Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Dark Souls II boss battle scorecard

Before Dark Souls II was released on PC this past Friday, I'd already finished the game twice on Xbox 360 (once on New Game +). It'd be madness to purchase the game again and beat it a third time just for the privilege of playing it at 60fps in 1080p, especially since I wasn't all that crazy about Dark Souls II in the first place, right? Absolute insanity.

So, yes, my third playthrough went swimmingly, completed in just over nine hours (a testament to how quickly these Souls games go when you actually know what you're doing and where you're going). I was considering doing a double dip review of the PC version to complement my first write-up, and that's still on the table, but for now, I thought I'd have a little fun and assemble a scorecard for the game's bosses, much like I once did for the first Dark Souls. This playthrough marked me finally encountering and killing Darklurker, meaning I've officially fought everything on this list.

Since I've completed the game three times, including once on NG+, there will be a slight point deduction for any boss that I never died against. 'Cause, y'know, these games are supposed to be hard. (Pictured above: Looking Glass Knight.)

The Last Giant
          +5 for having an anus for a face
          +10 for breaking off his own arm and hitting you with it
          +3 for not being terribly far from the nearest checkpoint
          +5 for being an all-around good starter boss
          -3 for taking so long
                    total: 20

The Pursuer
          +5 for being optional
          +2 for being a big armored guy; I'm sure that won't get old
          -5 for showing up earlier in the level and terrorizing unsuspecting players
          +1 for reappearing in the Smelter Demon arena later on
          -1 for not dropping many souls for that battle
          +12 for being shuttled around everywhere by a giant bird
          +3 for guarding the shortcut into the Lost Bastille
          +3 and the Drangleic Armor set, which kicks ass
          -10 for the impale attack
          +5 for being extremely vulnerable to ballista fire
          +6 for letting players troll each other with the ballistas
                    score: 21

          -8 for boss I never died against
          +3 for that trick with the rising platforms
          +2 for at least setting up shop in a pretty area
          +5 for being a guy who apparently rides dragons
          +1 for showing up early and therefore not feeling redundant
                    score: 3

Old Dragonslayer
          -8 for boss I never died against
          +5 for being optional
          +6 for being Ornstein!
          -3 because that's lazy
          +2 for guarding the Tower Shield, which I used a lot
                    score: 2

Flexile Sentry
          -8 for boss I never died against 
          +5 for being optional (technically)
          +6 for being a two-headed pirate bastard
          -4 for that annoying switch hunt required to summon the ship
                    score: -1

Ruin Sentinels
          +5 for being optional
          +5 for only being optional if you explore thoroughly
          -10 for making me fight three of these damn things
          +3 because at least you can fight the first one solo
          -4 for shield-throwing
          +5 because the shield-throwing renders them lower on defenses
          -8 for being guarded by something like a dozen quick soldiers
          -5 for showing up later in Drangleic Castle and being annoying
                    score: -9

Belfry Gargoyles
          +5 for being optional
          -3 for being a repeat of the Bell Gargoyle fight from the first game
          -10 which everybody freaking hated
          -10 for there being five of them this time
          -12 which you'll fight simultaneously if you're not quick enough
          -12 for constant invasions in the area directly preceding this
                    score: -42

Lost Sinner
          +8 for the bug crawling out of the eye socket
          -2 because this is where I started to get sick of bipedal armored guys
          -3 for being insanely quick
          -6 for making me wade past a bunch of exploding zombies to get here
          -10 for summoning two phantoms mid-fight on NG+
          -1 for being an underwhelming Great Soul holder, all things considered
                    score: -14

The Skeleton Lords
          -3 for being more a collection of small enemies than a boss
          -5 for those damned skeleton wheel guys
          +1 I don't hate this boss
                    score: -7

Executioner's Chariot
          +5 for being optional
          -6 for sure as hell seeming mandatory
          -7 for the stupid skeletons
          -8 because the stupid skeletons respawn
          +4 because at least you can kill the necromancers
          -10 for getting run over basically meaning an instant death
          -10 for having two phases
          -12 for the hassle it takes to get back every time you die
          -30 for not even guarding anything interesting
                    score: -74

Covetous Demon
          -8 for boss I never died against
          +8 for looking like Jabba the Hutt
                    score: 0

Mytha, the Baneful Queen
          -20 for the battle being set in a pool of poisonous water
          +5 because at least you can drain the water
          -5 because no one would figure that out without help
          +9 for attacking by throwing her own head, which is awesome
          -2 for regenerating health while standing in the poison pool
                    score: -13

Smelter Demon
          +5 for being optional
          -3 for being another damn armored guy
          -5 for burning players who stand too close
          +5 for guarding a handy checkpoint
          +3 for being a good point of reference for locating Zweihander
          -1 in memory of players everywhere with low fire defense
                    score: 4

Old Iron King
          +5 for basically being a Balrog
          -5 because a big goat demon rising out of lava is kinda clichéd
          +8 for the massive, creepy idol immediately preceding this fight
          -10 for just standing there and pounding the ground like a goof
          +6 for having a hand beam
          -6 for having a hand beam
                    score: -2

Royal Rat Authority
          +5 for being optional
          -3 for being more a collection of small enemies than a boss
          +10 for being the weirdest boss of the Souls series
          -7 for the constant status afflictions
          -5 for the actual boss not showing up immediately
          -5 for the "grey spirit" invasion nonsense preceding this fight
                    score: -5

The Rotten
          +10 for being made of bodies
          +8 for the genuinely intriguing intro cutscene
          +5 because you can chop his arms off
          +10 because he'll still swing at you with the stumps, adorably
          -6 for the grab attack
          -4 for the fire pits
          +20 for being a social reject and a big, lovable doofus
                    score: 43

Scorpioness Najka
          +5 for boobs
          -6 for boobs with no nipples
          +8 for being a giant scorpion lady
          +8 because she's got a friend called the "Manscoprion"
          -10 for that burrow attack
          +5 because you can chop her limbs off
          -4 for the toxic attacks
                    score: 6

Prowling Magus and Congregation
          -8 for boss I never died against
          -3 for being more a collection of small enemies than a boss
          +1 pity point for being statistically the game's least-killed enemy
                    score: -10

Royal Rat Vanguard
          +5 for being optional
          -10 just rehashing the Sif fight
          -20 and removing everything that was cool about it
          -15 for the charge attack
          -10 for having rat cronies
          -10 who give you toxic
          +7for being a rat so massive it looks like a dog
          +12 for the bonfire being extremely close
                    score: -41

The Duke's Dear Freja
          +20 for being a giant two-headed spider that shoots lasers
          +10 for the title "Duke's Dear"
          -5 for the little spiders
          -10 who respawn
          +8 for having one of the game's few cool "lairs"
          +12 for the neat little dragon memory it's guarding
          +9 for surprising you at an earlier spot on NG+
                    score: 44

Twin Dragonriders
          -5 for just being a repeat of an earlier boss
          -10 and now there are two of them
          +14 because you can trick one into knocking his buddy down
          -8 for no nearby checkpoints
          +3 because they still ride dragons
                    score: -6

Looking Glass Knight
          -5 for being another damn armored guy
          +10 for being the best battle against an armored guy in the game
          +20 for the gorgeous location and weather effects
          +6 for the pretty shield
          -6 which he uses to summon phantoms into the battle
          +25 for summoning lightning from the sky like freaking Thor
                    score: 50

Demon of Song
          -8 for boss I never died against
          +16 for being a giant foreskin frog
          -8 for no nearby checkpoints
          -9 for being preceded by the most annoying section in the game
          +10 because at least you can listen to some lovely singing
                    score: 1

Velstadt, the Royal Aegis
          -6 for being another damn armored guy
          -8 for attacking so quickly with such a heavy weapon
          +12 for guarding the most poignant scene in the game
          -5 for being guarded by a roomful of those respawning bell ghost things
          +3 for helpfully standing still while powering up
                    score: -4

Guardian Dragon
          +25 for the prettiest boss arena in the game
          +25 for guarding the prettiest level in the game
          -20 for coming after Aldia's Keep, which is awful
          -8 for no nearby checkpoints
          +15 for being a good, old-fashioned fire-breathing dragon battle
          -1 for being a drake but calling itself a dragon
                    score: 36

Giant Lord
          -5 for basically just being a repeat of the Last Giant
          +18 for being the centerpiece of the best grinding spot of the game
          +5 for being protected by a massive rolling head
          -6 because this whole endgame stretch feels pretty rushed
          -7 for that downward swing attack
          -3 for excessive splash damage
          +5 for guarding a Giant Soul, which makes the Vendrick fight easier
                    score: 7

Throne Watcher and Throne Defender
          -8 for boss I never died against
          +8 actually, scratch that; I think I ran off the cliff once
          -10 for being more armored guys
          -12 for confusing me into thinking I was done with this area
          -20 because seriously, why was this boss even necessary?
          +6 for each showing some devotion after the other falls
                    score: -36

          -10 for the curse nodes
          +11 because the curse nodes can be destroyed
          -16 because the curse effect is insanely powerful on NG+
          +8 for being made of skeletons
          -9 because why did Vendrick marry someone who's made of skeletons?
          -5 for generic "you've proven yourself, now die" speech
          -7 because most of her attacks miss if you're up close
          -10 for being an all-around disappointing final boss
                    score: -38

Ancient Dragon
          +5 for being optional
          -15 for the outrageously difficult trek back every time you die
          -10 for the instakill area-of-effect attack
          -8 for an extremely limited moveset, all things considered
          +20 because the Gower Ring of Protection makes this fight a joke
          +12 for being surrounded by bloodstains from other players, like a boss
          +5 for guarding a Giant Soul, which makes the Vendrick fight easier
          +2 for setting up shop in a gorgeous area
                    score: 11
          +5 for being optional
          -14 for basically being impossible if you don't know the trick
          +15 because it's satisfying once you do know the trick
          -18 for making me fight a bunch of those damn anus-faced giants
          +20 for providing the game's most poignant image
          -25 because it honestly would have been cooler if you didn't fight him
                    score: -17

          +5 for being optional
          -8 for the ridiculous hoops you need to jump through to fight it
          -30 for making you waste a Human Effigy every time you fight it
          -5 for the fireballs
          -5 for the lasers
          -5 for the smoke bomb
          -20 for splitting into two halfway through the fight
          +10 because the first half of the fight is simple enough
          -3 for existing to make strength build players cry
                    score: -61

And here are the results:

31. Executioner's Chariot (-74)
30. Darklurker (-61)
29. Belfry Gargoyles (-42)
28. Royal Rat Vanguard (-41)
27. Nashandra (-38)
26. Throne Watcher and Throne Defender (-36)
25. Vendrick (-17)
24. Lost Sinner (-14)
23. Mytha, the Baneful Queen (-13)
22. Prowling Magus and Congregation (-10)
21. Ruin Sentinels (-9)
20. The Skeleton Lords (-7)
19. Twin Dragonriders (-6)
18. Royal Rat Authority (-5)
17. Velstadt, the Royal Aegis (-4)
16. Old Iron King (-2)
15. Flexile Sentry (-1)
14. Covetous Demon (0)
13. Demon of Song (1)
12. Old Dragonslayer (2)
11. Dragonrider (3)
10. Smelter Demon (4)
9. Scorpioness Najka (6)
8. Giant Lord (7)
7. Ancient Dragon (11)
6. The Last Giant (20)
5. The Pursuer (21)
4. Guardian Dragon (36)
3. The Rotten (43)
2. The Duke's Dear Freja (44)
1. Looking Glass Knight (50)

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