Dark Souls III is a difficult game. One of the most difficult parts of this difficult game are the difficult bosses. However, our two champions of ash, Scott Russell and Adam Lloyd have beaten the game, linked the flame, and ranked the Dark Souls III bosses in order of their toughness. Starting from least difficult to the most, you can see how the bosses stack up against each other below.
High Lord Wolnir
Once upon a time, there was a man, and that man was called Old King Cole. He was said to be a merry old soul. A merry old was he. High Lord Wolnir, on the other hand, is a gigantic skeleton that lives in a darkened abyss. He may not enjoy your company, but he loves his precious bangles. Destroying all three while dodging his arm swings is, luckily, quite an easy task.
High Lord Wolnir will then be a big sad boy by the time you defeat him, as you will have destroyed his only friends in the world.
– Scott Russell
Vordt of the Boreal Valley
Referred to initially as a “dog” by Emma (and she isn’t wrong), Vordt has become animalistic and mindless due to the power Pontiff Sulyvan’s rings. He is further along in his transformation, however, than any of the other Boreal Valley Knights, as this massive brute runs rampant on four legs throughout the arena. Dodging his charges and getting in close can be a great strategy, but beware of his ice attacks, which can incite Frostbite damage.
– Scott Russell
The first boss of the game and, thankfully, one of the easiest. Iudex Gundyr is instantly formidable: he’s a huge knight with a big sword that transforms half-way through the battle into a snake monster made of tar.
Visual danger aside, he can be bested quite easily by hugging close to his legs. With such large, snaky arms, you’d think this man would have better reach.
– Scott Russell
Yhorm The Giant
Yhorm is the reclusive lord of the Profaned Capital, meaning that he doesn’t entertain guests very often. This explains why he throws social etiquette out of the window by attempting to crush you shortly after you enter his throne room.
If you have completed Siegward of Catarina’s questline, you can summon his big onion head for this battle. He’s likely to die during the encounter, but there are no penalties if this happens, other than the guilt you’ll have to live with.
Despite Yhorm’s size, he is comically easy to defeat if you run towards his throne and pick up the Storm Ruler. The weapon art for this sword unleashes a storm that will take off one third of his impressive 28,000 health. Using the Storm Ruler turns ol’ Yhormy into a gimmick boss, but it’s the only real way to do it unless you want a 20 minute slog as you chip away at his ankles. Once he falls, he might feel a tinge of sadness as if you’ve slain one of the gentle giants from Shadow Of The Colossus, but then you remember that he tried to squash you with a massive meat cleaver, and realise that he had it coming.
Given that the area containing this boss is named Archdragon Peak, it only seems like a matter of time before you are forced to face some sort of firebreathing reptile here. Sure enough, as you step into a crumbling arena, The Ancient Wyvern appears, spitting more hot jams than Busta Rhymes in a chilli-eating contest.
The Ancient Wyvern himself isn’t the hardest part of this battle. The arena is crawling with dragon knights, some of which can be particularly tricky to beat while a dragon is tickling your backside with red hot flames. Once you beat the knights (or run past them), you’ll ascend the stairs to a point where you’re above the boss and you can’t be hurt. From here, you can cheese the boss by throwing firebombs or casting magic at him to chip away at his health. This method takes ages to achieve, but it’s the safest way. If you don’t mind a riskier strategy, you can drop down on the Wyvern and deliver massive falling damage if you hit it in the head. You’ll need to run back up to that point several times and repeat, but it’s definitely feasible if you’re quick enough.
Old Demon King
The Old Demon King is an optional boss that can be found in the Smouldering Lake. Considering how annoying the Smouldering Lake area can be, the Old Demon King is actually something of a welcome relief, despite his initially intimidating appearance. Being a big fiery demon, he is naturally strong against fire attacks, so keep your firebombs to yourself on this occasion.
A lot of his attacks have a wide area of effect, meaning that you’ll probably find yourself at a distance for most of the battle. Bows work well here, as do non-fire pyromancies like Boulder Toss. If you don’t have a ranged option. Wait for him to spew lava, then run in and hit him once or twice before backing off again. At low health he’ll start summoning flaming meteors like he’s Sephiroth or something. Keep moving, watch your distance, and you’ll soon extinguish his fire.
Rocking a hat that would make Kung Lao cream himself, the Crystal Sage is a boss that nails that Gothic Hobo look. His cascading robes flutter behind him like a pug’s cheeks in a wind tunnel, giving him a demure wizard vibe that’s so hot this season.
The Crystal Sage relies solely on his magical attacks. In that manner, he’ll fling Soul Arrows around liberally, along with a bunch of other nasty spells. The best way to tackle him is to rush in close and swipe manically with your finest melee weapon. He’ll teleport away, but as soon as he reappears you should run him down as quickly as possible to avoid his ranged attacks. He’ll also spawn several clones which cast blue magic as opposed to purple, so you’ll always know which one is the real sage. Keep charging him like you’re a free-to-play mobile game, and the sage will soon be history.
Deacons of the Deep
Staying behind to protect the empty tomb of Aldrich, his followers, the Deacons of the Deep, appear as a great horde of clerics that will try to deter you by using pyromancy and curses. Focusing on the highlighted Deacon during the first section will deal a great deal of damage to the boss’ health bar. The second half requires much more concentration, however, as the Archdeacon, Royce, will appear along with two other large foes. They will protect him with their fat forms, and the other deacons will begin to deal damage with dark energy; a slither of curse fog will also coat the floor of the arena. Paying attention, as well as having a decent health bar, can turn the tables during this somewhat hectic fight.
– Scott Russell
If there’s one lesson that the bible taught us, it’s never to touch the forbidden fruit. In Dark Souls III however, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do in order to defeat the Curse-Rotted Greatwood.
When you first enter the boss arena, you’ll see a bunch of undead villagers worshipping a weird, gnarled-up tree that’s rocking a rather bulbous pair of bollocks. But wait, is that tree breathing? As you approach, the tree comes to life, shuffling around on his arse like a dog on a priceless fur rug. He’ll try to knock you out with a sweeping attack, or drop some of his rotten fruit on you if you stand too close. He’ll also slam down on his backside if you’re underneath him, giving you the deadliest teabagging you’ve ever received. If you try to keep him at range, he’ll roll at you like a drunken Sega mascot. The best way to hurt him (and any other man for that matter) is to run between his legs and chop his balls off.
Once castrated, the tree will destroy the arena floor, grow a huge arm that tries to swat you, and he’ll occasionally stand up before falling over like a giant, wooden toddler. From here, you’ll need to cut off any additional polyps. There’s a few on his legs and back, but if you’re feeling brave, you can also attack the hand. If you stay close to him, keep moving, and take your time, this boss will soon be firewood.
Oceiros, the Consumed King
Oceiros, while sounding like an Egyptian god, is actually more monstrosity than deity. His story is also one of the most fascinating. He was once the King of Lothric, married to the Queen of Lothric, and had a child with her named Ocelotte. Having a loving family wasn’t enough for him, however, as he sought to harness the old blood in order to gain great power and knowledge. Unfortunately, his research led him to transform into a hideous abomination; a half-melted dragon that lacks both physical sight and mental stability. He clutches his child, long-since perished, and spouts creepy, self-referential dialogue throughout the battle: “Ahh, dear little Ocelotte. Where have you gone? Are you hiding from me? Come out, come out, don’t be afraid.”
Thankfully, Oceiros can be a bit of a pushover. He may be fast and frantic, but is weak to fire, dark and lightning damage. Using a shield is also recommended, as his tail is long and can still pack a punch.
– Scott Russell
The Dragonslayer Armour is a tough but manageable boss, if you get your timing right. He looks intimidating with his giant shield and greataxe, but he also backs up his fearsome physique with some heavy-hitting attacks as well.
Interestingly, this autonomous armour is reminiscent in design to Dragonslayer Ornstein from the original Dark Souls. He guards the entrance to the Grand Archives, making him the world’s buffest library monitor. Here, the armour is being controlled by the Pilgrim Butterflies, which are the spindly flying things surrounding Lothric Castle. They will also interject in the later stages of this fight, raining down projectiles that are easily avoided by rolling.
This can be a tricky fight that requires a little patience and good reaction times. After most of his attacks and combos, you’ll have a short window in which to combo him yourself. If you stagger him with your weapon art, he’ll fall to his knees, giving you a longer opportunity to wail on him. When he gets up, he’ll hit you with a devastating lightning burst if you’re too close, so remember to back off when needed. Once you manage to master him, you’ll finally be able to return that overdue library book. Nice work!
If Iudex Gundyr seemed like a challenge, Champion Gundyr ups the ante somewhat. In this battle you are fighting Gundyr in his prime, before the Abyss took hold of him. Naturally, he’s a fair sight more aggressive than Iudex, making him a tougher nut to crack.
Despite this, he can be beaten with almost the same strategy as before. Keep circling him and, taking a leaf of Limp Bizkit’s book, keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’. This can be a very satisfying fight for melee types, but mainly ones that rely on speed. Gundyr can easily break your guard with a few heavy hitting combos, or his penchant for kicking you if you have your shield up. You can parry him, but this is a strategy reserved only for the bravest DSIII players, since Gundyr is very fast this time around. If you need a little help, Ember up before the battle and summon in the Firelink Sword Master, provided that you have defeated him prior to this fight. Otherwise, good luck!
Those boys and girls up at the FromSoftware headquarters are quite good at making up stories, something which is apparent in the lore surrounding the Abyss Watchers. These fellows are the heads of the Undead Legion; protectors of the world from the Abyss. Unfortunately for them, their fellow members become corrupted with the darkness, forcing them to kill one another in an endless battle; a battle in which you become implicated.
One Watcher is a manageable feat, but after a second spawns, the fight can gain deadly traction. The third resurrected compatriot is nightmarish, but the fact that he will be attacked by his brethren lessens the blow. Summoning a friend to fight these undead ghouls is recommended because of their speed, power and unending multiplicity.
They also have some nice pointy hats, but that’s a non sequitur.
– Scott Russell
Being the most violent member of the clergy since the baby-eating bishop of Barton Wells, Pontiff Sulyvan is something of a demon when it comes to combat. He’s quick, aggressive, and gets tougher as the fight draws on. His two swords deal fire and magic damage, and he’s pretty relentless in his attacks.
Not only that, the Pontiff will also summon a clone to help him out, should the fight not go in his favour. This clone will mirror the Pontiff’s moves before he does them, giving you a small clue as to what the next attack is going to be. However, you’re still trying to avoid twice as many attacks, so it is the smallest of mercies.
In terms of the fight, this one plays out similarly to the Abyss Watchers. Both scenarios will see you dealing with multiple targets that are very fast and very determined. Summoning will even the odds, but doing this alone will be a staunch test of your mettle, making this one of the better fights for any Dark Souls purist.
Dancer of the Boreal Valley
Visually, the Dancer of the Boreal Valley is one of the most interesting of Dark Souls III’s many bosses. While she may strike quickly with untold ferocity, her idle movements remain slow and ethereal; as if she is wading through water with her spindling limbs. This mesmerising tactic can lull you into submission, acting like a tall siren to draw your attention away from her many attacks. Her ability to sweep, spin and set the arena alight may cause some difficulty due to her speed, but all of these can be avoided with skill. However, if she grabs you, it will result in an instantly fatal ground slam.
– Scott Russell
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods
In the opening cutscene, Aldrich is presented as a bulging mass of black bile. In the later game, however, his form has altered considerably. Now no longer bag-like, he has subsumed the corpses of both Gwyndoline and Gravelord Nito from the original Dark Souls, using their abilities and trinkets to torment you.
Nito’s grave sword delivers powerful swipes, which are even more deadly in Aldrich’s cindered form, while purple magic from the Dark Sun god’s staff erupt forward in great swells. Aldrich’s most dangerous attack, however, comes in the form of raining needles; showers that chase you until your stamina bar is near depletion.
Aldrich, the god-consuming slug, is not to be taken lightly. His location, the now-dishevelled arena of Ornstein and Smough in Anor Londo, is no mere coincidence. His miasma of fire, death and sorcery is as formidable as anything the aforementioned pair could throw your way.
– Scott Russell
Lothric, Younger Prince; Lorian, Elder Prince
At the top of Lothric Castle, lies the bedchamber of both Lothric, Younger Prince and Lorian, Elder Prince. These sons of Oceiros have become cursed, the latter crippled and mute, while the former is simply crippled, due to the Lothric family’s desire to create the perfect Heir of Fire. Both figures are slightly unsettling.
The battle starts with Lorian, the larger and more battle-ready twin, attacking quickly with his greatsword despite his disability. He will continually teleport behind you, an ability granted to him by his younger brother watching from above the battle.
When his health bar is fully depleted, Lothric will grasp onto his older brother’s back like some sort of demented Yoda, reviving him and casting magic whenever needed. Lothric much be defeated first, or his brother will resurrect over and over again, making this an ever-difficult and potentially time-consuming fight.
– Scott Russell
Soul of Cinder
The Soul of Cinder: a tense, stamina-driven and entirely difficult battle. Taking on the attack patterns and abilities of the five Lords of Cinder, due to him being a manifestation of everyone that has linked the fire, this boss requires concentration and patience throughout in order to be bested; taking it slow, watching his moves and veering from greedy attacks is preferable. The large arena should also be used to your advantage, as escaping his grasp to chug down a few extra Estus Flasks is a necessity.
Lowering his health bar should result in victory, right? But alas, it will refill upon emptying.
This time, during the Soul of Cinder’s second phase, he will have subsumed the power of Gwyn, the final boss from the original Dark Souls. This results in frantic offensive sword swipes, and a heavy dose of speed, as well as lightning bolts galore. Careful dodging and succinct staggers are your only hope.
– Scott Russell
The Nameless King is a fearsome dragon-taming warlord, and is without a doubt the toughest boss in Dark Souls III. He initially flies in on a storm drake, which you’ll have to deal with first. It’s one of the most visually spectacular battles too, taking place on top of storm clouds as the boss hurls lightning spears at you.
While you’re fighting the Wyvern and the Nameless King, you’ll also find yourself fighting the camera controls. You can lock on to both of them, but their penchant for flying over you means that you’ll experience some weird camera angles and sudden perspective changes. If you can get this under control and take out the Wyvern, the camera will settle down for the second stage, but this is where the real fight begins.
After finishing off his trusty steed and absorbing its power, the Nameless King will come at you furiously. He’ll summon lightning strikes above which are deadly, and he also has an unblockable lunge, which you’ll need perfect timing to roll through unscathed. Using a combination of lightning, fire and physical attacks during both phases of the fight, he’s tough to defend against in any meaningful way. There isn’t a clear strategy to utilize here; just learn his attack patterns, hope that your timing is impeccable, and rely on your luck when you get some.
The Nameless King is likely to be the last boss you’ll face in DSIII, given that he’s an optional boss in an optional area that is quite difficult to find. If you’ve enjoyed the game in any capacity though, you owe it to yourself to seek the Nameless King out and beat him. There is no finer challenge in the game.