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. Here are the top 10 hardest Dark Souls bosses of all time.
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. Pontiff Sulyvahn (Dark Souls 3)
Pontiff Sulyvahn is meant to teach you to parry and to learn to read telegraphed attacks. He might move quickly, but his moves are almost all telegraphed and easy to recognize.
What makes this fight so tough is fighting the urge to panic and button-mash, as that’s the main thing that’ll get you killed within seconds. The moment you panic and get caught in a combo, it’s pretty much all over for you unless you’re grossly over-leveled. That said, once you master this fight, Pontiff becomes one of the most satisfying boss encounters in Dark Souls 3.
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. Champion Gundyr (Dark Souls 3)
Unlike Iudex Gundyr, Champion Gundyr is basically a powered up version of Dark Souls 3’s introductory boss, and he is terrifying. His moveset will look familiar at first, but as you whittle down his health, he starts busting out some seriously tough to read attacks.
Champion Gundyr has a terrifying shoulder charge, along with incredibly unpredictable moves that can make this a very frustrating boss to go up against. That being said, like all other bosses in the Dark Souls series, beating Gundyr is simply a matter of patience and keeping calm.
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. Nameless King (Dark Souls 3)
Not only is the Nameless King the toughest boss in the Dark Souls series by far, it’s also the best one in terms of battle satisfaction and spectacle. The Nameless King himself first descends to the arena on a dragon, forcing you to contend with this giant beast spewing lightning at you, while also dodging his hard-hitting spear attacks as you get close.
Then, in the second phase, it becomes a one-on-one with the King, where being able to read his telegraphed moves is paramount to your success. This is an extremely tough battle simply because you’re forced to go through the dragon phase in each run, which makes this more of a battle of endurance than anything else.
However, it’s also the most satisfying boss fight in the entire series as there truly is no better feeling than finally learning to read every single spear attack and knowing how to parry him.
That does it for our ranking of the top 10 hardest Dark Souls bosses of all time. Be sure to search for Twinfinite for more tips and information on the game, including our ranking of all the bosses in Dark Souls III and Bloodborne.