The criteria for this ranking takes into account the difficulty of the fight, the mechanics used, and the lore behind the bosses themselves. Ultimately, the bosses will be judged based on the overall memorability of the fights and how they implement the game’s mechanics and improve upon past encounters from previous entries.
Without further ado, here’s all bosses in Dark Souls 3, ranked from worst to best.
25. Ancient Wyvern
Kicking off the list of ranked Dark Souls 3 bosses, we have the Ancient Wyvern coming in dead last. Dragon fights have never really been FromSoft’s specialty, and the fight with the Ancient Wyvern exemplifies that. By being able to kill it with one plunging attack, what could have been a truly epic fight feels gimmicky and wasted.
24. Old Demon King
The Old Demon King can be found in the Demon Ruins in Dark Souls 3. He looks pretty badass, but he’s slow and his move set is simply too predictable. His souls tells us that he was the last witness of the Chaos of Izalith, but we never get much more lore and info on him beyond that. He could’ve been an interesting boss, but the lack of information and the ease of his fight make him rather forgettable.
23. High Lord Wolnir
High Lord Wolnir, also known by the fans as Vape Lord Wolnir, is probably one of the easiest bosses in Dark Souls 3. He’s a pretty interesting character overall, and he’s essentially the sum of all the lords he’s defeated in his quest to prolong his life. However, most of this fight is dependent on RNG, and players often have to wait for his hands to be in a good position to take a good whacking from you. It’s not a very engaging battle.
22. Crystal Sage
While mage bosses tend to fall a little on the easier side in most Souls games, it’d be unwise to underestimate the Crystal Sage. His homing crystals can be deadly if you get too greedy, and he might even surprise you with his crystal rapier if you keep trying to R1 spam him. The fight gets even more intense when he starts spawning clones, and you’ll have to keep an eye on as many clones as you can while making your way to the true target. The Crystal Sage’s design and lore also pay homage to Big Hat Logan, one of the coolest characters from Dark Souls, making this fight an overall fun one.
21. Oceiros, the Consumed King
Oceiros is the most talkative boss in Dark Souls 3, but he also reveals Lothric Castle’s connection to the dragons. The lore on Oceiros himself is pretty fascinating too, and reveals his connections with Gwynevere and Seath the Scaleless. The first phase of the fight might seem like a cakewalk, but the second phase flips the tables on players when he starts going berserk. Try beating him in an SL1 challenge if you really want to push yourself to the limit.
20. Vordt of the Boreal Valley
Vordt isn’t too tough to fight, as long as you know how to dodge his charges. As one of the earlier bosses in the game, he’s also a good introduction to the new Frostbite mechanic in Dark Souls 3. It certainly helps that his boss theme is one of the most epic and catchiest ones in the game. His tragic backstory as an Outrider Knight and relationship with the Dancer also helps add some personality to this ice-cold boss.
19. Curse-Rotted Greatwood
The Curse-Rotted Greatwood might not be a very hard fight, but it certainly is a memorable one. While it seems slow and unwieldy during the first phase, things quickly change when the entire floor collapses and a menacing hand bursts out of its ballsack, kind of like the chestburster from Alien. The grotesque imagery of the boss and its environments also do a great job of adding to the overall creepiness of the fight.
18. Spear of the Church
Halflight/Spear of the Church is a boss introduced in The Ringed City DLC. It’s a really neat throwback to bosses like the Looking Glass Knight from Dark Souls II and the Old Monk from Demon’s Souls.
If you’re playing the game online, you’ll have the chance to duke it out with another player. This makes the fight experience vary greatly between players, and it’s a unique and refreshing twist that’s been missing from the series for a very long time.
17. Yhorm the Giant
As one of the most widely advertised characters in Dark Souls 3, Yhorm the Giant felt like a little bit of a disappointment because he ended up being another gimmick fight. However, fans will be able to appreciate the Storm Ruler throwback to Demon’s Souls. And if you actually follow Siegward’s questline, Yhorm’s lore and backstory will become apparent, making the fight feel as epic as it should be.
16. Deacons of the Deep
While some may argue that the Deacons are the easiest bosses in the game, I’d argue that it has some of the most interesting mechanics out of all the bosses. The first phase is like an improved version of the fight against the Congregation and Prowling Magus of Dark Souls II, and the Phalanx from Demon’s Souls. The second phase ramps up the challenge quite a bit, and can prove to be a nuisance for slow attackers. If left unchecked, the Deacons will start blocking off the light in the room and build up your Curse meter. The Deacons fight is fascinating, in terms of design and lore, making it one of the more memorable bosses in Dark Souls 3.
15. Iudex Gundyr
As the first boss you’ll encounter in Dark Souls 3, Iudex Gundyr really sets the tone for the rest of the game. His attacks are relentless, and he does a great job of teaching players not to be afraid to get up close and personal during his second phase. The term ‘Iudex’ also means ‘judge’, which is appropriate. Iudex Gundyr is your first obstacle in Dark Souls 3, and he will be the judge of whether you are worthy to tread the path of ash. Also, that soundtrack.
14. Abyss Watchers
The Abyss Watchers will remind players a lot of Bloodborne in terms of design and speed. They move really quickly, and will attack you without hesitation. It’s also a pretty memorable fight because of the two surprises the Abyss Watchers throw at you. During the first phase, even more Watchers will rise from the dead to fight you, but certain Watchers will actually turn on their own brethren. Once you bring their HP down to zero, the Abyss Watchers throw you one last surprise by resurrecting a single, fiery warrior to duel you to the death. It’s the first fight in the game to throw the ‘double health bar’ curveball at you, and it does it very masterfully. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Abyss Watchers are essentially descendants of our favorite knight, Artorias.
13. Dancer of the Boreal Valley
If you’d like, you can actually fight the Dancer very early on in the game, but I’d strongly advise against doing so. The Dancer might seem slow and non-threatening at first, but shit gets really real once she brings out that second sword. The mechanics of the fight are deceptively simple; you can take her out very easily by holding your shield up to block and attack when it’s safe, just like how you’ve been doing with the game’s regular enemies. The trick to winning is to keep calm and not allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the sheer bombast of the fight.
12. Darkeater Midir
Dragon boss fights still aren’t exactly From Software’s forte, even in The Ringed City. However, Darkeater Midir is easily one of the best dragon fights we’ve seen in the series, and it’s right up there with Kalameet.
Midir is an incredibly aggressive boss that puts your combat skills and spacing to the ultimate test. Though Midir is an optional boss, his combos and attacks are some of the hardest to learn in the DLC, making him one of the most satisfying challenges to overcome in the game.
11. Demon Prince
While it’s not quite the Ornstein and Smough return we were hoping for, the Demon Prince boss fight is quite the tough introduction to The Ringed City.
After getting past the first phase, you’re forced to contend with the Demon in Pain and the Demon from Below. Part of what makes this fight so fun is having to balance and manage to aggressive enemy AIs at the same time, and choosing who to kill first, which (of course) triggers a third and more powerful phase for whoever you left alive.
10. Champion Gravetender & Gravetender’s Greatwolf
The optional boss fight in Ashes of Ariandel is sure to bring back many memories of the Great Grey Wolf Sif for longtime fans. The Greatwolf here isn’t as gentle as Sif was, however.
Midway through your relatively easy joust with the Gravetender, you hear a howl and the Greatwolf bursts onto the scene. He’s the real boss you need to deal with here, and this fight is made all the more exciting because of his lightning speed and devastating frost attacks – an element which was way too underappreciated in the base game.
9. Dragonslayer Armour
Now here’s another cool throwback to an original Dark Souls icon. The Dragonslayer Armour has moves that feel reminiscent of Ornstein, but he also surprises players with his shield tactics as well. The boss arena is epic, and things really ramp up when the Bed of Chaos-esque dragons to the side start hurling meatballs at you. The Dragonslayer Armour is simply an autonomous suit of armor guarding the Grand Archives, and serves as the final trial that stands between you and the last Lord of Cinder.
8. Champion Gundyr
Champion Gundyr tricks players into a false sense of comfort by performing moves we already witnessed in the Iudex Gundyr fight, and then goes completely berserk once we bring him into the second phase. This boss will force you to learn how to roll, and if you’ve been completely dependent on your 100% physical block shield this whole time, Champ won’t hesitate to punish you. It’ll require quick reflexes and a good knowledge of his patterns to be able to overcome him on your own. Once you’ve finally bested Gundyr, he’ll then be reduced to nothing more than a scabbard for a coiled sword, destined to wait for the next ashen champion when the bell tolls once more.
7. Aldrich, Devourer of Gods
Aldrich is a bit of a detestable character. If you’ve been following his lore, you’ll learn that he’s simply an obese sludge who got sick of eating humans and luxuriating in their screams, and then moved on to eating gods. When we encounter him in Anor Londo, we see that he’s already devoured Gwyndolin (poor guy), and reanimates his corpse to attack us. His attacks are very reminiscent of Gwyndolin and Crossbreed Priscilla from Dark Souls, and they are fairly easy to read, but this also makes him a pretty fun fight. If you’ve been following Anri’s quest closely as well, nothing beats the sense of justice you get when you finally put an end to this monster who’s been feeding on children for years. Also, he really messed up Ornstein and Smough’s arena. Jerk.
6. Pontiff Sulyvahn
If you thought Aldrich was an asshole, wait till you read the lore on Pontiff Sulyvahn. Here’s the ambitious man who sought to use Aldrich to further his own goals and gain power. Sulyvhan also happens to be one of the coolest and toughest fights in the game, especially if you’re terrible at parrying. He’ll remind players a lot of Allant from Demon’s Souls, and also teach players to read sword swings and dodge appropriately. He shakes things up in the second phase by summoning a shadow to confuse players, but quickly becomes a manageable foe once you’ve learned the shadow’s tricks.
5. Nameless King
The Nameless King is, hands down, the toughest boss you’ll face in Dark Souls 3. His lightning spear swipes are devastating, and the hardest part of this fight is figuring out when it’s safe to heal up. He has tons of quick follow-up attacks, and will destroy you pretty quickly if you don’t learn how to use your i-frames. He’s also one of the most memorable fights in the game simply by virtue of answering one of the series’ most pressing lore questions: who is Gwyn’s firstborn? Fans have been asking this same question since Dark Souls, and have even speculated that Solaire or Andre might have been Gwyn’s firstborn, and Dark Souls 3 finally answers that question. This is a man who defied his father and chose to fight alongside the dragons – no wonder his name was removed from the annals of history.
4. Twin Princes
Before you can fight Lothric, the final Lord of Cinder, first you have to face his older brother, Lorian. The setup for the fight is impressive enough, and the battle against Lorian is great for keeping you on your toes. His teleportation abilities will force you to stop relying on your target lock, and instead learn to predict what his next move will be. Once you’ve taken him out, the fight becomes even more epic when Lothric finally descends and revives his brother once more, for that is their curse. The twin princes share a strong bond and it is implied that Lorian, who was once a great knight, embraced his brother’s curse that rendered him mute and cripple, just so he could relieve some of Lothric’s own suffering. As the final Lord of Cinder, both the arena and the soundtrack are appropriate in underscoring the finality of the conflict.
3. Sister Friede
Sister Friede is one of the best bosses in the entirety of Dark Souls 3, because of both her significance in the game’s lore and the sheer difficulty of this fight.
Her first phase is remarkably similar to that of Priscilla’s from the first game, and it’s a very meaningful lore-filled throwback to the Painted World of Ariamis. As you uncover the secrets of Ariandel, you learn exactly why Friede adopts Priscilla’s move set as well.
This is also a fight that contains not two, but three phases – something which is rarely ever seen in Souls games. After beating the explosive second phase with both Friede and Father Ariandel, the game offers you a Titanite Slab to bait you into thinking that the fight is over. But then, you hear Gael’s voice over the flames, and Friede is resurrected once more as Blackflame Elfriede. In spectacularly badass fashion.
Elfriede’s final form is brutal and unrelenting, and she punishes players too impatient to slow down and learn her move set. The entire fight is a test of endurance across three different phases, and serves as one of the most memorable challenges in Dark Souls 3.
2. Slave Knight Gael
As the last boss we’ll ever see in the Dark Souls universe, it’s only fitting that From Software should grace us with a fight that’s reminiscent to the one we had with one of the game’s most iconic characters: Knight Artorias.
Slave Knight Gael is our final adversary in The Ringed City, and he wields a Greatsword. He swings his weapon quickly, and leaps around the massive arena to keep you on your toes. It’s a very gorgeous arena as well, and it’s a fitting one for the end of the series.
Most importantly, Gael finally offers us what we’ve been searching for since the beginning of the series. The titular Dark Soul of Man. We won’t spoil its lore description, but suffice it to say that it’s a fitting, if rather bittersweet, ending to this epic fantasy series.
1. Soul of Cinder
Since Lord Gwyn, the first Lord of Cinder, many exalted lords have linked the First Flame, and it is their very souls that have manifested themselves as defender of the flame. Just as Iudex Gundyr’s purpose was to judge if you were worthy of becoming a champion of ash, the Soul of Cinder is there to determine if you are worthy of linking the First Flame. The Soul of Cinder is the embodiment of all the previous lords who had linked the flame, including the Chosen Undead from Dark Souls. He changes his play style constantly as a representation of all the different lords who had come before you, and right when you bring his health down to zero, he becomes the manifestation of Gwyn, the very first Lord of Cinder. The music changes to reflect Gwyn’s theme, and the Soul of Cinder even adopts his move set. The final boss of Dark Souls 3 is essentially the players themselves, and this makes for a meaningful sendoff to a stellar trilogy of games.