Prepare to Die.
The Dark Souls games are known for their excruciating difficulty, and this is most prominent in the truly brutal boss battles that the talented masochists at From Software has graciously blessed us with.
Dark Souls 3 is just around the corner, and we think it’s high time to dredge up some old wounds.
10. Crossbreed Priscilla (Dark Souls)
Remember when you first entered that funny looking painting on the wall in Anor Londo? Remember feeling your heart sink when you realized that you couldn’t leave?
Naive and far away from the safety net of Firelink Shrine, Crossbreed Prisiclla greets your sorry ass with a pretty face and a scythe, and will proceed to hack you to pieces if you’re not careful. Though she is optional, I’ll admit that my curiosity got the best of me, and I doubt I’m the only one who paid the price.
Did I mention she can turn completely invisible?
9. Velstadt, the Royal Aegis (Dark Souls 2)
Velstadt is like Smough’s angry little brother, out for revenge in Dark Souls 2. It’s a no holds barred hell in the cell, and there’s no way around the guy, or his absolutely monstrous chime hammer. If you get lucky and manage to dodge his slamming frenzy, he’ll pull out his trap card, and start hurling dark magic at you until you perish.
The pace of this battle is jarring, and the nerve needed to trek through one of the toughest rooms in the game just to face the guy will push any veteran to their limit.
8. Sanctuary Guardian (Dark Souls)
From Software pulled absolutely no punches with their Dark Souls DLC. You come out of the main game a champion, ready to face the next challenge, but you didn’t realize there was an entrance exam.
A lightning beast in a body of a shallow water, The Sanctuary Guardian is a particularly nasty foe who plays on everything you’ve learned so far. His attacks are quick, and the off-putting delay in his move set draws you in when you think you’re safe, only to sucker punch you right in the resolve. And if the basic attacks don’t get you, his poisonous tail will.
7. Capra Demon (Dark Souls)
Capra Demon is certainly not the most daunting, grotesque looking boss in the series, but he makes up for that in his cruelty. Completely out of your depth, led into a false sense of security with the first few gimmicky bosses, you’d be well inclined to walk into this one with a spring in your step. It’s early game, so it can’t be that hard, right?
The claustrophobic chamber that greets you will turn anyone’s milks sour. It has a unique approach to punishing you. You’re used to wide open spaces and pre-amble, but the Capra provides none of the above, just bum-rushing you with his 2 vicious dogs. Good luck!
6. Gwyn, Lord of Cinder (Dark Souls)
Gwyn, the final boss of Dark Souls 1 truly is the ultimate gauntlet. He isn’t huge or grotesque, but I think that’s what makes the battle so daunting and scary, that he’s your equal. He doesn’t tower over you or wield a larger than life sword, he’s just a man protecting his keep, and you seem to be in his way.
You may think you’ve got all the tricks of the trade worked out, but his move set is so erratic and unpredictable that you’ll regret ever setting foot in the kiln of the first flame. The only way to stop this fiery monstrosity is to praise the sun and parry like nobody’s business. Just don’t let him grab you!
5. Fume Knight (Dark Souls 2)
Don’t be confused by his relatively small stature. Fume Knight is easily one of the hardest boss fights in Dark Souls 2. The main problem most players will run into is his insane attack speed. Fume Knight boasts two swords, a heavy buster blade and a light short sword, both of which he swings at you almost constantly, with devastating results.
Even so, once you drop his health past 50% he buffs his great sword with flame and dark damage, so much so that even the best fire resistant shield in the game will not save you. Basically, leave your shield and your dignity at the door and roll for your life.
4. Black Dragon Kalameet (Dark Souls)
Like I said earlier, the DLC in Dark Souls 1 really doesn’t play around, and Black Dragon Kalameet is the ultimate test. An ancient dragon so mighty, even Anor Londo didn’t try to provoke it.
His move set is a long, calculated list of soul-crushing sweeps and fire-based damage that is impossible to block even with the best of shields. On top of covering the basin with fire, he boasts a debuff grab that incurs double damage from any hit you take after it, making the fight that tiny bit more excruciating, and nigh impossible without a summon.
3. The Four Kings (Dark Souls)
As if dropping into an unknown Abyss wasn’t enough to make you cry, the Four Kings really should have a name change, because if you’re not fast enough, you could fight upwards of 10 in this drawn-out battle royale.
The pitch black agoraphobic nightmare setting that they reside in absolutely scared the life out of me when I first fell down that hole, and it took me way longer to even give it a fair shot. Much like the Capra Demon, this boss goes against all of your values, and you certainly can’t hide behind a shield. The only option is to go guns blazing, two-hand your weapon and hope that you do enough damage, because if all four swarm you it’s an instant kill.
Oh, and did I mention there aren’t any bonfires in this entire area? Thanks Miyazaki.
2. Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough (Dark Souls)
Bet you didn’t see that coming.
Yes, as much as I hate Dark Soul’s poster boys of pain, I just couldn’t quite give them the top spot. But that does not by any means deny their profound ability to bring grave sorrow to gamers across the planet.
I personally had a three-month hiatus when I first met these guys. Nobody who walks through that fated Anor Londo archway could ever dream of the pain they were about to receive. Along the same lines of the Fume Knight’s little and large combo, Ornstein and Smough take it that one step further and come at you as two separate entities, Ornstein favoring an electricity-charged spear, and Smough with a huge, all-encompassing hammer.
Dance around the columns and try not to get overwhelmed, but I’m sure you will!
1. Lud & Zallen, the King’s Pets (Dark Souls 2)
I can imagine the meeting at From Software HQ. “So, we really hit a nerve with Ornstein and Smough. How do we make a tag team to top that?”
I seriously despair for the designer behind this malevolent boss battle. Fair enough, it is the actual final boss of the Dark Souls 2 DLC, they were destined to go out with a bang rather than a fizzle, but Lud and Zallen are two cats straight from the depths of hell. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.
Every enemy in the area of the Frigid Outskirts feels like a boss in its own right, and if you can make it past those awful flying lightning reindeers on the most ridiculous marathon journey to the fog door, this is your reward.
Unlike Ornstein and Smough, they are shortly separated whilst Zallen has a quick snooze, but as soon as you wake him up, get ready to take a seat on the pain train. Especially when you get the last one down to about a quarter of his health bar, and he buffs himself with 50% increased defence, 200% damage and 60% health regeneration.
Because Dark Souls, that’s why.