Button Mash

The Hardest Dark Souls Bosses to Defeat 

Zachary James Niblick
Updated February 19, 2020 2.5k votes 532 voters 46.9k views 9 items

Dark Souls bosses are really tough to beat. That makes sense, since Dark Souls is, without a doubt, one of the most brutal and frustrating experiences in the history of video games. It harkens back to the days of Megaman, Contra, and Ninja Gaiden, when bosses forced gamers to use every conceivable trick they learned along the way. Because it's so difficult, every minor victory in Dark Souls is a cathartic experience. This is the beautifully twisted premise behind Dark Souls... the game stretches you to your limits, only to leave you with an unmatched sense of accomplishment for every successful encounter.

From trudging through the depths of literal hell to squaring off against gigantic Lovecraftian beasts, Dark Souls has perfected the art of deriving pleasure from punishment. That's why we've compiled a list of the most brutal, most terrifying, and most impossible boss battles from Dark Souls, along with a few helpful tips and strategies to beat them. You should expect to find no DLC content here, as this list pertains only to the original release. Bear in mind that these bosses are in no way a definitive collection of the worst frustrations Dark Souls has to offer; it's only the most challenging bosses in the game.

Vote up the most frustrating Dark Souls boss battles and feel free to leave a comment about the bosses that gave you the most trouble.

1
Ornstein And Smough
Ornstein And Smough is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Hardest Dark Souls Bosses to Defeat
Photo: flickr/CC0

Let's just talk about S&O for a quick second, shall we? Ask anyone masochistic enough to have made it this far in Dark Souls just who the toughest boss is and they'll likely point to this pair.

There are about 10,000 ways Ornstein and Smough could leave you in a puddle on that gorgeous marble floor, but this fight's sheer brutality can be summed up by one distinct fact: you have to fight them both at the same time.

This isn't exactly uncharted territory for Dark Souls by any means, but what sets this boss battle apart is that you aren't fighting two of the same thing. S&O function independently: they each posses a very calculated skill set optimized to balance the other's attacks to ensure your timely demise. Ornstein will charge across the room and knock you to the floor with his spear while Smough flanks, and crushes you with his hammer before you're able to get back on your feet.  

But that's not all, folks! Because when you kill one of the two, the remaining a-hole will absorb the other's power, gain an HP, damage, and resistance boost, and heal all the way back to 100%.

Wait, there's more! They'll also take on the physical characteristics of the other: Ornstein will grow to Smough's giant size while Smough gains Ornstein's lightning power. 

Yeah. Good luck. 
Tough boss?
2
The Four Kings
The Four Kings is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Hardest Dark Souls Bosses to Defeat
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY

The whole shtick with these guys is that four ghastly, suspiciously androgynous, apparitions appear one at a time at offset intervals. Essentially, you're given a stupidly short amount of time to slay one of the Kings before another one pops up. If you haven't beaten one yet, too bad, here's another. This continues until all four Kings are attacking you at once - at which point you're almost certainly dead. 

This boss battle is a nightmare. There's a constant dread that the next King could show up at any moment and wreck every ounce of progress you've made against his compatriots. At the end of the day, the Four Kings fight is just a morbid pretense through and through.

You don't even fight them on solid ground. To simply challenge the Kings without dying, you have to have a certain ring equipped that lets you walk on thin air in the Abyss. Ring slots aren't infinite, so yeah... that sucks. 

Tough boss?
3
Capra Demon
Capra Demon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Hardest Dark Souls Bosses to Defeat
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

All told, the Capra Demon really ain't so bad. Just look at that face. 

By the time you've trudged through to the end of Dark Souls, you've been beaten and bruised by every baddie in the book enough times over that your fight with Capra early on seems like afternoon tea. That's a nice sentiment from the endgame throne, but let's think back to when you first got to the Undead Burg; the Capra Demon fight is when Dark Souls gets real.

Sure, the Bell Gargoyles are probably your first major slap in the face - "Wow, I've almost beaten him... Wait, what's that noise? Oh, there's another one..." 

But despite the initial shock of double vision, you inevitably figure out that the right combination of strafing, dodging, blocking, and just a liiiiittle bit of elbow grease takes the Gargoyles down. Not so with Capra. The Capra Demon is the first time Dark Souls flips you upside down, shakes your lunch money out of your pockets, and leaves you for dead in a post-swirly coma.
Tough boss?
4
Gravelord Nito
Gravelord Nito is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Hardest Dark Souls Bosses to Defeat
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY

Nito is a giant skeleton made of smaller skeletons, who uses other skeletons to fight for him. We get it, Nito, you're a spooky guy. 

While the bag of bones himself really doesn't merit a spot on this list, the fact that this particular fight is the culmination of some of the game's most terrifying moments makes your battle with the Gravelord one of the most memorable and challenging in the game. 

The path to get to Nito is brutal. Dark Souls fans tend to revel in the face of a certain amount of sadism, but even the most jaded players would concede that the Tomb of the Giants is pure misery. By the time you've made your way through miles of monster stuffed caves and reach daylight, the sense of salvation is palpable. But then you quickly find out that you'll have to descend right back into hell as necromancers and skeletons attack.

Then there's the boss fight itself. It's at this point we catch our first glimpse of things to come - Nito is dastardly piece of work. You see, to access the boss fight, you must first jump down a massive hole. Why yes, you're right, the fall does knock off anywhere from a quarter to half of your entire health bar before the fight even begins.

Nito spends the entirety of the fight flinging hordes of skeletons at you, presumably the ones off of his very body.
Tough boss?