Warning: This article contains spoilers for Dark Souls III; anyone who has yet to complete the game may want to do so before reading.
Dark Souls III has been out nearly a month now, with dozens of doomed individuals exploring the depths of Lothric. One of the most talked-about and punishing aspects of the Souls games are their boss battles, the type that can eat up hours of your time, forcing you to consider your life choices. But the harder they come, the harder they fall, and that feeling of achievement after finishing off a brutal boss is what Souls is all about. But which bosses were the most difficult? In this article, we will rate the bosses from easiest to hardest. Prepare to die!
(Please note that I am writing this list from the perspective of using no summoning.)
19) Iudex Gundyr
This confusingly named boss (iudex apparently means ‘to judge’ in latin, pronounced yoo-dex) is pretty standard fair and about the difficultly you would expect from the first boss of the game, with experienced players unlikely to struggle against it. While he can cause a fair bit of damage in his mutated second form, if you’re keeping your distance from his head the fight is pretty easy. On a scale of cruelty, he certainly isn’t as bad the Asylum Demon from the original Dark Souls in abusing first-time players.
Rating: This game isn’t as hard as everyone says…
18) Old Demon King
Technically there are easier fights than the Old Demon King, but considering that by this point players will be getting to grips with how to play the game, this boss fight is not just one of the easiest in the game, but also one of the worst. Its design and combat are both incredibly generic, and its slow attacks are easy to avoid, making it just a case of getting in behind and attacking the tail. Considering this area is optional, you think there would be a better reward for curious players who feel like slicing up a rickety bridge.
Rating: Really? Try harder.
17) Vordt of the Boreal Valley
The first boss in the game to have its own opening cinematic, despite not really deserving one, Vordt is very easy for those who have the power of fire. The fight really is only a matter of dodging his charging attacks, which can be very destructive if you don’t move out of the way in time, and lobbing fire at him from afar. Those without firebombs or pyromancy may struggle more, but his health is fairly low and attacks predictable.
16) Yhorm The Giant
This fight is the first of a couple of gimmicky fights. This basically means that the fight isn’t really a fight, it’s a more of a puzzle. As I’m sure you know it is simply a matter of grabbing the Storm Ruler and blowing him away with the Skill attack. He can still destroy you with a couple of attacks, though, so don’t get too complacent.
Rating: This boss goes down a storm (ugh, what a terrible joke).
15) Ancient Wyvern
The second gimmicky boss fight is much trickier to figure out what to do. It consists of completely ignoring the boss, running up a load of stairs, killing a hoard of annoying enemies, jumping off the top of some scaffolding and plunging your sword straight into it’s head. This fight can be very difficult if you decide to kill all the enemies en route to the top. However, you can run past most of them fairly easily and end the fight with very little fuss. Just make sure you time your jump right and you’re golden, don’t misjudge it and fall to your death like I did. Twice.
Rating: Use cowardice.
14) High Lord Wolnir
The key to this fight is to not let his massive, boney face scare you and go straight in for the kill. The longer the fight goes on, the more skeletons appear to get in your way. This is a boss which will probably kill most people a few times, mainly down to the purple gas he emits that can kill you in seconds. Aggression, as it is in real life, is the best solution to your problems, concentrating on the right hand first before wailing on the left. His attacks are very predictable and are easy to dodge.
Rating: Easy for the confident.
13) Deacons Of The Deep
This fight can seem overwhelming to start with, the temptation being to slash away blindly like a demented butcher in an abattoir. This can work well for the first form but can cause you to get unstuck in the second when the chief deacon summons some more powerful enemies. You will die during this fight, with the timing of the enemy attacks sometimes occurring at unlucky times and causing a succession of attacks reigning down on you. However, if you are patient and keep moving around, looking for angles to maneuver through the hordes to attack the chief, you will best him. Not locking on will also help to this end.
Rating: It’s all about timing.
12) Dragonslayer Armour
A fairly boring boss fight in both name, design and combat, Dragonslayer Armour is fairly easy considering how late in the game he appears. His attacks are fairly well telegraphed and allow plenty of time for you to get around the back to attack. The fight does get slightly harder when to use it’s official name, the weird floaty red phantom butterfly thing starts firing lasers at you. As long as you are aware of which side of the bridge it is on and stay the opposite of the fountain, the boss can be taken down with little fuss.
11) Ocerios, The Consumed King
Ocerios is one of the oddest fights in the game, a weird dragon guy with man’s voice that lets out baby cries when he’s hit. That on top of the weird noises it makes when you are waiting outside it’s boss room makes it perhaps the most disturbing boss in the game. The fight itself though is nothing special, mainly consisting of the standard jumping, charging and mid ranged attacks. This is simply a matter of learning his attack patterns, attacking when you get the chance and repeating. The real challenge comes from how long the fight can last due to his high health, meaning the key is keeping on your toes and not messing up.
Rating: Be patient
10) Curse-Rotten Greenwood
The third boss that most players will face and possibly the first hard boss of the game. While its first form is fairly easy, simply a matter of avoiding the enemies around the battlefield and finding a good opportunity to go in for the kill, the second form is much more challenging. It has several weak spots based on its body and you want to take these out before you try and attack the front arm that comes during this second form. The less time you spend around that arm the better, as it can kill you in seconds. Range attacks make this fight much easier as you can avoid the lava the boss spews when trying to attack the weak spots. This is possibly the first taste of the real Dark Souls boss that new players will get during this game and much like Ocerios can last a long time, requiring a lot of concentration and composure. Once you have the technique down, though, the fight can be done fairly easily.
Rating: This is where the real fight begins
9) Crystal Sage
Those who are weak against magic be fearful as the Crystal Sage has some powerful magic at its disposal. This fight really demands ultra-aggression as the quicker the Sages’ doppelgängers are taken out the better as it is almost impossible to avoid all of their attacks when out in the open. The best technique here is to find a found to cower behind and working your way around the perimeter of the arena, killing them all one by one as you go around. Death is an inevitability here as it’s orb attacks can kill you in one hit if you are weak against magic. But stick with it and try and kill it as quickly as possible.
Rating: Time for attacking
8) Dancer Of The Boreal Valley
Dancer Of The Boreal Valley is an apt name for this boss. Its dancing is much like mine at a nightclub, i.e. unwieldy and quite likely to kill anyone nearby. Like a lot of these fights, players must find the pattern in her move set in order to get the opportunity to attack, although due to how quick the boss is, it can be quite hard to get around her. Players must react fast since her attacks bring almost certain death.
7) Champion Gundyr
A reprise of the fight at the beginning of the game, Champion Gundyr’s real difficulty really lies in his relentlessness and how quickly he can drain your stamina bar when you’re blocking his attacks. This makes rolling the only option, but even that can be dangerous during his second form. His health can be whittled down fairly quickly, so your best hope is to just keep rolling and dodging and hoping for the best. This fight is a testament to how far you have come as a player by this point in the game and serves as a great reminder of how much better you have become since the beginning of the game.
Rating: Bloody hell
6) Pontiff Sulyvahn
This is a fight which entirely changes halfway through. While the first half can be simply negotiated by rolling, the second phase requires you to deal with the Pontiff’s clone as well. While both of them are there things are infinitely more difficult, with the attacks coming one after another. You’re only hope is to kill the clone as quickly as possible and take on the Pontiff on his own. Even then this is no walk in the park, as his attacks are incredibly powerful.
5) Abyss Watchers
The first boss the game which I would describe as eye-gouging difficult, the Abyss Watcher is a wily customer. He is quick and gives you little respite, especially when his minions start appearing. Using the second minion, that fights on your side, to your advantage is the key to the first half of the fight, but won’t help you in the second form. His fire attacks have a massive range and his attacks can easily drain your stamina in a blink of an eye. Those who have high stamina and a knight build will have a better time against this guy, but this is the fight where the game really takes it up a notch in terms of difficulty.
4) The Twin Princes
This fight is all about the rolling. Wearing light armour and any rings that help with stamina or rolling are advisable as this is the best way to defeating these guys. The attacks remain similar in both forms and are fairly predictable, the main problem coming from the grabbing and beam sword attacks that will probably kill you in one hit. Keeping your distance will not help you either as they can teleport all over the place. Rolling round the back and hacking away is the only hope here, and this is always a risky tactic, as a quick death is never far away.
3) Aldrich, Devourer Of Gods
The title ‘Devourer Of Gods’ isn’t one which I imagine is handed out lightly, as God devouring is not for the faint of heart, and neither is this boss. Between the disappearing acts and the long distance magic attacks, there is not a safe spot in the room to keep Aldrich at bay. The main ace he has up his sleeve is the homing sword attack which summons a trail swords that rain down from the roof. This attack directly killed me on countless occasions, whilst also making me run into another one his attacks numerous times as well. It is never a good sign in a boss fight when you frantically running around the room hoping your stamina doesn’t run out. Keeping Aldrich close to you at all times is the only answer here.
Rating: Cripplingly hard
2) Soul Of Cinder
As you would expect from the final boss, this guy is ridiculous. Not only does he have four different phases in his first form, meaning there is a load of attacking patterns you need to memorise, he switches randomly between them. The boss is clearly designed to test your full skills as a player, with deadly short, long and mid-range moves in every phase. The second form he takes is actually much easier, but getting caught by one move can send you into an attack-spiral that you cannot get out of. It is best to be cautious here and only chip away at his health when you are certain you have time to get away. This is a fight which pumps you full of adrenaline so it is important to be composed at these stressful times. As difficult as it is, the fight is the perfect test of all your skills and a fitting way to end the game.
Rating: Please, have mercy
1) Nameless King
Possibly the hardest boss to find in the game (without looking online), the Nameless King has rightly hidden away as the he brings RSI-inducing levels of pain. The first form is fairly difficult, mainly due to the huge health bar he has at its disposal. The second form though is brutal with a wide range of attacks, almost all of which can decrease your health bar in half with one mistimed dodge. The length of these fights becomes incredibly frustrating when you inevitably die, forcing you to repeat the first stage of the fight over and over again. Much like the Soul Of Cinder, extreme caution is the best way of proceeding, jumping in and getting quick attacks away whenever possible. He will eventually be staggered so you must take full advantage of that if you hope to be at all successful in beating one of the hardest bosses the Souls series has even seen. Whoever came up with this fight is demented and probably should be sectioned to stop them inflicting more suffering upon