The Beacons of the Deep – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
This is a curious boss battle in Dark Souls 3 —more of a collection of enemies than an actual boss. These standard enemies are all super easy to deal with, and the fight is really just a case of crowd control as you locate the one enemy that actually causes the “boss” to take damage. The second phase of the fight makes things slightly harder because enemies can cast Curse, but overall it’s a very straightforward affair.
Ancient Wyvern – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
As with Yhorm the Giant, there’s a bit of a gimmick to beat the Ancient Wyvern that makes this a rather tedious affair. Attacking the enormous dragon conventionally is futile, as his HP is absurdly high. Instead, you simply need to run up a nearby tower and jump off, striking the beast in the head for an instant kill. Avoiding its attack as you run past, the enemies on the way up the tower, and timing the attack can cause a little frustration, which is the only reason this isn’t listed as the easiest boss in Dark Souls 3.
High Lord Wolnir – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
A cinematic sort of encounter as the enormous Wolnir emerges from the shadows and swipes at you with its hands. Spectacular, though not at all difficult, as it turns out. Sure, getting too close to the fog that steams around his chest kills you very quickly indeed, but keeping your distance and attacking the golden bands he has around his arms should tear through him quickly. A memorable battle but not one that should test you all that much.
Vordt of the Boreal Valley – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Vordt is like the second boss you’ll face in Dark Souls 3, and he really is pretty straightforward. If you’ve played Dark Souls 1 and remember the Great Grey Wolf Sis, it’s a very similar sort of fight. Essentially, all you need to do is stay underneath or behind Vordt and you’re sorted. He can only cause damage from the front, and that one-dimensional attack pattern makes him the easiest boss fight in the game.
Iudex Gundyr – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Basically the tutorial boss of Dark Souls 3, though ironically not the easiest —classic FromSoftware. Gundyr has an enormous spear that has a long reach that you need to be careful of, but he’s relatively easy to damage in between thrusts. In his second phase, Gundyr’s attacks are much more erratic, and it’s easy to lose your nerve and back off to make sense of the flurries. The best strategy, however, is to get in close and stay aggressive.
The Crystal Sage – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Although you can take some severe damage from The Crystal Sage if you get caught in the hail of its magic attacks, the casting animations take so long that he shouldn’t give you much trouble. Particularly so, since The Crystal Sage disappears after being hit a few times and then reappears somewhere else, and it’s usually pretty easy to close the distance and put the pressure back on. Later, the boss spawns copies of itself to confuse you, but finding your mark shouldn’t prove difficult, especially given that the clones only have a single health-point and can be dealt with very quickly.
The Curse-Rotted Greatwood – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
The Curse-Rotted Greatwood looks intimidating, but this Dark Souls III boss fight isn’t too tough. The fight takes two separate forms, but both require you to damage Greatwood in its vulnerable spots, situated on its limbs, belly, and back. Once you’ve inflicted enough damage, it will smash the ground and you’ll both plummet to a cave below. Here, things go up a notch, but the strategy remains the same. Sure, there’s a creepy new arm that sprouts from its belly, and getting run over by its scaley back can be a death sentence, but most attacks are obviously telegraphed.
Halflight, Spear of the Church – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Halflight is an interesting boss fight because it can either be extremely tough or a bit of a breeze, largely according to whether you’re playing online or offline. This towering opponent grumbles intimidating words as the battle commences, but it’s his special ability to summon invaders that makes him a tough proposition. That can play out one of two ways: either you’re faced with a skilled player that completely obliterates you, or he happens to summon a novice and it’s hardly any factor at all. Offline, of course, none of this is even in the equation, and Halflight can be cut down pretty quickly.
Champion’s Gravetender – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
The only optional boss in the Ashes of Ariandel DLC, the Champion’s Gravetender and his Gravetender Wolf are basically souped-up versions of regular enemies. Because of this, you’ll be able to stagger and backstab them, so they’re instantly less of a threat than unique boss enemies. That being said, fighting two enemies that can hit hard is never easy. Luckily, the arena has a few areas that you can use for cover, baiting both bosses around in circles as you pick your moment to strike. As long as you’re careful not to get too frostbitten and focus on beating one boss at a time, the Gravetenders should prove among the easiest DLC boss fights.
Oceiros, the Consumed King – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
An optional boss, Oceiros is a deranged-looking dragon that can cause you some problems if you give him too much respect. As with any dragon fight in Dark Souls, the key is to stay underneath him and attack his legs. By staying on the offensive and remaining close to him, you should be able to take him down quickly. Yes, there are AoE and poison attacks that spice things up a bit, and his second form is more manic and aggressive, but overall Oceiros isn’t especially hard.
Yhorm the Giant – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Just as with the Ancient Wyvern, Yhorm first appears as the hardest boss in any Dark Souls game until you realize there’s a gimmick to beating this ungainly behemoth. An item at the far corner of the boss area is your first giveaway, and the Storm Ruler is in fact the key to defeating Yhorm. Once equipped, the weapon art charges the weapon and fires off a mighty attack that can hit from distance. Yhorm is especially vulnerable —it’s the only attack that drops his HP significantly— and as long as you time your attacks carefully, he’s easy to down. It will still take four or five shots, though, and Yhorm can inflict massive damage with his attacks, which makes him a much tougher proposition than other gimmicky boss encounters in the game.
Old Demon King – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
A giant fire demon in the Smouldering Lake area, the Old Demon King has some powerful moves. Unless you’ve got fire-resistant armor and an excellent shield, he’s likely to cause big damage when his attacks land. Thankfully, though, he takes a while to wind them up, so dodging or simply putting distance between the both of you should see you through. You can stay pretty aggressive and punish him in between his attack animations, just beware of the AoE fire damage that he throws out. In the end, the Old Demon King is another boss that looks intimidating but is fairly easily dealt with.
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Aldrich is the second Lord of Cinder you’ll battle, but he’s nowhere near as challenging as Pontiff, especially if you’re using a melee character. Aldrich is a rather odd-looking mage who casts a few dangerous spells but is rather easy to tear through. Similar to The Crystal Sage, Aldrich teleports away after you’ve hit him a few times, and that actually makes the fight easier than it would normally be. It’s just a case of scanning to see where he reappears and then running towards him and using a jump attack for big damage.
Dragon Slayer Armor – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
The Dragon Slayer is a challenging fight that tests your ability to dodge and counter attack. He can close distance quickly, and has a wicked shield bash that’ll hit you hard if you’re foolish enough to try and get behind him. The Slayer’s swipes can also knock you off the battle area, and the fall is fatal, so keeping a good awareness of your surroundings adds an extra layer of difficulty to this encounter. Later in the battle, things get even more hectic as additional enemies begin reigning down projectiles that aren’t easy to dodge. What does make this battle easier is a fountain toward the end of the battle area, which can be used to put distance between the two of you and block his attacks. For that reason, Slayer is lower down this list than he might otherwise have been.
Champion Gundyr – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
The optional area, Untended Graves, marks the return of an old friend. The entire area is an otherworldly mirror-realm, of sorts, revisiting the tutorial area of the game but packed with more deadly enemies. Gundyr is no exception, as he’s significantly tougher this time around. The pattern of the fight is much the same but he attacks for more damage, strings together dangerous new combos, and his second phase is deadlier. Melee characters will need to remain patient to attack in the few moments between his attacks, while Mage’s have it easier since Gundyr is weak to magic.
Abyss Watchers – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
When you stumble across The Abyss Watchers of Farron Keep, it’s likely a substantially harder encounter than anything Dark Souls 3 has thrown at you up until that point. The Watchers number two or three, but only one counts as damage for the boss as a whole. Oddly enough, they’ll battle each other as well as you, so baiting them to fight amongst themselves is key to taking the heat off. And that’s especially wise since the Watchers move like lightning, closing the distance and keeping the pressure on you constantly. The real fight, though, begins in the second phase, when the Watchers become one giant, tough-as-nails enemy with a blazing fire sword. Thankfully, they have low poise and can be staggered. Offence is the best strategy here. Hardest bosses.
Pontiff Sulyvahn – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Capping off what is perhaps Dark Souls 3’s most impressive area, Pontiff Sulyvahn is the Irithyll of the Boreal Valley’s big bad boss, and he’s no push over. A deadly combination of melee and magic attacks make Pontiff a real handful solo —his pressure is relentless. Luckily, the cathedral in which you fight him is big enough in size that it’s possible to run away and down an estus flask, or buff yourself mid-battle. Pontiff spawns a ghost later in the battle, and the two combine for some powerful magic attacks that hit very hard. Beating them is tricky, but it’s all in the dodge, and learning how far each attack reaches. Hard boss.
Dancer of the Boreal Valley – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Double boss fight! Directly after beating either Aldrich or Yhorm, you’ll be teleported to a fight with the Dancer of the Boreal Valley, and you better hope you’ve still got enough left in the tank to take this fight on. The Dancer is among the hardest boss fights of the game, with a deadly grab attack that can remove half or more of your HP. The second phase of the fight sees the Dancer pull out a second sword, attacking even more furiously in spin attacks that last a considerable amount of time. This all being said, he can be overwhelmed by cleverly using the pillars to avoid its strikes and punish him with attacks from behind. Hardest bosses.
Lorian, Elder Prince, and Lothric, Younger Prince – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
The two brothers reside in the highest part of Lothric Castle, and your battle with them is the last Lord of Cinder battle (sort of). As you’d expect, Lorian and Lothric are a deadly combo that are among the hardest bosses to defeat in the game. Technically one single boss fight, Lothric strikes hard with melee damage as his brother reigns magic attacks from above. The first phase isn’t so hard —Lothric can be dodged and blocked easily, then punished with attacks from behind. The second phase, though, has Lorian join the fray, piggy-backing on his brother’s shoulder and shooting magic attacks at you. The two teleport around the map, which can be tricky. And attacking Lothric is futile since his brother constantly revives him. The trick is to keep getting behind the pair and striking Lorian’s back. Dark Souls 3
Soul of Cinder – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
The final boss and the closing sequence of Dark Souls 3, the Soul of Cinder has a serious case of multi-personality disorder. In short, he’s an amalgamation of every Lord of Cinder, drawing on all of their skills and abilities at different intervals throughout the fight, not to mention he can draw on virtually every move or attack you can, which all equates to one very difficult encounter. Particularly so, given that you have to defeat him twice. After felling him once, he revives himself and turns into an even deadlier opponent, casting magic attacks whenever you back away and attempt to heal. The boss arena has no cover, either, so you can’t hide from his relentless attacks. Overall, we’d rank Soul of Cinder as the second hardest boss outside the DLC.
The Nameless King – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Comfortably the most challenging boss in Dark Souls 3 not including the DLC, thankfully The Nameless King is optional for those simply wanting to complete the game. For the completionists (and masochists) The Nameless King will present one almighty obstacle. The final encounter in the optional area, Archdragon Peak, so no surprises he calls on a dragon to try and crush you. The fight comprises two distinct phases, with each given its own health bar. The first has you beat the dragon, with the King swiping at you with lightning-infused attacks in between the dragon’s own. Only hitting the dragon’s head does damage, and he moves very quickly, often swooping down behind you, making the battle a nightmare of careful timing and camera readjusting. After you’ve felled the Dragon it’s onto the King himself, who doesn’t do anything particularly special but hits for massive damage, and you’re likely to not have much in the way of healing items left after the dragon. Overall, an exhausting and extremely testing fight.
Darkeater Midir – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
A huge amount of health and powerful AoE attacks make this enormous dragon an extremely difficult boss. As with all dragons in Dark Souls, the trick is to stay underneath him and keep bashing away at his legs, and he can’t really hit you if you stay behind him. The trouble is, Midir can leap upward and shoot flames that can hit you from pretty much anywhere in the arena. Luckily, his legs don’t really cause you physical damage as he stomps around. In the end, it’s a marathon of sprinting and dodging, whittling down Midir’s HP and maintaining your concentration for the entirety of the battle.
Demon Prince – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
FromSoftware’s Dark Souls DLC always takes the difficulty up a notch, and things get going right off the bat in the Ringed City expansion. The DLC’s very first boss is called the Demon Prince, but you have to beat two Demons prior to his appearance before you’ll actually get a chance to attack him. And those previous Demon’s are no push over, either —both sharing the same move sets but packing either poison or fire-infused damage. The trick is to kill The Demon in Pain first since that makes the Demon Prince easier to deal with (sans giant meteor attack that is near impossible to dodge). Still, whichever way you cut it, the Demon Prince is obscenely tough.
Slave Knight Gael – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
Gael’s huge amount of HP makes this a particularly long and exhausting encounter. He has three very distinct phases of attack, each packing very different sorts of threats. The most deadly, as you’d imagine, is his final form, which sees him unleash relentless combinations of attacks that aren’t telegraphed very obviously. Making the last part of the battle harder are the soul effects emanating from his weapon, which obscure your view. Overall, it’s a battle that really tests your abilities both from distance and up close. This, combined with the fact that you’ll have very little time to recover your HP between attacks makes Gael among the hardest Dark Souls 3 bosses.
Sister Friede and Father Ariandel – The Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 3
And now we arrive at Sister Friede and Father Ariandel: the final boss fight in the Ashes of Ariandel DLC, and it’s arguably among the hardest boss fights in any Dark Souls game. Like Gael, Friede has three distinct phases. Unlike Gael, Friede gets a brand new health bar each time, and you’ll have to make do with just one. The first phase isn’t especially hard, but when both Friede and Ariandel team up, things get much trickier. The big man will follow you about smashing his cauldron or shooting flames from afar while a revived Friede slashes at you with a scythe. Later, she starts using AoE ice attacks as you duel in the final phase. The encounter can be hugely taxing, particularly if you’re having to constantly repeat the first or second phase as you learn how to beat the third.
25. The Deacons of the Deep
Alex has a BA in Political Science and English Writing, but he's also a self-proclaimed history and meteorological expert. He loves cyberpunk and fantasy, and RPGs are kind of his thing too.