Perhaps to be expected, its difficulty was primarily found within its many boss fights. Time and time again, players found themselves roadblocked, either seeking help to overcome Dark Souls’ challenge or forcing themselves to get better. Franchise veterans likely have no trouble with these bosses nowadays, but they once served as Dark Souls’ many gatekeepers.
10 Capra Demon
The Capra Demon’s level of difficulty comes not from well thought out boss design, but a cramped arena where players are expected not only to fight off the Capra Demon but his two rabid dogs right out the gate. It’s not unusual for an unprepared player to enter the fog gate and immediately get mauled by two dogs.
It’s not so unfair when players can’t break out of their grasp right away, but it makes for an overwhelming fight that promises instant death on a level no other boss fight does, not even Ornstein and Smough. If nothing else, the staircase in the boss room makes the Capra Demon an easy enough boss to cheese.
9 Seath The Scaleless
Seath the Scaleless isn’t so much hard as is he annoying. Not only is he fought twice over the course of the game, but his first boss fight is also completely unwinnable. Players are designed to die as soon as they first challenge Seath and the dragon can even Curse players, gutting their health in half at a point where not having full HP will pose a problem.
The second fight is simple enough, but the fact that Seath requires an extra step to kill (breaking his wand) elongates the fight a bit too much. This is the only defining feature of the battle, but it isn’t particularly engaging. When it comes down to it, it’s the Cursing that makes Seath a challenge.
8 Gwyn, Lord Of Cinder
Gwyn is either too easy for his own good or downright brutal. Anyone who has mastered the art of parrying will find him a chump, but getting to that point does take a considerable amount of effort and practice. Without parrying, Gwyn will relentlessly attack, changing up his moves on the fly.
Of the hard bosses, he’s one of the best designed, clearly telegraphing his attacks before each blow. He serves as an excellent stopping point for the game, forgoing traditional final boss flare for something more somber and poignant. Just don’t summon Solaire for the fight as he utterly trivializes the battle.
7 Sanctuary Guardian
The first of the DLC bosses, the Sanctuary Guardian does not let up for a single second. This is a boss fight that requires players to really understand the importance of dodging and their relation to telegraphed attacks. The Sanctuary Guardian also poisons with his attacks, making getting hit costly.
This is to say nothing of his sheer speed, he can zoom in and out at a moment’s notice, making the battle incredibly tense. Considering the DLC is locked behind him entirely, he’s a wall that players will want to desperately climb over. Not even summoning makes the fight that much easier as his added health only makes his mania harder to deal with.
6 Four Kings
The Four Kings are actually incredibly easy…on a fresh file. Since each New Game Plus cycle increases enemy stats and makes the game harder, the Four Kings will only get more challenging. Early in the game, they can be brute-forced thanks to Havel’s Gear. Later on, however, it’s a different story.
By New Game Plus cycle 2 or 3, the Four Kings will by default end up being a genuine 4v1 battle, as they spawn based on time, not health. The longer the fight goes, the more Kings there are to fight. This makes the battle grueling, especially since they hit insanely hard. Without brute force, a player will need to juggle multiple Kings at once, dodging and attacking whenever they can.
5 Bed Of Chaos
The single worst boss in the game, if not the entire series, the Bed of Chaos does absolutely nothing interesting and lasts way too long for its own good. Not only does it spawn bottomless pits in its arena, making instant death all too easy, but it also doesn’t attack in a cohesive manner, randomly swinging its arms.
The best way to handle the boss is by chipping away at it and then reloading the game to start from a safer ground. Most of the Lord Souls bosses are on the bland side, but the Bed of Chaos takes things to its unnatural extreme. If there was anything that desperately needed fixing in the Remaster, it was this boss.
4 Ornstein & Smough
The most notorious boss duo in gaming history, Ornstein and Smough ended many a player’s runs once they got to the end of Anor Londo. After such a difficult stage, it’s only fitting players find themselves going up against two difficult bosses at once. Ornstein and Smough are, at their core, overwhelming.
Not only do they relentlessly attack at once, defeating one of the bosses only serves to power up the other. Furthermore, it is impossible to kill both at the same time. This is far and away the hardest fight in the base game, but it’s also one of the most fun battles, pushing players to master the mechanics before they proceed any further.
As the final boss of the DLC, Manus offers quite the challenge. Fighting him late-game can negate some of his nastier elements, but he hits hard, he hits fast, and he has a lot of health. Manus is an endurance match through and through, requiring players to be well prepared. Considering how difficult it is just getting through the DLC in general, he makes a nice final challenge.
It is possible to summon Sif for this battle, but he doesn’t offer too much in the way of help. Nothing puts Manus in his place other than fine-tuned dodging and quick reflexes. Like Gwyn, he’s incredibly fun to fight. Unlike Gwyn, he’s nowhere near as easy to cheese.
Arguably the best fight in the DLC, Artorias is basically insane Gwyn, lunging at the player from all sides to offer a chaotic sword fight. Considering how much buildup there is to this battle, it is morbid walking through the fog gate and realizing that Artorias lost his mind a long time ago. Notably, this is the first multi-phased fight in Dark Souls.
Artorias goes through three distinct phases, each one more hectic than the last. It’s incredibly important to kill him as fast as possible since the fight only gets harder as it drags out. Artorias will not give players a single moment to rest.
The DLC’s secret boss, Kalameet is easily the hardest boss in the game. Since he isn’t a part of the DLC’s natural flow of progression, he’s allowed to be much harder than other bosses in the game. As far as Souls bosses go in general, he remains one of the series’ toughest challenges.
Fighting Kalameet without Gough wounding him is basically a suicide mission. Kalameet has high damage output, comes with an insane amount of health, and won’t hold back once players enter the boss arena. If nothing else, Kalameet is not all that frantic, but it’s very unlikely anyone will beat the dragon on their first try. Or second. Or third.