The Dark Souls series is famous for many reasons. Ruthlessly difficult action combat, deep RPG progression, labyrinth level design, dark fantasy setting, just to name a few.
Also Read: All FromSoft & Dark Souls Games in Order
But perhaps the most iconic elements of From Software’s masterpiece trilogy are the bosses, renowned for both their incredible visual design as well as their difficulty.
In today’s article, we’re going to celebrate the 10 most difficult bosses the Dark Souls trilogy has to offer, including bosses from the various DLCs.
10. Capra Demon – Dark Souls
We’re giving the first position in this list to the Capra Demon in Dark Souls. While he’s not the most mechanically demanding boss in the whole series, this twin-bladed monstrosity has made the number 10 spot because he appears so early in the game.
Few players will be prepared for the speed and deviation this boss brings to the table, nor for the tiny arena that you’ll have to battle him in. Joined by his two pet dogs, the Capra Demon excels in chopping you to pieces before you have much time to react.
Combine this with his devastating jumping attack (which is hard to dodge in such a tight space), Dark Souls rookies are bound to beat their heads against the wall quite a bit before eventually taking this one down.
Tip: Deal with the dogs first to make this fight easier.
9. Throne Watcher and Throne Defender – Dark Souls II
For better or worse, Dark Souls 2 is infamous for how many of its boss encounters contain multiple enemies. Throne Watcher and Throne Defender, the penultimate boss fight in the game, are the most egregious examples of this, making for one of the toughest encounters in the whole series.
The hardest thing about this boss is that the Watcher and the Defender both have completely different fighting styles. The Defender is heavily armoured and shielded, making him tough to take down. The Watcher, on the other hand, is lightning-quick, and can dodge your attacks with ease.
To make things even more difficult, you aren’t able to blast one of these guys down and then focus on the other. That’s because if you don’t kill them both at the same time (or within 20 seconds of each other), the one that’s still alive will revive their ally back to full health.
Tip: Both the Watcher and the Defender are highly susceptible to fire damage.
8. Aldrich, Devourer Of Gods – Dark Souls III
The first boss of Dark Souls 3 to enter this list, Aldrich is extremely difficult due to his erratic attacks and tendency to fire homing projectiles at you at every chance he gets.
Throughout the first phase; you’ll mainly have to deal with fairly slow melee attacks and a nasty AOE fog that isn’t too hard to dodge. That said, the fog will absolutely destroy your health bar if it isn’t avoided.
You’ll also need to deal with sporadic sets of projectiles, including a wave of arrows and the nastiest ability of them all; homing projectiles.
While phase one is by no means a cake walk, things heat up enormously – and literally – at half health when Aldrich enters phase two. His nastiest attacks – the arrows and the homing missiles – come more often, and Aldrich leaves a trail of fire everywhere he moves. This makes dodging the more frequent missiles even more challenging.
Tip: Try to push through phase 1 as quickly as possible by attacking Aldrich’s tail.
7. Ornstein and Smough – Dark Souls
This devilish duo are some of the most iconic bosses in the whole of the Souls franchise, both because of their intense difficulty and pretty nasty lore (did you know that Smough would eat his enemies after mincing them into a paste with his hammer?).
Waiting for you in the heart of Anor Londo, you’ll need to take on both these bosses at once. Orstein moves incredibly quickly with his spear, whereas Smough uses slower but more damaging attacks with his mighty hammer.
What makes this fight truly difficult is the fact that when you kill one of them, the other will consume his dead ally, grow in size and potency, and heal back up to full health.
Tip: Both Ornstein and Smough are weak to lightning damage.
6. Pontiff Sulyvahn – Dark Souls III
This double-bladed fighter is feared for his rapid melee combos and constant barrage of attacks. Pontiff Sulyvahn excels in catching you off guard, slamming you with a final attack moments after you think his combo has ended.
It often feels like the boss has an unlimited moveset, with lunges, leaps, backwards attacks, swipes, and much more being thrown your way. Building muscle memory is a struggle, and instead you’ll often have to rely on instincts and a bit of luck.
Phase two makes things significantly more difficult, as Pontiff Sulyvahn suddenly learns a suite of terrifying magic attacks. And worst of all, he’ll often summon a clone of himself, mirroring his moveset until you burn it down.
Tip: The boss is weak to parrying, which can make the fight much easier if you’re able to get the timing down.
5. Dancer Of The Boreal Valley – Dark Souls III
Another boss known for her onslaught of rapid melee attacks is Dancer Of The Boreal Valley. This boss is particularly difficult due to the small arena you’ll be facing her in, making it almost impossible to get a moment’s breather from her flurry of blows.
Her title is apt, as this fight often plays out like a dance, where a single misstep means your death. She’s also capable of one-shotting you with a grab attack, meaning you’ll always need to be alert to avoid instant death.
She’s also capable of dishing out some nasty area-of-effect attacks, including a viscous whirlwind that’ll cut you to ribbons, as well as a ground slam that erupts a shockwave and nasty clouds of magic that’ll quickly tick you down.
Tip: A strong fire shield can help you block damage from her flame-imbued sword.
4. Fume Knight – Dark Souls II (DLC)
The Fume Knight is the final boss of Dark Souls 2’s Crown of the Old Iron King DLC, and arguably takes the place for the second game’s hardest boss. While at first glance he doesn’t appear to be particularly intimidating, this changes as soon as you engage him.
Fume Knight difficulty lies in his un-telegraphed attacks, crazy high damage, high defence, and an annoyingly long range. Furthermore, as the boss has a huge moveset to work from, his attack patterns are unpredictable.
At around half health, Fume Knight gains fire and dark magic on his weapon, making each attack far more deadly and virtually impossible to block. He also gains a pretty brutal area-of-effect spell that requires you to move away the instant he starts casting, unless you want to get one shot.
Tip: Ensure that you clear all Ashen Idols from around the boss arena before engaging, otherwise he’ll heal when near them.
3. Black Dragon Kalameet – Dark Souls (DLC)
Black Dragon Kalameet is an optional DLC boss in the first Dark Souls. This encounter is the ultimate dragon fight, both in terms of spectacle and difficulty.
The difficulty lies in the combination of heavy physical attacks and magic-based dragon breath. He attacks often, making it difficult to chip him down as you only ever have a couple of seconds between attacks to get your damage in.
Kalameet is prone to charging at you, making standing in front of him a folly. He also regularly takes flight, meaning you’ll constantly need to chase him down to dish out damage. He’ll use his frequent repositioning to breathe fire on your from afar, ensuring you’re never more than a poorly timed role away from instant death.
Tip: When dealing damage, try to stay to the bosses’ side so you can avoid his charge attack.
2. Manus, Father of the Abyss – Dark Souls (DLC)
Manus is, by far, the most difficult boss in the original Dark Souls game. Introduced in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, Manus is a hugely aggressive boss that dishes out extremely long combos as well as some chaotic magic attacks.
Due to the amount of hits that Manus is able to land in one combo, this fight demands high stamina from the player. The attacks are so rapid that failing to block one will result in you being killed by later attacks, as he hits horrifically hard.
And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Manus’ spellcasting is notoriously difficult to avoid. Homing missiles rain from above and form the boss, the latter of which need to be blocked with a greatshield (and even then some missiles can sneak around it).
Tip: Stamina and greatshields are your biggest allies in this fight.
1. The Nameless King – Dark Souls III
Our number one spot goes to Dark Souls 3’s optional boss, The Nameless King. Thank goodness he is optional, because we reckon only the truest Dark Souls veterans have what it takes to defeat this one. He’s so hard, in fact, that we even included him on our list of the hardest bosses of all time.
The Nameless King has two phases. In the first, you’ll need to defeat his dragon, dealing with heavy hitting elemental attacks and jabs from his spear. This first phase is not only difficult because of the heavy damage attacks, but also the speed of the dragon. It’s difficult to stay locked onto him, making it easy for the beast to hit you out of sight.
Once you’ve downed the dragon, you need to deal with the King himself. His moveset is vast, and he’s capable of destroying your hit points at both melee and range. In typical Souls fashion, he gets much more difficult at 50% health, adding a set of lightning attacks to his roster.
Tip: Wear light armour (or level Endurance) to help dodge the King’s onslaught of rapid attacks.
Which Dark Souls Boss Did You Find The Hardest?
The bosses we’ve mentioned here today are the ones we’ve had the most trouble with. What about you? Did you struggle against any of the bosses we listed in the article? Or is your greatest adversary one we didn’t mention today? Let us know below!