Which FromSoftware Soulsborne game is the hardest?

The fans and experts of the Soulsborne genre on the Shack Staff put our opinions together to form a ranking of FromSoftware's Soulsborne games, easiest to hardest.


FromSoftware Soulsborne games have had a heavy-handed impact on the design and conversations around difficult games for years now. The iconic Dark Souls series and other titles like it formed what we know as the Soulsborne genre and many have sought to capture that spirit even beyond FromSoftware itself. That said, there’s nothing like cracking open a fresh adventure from the direction of Hidetaka Miyazaki and these games have built legends for themselves on their fun and difficulty. How difficult are they? Well, that depends on who you ask, but many of us here at Shacknews have hundreds of hours across the FromSoftware pantheon and fancy we know a thing or two about where they stand in relation to each other.

With that in mind, we present to readers our combined ranking of FromSoftware Soulsborne games in a countdown from easiest to hardest. This list is a collaborative effort of ranking and discussion between Sam Chandler, Chris Jarrard, Dennis White, David Craddock, and myself, TJ Denzer.

FromSoftware Soulsborne games ranked by difficulty (easiest to hardest)

Keep in mind that while there are many quality Soulsborne titles out there beyond FromSoftware games, this list specifically focuses on FromSoftware Soulsborne games barring the likes of games like The Surge 2 or Armored Core. Please understand, light a torch and have a read, won’t you?

6. Bloodborne

Not so much an easy game to beat, we would only argue that Bloodborne is easier than other FromSoftware games on this list. Collecting blood vials to keep your healing in lieu of a constant flask is kind of annoying, and poison from the Blood-Starved Beast or frenzy from the Brain of Mensis and Winter Lanterns (AKA Brain Trusts) are definitely a pain in the patootie, but Bloodborne also supplies players with extremely ample tools to get past these frustrations. Trick weapons aren’t just versatile in Bloodborne. Quite a few of them are just downright overpowered. By the time seasoned FromSoftware players get to Bloodborne, there’s likely no threat here they aren’t prepared to overcome and even those new to Soulsborne titles will likely find it to be more forgiving than others on this list once you learn the ropes. Eldritch horrors may be in healthy supply in Bloodborne, but compared to some of the other contenders on this list, Bloodborne is but a dream.

5. Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls 3 could be considered to be deceptively accessible. As a much later arrival in the FromSoftware pantheon, it feels like the developer had worked out a lot of pain points that made previous games less easy to approach. There are alternative routes and assistance just about everywhere in this game. Whether you’re taking the aid of another player or the iconic Siegward of Catarina, there’s plenty of teamwork to be found. Nothing feels obscured or ridiculously hard when it comes to figuring out how to move forward. And hey, if you are having trouble, just farm Darkwraiths until they give you the Dark Sword and then buff the heck out of it because it’s just an absurdly powerful weapon for both two-hand and sword-and-shield builds. Don’t get us wrong - bosses like Aldritch and the optional Nameless King still make this a tough nut to crack, but it’s also just a refinement of FromSoftware style that, by extension, feels like it does away with a lot of issues from earlier games.

4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an odd duck. It is a FromSoftware game, and arguably a Soulsborne-style game, but there are many that would consider it a separate beast from proper Soulsborne. On one hand, you have a great many elements of Soulsborne games such as a replenishing healing item, checkpoints that refresh the world, and a currency that must be recollected if you die and can be lost altogether if you die again. That said, Sekiro is also a game of verticality and stealth, and its combat both offers and requires wide versatility from the player. There’s very little opportunity to simply overpower Sekiro. You will adapt or you will die. You also can’t just get a buddy to help you win the game through multiplayer advantage. However, we ultimately agreed Sekiro has more in common with Soulsborne than not and its challenge requires very unique approaches to make it through to the end credits. The end boss gauntlet of its “true” ending is the stuff of nightmares, but knowing where the openings lay and acting upon them makes defeating Sekiro a more manageable task.

3. Demon’s Souls

The prototype and lead-in to Dark Souls is quite the beast in both its original and remake form. In many ways, Demon’s Souls is a source of many of the pain points we previously mentioned were smoothed out by the time Dark Souls 3 rolled around. Limited cure items that you had to constantly stock up on were a massive pain, as was this game’s “poison area,” the aptly named Swamp of Sorrow. The Depraved Chasm (Valley of Defilement or World 5-1 for you OG players) is also obnoxious in that taking a hit or rolling in the wrong direction meant falling to your death. If that wasn’t annoying enough, you have to watch out for the game’s bad hit detection in a lot of areas. In Stonefang Tunnel for instance, creatures can explode and that explosion goes through walls. Boom, you thought you were safe and now you’re dead. Despite all of this, Demon Souls also has a lot of jank that can be manipulated to the player’s benefit. There were so many annoying technicalities and eccentricities to work past, but the fact that you could abuse them also makes this game a little more forgiving than the upcoming entries.

2. Dark Souls 2

Dark Souls 2 is a bit of a victim of the successes of Dark Souls 1. FromSoftware made a sequel that assumed players knew what they were dealing with and challenged their expectations. It made getting your healing flask a challenge and the speed of healing as a whole was also reduced and upgrades were hard to come by. That’s a challenge that affects everyone from the newcomer to the experienced. Then there’s things like the dreaded Pursuer - the “Nemesis” of Dark Souls. Fighting this bulky and horribly fast fellow was tough enough in a regular boss fight, but many will likely remember the terror in their hearts when the Pursuer also just spawns in various normal areas. Even its multiplayer component (the method by which you might lesson difficulty of the game) was also originally determined by a stat called Soul Memory, which limited who and where you could call in allies to aid you. It's worth noting that Scholar of the First Sin did a lot to address pain points in Dark Souls 2, but there are some challenges baked into this game that just make it a daunting task no matter how much time you’ve got in the series.

1. Dark Souls

The first Dark Souls is where FromSoftware both addressed the legit frustrations of Demon’s Souls and created altogether new ones in one swift movement. Yes, you get flasks, and yes, upgrades for those flasks are pretty abundant. In return, most things hit like a freight train, can stunlock and swarm you with ease, and there are a lot of encounters in Dark Souls that will kill you the first time simply because you’re unprepared for them. That said, even if you prepared for them, the original Dark Souls left very little room for error. Few things are more representative of this than the tedious and frustrating Bed of Chaos, which may be one of the most annoying bosses that FromSoftware has ever cobbled together. There's also Ornstein and Smough: two jerks that tag team you and when you kill one, the other gets heinously stronger. You just have to know how to beat these challenges and there are plenty of places where even if you do, they will kill you and you’ll have to start over. Dark Souls put a lot of elements in play that have becomes standards of the series. Difficulty was one of them, but one can argue that FromSoftware has also transitioned with each game towards a place where encounters are more manageable, pain points are less frequent, and there’s less abundance of jank necessary to subvert them.

That covers our full ranking of the difficulty of FromSoftware games from easiest to hardest. Do you agree? Disagree? Which FromSoftware game or experience stands out as the most frustrating, difficult, or easiest to you? Let us know in the Shacknews Chatty section below!

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 4, 2022 8:00 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Which FromSoftware Soulsborne game is the hardest?

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      February 4, 2022 8:22 AM

      I don't know

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      February 4, 2022 10:19 AM

      definitely one of the Kings Field games.

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        February 4, 2022 10:28 AM

        Shadow Tower but it's also the shittiest. Like, for real, fuck that game.

    • reply
      February 4, 2022 11:24 AM


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      February 4, 2022 11:25 AM

      DS2 DLC followed by Demon's Souls I think.

      Demon's more because of obscure and shitty crafting and lack of bonfires.

      If we can include Sekiro that is harder than any Souls game.

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        February 4, 2022 11:33 AM

        Funny, I found Sekiro much easier than DS1,2, or 3 (I'm PC only so haven't been able to play the others).
        Once you got parrying down the whole game just kinda melted other than a few choice encounters. The last boss was real PITA but was perfectly doable if you had a hang for the combat and timings.

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          February 4, 2022 11:35 AM

          It didn't click for me the first time. Coming from Souls games, I played it that way, and it was like skating uphill.

          Once I surrendered myself to the design and learned how to actually play, it became easier, though still super-challenging at times.

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            February 4, 2022 12:03 PM

            I'm coming off just finishing DS2 + DLC for the first time and started into Sekiro. It definitely has souls elements but feels like a pretty different animal i'm upto the flaming bull but it feels like more of a struggle so far. Souls games generally let you play how you want to, and Sekiro definitely is a learn their way or it's gonna be very frustrating

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      February 4, 2022 11:26 AM

      Serious answer: Whichever one is your first.

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      February 4, 2022 11:42 AM

      I disagree with some of your bits about blood vials, grass, and estus. You seem to make the argument that having to farm vials or grass make the game harder than just having your estus flask refill. I think that makes those games more tedious, but not harder. Especially in Demons Souls, if you're having a tough time, you can just roll into an area with three types of grass all maxed out after some easy farming.

      Personally, I had the hardest time with Sekiro. Probably DS2 after that.

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        February 4, 2022 12:09 PM

        DS2 has some absolutely brutal runs Black Gulch, the runs to both smelter demons, horse valley are all just rough rough rough

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          February 4, 2022 11:01 PM

          All it takes is a lot of runs and killing at least one dude every run, and eventually it's clear.

    • Zek legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      February 4, 2022 12:10 PM

      Definitely Sekiro.

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        February 5, 2022 12:36 AM

        yep. still haven't beaten it.

        Demons Souls, DS 1,2,3, and Bloodborne. No problem.

        Sekiro? Problem.

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      February 4, 2022 12:14 PM

      Whichever one you're playing on PC right now because there are no summons.

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        February 4, 2022 11:03 PM

        No, because that's DS3. And I have an NPC available at either Boss fight I do next (Ocerios or Dragonslayer Armor)

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      February 4, 2022 11:00 PM

      You completely missed that - initially mindbreaking - aspect of DS2 where you can be invaded while hollow. You can be invaded while hollow AND at half Max-HP.
      Also invaders can eat healing gems although Estus is still unavailable to summons/invaders (as per DS1).
      In DS3 everyone can just Estus again.

      I would say DS1 is the hardest because there are some real dick areas/fights, and you can't eventually despawn all the enemies between you and the boss as you can in DS2.

      I have played neither Demon's Souls nor Bloodborne, and Sekiro is not a Soulsborne IMO.
      Nioh. Nioh is the hardest one I've completed. The Surge is technically the hardest one, as I will never go back to that boss fight. Well maybe some day...

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      February 8, 2022 8:32 AM

      Cool games, but I'm so on fire with them

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