Top 20 Hardest Bosses in Dark Souls 2 (Ranked)

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If there’s something that the Dark Souls franchise is known for, it’s the amazing bossfights, ranging from laughably easy to brutally hard.

Quite often, the most memorable encounters that leave the biggest impact are the toughest ones.

You’re not going to tell your friends about how you “killed hollow soldier #4”, but you’re sure as hell going to flaunt when you beat Ornstein and Smough in 5 less tries than they did!

So we’re taking a closer look at the bosses most often heard in stories of sadness and triumph: the biggest, baddest monsters around the land!


20. Guardian Dragon

Guardian Dragon from Dark Souls 2

Starting things off, we’ve got a classic creature that all RPG games should have in them, a dragon.

When going through the game for the first time, this fire-breathing lizard definitely gave me more trouble for what it’s worth.

You see, if you’re lucky the Guardian Dragon will just try to bite you again and again, ignoring the possibilities of its other attacks – making the fight a piece of cake.

If you’re unlucky, the dragon will go airborne and start roleplaying as a bomber aircraft, constantly barraging you with fireballs, leaving little to no room or openings for you to get a hit in.

A shield with high fire-resistance such as the Gyrm Greatshield should greatly help you slay this dragon.

Where to fight: Aldia’s Keep


19. The Rotten

The Rotten Dark Souls 2

This is one of the bosses where getting to the boss is actually harder than the boss itself.

Let’s be honest:

The Black Gulch is a horrible area filled with poison statues and outcrops, and easy enough to fall to your death if you’re trying to fully loot the area.

The Rotten is a giant slow-moving mass of hollows stitched together, making it an excellent opponent for target practice.

For melee builds, the good-ole strategy of circle, hit, and run, should work well enough.

Just remember – don’t get greedy or your body will be added to the pile!

Where to fight: Black Gulch


18. Old Dragonslayer

Old Dragonslayer Dark Souls 2 screenshot

Picture this:

You’ve killed the Dragonrider, either through honorable combat or other shady means (wink wink), you’ve made your way through the other half of Heide’s Tower, killing the wyvern after some tries, and finally walk through the fog gate to encounter the boss.

You see Ornstein.


Okay, okay.

Old Dragonslayer might not be on Dark Souls 1 Ornstein’s level, but he’s quite the challenge for this point in the game.

Especially if you’re one of the poor souls that somehow fights him as their first boss.

Where to fight: Heide’s Tower of Flame


17. King Vendrick

King Vendrick in DS2

The ruler of Drangleic, now gone hollow and locked away forever in the Undead Crypt.

King Vendrick has various reasons for why he deserves this spot on the list.

First of all, you’re going to need some Giant Souls if you don’t want your fight to last for 2 hours, since for every one of said souls in your possession, the King’s defenses get lowered.

Secondly, he hits like a truck!

While his moves can be counted on one hand, you really don’t want to be hit by any of them.

Vendrick is a slow and repetitive methodical fight, where a single mistake could cost you your life.

Where to fight: Undead Crypt


16. Belfry Gargoyles

Belfry Gargoyles from Dark Souls 2

One aspect that adds what I’d call “relatively artificial difficulty” to boss fights is fighting multiple enemies simultaneously.

And I call it “relative” because most of these multi-bosses become dramatically easier with even a single summon helping you.

Out of all of them, I find the Belfry Gargoyles to be the easiest due to their telegraphed attacks.

Strike weapons should be your go-to for this fight, making it easy to quickly pick-off the gargoyles one by one, before the next one spawns.

In the heydays of Dark Souls 2, making your way to the fog gate before getting invaded was the real battle.

Where to fight: Belfry Luna


15. Looking Glass Knight

Looking Glass Knight Dark Souls 2

This boss’ difficulty greatly depends on what kind of nightmare will come out of their shield.

If it’s an NPC, the fight should be moderate.

If it’s another player, you better pray to Gwyn for them to not be an experienced PvPer.

Other than that, I’d recommend summoning real players over NPCs (like Benhart) for this fight, just so you fight “fire with fire” in case of emergency.

As with other armored bosses, strike is the preferred damage-type to take into this battle too.

Where to fight: King’s Passage


14. The Pursuer

The Pursuer Dark Souls 2 screenshot

Now for this one, I’ve really got to specify which one I’m talking about.

In my opinion, the most challenging out of the fights is the very first time you across the Pursuer – on the roof at the Forest of the Fallen Giants.

The second most challenging would be the double-trouble encounter in Drangleic castle (only at bonfire intensity 2+), when the Pursuers have a contest of who can put their sword through your chest the most times.

In every other situation, I’d rank the fights as way easier.

Where to fight: Forest of the Fallen Giants, Things Betwixt, Lost Bastille, Iron Keep, and Drangleic Castle


13. Ruin Sentinels

Ruin Sentinels from Dark Souls 2

The Ruin Sentinels is every newcomer’s first experience with strength in numbers.

You begin the fight on a small ledge, going up against a single enemy. Then if you’re not quick enough (or fall down), you realize why there’s an “s” at the end of the word “Sentinel-s”.

While a singled out Sentinel poses little threat, together they turn into spinning death-machines, making the fight significantly harder.

Noobies might also learn about damage-types here, after seeing their trusty longsword bounce of the Sentinels’ shiny plate.

Where to fight: Lost Bastille


12. Velstadt, The Royal Aegis

Velstadt, The Royal Aegis in DS2

Velstadt is here to show Vendrick who the real boss of the Crypt is.

This fight has you going against the tank of a man, showing you that he’s the Royal Aegis for a reason.

Swinging his enormous bell around, Velstadt’s attacks can (and will) destroy most unprepared adventurers.

Don’t be fooled by his big and slow appearance, or else you’ll be caught off-guard by a greathammer to the face!

Where to fight: Undead Crypt


11. Sir Alonne

Sir Alonne Dark Souls 2

I had to think for a moment about if I wanted to include this boss in the list.

Sir Alonne is considered one of the best and most enjoyable fights in the game, all due to its simplicity.

No cheap tricks, or flashy lights.

Just you and the captain of the Iron King going toe to toe.

Unfortunately this is ruined by the horrible run-up to the fog-gate.

Fun fact – if you defeat him without taking any damage, Sir Alonne will commit seppuku, taking his own life out of shame.

Where to fight: Memory of the Old Iron King


10. Throne Watcher and Throne Defender

Throne Watcher and Throne Defender from Dark Souls 2

As we’re entering the top ten here, the fights begin to be far more tough and challenging.

The Throne Pair is encountered at the very end of the game, and considered by many to be the real final boss of the game (DLC not included), even if there’s two more bosses after them.

A very straightforward fight, made difficult only because of the simultaneous assault.

If you’re alone, try to keep an eye out for the Defender, while whittling down the Watcher little by little.

Where to fight: Throne of Want


9. Smelter Demon

Smelter Demon Dark Souls 2 screenshot

There are technically two Smelter Demon bosses in Dark Souls 2, both sharing the same mechanics.

And both of them are a burning pain.

This fire from hell teaches players that sometimes you’re not just fighting against a monster, but time itself.

What that means is the Smelter Demon has a radiating aura that will slowly but surely kill you, if you don’t kill it first.

This is the first fight that makes summoned players a hinderance, since incompetent companions will passively hurt you by extending the time the boss is alive.

Where to fight: Iron Keep, Iron Passage


8. Ancient Dragon

Ancient Dragon from Dark Souls 2

I brought up the term earlier, but now we’re stripping the “relative” off, because this difficulty is entirely artificial.

The Ancient Dragon is annoying for one single reason:

Its absurd amount of health.

It’s also a very boring boss, seeing that the only thing you do is hug its foot, attack, wait, and repeat.

A very similar situation like King Vendrick, but at least that one is more engaging.

Where to fight: Aldia’s Keep


7. Sinh, The Slumbering Dragon

Sinh, The Slumbering Dragon in DS2

Slumbering no more, Sinh has awoken and is ready to destroy equipment and fry interlopers.

Just like every other winged lizard in this game, Sinh loves to fly around, spit fire, and in general wreak havoc.

To make matters worse, Sinh’s attacks can cause toxic buildup, and any weapon connecting with his hide will suffer from greater-than-normal durability loss.

Be sure to stock up on moss and other helpful consumables before the fight.

Where to fight: Dragon’s Rest


6. Darklurker

Darklurker from Dark Souls 2

Darklurker is a secret boss, and the final challenge you’ll face in order to reach the maximum rank with the Pilgrims of Dark.

The vast majority of people playing DS2 go at it as pure melee characters.

And those are the kind of builds that suffer against this boss.

Darklurker is a no-summons, heavy-spellcasting angel of death, which splits itself into two around halfway through the fight – essentially doubling the difficulty.

A strategy I’ve seen thrown around a lot that you can try if you’re struggling, is using a Soul Vessel to respec into pyromancies or miracles, and then switching back once you’ve deep-fried Darklurker.

Where to fight: Dark Chasm of Old


5. Elana, Squalid Queen

Elana, Squalid Queen in DS2

Elana is the first boss you’ll come across when you set foot inside the DLCs.

And boy is she a treat.

The main problem of this fight, and something you’ll quickly realize, is that you’re not going to be alone with the Queen for a very long time.

After the fight has elapsed, Elana can use her ability to call forth servants to assist her, including a familiar face from earlier in your travels, Velstadt.

Any and all dark-resistant equipment you can muster will be helpful against her dark magic.

Where to fight: Dragon’s Rest


4. Afflicted Graverobber, Ancient Soldier Varg, and Cerah the Old Explorer

Afflicted Graverobber, Ancient Soldier Varg, and Cerah the Old Explorer Dark Souls 2

Sheesh, that’s a mouthful to say!

If you had trouble against any of the other group-bosses, you’re going to love these guys, henceforth named “The Ganksquad”.

The fight manages to capture the feeling of invading someone while they have 2 phantoms on their side.

As in, prepare for pain.

This battle is the competitor for the “Worst fog gate runup” title, while also being a miserable bossfight itself.

You’re gonna get shot, stabbed, poisoned, and pummeled, until you figure out the correct kiting sequence needed to take these guys down one by one.

Try focusing on Cerah first as he’s the most fragile (he’s old, after all..)

Where to fight: Cave of the Dead


3. Burnt Ivory King

Burnt Ivory King from Dark Souls 2

The conclusive finale of the last DLC is a battle against the King of Eleum Loyce.

This is yet another incredibly difficult fight when tackled alone.

You’ll have to survive and endure against multiple waves of enemies before facing the King, who’s a great challenge himself.

Before running in like a headless chicken, you can recruit several friendly knights to aid you in battle, and from the epithet “Burnt” in the boss’ name, one can assume equipment with high fire resistance will be of use.

Where to fight: The Old Chaos


2. Lud and Zallen, the King’s Pets

Lud and Zallen, the King’s Pets Dark Souls 2

You’ve heard me talk about horrible “runups” to the fog gate so far.

And now I have the honor to present you with THE WORST area (and subsequently boss-run) in the entire game!

That’s right: the Frigid Outskirts is a great white expanse that could be deleted from the game and absolutely nobody would complain.

You see, within the Outskirts, the Ice stallions make their home.

These are enormous, invisible frozen reindeers that stalk you and make their move only when the snowstorm is raging (and your vision is impaired).

The bosses themselves are two giant saber-toothed kitties that strike with unrelenting force.

You’re going to have to masterfully weave through their attacks and deal damage in an extremely conservative manner if you want to come out of this fight triumphant.

Killing either one causes the other to enrage, greatly buffing its stats.

They’re very similar to Aava, the King’s pet, but who would’ve thought that fighting two of those things at once would be a major headache?

Where to fight: Frigid Outskirts


1. Fume Knight

Fume Knight Dark Souls 2 screenshot

Alright, alright. We all knew it was coming.

Raime, the Fume Knight, is an infamous boss.

And perhaps one of the toughest fights in the entire Dark Souls franchise.

Wielding a longsword in one hand, and an ultra greatsword in the other, this boss will be a testament to any player’s will that chooses to face him – alone or with friends.

He’s resistant, if not straight up immune to most damage types. And the majority of his attacks can be outright lethal.

Around halfway through the fight, Raime throws away his longsword, and continues the fight with his buffed-up UGS, gaining new deadly special attacks.

Outside his arena are four Ashen Idols that should be destroyed with Smelter Wedges, else the Fume Knight will rapidly heal while standing on the edges of his arena.

Defeating this boss solo is one of the greatest achievements a Souls player can earn!

Where to fight: Brume Tower

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