Five Emotions You Feel As A Bloodborne Boss Slayer

Bloodborne (and Dark Souls/Demon's Souls) will make you feel like a million different emotions, most of them different forms of frustration. But what about when you're successful? I'd argue that's a little different. During my time playing From Software games I've taken down my fair share of bosses, and I've managed to isolate the five distinct types of euphoria that come with that success.

They vary from calm, composed satisfaction, to swearing at the TV like a wild, drunken hobo.

For me, surprisingly, it's usually the former.

Loud, Vocal Outbursts Of White Hot Rage

Example Boss Battle: The Capra Demon

When people think about Dark Souls I’d wager this is the reaction they expect to have after beating an extremely difficult boss: the outburst of rage, a trash-talking vomit of negative emotions. You’ve been frustrated and denied for hours and hours and now you’ve finally defeated your nemesis. ARGH I'M GOING TO SWEAR A LOT NOW.

But the truth is, despite being your prototypical angry Scotsman, I’ve only had this reaction one time: the first time I beat the Capra Demon.

Why the Capra Demon? I have a theory. It's an argument that centres around the idea of 'fairness'.

The Capra Demon is one of the few bosses that, when you first stumble across it, feels inherently unfair. Players typically get to The Capra Demon early, under-leveled, with crappy gear. In that moment they come face-to-face with a boss with the ability to kill you stone-dead after one or two attacks. In short: players are not ready for The Capra Demon. They are never ready.

Combine this fact with how cheap the whole scenario is: The Capra Demon attacks alongside two dogs. On their own, these dogs are easy to kill but, combined with the sheer might and terror of The Capra Demon, those dogs are utter bastards that slow you down and distract you long enough to get your sorry arse beaten to a fine goulash in seconds by the big daddy Capra Demon. Those dogs will trap you in a corner, they’ll attack you long enough so that you can’t move.

TL;DR: frustration levels are high in The Capra Demon boss fight. The stakes are high, the intensity is high. It’s a feeling akin to being bullied. The Capra Demon is the bully in question, the dogs are those two pathetic lackeys that hang around with him doling out insults. When you finally beat them all the temptation is to fall to your knees in a fit of pure, teary stored-up rage.

My reaction was pure unfettered anger: I literally stood up and pointed at the screen screaming “FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU” over and over again. Then I sat down feeling a little embarrassed with myself.

Calm, Controlled, Zen

Example Boss Battle: Ornstein & Smough

People often talk about Dark Souls and Bloodborne in terms of its fairness: that typically you die because it’s your fault. You haven’t learned the game, you got overconfident, you didn’t pay attention, etc. Generally I think this is accurate. It’s also the reason why we’re less likely to react to victory with a violent, visceral rage.

The most common reaction, for me at least, is the calm, zen-like focus of understanding. You’ve fought this boss many times. You are now aware of his/her/its patterns and you know how to react to each one. You are currently in the zone. You are having the dream run of dream runs and you feel utterly invincible.

This happened to me during perhaps the most notorious boss battle in Dark Souls: Ornstein & Smough. Not even The Capra Demon boss battle gave me as many problems. I died far more often and frequently in this boss battle, but my reaction after victory was far different.

I’ll never forget it. Ornstein & Smough is a powerfully difficult boss battle. You face off against two behemoths – one small and fast, the other large and powerful. When you kill one, the other inherits the other’s powers. I was at the point where I had killed the lightning quick Ornstein and was now focusing all my attention on Smough. Normally this was a terrifying experience, but for some reason, on this particular occasion, everything just clicked. I remember darting in and out of super-charged Smough’s attacks and thinking, ‘this guy can’t hurt me, he can’t catch me, there is no way I’m going to lose’.

I was just literally unbeatable in that moment. Pure zen.

So when I finally beat Ornstein & Smough I felt nothing. And I mean that in the best possible way. I was in a meditative state. I was at peace with the world and everything in it. All that was left in me was one powerful, relieved exhale of breath. I was in an elevated state of mind.

"You Should Have Known Better Than To F*** With Me!"

Example Boss Battle: The Unborn One

This is a new one for me. I literally had this feeling for the first time on Friday night. I had just defeated The One Reborn. This wasn’t a super difficult boss battle, but by no means was it easy.

I did, however, work out a super effective way to ‘win’ relatively quickly. This made me feel like a super cool dude with massive muscles and a big ol’ brain.

I won’t go into details on how I beat The Unborn one, mainly because Bloodborne has only been out for a week or so and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Here’s what I will say – it’s one of the few boss battles that, when I finished it, had me actually swearing at the television like a crazy person.

I wasn’t screaming and shouting in a weird Capra Demon-esque rage. I was calm, self-possessed. Here’s what I said:

“You should have known better than to fuck with me.”

I actually said those words. God, I’m such an embarrassment.

I can’t explain it. I just felt like a badass. I felt so goddamn cool for taking out this boss, for not having to Google it. For being able to read the situation and react accordingly. It felt good.

The Tiny Kernel Of ‘That Was A Wee Bit Too Easy’ Disappointment

Example Boss: Gaping Dragon A large number of bosses in Dark Souls II fall into this category, but the Gaping Dragon from the original leaps out as the perfect example, mainly because I remember being so disappointed at how easily I dispatched him.

I’ll never forget seeing the Gaping Dragon for the first time. He crawls out of the sewers. Initially he looks like a reasonably-sized lizard, but nah. That's just one of his heads. The rest of him clambers out from the depths and for a good minute the sweat is leaking from your eyeballs. LORD JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING?

But tragically that adrenaline pumps down to a trickle when you discover that the Gaping Dragon is a relatively ho-hum boss that can be dispatched fairly easily.

Some of this is elitism, part of it is a boring old humblebrag. But I truly enjoy the challenge of a difficult Souls boss and every so often a battle can sort of underwhelm. I remember feeling a slight bit underwhelmed with the Gaping Dragon. My reaction when I defeated him? A little bit hollow if I’m being honest.

Oh My God I Beat That Guy By The Skin Of My Teeth And Now I’m Panting Like A Hairy Dog On A Hot Day

Example Boss: Any of them really! (Most recently for me: The Cleric Beast)

I think I might enjoy this one the most.

It’s exhausting. You’ve been going toe-to-toe with some goddamn hellspawn creature for 30 minutes. You’re taking risks here. You’re using up all of your resources and if you die now you are totally buggered. But it’s the heat of the moment. You know you can do this! You’ve got this.

By Christ. He’s almost dead. You can’t handle the pressure of this situation. Like a goddamn buffoon you just charge in swinging damn the consequences. You only have to hit the boss two more times so bugger the last vestige of patience you have and just swing for the fences!

(Note: I have died doing this way more times than I’ve been successful.)

But when this works. Oh dear God when it works. It's amazing. Close to the ‘white hot rage feeling’ but not quite.

This is more about relief; it’s almost traumatic. You’re far more likely to collapse into a pile of your own stress-tears. You probably don’t have the energy to swear at the TV.

The magical thing about this is the constant stress. In this particular case you haven't yet earned that feeling of pure mastery. Most likely this is happening: you are flying by the seat of your pants and said pants are on fire. You’re having a dream run. You are in way, shape or form ready to beat this boss but you just did and WHAT A GODDAMN FEELING IT IS TO BE ALIVE.

I think, of the five, this feeling is by far my favourite.

Did I miss any? How do you respond to success against all odds in a video game? Let us know in the comments below.


    Oh, the Gaping Demon was too easy, was it?
    Not for me. He got me a few times. I grew to hate running through to that boss fight again. In the end I lost my patience and used some pine resins.
    I really should pay more attention to stuff like that in my inventory while playing these games.

      Only souls boss I've ever beaten first go. Stumbled across it, panicked cos I had a bucketload of souls on me and it looked horrific, tremendously relieved to make it through.

        Same for me, I found it so easy I stayed there and fought the boss over and over again to farm it (by being summoned into another person's game to help them).
        The amount of times my summoner got killed by it and I wanted to yell 'How did you get past the gargoyles and whatnot, to be killed by this thing!'.

    Ebrietas almost made me cry the other day after it killed me for the 14th time.

      Ugh, I'm three deaths down against it. My first fight went well, my second was an utter trainwreck and my third ended with my sitting there confused as to how exactly I died (I swear I had health, seriously guys, no, really!). Ahh, Bloodborne.

      I'm looking forward to my next dozen attempts. :/

        I did beat her down eventually with visceral attacks to the face, its just the dodging in sync to the laser beams that get most people I think. I'm trying to get the platinum trophy and am really worried that Queen Yarnham in the Chalice Dungeon is simply going to be too difficult.

        EDIT: Also there is no shame in using the Beckoning Bell :P

        Last edited 13/04/15 1:40 pm

          Oh, I've already been using the beckoning bell called in a friend for Vicar Amelia, and a random for the Blood Starved Beast. I've also done a bunch of chalice dungeon stuff with the aforementioned friend, which is a lot of fun.

          But now that I've done most of the rest of the game on my lonesome, I feel like I need to try and do the rest myself.

          My resolve will crumble after a half dozen deaths, I have no doubt, but I'd like to pretend that I can stand firm.

            I've managed to beat down a few bosses on my own but I do enjoy co-op with the Souls games, it also does neutralise the overwhelming sense of dread somewhat :P

            I haven't touched the chalices at all, and am currently in nightmare of mensis at level 77. I suspect the chalice dungeons will initially be stupidly easy at my level but I will get to them before NG+.

            I'd LIKE to use the beckoning bell more, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I am WAY too over-levelled for the stuff I'm facing, and everyone my level has 'git gud' and is off doing other things, where the people who are offering to help out are like... twenty levels below me and thus ineligible. I've been going solo since Blood-starved Beast.

            (Edit: I regret using the resonant bell so much. I spent so much time in others' worlds that I left my own behind.)

            Last edited 13/04/15 2:16 pm

              You're probably not too overlevelled, based on my experiences in previous souls games at bro-opping. There's always someone looking for help.

              Downside is that Bloodborne's matchmaking seems to be very finnicky, so it might just fail to match you up with anyone, even though you're both standing there, waiting.

                I've noticed that the network is a bit broken, sometimes I will sit there for literally 45-50 mins before getting a response and sometimes I'll login to the same area and it will be instantaneous.

              Yeah the resonant bell is tempting, being able to farm blood echoes with practically no risk is quite addictive.

    Artorias will likely always be my favourite fight in a Souls game. Beating him was a combination of zen master, and screaming at the screen. As it stands, two thirds of Bloodborne's bosses have finished with me giving my monitor the finger while it says "Prey Defeated", because I am an adult who deals with things in adult ways.

      That DLC was all kinds of good. Great fights all.

      I almost forgot about that fight. It really was brilliant.

    Capra Demon is the only really traumatic experience that's forcibly stopping me from finishing dark souls. Up until that point I'd through I was being smart by targeting a single enemy, shooting them with my childs bow and arrow to get their attention and then taking them on one at a time. Then comes the capra demon and my strategy went completely out the window. I think all up I'd died to it close to a hundred times. It's the second time I've ever been physically shaking with rage due to a video game. No matter what I'd tried I just couldn't dispatch the dogs quick enough to avoid being stunlocked and then destroyed by that skull faced shitlord. I think one time I'd gotten a lucky roll up the stairs and somehow glitched one of the dogs where it was stopping him from moving up the stairs so it gave me the few seconds I needed to heal and strategise and then it was on. Ended up being a skin of the teeth scenario. No tears at the end, just strangled laughter euphoria.

    According to my housemates now all I do is sigh when I get into these situations.

    I've never raged during any of the games in these 'series' (because of Bloodborne, what do we call the series now?).

    I probably did jump with confusion the first time I was telebackstabbed.

      I still call them the souls series. Also, I call blood echoes 'souls'.

    Good summery.
    Also I have the "Slight feeling of shame" if I beat a boss in some cheap way like magic or item spam.

      There is no shame in cheesing that fucking hunter who took out Eileen the Crow. Motherfucker has like ten thousand health and can one-shot with a sword-slash, two-shot with a pistol. Fuck that guy.

        Who? The first hunter in the graveyard? Or in the church?

        The first guy died to poison and the second guy kills himself.

          The one in the grand cathedral. And yes. That is how he died for me, too. Killed himself after I ran away. Because fuck that guy.

            He didn't kill Eileen. She disappeared.

            I was originally planning to poison him, but while waiting for moments to throw daggers I notice him stabbing himself and losing health. I thought it would be a one time thing that didn't last long, so I decided to keep my distance as I threw poison daggers until it went away.

            Apparantly I could wait until he ran out of health.

              Well, when I say 'took out', I didn't mean killed. She was there, wounded by him and putting on a brave face. Though, from the dialogue after, I expect probably mortally wounded.

              He doesn't stab himself actually... I read up on this one. Apparently he transforms his trick weapon (one that you can actually have yourself) into a nodaichi kinda thing that is powerful but does constant damage to the wielder. If you back off out of engagement range while he's got that version on, he walks away and considers himself 'out of combat'. Which means he doesn't heal himself. If you just throw poison at him and keep him engaged, you'll do pretty good damage, but he will heal himself.

              Last edited 13/04/15 2:30 pm

                Yeah, those katana things ripped straight from Ninja Gaiden 2.

    I recently felt that last one with the Cleric Beast as well... and again after just beating (Bloodborne boss spoiler, kinda) Rom, the vacuous spider, after dying from the hundreds of spiders with their 1 hit kill kamikaze jump of death. (I am underleveld and unprepared for the levels I'm currently on lol).

    Great game. Can't decide if I like BB or DS1 more.

    Edit: Side note: I used to miss the feeling in DS1 of reaching an area that was on the horizon and the feeling of the journey and the direction that seeing the next area in the distance gave me. Then I realised that BB's map is fitting for the web that is the nightmare, as it gets more nightmarish and twisted the further you venture. The streets of Yarnham offer no such comforting spectacle to ease the burden for the weary traveller.

    Last edited 13/04/15 1:59 pm

    I dunno about 'calm' or 'Zen', as much as still totally stressed and tense, almost shaking while releasing a deep, relieved exhale as you sink back into your couch and put the controller down for a minute. Maybe allow yourself an exhausted chuckle. Let your body finish processing all that adrenaline. That person might look calm, but there is a racing heart beating under that composed, sweat-tinged exterior.

    Hm. On reflection, that's probably just the last one minus the panting. Yeah. Or maybe a blend of the two.



    The wide-eyed, quiet, "OK. Good. So that was easier than I feared... but not very. Good. Good. I'm sitting on a hundred and fifty thousand souls right now. Good. I didn't want to lose those. I really didn't want to lose those. Good. Good... yes, good. I should not have gone exploring with that many souls. I really need to get back and spend like... ten levels worth of souls, now. I absolutely MUST not die on the way back."

    Last edited 13/04/15 2:09 pm

      Traveling back isn't that scary. You must have killed everything behind you. Or you can just teleport back.

        I thought I had probably killed everything on the way to the Shadow(s?) of Yarnham, but I got pretty damn lost in the Forbidden Wood.

          Yeah that area is confusing the first time you go through. After you get your bearings you can remember all 3 paths and both hidden shortcuts.

      Yup. Lost over 80 000 blood echoes this way a few days ago. Would have been about 3 levels. Then almost lost about 120 000 while fighting Rom, thankfully I found them after I killed him. They are just so hard to see amongst all the other blood stains lol.

      At least there's normally a bonfire right after a boss... if you can risk it ;)

      Last edited 13/04/15 2:16 pm

    Man, I really should watch how other people play this series. I know I'm going to sound like some stuckup tryhard but I want to see how people play these games based on all the stories and troubles people say they've been having.

    My favourite moment was from bloodborne was my first kill the blood-soaked beast. After about 15 attempts I finally saw the matrix was able to time my guns shots perfectly but realised towards the end that I had ran out of antidotes and blood vials. I was on like 5% when i landed a perfect shot for the riposte for the kill ran up to the beast hit visceral and died just after the attack landed. Those few seconds of waiting to see if the kill registered and the relief of seeing prey slaughters come on my screen just before the you died screen.

      Yeah, I had that, but I was in the middle of a victory gesture when the poison got me. The irony was that I had 10 antidotes equipped and could easily have healed myself instead of celebrating, if only I'd noticed the poison :-P

        Me too! I completely forgot I was poisoned. Luckily I had lit the lamp before I died.

    I find most of the time I'm feeling apathy. I'm not sure if it's because my attitudes towards games is changing or whether it's because a lot of the bosses are mechanically similar to others in Bloodborne or previous Souls games so it's more like facing off against the school bully now you've been taking self-defence classes. There are some times when I feel like asking "Is there no one else?" after beating bosses though. Especially when I find that one key maneuver or tactic that takes the edge off them after being frustrated.

    I got the relief ecstasy after defeating bagman but then I discovered that, all things being equal, I could cheese him by using the saw spear two handed and charge attack from a long way away before dodging his counter attacks. I also love shooting stuff to death now. With a reasonably upgraded repeater pistol and some decent bloodtinge, my damage is not to be sniffed at.

    Unrelated: I knocked a wheelchair guy off a tower and about 10 minutes later I came across him, sliver of health left, trundling back up the stairs... in his wheelchair (still killed him though).

    I didn't know about the AI memory leak issue until today, which makes completely sense. I wondered how I had one shot killed three different bosses! Now I feel slightly guilty...

    Just finished Bloodborne then, and got the platinum trophy for it. Fought every boss, and I have to say the most frustrating ones were Bloodletting Beast, Watchdog of the Old Lords in the cursed defiled Pthumeru chalice dungeon, and Blood-Starved Beast.

    Bloodletting beast, in both forms, was probably the worst. Crazy big hitboxes for most of his attacks, frequent one-shot death attacks, and very aggressive. That god-damn mega punch he does killed me more times than I could count. It was a quiet, seething rage that boss made me feel. Cold sweat and a pounding heart. Most unpleasant.

    Ahhh.. Capra demon.... That fucker...

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