Dark Souls 2 Bosses Ranked

Dark Souls 2 Bosses Ranked

From the worst to the best in terms of overall quality (and with a sub-ranking in terms of pure difficulty), here are my rankings for every main and optional boss of the Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin and the three Lost Crown DLCs. If you’re more interested in a full review of the game, check out my write-up here.

#41: Belfry Gargoyles

The worst instance of a gank fight they have ever done, and there’s not much to say about this one. The boss is similar to Belfry Gargoyle in the first Dark Souls, but this time there are six. They arrive one after the other when enough time has passed and surround you if you don’t kill the previous one off fast enough. This leaves the fight to be almost purely based on being fast and getting lucky that you don’t have to dodge too much. There is no fairness, originality, or significant lore to this boss. It seems like it was there just because they needed a boss and didn’t want to think too hard. It is a challenging fight but not a very fair one, so just summon an NPC and get it over with quick. Difficulty: #13

#40: Twin Dragonriders

The last one was a Dark Souls 1 rehash, and now we have a Dark Souls 2 rehash. I hate rehashes of all sorts, but Dark Souls 2 manages to have some of the worst renditions of them. Twin Dragonriders takes the already below-average fight that we’ve done before and adds a second one who acts as an archer until you destroy his platform. The fight plays out in two ways: 1) the same Dragonrider fight as before while dodging arrows, or 2) avoiding the same fight as before while killing the guy shooting arrows. It would not even be a good fight if this wasn’t a rehash, but the fact that it is makes it all the worse. Difficulty: #38

#39: Afflicted Graverobber, Ancient Soldier Varg, and Cerah the Old Explorer

The third gank fight in a row, all landing at the bottom of the list. This could have been a semi-balanced fight if it was given more thought, but playing solo there is almost no time to attack one without being struck by another. Given their absurdly high health bars, this either makes for far too long of a fight where you can make very few mistakes, or just an impossible one if you’re underleveled. Of course, this area is supposed to be for co-op so the difficulty can be negated that way, but I prefer playing Dark Souls solo so that doesn’t raise its ranking in my book. Difficulty: #9

#38: Lud and Zallen, The King’s Pets

Before starting my replay, I remember this being my least favorite boss in the game. While it still is a bad fight, I think I mostly attributed that memory to remembering the area that came before it. Although I want to put this boss in last place because the Frigid Outskirts are the worst area ever put in a Souls game, I am going to be fair and rank it for the fight alone. And of course, it is another rehash and another poorly balanced gank fight. You have fought Aava previously, which was a very good fight, but now you have to battle two at the same time and one has the ability to buff itself with near invincibility for a time. It is not fun, the difficulty is not presented fairly, and although, once again, the area is meant for co-op, that doesn’t make it a decent fight. Difficulty: #10

#37: Prowling Magus and Congregation

This isn’t really a bad fight, it’s just not a boss fight… It is a room filled with enemies, like any other room in Dark Souls, which happens to have a boss health bar. I’m not really sure what the point of having this be a boss was other than partially drawing attention to the lore surrounding it which is interesting (the remaining survivors of Tseldora holed up in a chapel with the priest). But it simply is not a boss fight. It does rank as better than the other ones below it because 1) it is fair, 2) it has lore, and 3) it isn’t a poorly done rehash. Difficulty: #40

#36: Royal Rat Authority

It is Sif without the sword, with small toxic rat minions, and a much more annoying overall fight. If you fail at killing those rat minions at the beginning quick enough then you are pretty much doomed to die, which is a poor design in my opinion (remembering Capra Demon criticism, I’m surprised they didn’t take that into account). The fight itself also isn’t well done as the boss seems to have very nonsensical hitboxes and is overall unoriginal to begin with. Unfortunately, there’s not much more to say about this one, it’s just not a fun fight. Difficulty: #23

#35: Covetous Demon

I actually like the design of this boss but it is far too easy to make it worthwhile. If you even pay the least bit of attention it is difficult to get hit even one time. The lore behind it is also unimaginative and feels like they just read some random obscure Greek myth and tagged it on in order to give the boss some background. The main reason this boss ranks low however is that it is the easiest boss in the game placed almost at the halfway mark where the difficulty needs to be ramped up. Difficulty: #41

#34: Royal Rat Vanguard

One of the strangest fights of the series – the player must kill ten of the rats in the room before the boss appears, and when it does appear it looks like any other rat but happens to have a mohawk down its back. Once you find it, it has more health than the others but doesn’t require anything other than spam attacking and healing when the other rats get to you. There is really nothing else to the fight other than the rat statues posing as obstacles. At least it’s a pretty hilarious fight if nothing else. Difficulty: #39

#33: Mytha, the Baneful Queen

Here, FromSoft created a Medusa-like figure to the most literal degree, with a lore background that feels stolen from a random Greek myth just like Covetous Demon. The poison-filled room is also a very poorly done mechanic and even though it is well known how to empty the room nowadays, it stands that it should never have been included in the first place. The fight itself is alright, but it feels like any other early game boss fight to a less imaginative degree. Difficulty: #37

#32: Skeleton Lords

This is the first fight on the list which I wouldn’t consider actively bad. It’s not good by any stretch, but I don’t hate it. What I do like is the pillar lining the room allowing some reprieve, and that one of the Kings uses magic which gives some variation in dodging. I also think the concept of the hordes of skeletons rising after each King is killed is good, but the execution wasn’t stellar. The number of skeletons and their amount of health made the fight more obnoxious than it should have been, and that paired with the horrible weapon durability in Dark Souls 2 made any positive memories of the fight negligible. Difficulty: #19

#31: Dragonrider

While the rehashed Twin version is far worse, the original Dragonrider fight is still not all too great. It does a decent job at teaching you certain dodge mechanics, however, it comes a bit too late in the game for that lesson to be pertinent. The arena is the most unique aspect of this fight as you must pull levers along the way to make it safe to fight on (or leave them down and attempt to make him fall). I would have preferred the levers to be more hidden rather than right along the path, but it still makes for a better fight than the previous bosses. Difficulty: #33

#30: Smelter Demon (Blue)

I hate rehashes as I’ve said and will say again. However, this one actually pulls it off better than most. The battle is very fun and stressful like the first Smelter Demon and the incorporation of differently timed moves actually works somewhat well. These oddly times moves make it one of the hardest bosses in the game for me by far. When I first played the game on release, this was probably the boss I died most to (and may still have my highest death count since then). The difficulty is a bit unfair, but as I said it still works mostly well. That doesn’t change the fact that it is still a Smelter Demon and the unoriginality of that takes way more points off than it gets for my compliments. The area before it, once again, is truly terrible – maybe the second worst area in any Souls game right behind the Frigid Outskirts – so that does not help either. Difficulty: #3

#29: Ruin Sentinels

This fight has a lot of points on the above ones because the design is amazing, the arena is perfect for the fighting style, and the boss’ attacks are well crafted. The problem is after killing the first Ruin Sentinel, battling the other two below is a bit on the cheap side. One of the remaining two’s attacks always seems to come immediately after the other, leaving almost no time to attack either before you have to dodge. The health bars are also relatively high and their use of a shield makes that health ever harder to whittle down. These are similar complaints to the Gank Squad DLC boss but at least this one is original and still fun. Difficulty: #8

#28: Giant Lord

For what is an amazing run-up to the boss and a beautiful boss design and lore, the fight is all around poorly done. There are two mechanics – avoid his sword to get close to his feet and then when you are there slash away while avoiding incredibly slow and repetitive stomps. For such a towering powerful figure, I would have expected so much more. It is even less difficult than the Last Giant boss, a supposedly less powerful and decomposing version of the Lord, which makes no sense lore-wise. Difficulty: #35

#27: Guardian Dragon

This is actually one of my favorite arenas in the game – a giant birdcage meant for a dragon was a genius idea. Unfortunately, they managed to make a dragon boss, one of the most typically intimidating types of bosses, completely unintimidating. The fight is easy as you only have to dodge its slow and foreseeable stomps and its fire breath which always has a very long pause and pretty small radius. There is truly nothing to fear about this one, but it does look good and the arena gives it a lot of points. Difficulty: #34

#26: Scorpioness Najka

Najka is basically Quelaag with a tail. It’s not a rehash, but the basic concepts are all seen here and executed far more poorly. The fight is not bad of course, but it is unmemorable, far too easy, and very disappointing for what it could have been. What saves it immensely is the backstory. The marriage and never-ending battle between Manscorion Tark and Najka was a great addition to the lore of the fight. The fact that you can even summon him to help in this final battle is a perfect although heartbreaking addition. Difficulty: #31

#25: Old Iron King

From here on out, I would consider all the fights at least good. With a beautiful boss design and lore to back it up, Old Iron King’s fight is not great, but far better than average (I honestly don’t know why many people consider the fight to be terrible). The arena (other than that infamous hole) works well for the style of fight you’ll be employing. Being able to time dodges well and strafing away from the flames is very satisfying. It is not too challenging a fight, but the minor difficulty paired with a fair learning curve makes it a very fun fight. Difficulty: #32

#24: Executioner’s Chariot

Probably one of the most original fights I can remember when I first played this game. Still to this day I find the run-up to the level both stressful and exciting. The carved-out openings in the wall are a bit small, but the danger posed by the skeletons and mages isn’t enough to make that feature matter. The fight with the Chariot itself is also a very good one. The various attacks based on your location to the boss always keep you on your toes, and the aggression is both intimidating and fair. Definitely one of the weirdest fights in a FromSoft game, but still a good one. Difficulty: #26

#23: The Rotten

I will never understand the pure hatred towards this boss. Like Old Iron King, it is obviously not amazing (and for this one the lore isn’t as well done). Yet, the design of the boss is grotesque to an awesome degree and the fight itself requires patience, area awareness, and accurate dodges. The secret bonfire is close to this boss which makes the initially challenging learning curve far more fair and fun to learn. Difficulty: #21

#22: Ancient Dragon

This playthrough was actually the first time I have ever beaten Ancient Dragon. In previous playthroughs, I had only fought with it a few times between NG+2 and NG+10, and I believe that the extra damage he was able to do in those later playthroughs was what lead me to give up. In this one, it actually was not as unfair a fight as I always thought. The damage his stomps do is still immense but the ease of dodging them more than makes up for that. His firestorm attack has an absurd AoE range but if you bring along enough estus and lifegems there will very rarely be any time you’re in immediate danger. And the boss’s immense health bar makes perfect sense based on what you are fighting (plus it is an optional fight), so that shouldn’t even be a complaint. Of course, this all leads to the fight being a bit tedious, but it still was very enjoyable for me. Difficulty: #20 (much higher on later playthroughs, probably in the top 3)

#21: Old Dragonslayer

One of the few callbacks and rehashes that I actually like. They did well on this one because the fight is completely different than when you battle Ornstein in Dark Souls 1, and the lore that backs up this fight gives actual merit to reusing the same enemy. The fight feels fast and has a ton of energy behind it. Dodging his quick moves and watching out for dark attacks is immensely fun and satisfying. The only downfall of this one is that it is much too easy a fight by the time you are able to reach it. Difficulty: #29

#20: Throne Watcher and Throne Defender

As one of the only good multi-boss battles in Dark Souls 2, this fight is very fun and challenging but still has its flaws. First, the two bosses’ differing speeds really work well together but there are points where the slower one becomes relentlessly fast which throws off the balance. The arena itself is alright but would have benefitted from a pillar or two to break the aggro of the quicker one. One aspect I really loved was that one can bring the other back to life. It forces a completely new style of a boss fight where you must whittle each one down slowly instead of taking out the one of your choice first. Difficulty: #16

#19: The Last Giant

I’m assuming my ranking of this boss is much higher than most people would place it. I happen to enjoy this fight a lot, and despite it being incredibly easy, I do think it is a decent tutorial boss that gives you the basics of fighting larger enemies. The second phase provides a good change of pace as well, giving you a few more lessons on the way. I also just really happen to enjoy the boss design and lore, which I find more than makes up for the simplicity of the fight. Difficulty: #36

#18: Demon of Song

Probably one of the coolest designs for a larger monster boss. The Demon of Song is an incredible take on a Siren-like lore piece, and the area and enemies surrounding it compound on this idea. The skull/frog-like design is one of the creepier creations that I’ve ever seen in a game. Fighting the boss is very easy which is the main drawback of this fight, but it is still fun interesting to learn the various movements. Difficulty: #30

#17: Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin

An obviously controversial boss of the game, and not included in the original version, Aldia tends to always lean near the bottom half of people’s list. The design of Aldia is confusing in the best way – he is like a face built out of a tree, with every feature distinguishable yet hidden unless you search for them. The lore behind Aldia is also some of the best in the entire game, and these two reasons give him a huge number of points for me. The fight itself is average. He has some very cool magic, but dodging the attacks and learning his moves are far too easy for a true final boss. Difficulty: #28

#16: Aava, the King’s Pet

Aava is an odd boss for me. I love so much of it but I never look forward to fighting it. Nonetheless, I can’t deny that it is an amazing battle. Dodging its attacks is fun, the boss’ aggression is high, it looks astounding, and nearly everything is fairly designed. Even the arena itself is unique, allowing you to travel far distances while fighting but still sometimes feeling cramped with the narrowness of it. But the thing that makes me rank this lower than it should be sadly doesn’t have to do with the fight itself, but with a Dark Souls 2 mechanic. I can’t stand that my weapon reaches low durability in such a short fight. Yes, I guess this isn’t the best critique of the fight, and there are other reasons which I can’t put my finger on, but to me, it is honestly one of the most annoying aspects in any DLC boss. Difficulty: #12

#15: Flexile Sentry

Flexile Sentry is completely unique in that it is a 1-on-1 boss fight that acts as a 2-on-1. The two sides of the Sentry are some of the most well-balanced counterparts in the game, and evading their attacks is probably some of the most fun I ever had learning. The arena is well designed with the watery flooring and the pillar allowing you to break aggro on those more ruthless chains. The boss does lack completely in lore (there is some but not at the level of the great ones) and its design, while still good, is not top-tier. Difficulty: #25

#14: Nashandra

Nashandra verges on the level of greatness but just misses it. She was the original final boss of the game and still can be depending on your playthrough style. Her intro to these final moments is one of the most haunting in the series. Her design is almost perfect and her lore is astounding. The fact that her false image (a call back to Gwyndolin) can be seen earlier in the game is another wonderful touch. The fight itself is very fun and learning her moves while avoiding those curse clouds is well balanced. The major drawback that keeps this fight from being as good as it should have been is that, like Aldia, for one of the last bosses of the game, it was just far too easy. Difficulty: #24

#13: The Duke’s Dear Freja

From here on out, to me, these fights are all at least great. As the most astonishing boss design on this list yet, The Duke’s Dear Freja is the definition of a grotesque nightmare. The spider is massive and its legs rise and fall like pillars. The head is small but menacing and its armor looks simultaneously strong and rotting. Then the fight itself is also great – every attack is powerful but fair and they balance each other out incredibly well. The major drawback of this fight is the smaller spiders that surround you and the dark obscure ledge behind the boss. Both of these features add annoyances to a fight that should be only awe-inspiring (and the lore honestly isn’t too impressive either). Difficulty: #14

#12: Lost Sinner

Lost Sinner is a fight I used to struggle with immensely, and although I can do it relatively easily now, it is apparent why it used to be so challenging. The boss’ aggression is insane and ceaseless; the sword has a crazy reach that forces you to dodge instead of strafe and backstep; the jump attacks feel like something typically performed by a non-human boss which are definitely a surprise to see happen here. Each one of these points adds up to a fast and exciting fight, with excellent lore and good design to back it up. Difficulty: #22

#11: Vendrick

Vendrick is often rated lower because of the fight itself. People tend to say that the attacks are far too powerful when you fight him from the front, but when you hug the backside the fight becomes too easy. To me, based on the lore, this makes perfect sense. Vendrick is a king with unequaled power, yet his body has been left to hollow and rot in the crypt. This lore is revealed at the moment when you finally enter his crypt and see his plodding walk – it is depressing and acts as the counterpoint to Nashandra’s rise. The complaints I stated that other people have are valid, but since they do make sense lore-wise I will neither detract nor add extra points because of them. Difficulty: #27

#10: Velstadt, the Royal Aegis

Another excellent boss intro that sets the bar high and does not disappoint. Velstadt is one of the few two-stage bosses in the game and these phases do a great job balancing each other. His melee attacks are both powerful and fast, yet give enough time to fairly get in a few shots. When the hex portion comes on, it adds another layer of difficulty that you must now relearn and pay attention to while you continue to avoid the melee attacks from the first phase. His lore, relating to Venrick and Raime, and his boss design are just two more reasons that Velstadt is the first to enter the top ten. Difficulty: #17

#9: Looking Glass Knight

From here on out, the bosses are all considered the top-tier in the game. The halls of Drangleic castle are lined with the mirrors that will become this boss’s shield – a nicely placed foreshadowing. The boss itself is clad in some of my favorite armor in the game with its crown of thorns, the stoic silver face, and the shoulder pieces as well. The battle is the second-best main game knight fight in Dark Souls 2, and the attack patterns are more complex and powerful than any that came before. His ability to use lightning paired with the rain-drenched, thunderous arena makes for one of the most epic-scale fights I recall. On top of this, his ability to summon a player or NPC makes the battle all the more intense. Difficulty: #18 (varies based on who he summons)

#8: The Pursuer

A battle of endurance and patience. This early game boss is, in my opinion, the true first boss. Where the first one taught you the slower mechanics of a large boss fight, this one teaches you what you will be more typically fighting against. The Pursuer’s combos are the most beautiful of the knights in the entire main game. His design from the shield and sword to the armor to his movement is one of my favorite knight designs in any Souls game. As an early game boss, it is also one of the hardest in the series, but despite this, if one is patient enough and doesn’t get greedy, it is a fight that even the weakest player can win. Finally, the battles with him throughout the game just add to the fun you can have while learning this fight. Difficulty: #15

#7: Sir Alonne

While the area leading up to him can be too tedious, Sir Alonne is one of the most fluid and beautiful fights of the game. Every move he has is choreographed like a battle with a samurai. He is quick, can strike across the room in less than a second, and can easily pose as one of the hardest bosses you’ll face. His katana can become shrouded in blackness which adds to the overall aesthetic. The room itself is as sleek and fluid as the fight with its perfectly polished, flat surface completely unobstructed by objects. And although it may be impossible for the average player (AKA for me), killing him without taking damage leads to his seppuku which is one of the most satisfying achievements in Dark Souls 2. If there is one downfall, the fight relies on being able to last for an incredibly long time due to his health bar. It is another fight that is supposed to be done co-op, but I would have preferred a slightly more balanced 1-on-1. Difficulty: #4

#6: Elana, Squalid Queen

I actually had a really tough time deciding the placement between this one and the next, and it may be that I’d put them as a tie. Elana is one of my favorite bosses in the game because of everything you are forced to pay attention to in the fight. If you are near her you must keep track of her AoEs, weapon slashes, and teleports. If you are away from her you must keep an eye on the hexes that fly towards you. And no matter what, you must also pay attention to the summons – either three skeletons which take your concentration off of her or a slightly weaker form of Velstadt which adds another boss to the fight. There is a ridiculous number of things that must be focused on, yet somehow FromSoft was able to balance them all and make it both fun, difficult, and fair. Difficulty: #7

#5: Smelter Demon (Red)

The second-best boss in the main game is one I initially didn’t care for. Coming back to it now though I truly don’t think there is one thing I could complain about. The design blends the ideas of another knight battle and one against a large monster. Its flame sword is powerful and incredibly difficult to dodge but can be learned perfectly with a few battles. It has constant AoE fire damage when hugging right up against it which forces the player to stay away rather than hug at its back. The aggression is balanced well with the downtime it takes to recover from some of his more powerful attacks. This fight is just straight-up exciting and is one I am always looking forward to coming back to. Difficulty: #11

#4: Burnt Ivory King

To me, there has never been a more memorable entrance into a boss arena. The drop down into The Old Chaos is something I did dozens and dozens of times while farming Loyce Souls and I was always excited to see it again. Then the battle between your Loyce Knights and the Burnt Loyce Knights is one of the few times you can experience what a war would feel like in Dark Souls. The Knights then sacrificing themselves to seal the portals is a perfect touch. The battle with the Burnt Ivory King himself is also amazing. It is similar to Sir Alonne in that his attacks are tellable but still challenging to dodge. His movements are beautiful and fluid and the arena is a perfect place to fight him. I will admit, I am biased because of what comes before actually fighting him, and he would probably land between The Pursuer and Looking Glass Knight if it weren’t for those moments, but nonetheless, the fight is still amazing and I count those moments before it as a part of the real fight. Difficulty: #5

#3: Darklurker

These next three are what I would consider the only perfect fights of the game. Here is the best boss fight in the main game by far. This is, in my opinion, the most expertly balanced boss fight in the game and one of the most balanced in any Souls game that has ever been released. Every one of his attacks can be seen and predicted with ease but they still require astute dodges, precision, and patience. When his second form comes along, it does not just double in difficulty but more than triples. Eyes must be kept on both forms at all times because the variety of attacks are high and powerful. Dodging sword slashes from one while dodging high AoE fireballs from the other is just one variation of what can happen. This is easily one of the most difficult yet one of the fairest fights I have ever come across. Difficulty: #6

#2: Fume Knight

Again, choosing between this boss and the next one is almost impossible for me, but for this round of playing I will put Fume Knight in the #2 spot (again though, this could very easily change). Fume Knight is the perfect battle against a knight. It is one of the best fights in any FromSoft game. Every attack and combo he has is completely fair and foreseeable, yet they allows almost no room for error. He is quick, ruthless, and precise, leaving little time for healing or stamina regeneration. After learning his fight through many trials, different openings begin to reveal themselves. The lore that surrounds his feud against Velstadt is another great touch, and his overall design is beautiful. Defeating Fume Knight makes for one of the more satisfying wins of all time. Difficulty: #2

#1: Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon

Sinh is usually ranked highly on people’s lists, but I rarely ever see it within the top three or even five. There is no boss in Dark Souls 2 that I have more fun with than Sinh. Its learning curve is absurdly high as you are constantly seeing new, powerful moves that require dodges at the same precision as with Fume Knight. Sinh’s use of poison forces you to avoid certain areas of the arena and to always be aware of your surrounding. Every single attack (other than one stomp attack which is my only minor gripe) is beautiful, powerful, challenging, and fair. It is also, in my opinion, the most challenging boss in Dark Souls 2. I died at least twice as many times to Sinh as I did to Fume Knight on this playthrough and on my first ever playthrough it was the boss I died the second most times to (the first being Blue Smelter, which was back when I refused to use any summons for the co-op areas). The design of the dragon is amazing as it truly does feel like some ancient dragon of forgotten lore. His backstory, being worshipped by those in his city until he was betrayed, makes for a great story for a final boss. Finally, running into the arena to be greeted by his roar and arch of poison flames only adds to why I think Sinh is not just the most satisfying boss to learn and defeat, but the best boss in the game. Difficulty: #1

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