15 Hardest Non-Boss Enemies in Dark Souls 3 (Ranked)

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While the most memorable moments in Dark Souls 3 may be those epic boss fights, they certainly aren’t the only enemies of mention.

In fact, some of the opponents you face may give you such a struggle they even feel harder than some bosses!

And that’s what this list is about – those controller-smashing encounters that have left us gawping at our screens, arms slack, spirits crushed.

Join me on this journey as we look back at some of our ‘favorites’!


15. Starved Hound

Starved Hound in Dark Souls 3

Across all of the ‘Soulsborne’ installments, dogs are a staple.

Infamous for their incredible speed, ridiculous hitboxes, and… questionable attack frames, it’s not a souls game without being murdered by a teleporting dog.


14. Pus of Man

Pus of Man Screenshot from Dark Souls 3

I think we can all remember our first encounters with these guys.

Nothing quite as surprising as seeing a 10-foot amorphous black blob monster erupting from an everyday hollow.

Their damage is crazy, and they will one-shot you if you’re a low level, which you likely will be, as these guys can first be found on the high wall of Lothric!


13. Giant Crab

Giant Crab DS3 enemy

Are you feeling it now?

Another noob-killer, it’s not so much the difficulty of the crab as it is the environment they’re in.

Sure, they have huge pincer swings, a crushing grab attack, and a bubblebeam so big it would make Squirtle jealous.

But it’s the fact you have to fight the first one you encounter in dodge-impeding knee-deep water that really ices the cake.


12. Ghru Leaper

Ghru Leaper - Dark Souls III screenshot

You would think that the only unarmed variant of Ghru’s in the game would be the easiest.


Ghru leapers are incredibly difficult to hit thanks to their attacks causing them to jump so high you often lose sight of them.

Only for them to then crash down upon you, either chunking you hard or commencing a grab attack – that goes through blocks – and leaving you dead, or wishing you were.


11. Black Knights

Black Knights in Dark Souls 3

A returning enemy from Dark Souls 1, the black knights are formidable opponents.

If they’re not swinging at you with incredible damage and infinite stamina, they’re completely shrugging off your attacks with their crazy poise.

Contrary to Dark Souls 1, the knights in this game also respawn upon resting!

Although they were arguably more difficult in the first installment.


10. Elder Ghru

Elder Ghru in Dark Souls 3

On your travels through the swamps of Farron, you may spot these towering shadows slinking through the waters.

The elder Ghru’s wield entire trees, which they happily slam down upon your tiny body.

They’ll also summon swarms of pursuing skulls which might distract you for just long enough to be open to a log to the face.

The peak of their difficulty arises when you have to face multiple at a time – leaving you very little room to fit in any attacks of your own, and often spelling your doom.


9. Boreal Outrider Knight

Boreal Outrider Knight - DS3 Screenshot

Heralding from the same boreal valley as Vordt and the dancer, the outrider knights are beast-like warriors, driven mad and deformed over time.

Fighting on all fours with an aggressive combat style, the knights are unpredictable, fast, and devastating.

They are a mini-boss type enemy and thus do not respawn, and there are a total of 3 in the game – all totally skippable.

Which may be the best option, at least for the first one you encounter, being extremely early at the road of sacrifices. It’s recommended to run around the knight and return later.

However, if the player feels up to the challenge it is possible.

Bear in mind, however, they are immune to poison/toxic, and resistant to everything but dark damage – which isn’t available in most builds.


8. Deep Accursed

Deep Accursed enemies in DS3

I vividly recall the drop in my gut after seeing one of these guys falling from the ceiling for the first time.

The monstrous size of these 6-legged demons is intimidating enough, but it doesn’t end there.

They attack incredibly fast and over wide areas, and attacks also inflict curse build-up, which will instantly kill you once full, regardless of your current HP.

With only 2 in the game, they are the source of the sapphire and ruby Aldrich rings, which provide resource recovery on critical hits.


7. Sulyvahn’s beasts

Sulyvahn’s beasts - DS3 Screenshot

Of similar ilk to the deep accursed, the beasts of Sulyvahn are towering hairy monstrosities.

There are 3 of them, and being mini-bosses, they do not respawn. Not that you would want them to.

Crocodilian in appearance and just as aggro, the beasts will snap at you with massive jaws and have an awful grab attack that can result in instant death.

Whilst it might be hard to find any sort of time frame to counterattack with, they do have a gracious number of weaknesses, being extremely susceptible to bleed and fire, and affected by poison and frostbite, too.


6. Ringed Knights

Ringed Knights in Dark Souls 3

Denizens of the ringed city, the ringed knights are a DLC-exclusive enemy.

And they’re hardcore.

You’ll come across groups of them roaming the streets on your travels, either in pairs or with groups of ranged clerics, and there are 3 variants.

The sword and spear are most common, though still intimidating.

The greatsword version are lone wolves, and for good reason – they are by far the hardest, boasting more HP and a mind-boggling amount of damage, range and combo potential.

And they’re resistant to nigh on everything, only being weak to dark, magic, and frost.

Aaaaand they respawn…

Some absolute madmen farm these guys for their drops and souls, but I’m quite comfortable fighting no more than necessary, thanks.


5. Cathedral Knights

Cathedral Knights in Dark Souls 3

Most accounts of cathedral-knight-based complains I can find online are in regards to the greatsword variant, but it’s the mace ones I struggle with most.

In any of their forms, though, these guys are awful.

Massive range, crazy damage, and – in the case of the mace version – a perseverance buff that causes boss music to play in your head as they goes nuts with aggression.

They can even heal themselves, and respawn, and can cast force to knock you down.

The cathedral knights simply do not care, and will crush you into the ground if given the chance.


4. (Crawling) Mimic

(Crawling) Mimic - DS3 Screenshot

Before you point and laugh at me, no, I don’t mean being grabbed by a mimic.

This place on the list is strictly reserved for the bane of my personal existence, the crawling mimic.

I cannot, for the life of me, find any documentation of other people struggling with this guy online. But my god, I simply get destroyed every time.

It doesn’t ever seem to stop attacking, leaps across any distance with ease, and does not give even a passing glance to my attacks as it continues to beat my face to a bloody pulp.

Please, tell me it’s not just me. Even after the platinum trophy and over 1000 hours in DS3, I will die to this man, 9 times out of 10.


3. Jailer

Jailer Enemy in DS3

Man, maybe it’s just the Irithyll dungeon that does me in.

Jailers depress me. Not even because I die to them that often, just because of their sheer ability.

Just being near a jailer decreases your max HP – and by decrease, I mean plummet, but it wears off in 20 seconds and your max HP will rise again! Cool, great, awesome.

But it doesn’t bring your actual HP with it…

So essentially, these guys kill you by existing in your vicinity, and by god is there plenty of them.

What’s more, attacks with their soldering irons will prevent estus drinking and cause you to be unable to dodge by inflating your equip load dramatically.

They’ll then follow this up with a highly damaging grab attack.

Whilst not necessarily a threat by alone, they’re scary in groups, and the slew of issues they cause that makes them just… annoying.


2. Corvian Knights

Corvian Knights screenshot from DS3

Another DLC-exclusive enemy, there is much to be said about these guys.

But let’s keep it brief, in case I kick off on another rant.

The knives these guys throw should not exist. They’re sniper-accurate, and if you’re too close/don’t dodge/blink more than 1 will hit you and kill you.

Kill you. For mistiming a ~1 second attack animation.

They seem to never need to stop and will attack over and over and over again, each dealing obscene damage with hitboxes that will leave you asking your screen “really?”.

You better hope you catch them out before they see you, because once they get warmed up you may as well put your controller down and go get a snack instead.


1. Giant Serpent-Men

Giant Serpent-Men in Dark Souls 3

Found in the archdragon peak, the serpent-men (even the smaller variants) seem to have garnered quite the reputation among players.

Going more off consensus here, the giant snake guys with their massive axe-based weapons are the most-complained-about enemies I can find online.

And while I personally may find the Corvians or the *shudder* crawling mimic harder, I can see what people mean.

They have simply bonkers range – especially the chain-axe variant (Like how did that get past QA he can hit you half-way across the entire map with that thing!)

They can be parried, but standing in front of that axe-flail with a parrying dagger takes brass balls that would make Duke Nukem himself blush like a schoolgirl.

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Tom ‘Cyresto’ Humphries

A game animator by trade, Tom’s insight into the game development world gives him a strong appreciation for the art form that is video games. Kicking off at the age of 3 with Spyro: Year of the Dragon on the PS1, Tom’s tastes in games has hardened over the 19 years he’s spent playing them. He now lives for the challenge that titles such as Monster Hunter, Dark Souls, Dead Cells, and many more offer him. Enjoying nothing more than a session of number-crunching game data and another platinum trophy on his PlayStation account, Tom is dedicated to leaving no stone unturned in even the most brutal of gaming content.