The Souls Series (that consisting of Dark Souls 1-3, Demon’s Souls, and Bloodborne in this case) are known as some of the most difficult yet amazing games in the industry today. With Dark Souls 3‘s final DLC coming out soon, I thought we could reminisce on the bosses that got us throwing our controllers across the room throughout our playthroughs.
A few ground rules: There will be 2 bosses from each game on this list to keep it balanced and fair (something that the Souls games fail to achieve at times). Of course this is all just one person’s opinion, so make sure to leave your own list down in the comments. Now without further ado, let’s take a look at the most challenging bosses in the Souls series.
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#10 The Maneaters – Demon’s Souls
Kicking off our list we have the first ever 2-on-1 fight in the Souls series: The Maneaters. When you first enter the boss gate, you’re met with one Maneater. You’re fighting on this tiny bridge, so watching your footing is very important here. The Maneater is tough, but isn’t the worst. That is, until the second one shows up.
Having to fight two of these guys on a thin bridge is definitely not an easy task. But there are some tricks to beating this dynamic duo; both legit and in a cheating way. If you wanna be legit about it, you must know that the second Maneater is on a timer; he will only show up after a few minutes has passed into the fight. So, if you have one of Demon’s Souls‘s many broken weapons (or magic), you can end the first Maneater before the second can even show up.
Or you can just take a bow and snipe the first Maneater through the fog gate. Then you’ll only have to fight the second one that shows up after you enter the arena. Its this cheating tactic that causes the Maneater to only make it to the #10 spot, but many Souls veterans will remember when these two kicked their butts again and again.
#9 Darklurker – Dark Souls 2
Darklurker is just as difficult of a fight as it is to actually get to him in Dark Souls 2. In order to get to the damn thing you gotta deepen your allegiance to a covenant that you can easily miss in your playthrough. Regardless, Darklurker proves himself to be an extremely formidable foe. While most 2-on-1 fights in Dark Souls 2 feel somewhat cheap, Darklurker always feels like a fair fight.
As with most 2-on-1 fights, the real challenge is managing Darklurker and his copy. They both share a health bar though so it isn’t too bad in that regard. But Darklurker is able to bombard you with a ton of projectile attacks, as well as having a few heavy hitting melee attacks. You gotta make sure the greed is in check for this bout.
#8 Flamelurker – Demon’s Souls
Flamelurker is one of those bosses that set a precedence for many other bosses in the Souls series. Easily the most difficult boss in Demon’s Souls, Flamelurker provides a hefty challenge for those who dare to fight it. Beating this guy in my first playthrough of Demon’s Souls by just using melee attacks was definitely one of my favorite gaming memories as it provides you with a huge sense of accomplishment.
Flamelurker has the philosophy of: keep on top of my opponent and never give them the chance to do anything. A lot of his attacks also have fire AOE afterwards, making dodging tricky to say the least. Flamelurker could have made it into the top 5 if he just didn’t have such exploitable AI, as well as a HUGE weakness to magic.
If you have any kind of magic attacks and know how to exploit Flamelurker’s AI, he’ll be a total pushover. But if you try to take on this guy just using melee like I did, you’ll be in for one of the series’ most intense and fun fights.
#7 Ludwig the accursed/Holy Blade – Bloodborne
You know that Bloodborne‘s DLC is messed up when the first boss in it is more difficult than the main game’s final boss. Ludwig’s first phase will totally wreck you your first time fighting him (if you haven’t checked out his move-set on youtube or anything beforehand). He has one of the most unique and hard to read move-sets in the entire series. In his first phase, he can spray water-like acid on you, charge you, use his head and various disgusting limbs to hit you, and even jump into the air to promptly one shot you if you don’t dodge it.
Then there comes Ludwig’s second phase where he infamously picks up Bloodborne‘s version of the Moonlight Greatsword from Dark Souls. Honestly, I find this phase to be a bit easier than his first as his moves become overall slower and the sword is much better at fighting you from a distance instead of up close. This makes the fight significantly easier in my eyes since Bloodborne has taught you to always fight your enemies up close anyway.
That doesn’t mean he becomes a pushover though. He gains a really powerful move where he performs a weak AOE attack, then slams his sword down to create a pillar of energy that one-hit kills you. His sword swipes are pretty hard hitting too, but if you stay in close you shouldn’t have too much of a problem with them.
#6 Soul of cinder – Dark Souls 3
The Soul of Cinder may not look like much, but this final challenger in Dark Souls 3 certainly knows how to put up a fight. His first phase is very RNG heavy, but it never feels cheap. The Soul of Cinder employs various fighting styles using the bonfire blade he wields; transforming from a swordsman, to a pyromancer, and magic user. The magic style is the easiest to deal with for sure, but watch out for the straight up swordsman style. A lot of his attacks are hard hitting in that stage, so keep the greed in check.
His second phase can only be described as epic. Once you fully deplete his oddly low health bar, the Soul of Cinder stands up and calls upon the spirit of Gwyn, the first Lord of Cinder to stop you from lighting (or destroying) the first flame. Similar to Ludwig, I personally believe that the Soul of Cinder’s second phase is a bit easier than the first, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
He gains a lot of moves that Gwyn had from the original Dark Souls. He can do Gwyn’s kick, his lighting grab, and even throw large lighting bolts at you and make them rain from the sky. But by far the most punishing move is a devastating 5 hit combo that can obliterate your health if you’re not careful. Honestly if he didn’t have such a low health pool and couldn’t be stunned, this fight could have made the top 5.
#5 Manus, Father Of The abyss – Dark Souls
The final boss to what could be the some of the best DLC in gaming, Manus, Father of the Abyss shows a lot of inspiration from Flamelurker. He’s unrelenting in his attacks, but unlike Flamelurker, he lacks any sort of big weakness. Fighting him in the smallish arena you’re in doesn’t help since Manus is pretty large and can cover a lot of ground. Though it should be said that one of his most punishing moves, that being a large combo string, really doesn’t do as much damage as you think it should.Manus also has a ton of dark spells at his disposal. And in case you couldn’t already guess it, they hurt. A lot. Luckily the DLC has prepared you a bit for unrelenting fights (Artorias for example), so you may be alright in that regard. Though I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve heard that Manus can become easier if you utilize a great shield, so maybe give that a try if you’re having trouble.
#4 fume knight – Dark Souls 2
While Dark Souls 2 does include a lot of boss fights with generic looking knights and swordsmen, the final boss in the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC puts all of those other knights to shame. Once might severely underestimate this guy when they enter the fog gate, but you couldn’t have made a bigger mistake. First things first, destroy all of the little glowing statues outside of the arena. If you don’t, Fume Knight will be able to heal himself, thus making this probably the hardest boss in the series. But with them destroyed you’ll have a more even fight.
That being said, it’s still an extremely hard fight. Fume Knight’s first phase is hard, but not the worst. He hits like a truck but his moves are telegraphed pretty heavily and it’s not too hard to learn his dodge timing. But then comes the second phase. You see that big sword in his left hand? Yeah, it’s gonna be hitting you a lot.
One you get Fume Knight down to about 50% HP, he coats that large sword with some sort of dark magic. Now he can create dark orbs all around the arena that hit decently hard, as well as some really tricky to dodge slashes. His hits look slow and easy to dodge, but thanks to that dark magic (as well as those lovely Dark Souls 2 hit-boxes) you’ll need to learn how to dodge those swipes ASAP if you hope to stand a chance against this fallen knight.
#3 Nameless King – Dark Souls 3
The difficulty hype for this guy was through the roof when Dark Souls 3 released. Some were calling him the hardest boss not only in the game, but in the entire series. While I don’t think he holds a candle to the likes of the next two bosses of this list, the Nameless King is without a doubt the hardest boss in Dark Souls 3. His first phase is more of a battle with the camera than the boss itself. The Nameless King rides on his dragon, which messes with the camera more than you’d like. The dragon has a few tough moves, such as a fire blast that has crazy range.
The first phase is tough, but not the worst. Once you take down the dragon, the Nameless King gets pretty pissed. He isn’t the fastest boss around, but he hits extremely hard; arguably the hardest on this entire list. Think of most of his moves like Fume Knight’s second phase dark sword swings: they look simple to dodge, but it’s more difficult than you’d think. He also has a bunch of lightning attacks that you’ll have to learn to dodge.
Nameless King is without a doubt the hardest fight in Dark Souls 3, but he’s also one of the series’ finest outings. But there’s 2 more bosses that I believe are tougher.
#2 Orphan of Kos – Bloodborne
Once again a DLC boss, this time being the final boss of the Old Hunters DLC of Bloodborne, the Orphan of Kos is one of the more fair bosses on this list; yet he STILL is able to destroy you. You see, unlike the rest of the bosses on this list, Orphan of Kos is the ONLY boss that can be parried. Even with that huge weakness, I still find that the Orphan of Kos is one of the toughest fights that the series has to offer.
After you watch the disgusting creature be born unto the hells-cape that is the world of Bloodborne, he proceeds to (and I’m not joking here) use his afterbirth to slam you against the ground. The first thing you’ll notice about the Orphan of Kos is how agile he is. He can close the gap on you in a second, so don’t get too comfortable when you two have some space between each other. Learning the parry timing is also extremely tricky, but if you stick with it you may get it down.
His second phase (believe it or not) makes him even more aggressive. His distance attacks gain more range and power, as well as his melee attacks. Orphan of Kos tends to be a little more passive in this phase though; choosing to rather fight at a distance rather than be up close. This means parrying him becomes even harder at this stage. Orphan of Kos is without a doubt the hardest boss in Bloodborne, but there’s one boss fight that I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for.
#1 Dragonslayer ornstein & Executioner Smough – Dark Souls
Was there ever any doubt? This dynamic duo has become infamous amongst the Dark Souls community for absolutely destroying every new player who reached them. Most times a 2-on-1 fight feels cheap and lazy in design, but the fight with Ornstein and Smough always feels fair and balanced as they perfectly compliment each other. Ornstein is fast and agile while Smough is slow but hits like a truck. Fighting the two in the first phase is a monumental task that requires equal parts skill and patience.
And of course who can forget the first time they took down one of these two thinking “Hell yeah! Now I just have one more to go!” only to see them absorb the powers of their fallen ally. This phase is always easier than the first, but it’s still a hell of a challenge. Every fight I have with these two puts me at the edge of my seat as I have to concentrate so hard on taking down what I consider to be the hardest boss in the Souls series.
So that’s our list of the 10 hardest Souls series bosses. What bosses in these games do you find particularly hard? Comment down below your own personal list and let’s debate!