- Bloodborne: Like its older brothers, Bloodborne doesn't pull punches: one of the first mandatory boss is Father Gascoigne, a crazed Hunter that thinks everyone's either a beast or slowly becoming one. He's either your first boss fight or your second, if you took the detour to kill the Cleric Beast earlier. Which is HIGHLY recommended not only because you need to at least see a boss to start leveling up, but the experience will be invaluable: Gascoigne is a monster of a man that hits like a truck, is faster than you and has three phases, each one harder than the last. The only way to survive the fight is to either have a good handle on the parry and visceral attack mechanics, something quite unlikely at that point, or quick fingers and knowledge of the terrain. Fortunately, he has an extra weak point a tiny, unassuming, very easily missable music box that stuns him on use. Only thing is, it will make him skip to phase three after two uses, and after the third it will stop working completely.
- Demon's Souls:
- So you bought the game to see what the fuss was about. And, glory be, you breezed through the first levels like they were nothing. Then comes the Flamelurker, a fiery monstrosity with attacks that pierce your shield's defenses and BREAK them. And on top of that, they are impossible to dodge without a perfectly-timed roll with light equipment. The only way to survive this fight is to learn the importance of choosing your equipment to fit the mission better, eliminate extra weight to be able to roll, and to not depend too much on brute force and endurance.
- Another example is the very first boss in the tutorial level, which follows a level with very weak enemies that don't look too menacing and who are stopped in their tracks by your shield. Then comes this towering ball of muscles with a giant axe, huge range, broad swings, and the strength to crush you and your shield in one hit. It's also one hell of a Damage Sponge, taking about one hundred hits to kill. And, if you do manage to kill it (chances are you won't even touch it), you are then taken to another area which culminates with you getting punched to death by a monster five times bigger than the boss before. And then the game feels the need to cut down your HP to half till you beat another boss.
- And then there's Phalanx, the first true boss of the game. She covers herself with shielded mooks, which are only vulnerable to fire and magic (both of which you'd only have if you started as a mage or a noble) unless you attack them from behind, which is fiendishly hard to do, and if you're a physical attack character, this means you're going to need to use some of the items you picked up in the level, or you'll just be engaging in futility. And you can't level up until after this battle, so if you used up all those fire bombs and turpentine you'd gathered through the level, save yourself a headache and start over, because those shielded mooks will own you, since in addition to the dozen that cling to the boss, there's a dozen more roaming the area, ready to make you a pincushion with their spears. They also have ranged attacks. Nobody ever said this game is easy.
- Another one is the game's second boss if Phalanx didn't do it for you, sure Phalanx had a lot of health and a lot of annoyingly resilient enemies constantly swarming around her. But the fight was slow paced and she had an obvious weakspot that just got bigger the more you hit her. The next area provides an endurance test, a long narrow pathway filled with ranged arbalests waiting to snipe you as well as several soldiers armed with fire sticks, oh and on top of that a dragon periodically flies overhead and blasts fire over sections of the path. Reaching the end of that trial you are faced with three more ranged enemies in-front of you and two up above firing off arrows at you, and just to make it interesting there are a couple of Black Knights ready to run at you and engage you in melee combat, and they pack a mean punch, all the while you have to try and avoid bolts flying at you unless you killed the arbalests quick enough and weren't vulnerable to the knights. But say you get through that gauntlet, in triumph you pass through the fog gate and what greats you; The Tower Knight a colossus that absolutely dwarfs you wielding a shield as big as he is and a huge lance that shoots lazer beams, fully armoured from head to toe. And all around him are yet more arbalests trying to snipe you from high up perches. To top it off the recommended strategy is to run through his legs and get behind him, a tactic most players will hesitate to think about when they'd much rather run away from the three storey behemoth. Oh and if you die, you have to do the whole thing over again, no shortcuts to the boss.
- Dark Souls, the Spiritual Successor has a few more examples.
- The Asylum Demon's the first boss in the game. He's also the first enemy that fights back, drops in out of nowhere AND when you meet him it's a No-Gear Level as you've yet to recover your starting equipment. Once you actually take him on with your weapon he's not that bad, but his appearance serves as a wake-up call by itself.
- The Bell Gargoyles are generally considered the first point where a player needs to get good or go home. At your still-relatively low level even taking on one Gargoyle can be a challenge, with its long reach, flying attacks and blindingly-fast tail whips. Then when you get it to half health, a second one appears, and they start blowing fire at you while they shamelessly double-team you. You have to be able to time your attacks to take advantage of openings while dodging threats from multiple angles at once or kiting furiously to keep from being overwhelmed. On the other hand, if you take advantage of your recent meeting with Solaire and summon him to help, the scales tip considerably in your favour (and if you rescued Lautrec and call on his aid as well, the three of you can easily massacre the gargoyles).
- The Capra Demon takes the real crown. He hits hard, he's in an enclosed space and he has backup. If you haven't figured out dodging, blocking or using Aural Decoy to distract his pets you'll go down in a few seconds from a combination of poison damage and his twin colossal machetes.
- The DLC from the Prepare To Die edition opens with the Sanctuary Guardian, who's fast, durable, has a varied moveset, inflicts poison damage, shoots lightning and just does not let up. This introduces you to the boss style for the rest of the new areas, because Black Dragon Kalameet is further along and the storyline bosses aren't much slower or weaker.
- The Gaping Dragon is likely to be the first boss you encounter who doesn't have any form of cheese or easy out. Sure you can call on Solaire and Lautrec like you did for the gargoyles, but this time they're not going to be able to carry you and WILL die if the fight goes on too long. His attacks hit hard and have a wide area of effect, and he even has an attack that can cover the majority of the arena. If you haven't learned to read your enemies and dodge, or you've not bothered improving upon your gear, you're in for a rough time.
- Dark Souls 2 has the Ruin Sentinels. The bosses up until now aren't pushovers - hell, you've refought Ornstein at this point - but all of them are individuals that can be taken out pretty easily by summoning NPC phantoms and using them as meat shields. The Ruin Sentinels are a trio of fast, dangerous bosses you need to pray you get to fight one at a time. Summoned NPCs to help? Yeah, they'll aggro all three, sometimes by accidentally knocking you off a ledge. Want to fight them solo? Better get good at reading attacks and crowd management, or you're going to spend a lot of time jogging back from the bonfire.
- Credit also has to go to The Pursuer (at least in the vanilla game), as he's probably the first real hard boss you'll encounter...especially if you run into him in his boss fight: on top of pretty much having to fight a floating Lightning Bruiser in tight quarters, his boss arena has an area where you could potentially fall to your death (he on the other hand, can fly if he goes out of the arena). This is made even harder by the fact that you don't get NPC summons before his fight; unless you can find someone to help you, you're fighting him all on your own...which means you have to get good at reading tells, and to be aware of your environment. And even if by some odd stroke of luck you find someone to play with you, you have to coordinate with each other well so that you don't get hit by the ballista bolts provided to you in his arena. Take heed, that he can, and will destroy your ballistas too.
- Dark Souls III raised the stakes for the series with the first boss, Iudex Gundyr. Compared to the traditional Warm-Up Boss the other games in the franchise usually give you, Gundyr isn't a huge, lumbering behemoth with easily-telegraphed attacks, he's a fast, agile and relentlessly-aggressive warrior with massive reach thanks to his halberd who can take even series veterans off-guard. And when you get him to half HP, the Pus of Man begins to spill from his body, which is enough to put the wind up anyone.
Wake Up Call Boss / Dark Souls