Dark Souls 3 Bosses Ranked

Dark Souls 3 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 all 25 main and optional boss of Dark Souls III and the two DLCs. If you’re more interested in a full review of the game, check out my write-up here.

#25: Ancient Wyvern

The most impressive feat about Dark Souls III is that in the entire game there is only one truly bad boss, and this is it. Ancient Wyvern is gorgeously designed with a great arena, good music, and an epic entrance. However, nothing about the fight itself even reaches mediocrity. It’s just boring, tedious, and bad. It requires you to figure out that you need to scale a series of stairs, ladders, and buildings, all while avoiding or killing a massive number of enemies, in order to complete a drop-down attack and instantly kill it. It is an uninspired battle that provides more annoyances than it does thrills, and the anti-climax of the instant kill does not help. Difficulty: #23

#24: High Lord Wolnir

Not a bad fight per se, but a far below-average one. High Lord Wolnir has one of my favorite boss designs in the game. It is an incredibly eerie giant skeleton lord, adorned in gold and robes. Its movements are horrifyingly creepy and its motionless face adds to the level of repulsion. Unfortunately, the fight is much too annoying. Breaking the bracelets is an already mediocre mechanic made far worse by the poison that quickly kills you, and his tendency to slightly move his arms always manages to put the bracelets out of reach. Summoning the skeletons adds nothing but cheap difficulty that could have been achieved in a more original way. The only thing that saves Wolnir from reaching the depths of Ancient Wyvern is its impeccable design and interesting lore. Difficulty: #16

#23: Curse-Rotted Greatwood

Another below-average fight which relies on attacking specific locations of the body to do any significant damage. While it is not necessarily well-designed like Wolnir, it at least doesn’t annoy me to fight nearly as often. This all leads me to a quandary of which I like better, but this one wins out simply because even if a boss is perfectly designed, if I really hate fighting it then I can’t make excuses to rank it higher. Curse-Rotted Greatwood is a decent battle, but the moveset is clunky and awkward. Some of the locations you need to hit are often just out of your reach which can cause some intense frustration. I do appreciate the arena though, and the fall through the floor is a great little surprise. Difficulty: #21

#22: Crystal Sage

These next three fights I would all consider right about average. The Crystal Sage has a good overall concept as a boss, but its execution is only decent. Its design is good as it calls back to Big Hat Logan, possibly signifying his influence on magic over the previous ages. The Sage’s attacks are crafted, again, decently. However, some are incredibly easy to avoid while others, especially in the later phase, feel like it is impossible to consistently dodge. The Sage’s teleporting is a cool mechanic as well, but I would have preferred more overall health and less teleporting since hitting him 4-5 times and then having to search again could get quite tedious. Difficulty: #20

#21: Deacons of the Deep

Deacons of the Deep are placed in a gorgeous arena, directly in front of a massive cubic tomb lit by minuscule candle flames. The music is enthralling and the fight itself is actually enjoyable. It can get mildly annoying at times having to make your way into the center during phase two while being attacked on all sides, but it never feels unfair. Nonetheless, it is an insanely easy fight and doesn’t really add anything new to the game nor does it make me excited to come back to the boss. Difficulty: #25

#20: Halflight, Spear of the Church

A call back to the Old Monk of Demon’s Souls, the Judicator summons not only a real player to battle you, but a quick painting-guardian-esque enemy to fight alongside them. The battle is quite fun especially if you get someone who is about equivalent to your skill level. You have to balance a challenging fight while trying to avoid the NPC as well. My complaint is that this could have worked better as a mini-boss or some sort of pure PvP area rather than a true boss. Difficulty: #17 (can vary widely based on the summon).

#19: Old Demon King

All bosses from here on out are within the good tier. Old Demon King is an amped-up version of the two Demons the player has previously fought. Its attacks are completely stunning from the firestorm of comets to the pulses of flames. The boss itself is wonderful to look at, seeming like a carved piece of wood or charcoal still in flames. The only reason this boss doesn’t reach any level of greatness is that, although the attacks are beautiful, the fight itself is only decent. It does not take long to learn how to dodge and fight, and therefore is over quicker than it should have been. Difficulty: #19

#18: Champion’s Gravetender & Gravetender Greatwolf

This is an incredibly exciting battle that throws quite a few surprises. The fight with the Gravetender and the smaller wolves is already challenging and then all of a sudden the giant wolf you’ve been battling throughout the level appears as well. The balancing act of fighting these two wholly different enemies is a huge challenge, and when the Greatwolf enters its second form, things become harder even if the Gravetender is dead by that time. The area is well built to suit the fighting style with quite a few areas allowing you to break aggro. I wish the lore behind this one were a bit more in line with the rest of the DLC and that the design of the two enemies was a little more interesting, but it is very fun nonetheless. Difficulty: #13

#17: Dragonslayer Armour

This boss is brutish in strength and yet still surprisingly quick. The armor set is crafted beautifully and his ability to battle with both axe and shield makes for a very fun fight. The arena and music just add to the epic scale of this battle. Yet, the major drawback is the undead dragons that continue to attack with high-powered magic at seemingly random times. If these attacks were foreseeable or more possible to dodge, it would not be a big deal, but unfortunately, they only seem to be there as an artificially added difficulty. Difficulty: #18

#16: Iudex Gundyr

Every boss from here on out is in the great tier (which says something about the game as a whole, where almost 2/3 of the bosses are great). Iudex Gundyr is FromSoft’s best take on a tutorial boss yet. It uses the first phase, with quick but easily foreseeable attacks using fists and weapons, to get you used to battling more normal-sized enemies. Then its second phase (one of the most shocking transformations of the game) teaches how to battle larger and more powerful monsters. Given its simplicity of being a tutorial boss though does land it at the lower end of great when compared to those more complex later bosses. Difficulty: #22

#15: Vordt of the Boreal Valley

Vordt, being only the second boss of the game, provides one of the highest difficulty spikes imaginable. The boss is relentless in its aggression from phase one, and then when phase two comes around it is a seemingly endless barrage of strikes and charges. Plus, his ability to frostbite you makes it all the more difficult to stay near him. The music is some of my favorite in the entire game and just adds to the chaos that’s already present. I would have liked some more lore to go with this boss, but that is one very minor complaint. Difficulty: #15

#14: Yhorm the Giant

I don’t tend to enjoy very easy boss fights, but when every single other aspect is astounding, it’s impossible to not rank it this highly. Yhorm is a fiercely designed giant who has been constantly alluded to throughout the entire game. His attacks are exciting to learn and the use of the storm ruler, although it does make it too easy, provides a very unique fight for a Souls game. The best part about this fight is Seigward’s story with Yhorm. It is one of the most heartbreaking moments in a game already filled to the brim with them, and every bit of it from the cutscene to the defeat of the boss to the end of Seigward’s quest is perfect. Difficulty: #24

#13: Champion Gundyr

Another aggression fueled battle and one that is incredibly unique to Souls. It feels like something that would have been more expected in Sekiro and yet here it is years earlier. Gundyr’s use of punches and kicks alongside his weapon (and his absurd ability to track you even when dodging) equates to one of the fights in the game where it requires your utmost attention. The lore behind him, and how he becomes Iudex in the main area of the game, also add to making this an excellent boss. Difficulty: #14

#12: Oceiros, the Consumed King

Again, another boss steeped in pure aggression. However, this one doesn’t only get its high points from the fight alone, it also gets them from the dialogue and character that is present. The mystery surrounding the invisible dragon child whom he speaks of paired with the crying child in the background is horribly creepy. The fight itself is great as well – both the magic and light aggression of phase one and the bestial charges of part two. This aggression along with his high damage output makes for one of the harder fights in the game, but almost every single moment feels fair. The callbacks to Seath and the other lore surrounding Oceiros are also incredibly well thought out. Difficulty: #6

#11: Demon in Pain & Demon from Below / Demon Prince

All bosses are top-tier from here on out – not perfect (that’s reserved for the last tier), but right at the top. The battle with the two first demons is incredibly well balanced. One of them attacks you in its fire form while the other seems to recover and spew poison at you slowly. This gives you time to focus on one of them, but occasionally when they switch, they are both in the active form, forcing you to go on the defense. Then they become the Demon Prince, who has a wonderfully intense moveset. He casts fire spells that seem like they invoke some portals from another dimension. His design and the epic scale of the ruins in which you fight him are just more features that lead this boss to be the first in the top-tier. Difficulty: #5

#10: Aldrich, Devourer of Gods

Aldrich, just behind my number seven boss, has some of the most gorgeous movements of the game. He seems almost to be swimming through the air and diving into the ground only to appear somewhere else. All of his moves feel like they possess the deepest secrets of the arcane. Battling him in the same room you once battled Smough & Ornstein, now in a darker ruinous version, is a beautiful hit of nostalgia and loss. Fighting him with Anri is also another wonderful and melancholy story in the same way that Yhorm and Seigward’s quest was. The music is also some of my favorite in the series. Difficulty: #12

#9: Lothric, Younger Prince & Lorian, Elder Prince

Phase one with Lorian is already one of the most fun fights in the game. His attacks are intense but thrilling to avoid, and his teleports give a huge sense of anxiety but never feel like they can’t be dodged. When Lothric enters the fight, it gives an entirely new set of magic to watch out for on top of an already difficult boss. Splitting it into these two phases is perfect, as the game seems to teach you the moves of the first phase so you feel more accomplished when the extra attacks begin occurring in the second. The boss arena is also great as you realize you have been trekking towards this throne room the entire game. Difficulty: #8

#8: Abyss Watchers

From here on out, every boss battle is perfect – again, just to show how brilliant Dark Souls 3 is, Dark Souls 1 and Dark Souls 2 had only three perfect bosses each, and now here we have eight. Abyss Watchers starts with a phase in which you battle somewhere between one and three enemies that would be difficult alone. The incredible and completely unique catch is that they can also end up fighting each other. The weapons, and how they’re used to both attack and pivot, are some of my favorite in the game. Then phase two brings out the immensely more difficult single Watcher who uses some of the most gorgeous and challenging flame attacks yet. Then, finally, the music, the arena, the cinematic cutscenes, and the lore all seem to have been given the utmost thought as well. Difficulty: #11

#7: Dancer of the Boreal Valley

As I said in my paragraph on Aldrich, this boss has by far the most objectively gorgeous movements in any Souls game. The fight is, as the name suggests, like a dance. Her slow steps with the incredibly long legs and the floating, transparent veil following her make each of her already graceful attacks all the better to watch. Despite her seemingly slow movements, Dancer can become quick at a moment’s notice. The flame and dark swords are extremely powerful, and when phase two comes along it becomes one of the harder fights in the main game. This is a fight I specifically look forward to coming back to every time I replay Dark Souls. Difficulty: #10

#6: Pontiff Sulyvahn

Pontiff is, in my opinion, the hardest early game boss. There are likely some contenders depending on your playstyle (Abyss Watchers, for example) but to me, this easily takes that spot. On my first playthrough, this was the boss I died to the most until Nameless King and Soul of Cinder, and while on this playthrough it didn’t happen as often, it still posed an immense challenge. Phase one is already great as you are dodging two swords and a relentless series of hard-to-track attacks. Phase two is where the true brilliance shines through. Now there is a second ghost form of Sulyvahn who begins the same attacks just moments before he does. It is not only beautiful to watch, but it assists the player in being able to better see what he plans while making the punishment nearly doubled if you fail to avoid it. Difficulty: #7

#5: Nameless King & King of the Storm

Nameless King begins with phase one, riding the dragon, King of the Storm. It one of the best instances of a dragon fight exhibited in any Souls game and is accompanied by the most memorable and utterly unique songs in a boss fight. The first phase is always one of my favorites to relearn, and while it is not necessarily too difficult, every bit of it feels frightening and chaotic. The attacks balanced between the dragon and rider are beautifully orchestrated. Phase two is when the difficulty ramps up. Nameless King is agressive and rarely gives time to attack. On top of this, his attacks are timed very differently than other bosses which add to how challenging this part is. It could easily end within the first two or three attacks if you’re not careful. The lore that backs him is probably my favorite out of all the bosses within Dark Souls III: Gwyn’s exiled son and the one who would have been depicted on the destroyed statue in Anor Londo. Difficulty: #4

#4: Darkeater Midir

Not only the second hardest fight in Dark Souls 2, but easily the second hardest fight in the entire trilogy. Darkeater Midir is the epitome of a large-scale dragon fight (or any large monster fight for that matter). It possesses the largest health bar I have ever fought against while simultaneously having the ability to kill you in just a few hits. This seemingly unfair pairing is balanced by the more than fair moveset which can be learned and dodged consistently within a few fights. The difficulty comes from stamina and patience – having to pay complete attention to every move the boss makes while not risking a couple of extra hits. Some of its moves, such as the dark laser in phase two, are utterly devastating and beautiful. The boss design is also my favorite dragon in any of the Souls games, and the music and arena just add to its genius. Difficulty: #2

#3: Slave Knight Gael

Gael is probably one of the most complex bosses ever designed by FromSoft. His move set seems to have a never-ending capacity to surprise. The first phase seems challenging already with his quick sword swipes and the fast movements, however, when phase two comes around he begins using a crossbow akin to an automatic weapon. Then phase three introduces a plethora of magic ranging from lighting crashing down everywhere on the map to his own use of dark magic. It is about as chaotic as a fight can get, but for some reason, I don’t find this one nearly as challenging as it is made out to be. What it lacks in pure difficulty, it more than makes up for in the atmosphere of the battle. The massive wasteland where he is fought, the beautiful variety of attacks and boss design, the music, and especially what is some of the best lore of the series, all create what is probably some of the purest fun anyone could have in a Dark Souls boss fight. Difficulty: #9

#2: Soul of Cinder

The best final main-game boss in the series, Soul of Cinder, provides both one of the greatest, the most difficult, and the most emotional battles of all time. Phase one calls back to every player who has ever rekindled the First Flame, giving four different weapons that players would have had, the Dark Wood Grain Ring from the first game, as well as spells, pyromancies, hexes, and miracles that only players have ever used. Phase two gives us an amped-up version of the first kindler of the flame – Gwyn. The moves are identical but with more power and flair behind them. The music slowly transitions from the more expected boss soundtrack to the beautiful piano that played in Gwyn’s fight. The sun, in the figure of the darksign, in the background of the ruined Kiln of the First Flame, provides one of the best looking set-pieces yet. It is also, as I said the most emotional fight yet, expertly using nostalgia to call back all the memories of the past three games. Difficulty: #3

#1: Sister Friede

Both the greatest and by far the most difficult boss fight in any Dark Souls, Sister Friede. Even Midir, whom I believe is the second hardest ever, took me only somewhere around eight to ten tries. Sister Friede took well over twenty and possibly close to thirty – it forced me to respec, to change my weapons and armor, upgrade various weapons, and try new buffs. Phase one is not really too challenging, but it does beautifully call back to Priscilla in Dark Souls 1 and is fun to master. Phase two, introduced by one of my favorite cutscenes of all time, is brutal but still would not rank among the hardest. This phase is nearly as well balanced as Smough and Ornstein, with the massive Father Ariandel moving huge distances with what seems like a flaming Lord Vessel, and Sister Friede continuing her quick attacks and occasionally healing while Ariandel rests. Then comes phase three, a battle that would itself be one of the hardest of all time, which now after at least five to seven minutes of a brutal battle comes seemingly out of nowhere. Her moves are highly varied, non-stop, difficult to dodge, and absurdly punishing. They do various types of damage, put a test to your endurance, and leave very few openings to attack. But the impressive thing is that with every death, I never felt like it was unfair. Each time was my fault for mistiming, getting greedy, or simply not having learned enough yet. It is an easy choice for my favorite fight of the game, and one I don’t think I will ever master, but that I will always happily come back to. Difficulty: #1

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