Whether or not it’s your first time diving into the Dark Souls universe, there’s one thing you know for certain: the bosses are going to be a pain in the butt. Many who have successfully finished a game from the series fondly remember the experience for just how difficult it is.
Its difficulty, for the most part, can be credited to the many bosses you’ll encounter in-game that test your skills and abilities. As such, you simply can’t hack and slack your way through these boss fights — they require precision, a proper plan of action, and you most definitely need to be at the right level before tackling them head-on.
If you include Demon’s Souls in the list, there are four different games in the series, all of which have their own unique bosses that are known to be some of the hardest bosses in gaming. Seeing as there’s a plethora of bosses in the series as a whole, we’ve compiled the top 12 best Dark Souls bosses in no particular order.
Dragonslayer Armor (Dark Souls 3)
The Dragonslayer Armor is basically a suit of armor that’s guarding the Grand Archives. As such, you have to defeat it first in order to progress. The suit of armor is being controlled by a bunch of Pilgrim Butterflies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take this boss fight seriously.
The Dragonslayer Armor has brutally powerful attacks, especially when it gets buffed with lightning during the entire fight. If you’ve been making use of the circle-strafe strategy that many Dark Souls 3 players use, then you sadly have to abandon that during this fight.
Battling against the Dragonslayer Armor is basically like a classic duel-style boss encounter in Dark Souls. In fact, some would even describe it as a battle that tests your true skills. If you need help fighting this boss, you can summon either the Eygon of Carim or the Sirris of the Sunless Realms.
Bell Gargoyles (Dark Souls)
Dark Souls isn’t the type of game that lets you bide your time. No, it forces you into a situation so that you have no choice but to face it head on. On the bright side, this is how you learn new skills and get better in the game.
In this case, you’ll learn the skill of dealing with not just one, but two monstrosities at the same time. The Bell Gargoyles can be specifically found in the Undead Parish — an expansive in-game location that’s crawling with all kinds of enemies, among others.
You’ll initially be fighting one gargoyle, but another one will join the fray during the second half of the battle. The gargoyles themselves are already pretty hard as is, but include their fire attacks and huge axes to the mix and you have a tricky boss to beat.
Defeating the Bell Gargoyles is a major milestone early in the game, which is probably why they have a special place in the hearts of many Dark Souls fans. If you hear the Undead Chapel bells ringing, that’s a sign that someone — another player — was able to win against these monsters.
Gwyn, Lord of Cinder (Dark Souls)
The fight against Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, is probably one of most memorable boss battles in the original Dark Souls game, as he’s basically the last enemy you have to defeat. You might be familiar with his kin, as he’s the father of Gwyndolin, an optional boss found in Anor Londo, and Gwynevere, the lady from whom you obtain the Lord Vessel from.
Gwyn is stationed in the Kiln Of The First Flame, which is where he waits for you, the player. Since he’s essentially the last boss battle, you’d expect some kind of majestic battle to mark the end of the game.
However, it’s quite the opposite, as a somber piano track plays in the background. That being said, this doesn’t take away the fact many consider Gwyn as one of the best Dark Souls bosses out there.
He’s a fairly easy boss to fight if you have mastered the art of parrying. As a matter of fact, he’s the only boss in the entire game you can parry. Needless to say that players learn how to parry for this very moment. It’s crucial to time your parries correctly, as failing to do so lands you in a world of hurt.
It’s not the end of the world, though, if parrying is not your strong suit. If you don’t have a shield in your inventory that allows you to parry, or if you just haven’t mastered it yet, then simply equip Havel’s set along with a quality shield that’s resistant to fire. You can proceed to hack away at him then while blocking his attacks.
The Nameless King (Dark Souls 3)
Dark Souls 3’s The Nameless King is arguably one of the best yet hardest bosses out there. There are two different stages in this boss fight. First and foremost, you have to contend with him while he’s on his incredibly gigantic dragon, Stormdrake, who doesn’t look that pleased to see you.
This first part is visually stunning, especially when the Stormdrake makes its entrance prior to the actual fight. In any case, if you manage to survive that first stage, The Nameless King will fight you personally. He deals incredible damage with his lightning spear, so you must tread carefully.
There are implications within the lore that suggest that The Nameless King is Gwyn’s long-lost son. Not only that, it’s also implied that he’s the trainer of the one and only Dragonslayer Ornstein. Suffice to say that he deserves a spot on this list.
Most players resort to summoning NPCs or perhaps other players when fighting off The Nameless King, and given his difficulty level, we can’t blame them for that.
Fume Knight (Dark Souls 2)
Dark Souls 2’s Crown Of The Old Iron King DLC adds its own unique bosses to the game, but probably the most memorable one is the Fume Knight. As a matter of fact, he’s such an incredibly difficult enemy that statistics released by developer FromSoftware states he was able to defeat 93% of those who dared challenge him.
The statistics also reveal that this boss, in particular, has dealt the most player deaths compared to the others. As you can see, the Fume Knight is definitely not an enemy you should mess around with. But alas! Playing the Dark Souls 2 DLC means that you have no choice but to fight — and defeat — him.
If you want to see how you’ll fare against him, you’ll find the Fume Knight at Brume Tower, specifically at the bottom-most part of the tower. Keep in mind that he’s a dual-sword wielder as well, and he has a Greatsword on one hand and an Ultra Greatsword on the other. What makes things even harder is the fact that both of Fume Knight’s weapons each have different magic.
Compared to the other bosses, Fume Knight has an extensive moveset, so you’ll have to fully familiarize yourself with his attacks and the way he moves if you want a chance to best him. No wonder he’s so difficult!
Knight Artorias (Dark Souls)
Serving as one of The Four Knights of Gwyn, Knight Artorias will give you a boss fight that you’ll never forget. In fact, you can turn to him if you want a classic Dark Souls boss battle — no magical shortcuts, cheap tricks, or an environment that causes damage; it’s just you and Knight Artorias fighting each other sword to sword in an arena.
That being said, Knight Artorias probably has one of the most tragic backstories in the game. He’s crowned as the first person to ever walk the abyss, but he lost both his life and Sif, his wolf, in the process.
In order to win against him, you need to make use of all the skills you’ve learned throughout your playthrough, such as stamina management, dodging, and attacking. It will be hard, there’s no doubt about that, but defeating Knight Artorias will give you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Not only that, you will then be titled as the true victor of the Abyss.
Great Grey Wolf Sif (Dark Souls)
As briefly mentioned, Knight Artorias had a beloved wolf named Sif. Not only do you have to fight the master, you also have to fight his loyal companion. Of course, the Sif boss battle is one of the best yet saddest ones because, well, who wants to fight and kill a wolf/dog!?
Sif has a massive sword that it situates between its teeth, allowing it to swing the sword at you during the fight. The arena, or where the battle will take place, is iconic because it will be at Artorias’ gravesite. It’s heartbreaking to think that Sif just wants to protect its master, even in death.
There are several swords that come in different shapes and sizes in the arena, which are probably from individuals who tried and failed to defeat Sif and get the treasure. Sif continues to fight even when it’s already low on health. As a matter of fact, it begins to limp as it moves — at this point, it gets so hard to keep fighting it, but you have no choice.
Asylum Demon (Dark Souls)
There’s a saying that goes “you’ll never forget your firsts,” and it appears that this concept also applies to video games. The Asylum Demon is the very first boss you’ll encounter in the game, right after you escape from the dilapidated old building you run away from at the start of the first Dark Souls.
It’s a massive monstrosity, but in a way that’s a good thing because it moves and attacks slow. This gives you sufficient time to move around and land hits. On the other hand, the Asylum Demon hits like a tank, and this serves as something like a tutorial for first-time players, as it teaches them the basics of fighting bosses in Dark Souls.
It can’t be denied that it asks for a lot as a boss, especially since you’re initially thrown into the fight with no proper gear. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to beat. One strategy in order to defeat it easily is by choosing black fire bombs as a starting gift.
You will be able to defeat it with just 4 or 5 of these bombs. If you chose something else, though, there’s still another way to kill it, albeit not as easily. Essentially, you need to prioritize dodging its powerful hits, attack as much as possible when the opportunity arises, and take careful note of your stamina bar.
Ornstein And Smough (Dark Souls)
Whether you view it fight from a mechanical or from a story perspective, the Ornstein And Smough boss fight is one of the best ones in the entire series. For one thing, there are two different fighting styles that you have to keep in mind when fighting the duo.
As the captain of The Four Knights of Gwyn, Ornstein is a graceful fighter, while the executioner Smough is a ruthless one. Possibly the one thing that makes them similar is the fact that either of them absorbs the power of the defeated one. To put it more simply, Ornstein absorbs Smough’s power when the latter is defeated, and vice versa.
As such, you may want or need help before diving right into the battle. You can go ahead and ask Solaire to accompany you for this fight, as he can serve as an incredible tank that deals tremendous damage to the bosses.
Abyss Watchers (Dark Souls 3)
The fight against the Abyss Watchers is probably one of the most interesting boss battles in Dark Souls 3. The fight is undoubtedly intense, as the enemy doesn’t give you time to rest and recuperate. The Abyss Watchers constantly throws wraiths at you, with as many as three trying to attack you at a time.
The catch is that every third wraith seems to be defective, and it will start attacking the other two instead. You can use this as an opportunity to land powerful blows at the wraiths. After successfully killing them off, you can concentrate on attacking the Abyss Watcher.
One other thing that might catch your interest is the lore behind this boss. There’s apparently a curse inflicted upon the Abyss Walkers that compels them to keep on fighting until the end of time. If there’s no enemy to attack, they end up attacking one another instead.
This is most probably why some wraiths end up attacking its supposed allies instead of you. Although, we’re not entirely sure if we should be grateful for this curse or not.
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods (Dark Souls 3)
The fight against Aldrich, the Devourer of Gods, takes place during the part in Dark Souls 3 where a lot of spoilers take place. As such, he’s considered to be a major boss that offers significant lore that links Dark Souls and Dark Souls 3 together. You see, the god that Aldrich devoured is one of the optional bosses found in the original Dark Souls.
With its mighty staff, Aldrich truly packs a magical punch and you can get badly hurt with just one hit. You need to keep moving around and dodge the attacks as much as possible if you want a chance to survive the fight.
Aldrich is visually impressive, and you may want to take a second to admire it, but doing so could lead to your death. So, well, don’t do that.
Looking Glass Knight (Dark Souls 2)
The Looking Glass Knight is yet another visually stunning boss from the Dark Souls series. The knight has a massive mirror-fronted shield equipped, while the rest of it is covered in silver armor. The boss battle takes place during a thunderstorm as well, making it look extra stunning and intimidating as its massive size looms upon you just as lightning strikes.
Both developer and publisher were probably pretty happy with how this boss’ design turned out, so much so that the Looking Glass Knight was used several times in a lot of Dark Souls 2’s promotional material.
What makes this boss battle even more interesting and tricky at the same time is the fact that the Looking Glass Knight uses some of Dark Souls’ multiplayer elements that fans liked so much. In the middle of fighting, the knight summons what appears to be a dark shadow or phantom to the arena.
Sometimes, the phantom that has been called forth is actually another player, which adds an extra layer of difficulty in an already tough boss battle.
There’s a myriad of great bosses in the Dark Souls franchise that it would be impossible to list them all. However, we have simply compiled a small list above which showcases some of the best bosses that have made or will make your Dark Souls experience a truly memorable one.
Did we miss out on anyone? Comment your favorite Dark Souls boss below and why! We’d love to hear from you.