid crown-wearing Gandalf!
He has so many varying attacks and he seemingly never lets you have a chance to heal. Add on top of that an attack that puts a sword in the ground that you must focus all your attention on destroying while he wails on your butt!
I hate this dude so much that now I go out of my way to head to Cainhurst on each playthrough so I can make him the martyr he wants to be.
Overall Difficulty: 8.5 out of 10
5. Laurence, the First Vicar
Hey, I remember this guy! This is just the Cleric Beast again! I can beat this guy with my eyes closed by now. Wait, what are you doing? Did you just lose your legs and start crawling around on the floor, leaving me no realistic way to get behind you and no reason to in the first place because your butt is now gone? Cool.
Okay, I see that you are now spewing lava out the hole where your waist used to be and covering the whole arena in it, leaving me no place to even go to get away from you. Not cool.
That’s pretty much how it goes.
Overall Difficulty: 9 out of 10
4. Gehrman, the First Hunter
I really love this fight a lot. It feels like you are fighting the best version of yourself and the setting of the flowers in the field under that massive tree in Hunter’s Dream only makes it better.
He requires patience and learning on the part of the player because he will, without question, punish any and all recklessness and repetition. He is what you have tried to be this entire game and who you can become if you are able to defeat him.
One great thing about this fight is that there are no enemies between the nearest lamp and the boss arena so dying is not nearly as annoying as it can sometimes be.
Overall Difficulty: 9 out of 10
3. Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower
In my opinion, Lady Maria is the hardest of the “hunter” style bosses of Bloodborne. She gets more aggressive through the three stages of her fight, (Yes you read that correctly, there are three stages to be mastered here.) and her attacks become more powerful through each as well.
She duel-wields the Rakuyo and the Evelyn, which only get stronger in each phase, first by adding blood attacks to her weapons, then by adding fire. At phase three you can get hit from her blade, the blood trail and the following fiery explosion all in the same swing!
Needless to say, learning this fight can be quite hard and still take a lot of concentration once you have figured it out. Do not let defeat frustrate you here, it will only make the victory that much sweeter.
Overall Difficulty: 9.5 out of 10
2. Ludwig the Accursed/ Holy Blade
Absolute nightmare fuel. I have played a lot of games and seen a lot of messed up stuff, but this horse-spider-man and his barnacle-suction cup of death-shoulder blade made their way up the all-time list pretty fast. From his shrieks of pain when striking him to the awe-inspiring moment that sees him remember who he was, every moment of this fight is glorious and awesome to behold.
Technically all of the bosses of Bloodborne have at least two unique “phases” to their fights, but none is more obvious or made better use of than in this epic battle. Ludwig begins as a raging monster of pure chaos, darting around the corpse-filled arena and punishing you for losing track of him. Then at half-health he retrieves his sword of moonlight and becomes a seasoned warrior once again, striking with precision and forcing you to play perfectly to achieve victory.
For me, what started out in pure disgust ended in deep sympathy for the fate of Ludwig, which is mostly the opposite in regards to all the other bosses on this list.
Overall Difficulty: 10 out of 10
1. Orphan of Kos
I have played the entirety of From Software’s collection of “Soulsborne” games, from Demon’s Souls all the way to their newest game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and I have to say that this boss is legitimately one of the top three hardest boss fights from any of them for me.
This fetus man and his placenta bat will have you scrambling all over the place trying to regain your positioning and stay in front of him because he is lightning fast (and that is just during his first phase). He can be interrupted with a perfectly timed pistol shot, but missing one of these is an instantly regretted decision.
His second phase makes the first one seem calm by comparison and you must remain completely zoned into his movements to dodge and weave his seemingly never-ending wave of attacks. There is no shame to being over-leveled for this fight and even then I wish you all the best in beating the last boss that Bloodborne has to offer.
Overall Difficulty: HIDE YOUR MOTHER out of 10