It's difficult to describe what makes the Dark Souls series so good to someone who isn't a fan. The series' reputation for being notoriously hard and unforgiving can understandably be off-putting to some players that aren't used to challenging gaming experiences. It's also very easy to define the series by its reputation, if you were to base this purely on its "prepare to die" moniker alone.
Still, to write the series off because of its reputation would be missing the point of the series entirely. With Dark Souls, it's a player's perseverance that will make the games suddenly 'click' with the player and the Souls series truly showcases its rewarding nature.
Furthermore, the Souls series offers up one of the most rewarding gameplay systems in any genre. It's the trial and error exploration, the tough but fair combat —that requires skill and timing— and the beautiful way that it lets player piece together its ambiguous story and mysterious lore.
The boss battles in the Dark Souls series are one of the many memorable challenges that you'll encounter on your journey through the lands of demons, forsaken kings, and cursed dragons. In a series where even a low-level Undead can kill you if aren't careful, rating any Souls boss as "easy" can be relative, but here are 8 of the most difficult bosses you'll encounter in Dark Souls and 7 that will give you much easier time in comparison.
15 Hardest: The Pursuer (Dark Souls II)
The Pursuer from Dark Souls 2 is an optional boss that you may meet early in the game. As a result, he can be an extremely difficult deal with. He's capable of overwhelming you with fast charge attacks, three hit combos, the curse Stab, energy blasts, and projectiles that can hit you from all angles.
The Pursuer is unrelenting. The game's lore describes him as "the bearer of the sign, and will not rest until his target is slain." That statement conjures up images of the glowing red visor from The Terminator or the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, but his movements and attacks were based on a Devil May Cry 4 character called Angelo Credo.
14 Easiest: The Guardian Dragon (Dark Souls II)
There are many dragons in the Dark Souls series, and some are more powerful or memorable than others, but The Guardian Dragon is probably the weakest in the series.
The first Guardian Dragon you encounter in Dark Souls 2 has been trapped in a large cage at Aldia's Keep. Aldia commanded the Dragon to guard the way into Dragon Aerie, as part of an experiment gauge its reaction.
The dragon's attacks are very easy to avoid and dodge from any angle, and staying underneath it while timing your dodges will guarantee you a very easy victory against the dragon.
13 Hardest: Ornstein And Smough (Dark Souls)
The Dragonslayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough are a pair bosses that you'll encounter in the first Dark Souls game guarding Gwynevere, the Princess Of Sunlight in Anor Londo.
This battle is notoriously difficult and for a very good reason, because fighting either one of them on their own would be a challenge in itself. Whether you're dealing with Smough's devastating power or trying to cope with the Ornstein's speed, you'll have to find a way to beat them both at the same time. Further adding to the challenge is, when you beat one, the other combatant will absorb the downed character's physical characteristics and its health will once again be restored to 100%.
Your best chance of survival is to use the pillars and try to take down Ornstein first, with Smough being the most predictable of the two in the second phase. Using weapons that are capable of the thrust attacks when using the pillar as a means of crowd control.
12 Easiest: Pinwheel (Dark Souls)
Pinwheel is a boss you will encounter in the Catacombs of the first Dark Souls. What makes Pinwheel such an easy battle is, by the time you reach him after battling your way through the hordes of skeletons and Undead Mages, your character will become more than a match for Pinwheel.
If you don't kill it within the first few hits, his attacks are easily avoided and are telegraphed to the point of complete predictability.
It's a shame that Pinwheel can be taken down in such an easy manner because its creepy design is fantastic, and its cloning ability could have made for a more difficult battle if it was encountered at a different point and location in the game.
11 Hardest: Lothric And Lorian The Twin Princes (Dark Souls III)
The Twin Princes Lorian and Lothric are found at the top of the Lothric Castle in Dark Souls III. According to the game's description, the Princes rejected their duty to become Lords Of Cinder, and settled down far away to watch the fire fade from a distance. Their actions resulted in a curse that forever bound them together making them inseparable.
Battling these two can be a complicated matter if you're not prepared for their combination of healing magic, teleportation, and swift physical and magic attacks.
The battle is fought through two phases, that is best fought using a strategy that allows your character stay close, which is easier said than done when they have the ability to counter your attacks at ease, especially when using Greatswords.
10 Easiest: The Giant Lord (Dark Souls II)
The Giant Lord is found in Dark Souls II. The game's lore reveals that The Giant Lord and The Last Giant found in the Forest Of Fallen Giants are one and the same.
Despite The Giant Lord's gigantic and intimidating size, the fight doesn't require a great deal of strategy to defeat it. Maneuvering around the giant's feet will cause it use the highly telegraphed stomp attack which can be easily dodged.
Furthermore, if you stay on its left leg you should also be able to avoid its sword attacks while attacking the back of its foot. Finally, the giant is very weak to any form of fire attacks so you using fire based weapons and will go down very quickly as a result.
Interestingly, The Last Giant's weakness is more than made up for, by dropping 300,000 souls on a Bonfire Intensity 8 to eventually respawn again — becoming a great way to farm souls.
9 Hardest: Smelter Demon (Dark Souls II)
The Smelter Demon is a very difficult optional boss that featured in Dark Souls 2, and If you choose to fight him, the battle will take place in the Iron Keep. According to Dark Souls lore, he is responsible for the death of the Iron King and the downfall of his kingdom.
He can attack in a variety of ways that can do a great deal of damage including a jumping attack which can at times explode and hurt you within its area of effect. Additionally, after working down some of the demon's health, it will activate Flame Aura which will damage your character if you get too close adding an extra layer of difficulty to the battle.
Finally, one of his most devastating attacks come in the form of a combo, which will hit you with a double strike and then follow up with a jumping attack for extra damage.
8 Easiest: Moonlight Butterfly (Dark Souls)
The Moonlight Butterfly is a creature that is encountered as a boss in the Darkroot Garden in the first Dark Souls game. It is probably one of the least intimidating creatures in the Souls universe, and such a sight would usually lead the player into a false sense of security, but not here.
All Of the Moonlight Butterfly's attacks are magic-projectile based, but are very easily avoided with a little bit of timing. The best method to beat the creature are with long range weapons such as bows or magic attacks. Although, even pure melee fighters can easily beat it, because the butterfly will decide to take a rest on the bridge thus allowing you attack it with ease.
7 Hardest: Knight Artorias (Dark Souls)
The Knight Artorias is also known as the Artorias The Abysswalker and is found in located in the coliseum area of the Oolacile Township of the original Dark Souls game.
According to the Dark Souls lore, Artorias was an honorable knight that was unmatched in with the greatsword, and he was one of the Four Knights of Lord Gwyn. He became corrupted after trying to save the Princess of Oolacile from the Abyss, and sacrificing himself for his companion Sif The Great Grey Wolf.
Not only is this one of the best and most memorable fights in the entire series it's also one of the most difficult. If you try and keep your distance, he will heal, gain strength, and leap at you with blistering speed and power, so you'll have a very hard time keeping the pace of the fight with Artorias.
6 Easiest: The Taurus Demon (Dark Souls)
The Taurus Demon makes its first appearance as an optional in the original Dark Souls at the Undead Burg. He's a minotaur-type creature that wields the Demon's Greataxe.
As intimidating as the Taurus Demon looks he's an extremely easy boss to take down, in a variety of ways. You can either kill it with firebombs from above after climbing the ladder, or use the plunge attack from higher ground and finishing it off by attacking the legs.
Finally, if you're clever enough, you can position yourself by a certain point on the bridge, and lure the demon in to attack you, which if timed correctly with a dodge, will cause it fling itself off the end of the bridge providing you a very easy win.
5 Hardest: Manus, Father Of The Abyss (Dark Souls)
Manus, Father Of The Abyss can be found in the Artorias of The Abyss DLC for the original Dark Souls game. Manus is the direct cause of the Abyss that threatened to swallow the lands of Oolacile. He was once a human that was consumed by the darkness and driven by madness trying to seek out his precious Broken Pendant.
What makes this fight quite difficult is the limited amount of space you have to fight him and his ability to hit you with a very fast frenzy attacks, and a barrage of magic. All of which are extremely difficult to avoid or block without the right equipment.
4 Easiest: Rat Vanguard (Dark Souls II)
It's become a staple for an RPG to have some sort of rat creature to kill, and they are almost always some of the weakest you'll encounter, The Royal Rat Vanguard is no different. It makes an appearance in the Grave Of Saints area, and is very similar to the normal rats with its attack patterns and size but is distinguishable by the crest of spiked hair on its back.
The most dangerous thing about the Vanguard Rat battle is its poison attacks, which build up to petrification much faster than the normal rats. The fight is also fought against a large number or normal rats too.
The fight can be won easily if you're careful enough to focus on the Vanguard Rat with melee attacks. However, if you use the Soul Appease miracle to damage all the rats in the area at once, and hit the boss with the Lightning Spear the fight will be over very quickly.
3 Hardest: Dancer Of The Boreal Valley (Dark Souls III)
The Dancer Of The Boreal Valley is encountered in the High Wall Of Lothric and is one of toughest bosses in the series, not just Dark Souls III.
According to the Dark Souls III lore, she was once a maiden to Gwynevere that was forced by the Pontiff Sulyvahn to become a dancer and eventually became an exiled knight known as an Outrider.
The encounter with The Dancer is made all the more difficult by the restricted space which you have to fight her. She's fast, strong, and is able to cover a massive distance in very little time. She moves in a strange and very fluid way —living up to her name as The Dancer— and has a devastating spin wheel attack which can make her difficult to predict.
Fighting her takes incredible timing with dodges and attacks, and (once you figure out the pattern) manages to do a fantastic job replicating a dance, despite being difficult it's also one of the best battles in the series.
2 Easiest: Prowling Magus And Congregation (Dark Souls II)
The Prowling Magus and Congregation from Dark Souls 2 may arguably be the easiest boss battle in the entire series. You can find them in a ruined chapel located at Brightstone Cove Tseldora.
As long as you take care not to roll into the water vases, you will be able to avoid taking too much damage from the lightning based attacks. Furthermore, the lightning attacks can be avoided by hiding behind the benches.
The fastest way to defeat these bosses is maneuver behind the Magus and continually hit the backstab for an easy win. The battle becomes even easier if you use The Profound Still spell to block the caster's spells.
1 Hardest: The Nameless King (Dark Souls III)
The Nameless King, along with his dragon (The Storm King) are an optional boss from Dark Souls III. It is an extremely difficult battle to deal with, because it has two phases and with the right equipment strategy can pull you in for the long haul as many of his moves mirror that of Ornstein, Artorias, and Gwyn.
According to the game's description, The Nameless King was once a dragon-slaying god of war that eventually sacrificed himself to ally himself with dragons, after forming a bond with a Storm Drake.
Facing The Nameless King himself is the hardest part of the battle. If you managed to get through the first phase by defeating the dragon, you have to deal with the King's speed and power. Additionally, if your character is leaning towards a more heavier and slower build, you may have a great deal of difficulty in defeating him.
Even after you have learned his attack patterns, it can only take one mistake for the fight to go in The Nameless King's favor.