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The Bosses of Dark Souls 2 Ranked by Quality

The Bosses of Dark Souls 2 Ranked by Quality

Dark Souls 2 has long been regarded by most Soulsborne fans as the worst game of the seven in this masterful series. That is not, however, a testament to how “bad” this game is but rather how absolutely stunning most of the others are in comparison. As a matter of a fact, Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin may be the most underrated video game of all time because of it. It is not just a good game, it is actually a fantastic one.

One of the major criticisms of Dark Souls 2, especially at its initial release, was the boss library. It seemed to waver between “far too easy” and “annoying difficulty” with only a few bosses hitting that sweet spot the series is now famous for. That being said, in the game’s current state there are actually quite a few bosses worth saying good things about.

Let’s take a look back at this controversial entry in the Souls series and rank the bosses according to their quality. How much fun were they to fight? Was the difficulty balanced and fair? Were they memorable in context of the greater story and their design? I will do my best to answer these questions for you as objectively as I can possibly be.

Let’s get started.

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

Anyone who has gone through the absolute nightmare of making it to this boss solo, let alone defeating this boss solo, knows what I mean when I put them here at least place. Pitting the player against a literal “gank squad” on steroids, they are tasked with killing three NPC’s in a maze-like arena all the while running for their very existence.

From Software claimed back in the day that these areas where supposed to be “co-op” focused. While I appreciate the effort to make something new, many players like myself didn’t have those “co-op” partners to play with, leaving us to deal with the copy and paste mess of these three suped up invaders.

Quality: 1 out of 10

39. Royal Rat Authority

The Authority himself is not actually all that difficult, kind of like a drunk Sif. It is his little minions that run up and induce Toxin on you that put this fight all the way near the bottom.

The best strategy here is not to wipe them all out before the big dog comes down but rather to dodge their entire first wave of attacks and then take them out one by one as able.

Quality: 2 out of 10

38. Prowling Magus and Congregation

I mean, come on, it’s just a room full of guys. Not even super powered enemies or enemies with some special trick up their sleeve, just a slow moving mage and a bunch of normal enemies.

It’s far too easy to be a boss that comes after Scorpioness Najka and the Royal Rat Authority and it’s far too lazy to be a boss that From Software would ever approve. The game would literally be better if this boss did not exist.

Quality: 2.5 out of 10

37. Covetous Demon

Jabba the Hutt. We all thought it when we saw him and it turns out he wasn’t that much harder to kill. His rolls are so well telegraphed I could go get a drink form the fridge and be back in time to get out of the way.

The special mechanics of the fight save it from being a total waste of time as if he is able to get you with his grab attack he will remove all of your equipment and if you shoot the pots hanging from the ceiling he will spend all his time eating the hollows that fall from them.

Quality: 3 out of 10

36. Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin

For such a hyped up boss encounter throughout the greater story of the game, it is a real letdown that your fight with Aldia is essentially a giant game of cat and mouse. He teleports around the room, gives you very small windows of opportunity for attack, then forces you back with a literal ring of fire and proceeds to hurl various dodge-able projectiles at you until it is time to repeat the process.

It isn’t a hard fight by any stretch, it is just a purposefully long and drawn out one and I just can’t stand that kind of design.

Quality: 3.5 out of 10

35. Giant Lord

The Giant Lord boss fight by itself isn’t all that bad but it is the run up to him that puts him on the list this low.

Normally I wouldn’t factor that into play as much just because the entire game is technically supposed to be difficult but putting two giant rock wielding giants and hurling massive fireball at you while trying to cross a narrow bridge to get to him is a bit much. Toss in a giant rolling statue head that one-shots most HP pools and you have yourself a recipe for rage quitting.

Quality: 4 out of 10

34. Executioner’s Chariot

Every once in a while From Soft believes it to be a good idea to throw in a puzzle boss seemingly out of nowhere to keep the player on their toes. While I do like to be kept on my toes as a player, I do not enjoy them being run over by a skeleton-drawn chariot.

The fight with the horses themselves isn’t all that bad and can actually be a lot of fun but the process of getting to that point becomes a needless slog that I audibly groan when thinking about having to do it again on a subsequent playthrough.

Quality: 4 out of 10

33. Twin Dragonriders

Oh look. It’s that boring boss from before but now there are two of them! I am genuinely excited to master this engaging and intriguing contest of ability! – No One Ever

Yet again here is another boss that would make the game considerably better in its absence.

Quality: 4.5 out of 10

32. Nashandra

Without question Nashandra is the most disappointing final boss of the series. Bar none.

The only real danger she presents is her curse totems that she can summon but it is fairly easy to kite her around the arena to a safe place to do battle. Circling to her left allows for nearly endless attacks after her two and three swing combos and her “curse laser” is so easily avoided it is laughable.

She didn’t need to be the hardest boss by any stretch but you need to put forth more effort than that when Gwyn is your predecessor.

Quality: 5 out of 10

31. Ancient Dragon

The thought of having to whack at this enormous dragon’s toenails for another ten minutes while praying to Heaven that he doesn’t do his nearly unavoidable “fill the entire platform with fire” attack makes me shudder even now.

The other aspect of his fight that doesn’t help his case is his absolutely monstrous health pool. This turns a fight with fun parts in it into a race against time and a battle of attrition instead of skill.

You dont need to be good to win this fight, you need heavy armor, a fire-resistant shield on your back, a high DPS output weapon, your Estus Flask fully upgraded, a +3 Flame Protection ring, and a whole bunch of RNG luck.

Quality: 5.75 out of 10

30. Throne Watcher and Throne Defender

This isn’t so much “Ornstein and Smough Lite” as it is “Ornstein and Smough Zero Sugar”, as in, it’s not very good at all. The revival mechanic is an interesting attempt to spice up a pretty dull fight but honestly the hole in the ground poses a much bigger threat to most players at this point in the experience.

Quality: 6 out of 10

29. Dragonrider

The concept behind raising the platforms in the Dragonrider’s arena so that you have more room to maneuver ended up being a far more intriguing gameplay concept than the actual fight itself. If the point of this fight was to make it hard for those who didn’t notice the incredibly obvious levers in the area and ridiculously easy for those who did, then the developers succeeded.

Quality: 6 out of 10

28. Lud and Zallen, the King’s Pets

I think that this fight gets a lot more hate due to the run back required after every time you lose to them. (Second only in my own opinion to the Iron Passage in the Brume Tower.) That’s not to say they don’t deserve hate; it is a reskinned gank boss after all.

Upon playing this game recently however, I discovered that this fight was actually fairly well balanced, with Zallen only coming down to join once Lud was near half health and with the small health pools they both have unless you drag the fight out long enough for Zallen to buff. This motivates you to get more damage in quicker, escalating the tension of the fight for better or worse.

Quality: 6 out of 10

27. Guardian Dragon

This dragon is quite possibly the worst dragon fight in the series second only to that rear half of a decaying one in the Painted World of Ariamis. As long as you don’t just stand there when he flies up for his downward spout of fire you should be just fine.

He is also incredibly weak to magic meaning even the slightest of Intelligence in your build will kill him in under thirty seconds flat. He is just another example of a boss that is far too easy to be placed near the end of the experience like he is.

Quality: 6.25 out of 10

26. Old Iron King

Even without the issue of the dreaded “lava hole of death” on the Old Iron King’s platform, this boss fight just isn’t as interesting or as fun as he could have been. Elden Ring’s Dragonkin Soldier in the Lake of Rot is a far better example of how to do a boss fight from a platform correctly.

The Old Iron King has only a few varied attacks and most of them have pretty long windups or easy workarounds. He also seems to purposefully do attacks meant to knock you off into the lava which is cheap at best and infuriating at most.

Quality: 6.25 out of 10

25. Elana, the Squalid Queen

I used to hate this boss a whole lot more until my most recent playthrough when I realized she actually was never all that terrible. She was just never fun, which is what these games are supposed to be in the end.

Her ability to summon Velstadt into the fight might have seemed like a good idea by the developers at the time to counter her slow mobility, but her teleporting attacks already fulfilled that function in my mind.

Velstadt ends up being there to keep you from getting any kind of rhythm down for attack on her and her ability to summon skeletons to join him if you don’t down him fast enough borders on impossible when you are trying to play solo.

Quality: 6.5 out of 10

24. Mytha, the Baneful Queen

First of all, let’s just get this out of the way…. this boss is Medusa. Not a clever take on Medusa, just straight up Medusa. This boss might be the most uninspired and vanilla one these games have to offer, but the fight is still somewhat enjoyable nonetheless.

As long as you shut down the poison producing windmill in the section before her boss fog, she shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge to most players. Bringing in the. NPC summon Jester Thomas if available is also quite hilarious as she is incredibly weak to fire and he can just absolutely shred her while you sit back in the corner and watch.

Quality: 6.75 out of 10

23. Flexile Sentry

The only unique thing about this fight, besides the fact that there are two torsos on one body, is that the water level will continue to rise over the course of the fight. This puts pressure on the player to end the fight before rolling no longer remains a viable option of defense.

Add in the two assassin enemies and you have a potential recipe for disaster for all but the tankiest builds. Yet again another boss who is difficult for all the wrong reasons.

Quality: 6.75 out of 10

22. The Last Giant

As the first boss it is natural to think he would be the easiest, which he most certainly seems to be. He is just also really boring.

Kudos to the development team for at least having him rip off his own arm to use as a weapon. Why are the giants of these games always doing this?

Quality: 6.75 out of 10

21. Aava, the King’s Pet

Before the player receives the Eye of the Princess, marching onto Aava’s bridge is a very ill-advised idea as she will be completely invisible to the player. Trying to defeat her in this manner is a fun challenge that can actually be accomplished through different audio cues before each attack.

My only real gripe with her fight is the fact that most of her swipe attacks have such a far reach around that finding a good attack window can be quite difficult even when you know how to react.

Quality: 7 out of 10

20. Belfry Gargoyles

If you are going to do a remake of such an iconic boss fight from the first game, it should be done with care and with thoughtfulness. Such is not the case here as From Soft decided that instead of two half-health bosses that would throw in five fifth-health bosses and call it a day.

What results is yet another “race against time” to eliminate the gargoyles as quickly as possible or risk being overwhelmed by them. What worked with the Four Kings of Dark Souls does not work here as the infinite space of the Abyss is a far better arena for a fight like this than a cramped prison rooftop.

Quality: 7 out of 10

19. The Skeleton Lords

Even though this fight is easier than almost any other in the game, I still enjoy it for whatever reason. Maybe it is the arena, maybe it is the chaos of beating down twenty skeletons and their overlords, maybe it’s the music, or maybe it is all those things put together.

In summary, the fight is enjoyable but also too easy for my tastes. The Shadows of Yharnam would soon give me the experience I was looking for, I just didn’t know it at the time.

Quality: 7.25 out of 10

18. The Rotten

The visual design of this boss is top tier but I am afraid that is really all this big guy has going for him.

He is your fairly standard big guy fight with the obvious exception that you cant slip underneath of him for easier dodging. That being said, dodging this guy is fairly easy but he does hit like a truck to balance it out.

All in all, The Rotten is a good fight but definetely not a great one.

Quality: 7.5 out of 10

17. Vendrick

The only thing that pushes this fight slightly above mediocrity is the concept of collecting the five Soul of a Giant items available in the late game in order to make this fight more doable.

That being said, as someone who has taken the time to kill him without any of those souls in my inventory (which took twenty-one minutes!), he is really easy to circle strafe and his windows for punishment become really obvious quite quickly.

I wish the DLC had featured a fight against this king in his prime but as he is here he must fall to this spot on my list.

Quality: 7.5 out of 10

16. The Pursuer

The first time the Pursuer appeared in the open world in the Forest of the Fallen Giants I immediately fell in love with his design and the concepts behind him “pursuing” you throughout most of the early game in particular.

But, this game also proves that too much of a good thing can become a bad thing as by the end of my first playthrough I would sigh when seeing that it was time to tango with this floating freak yet again.

The boss fight itself is a slightly different animal as it is possible to cheese him by killing him with the ballistas in his arena, but I honestly wouldn’t really call it a cheese as I find it to be much easier than just killing him straight up.

Quality: 7.75 out of 10

15. Aged Smelter Demon

If it weren’t for the absolute horror that having to face down the Iron Passage again and again after defeat, this blue reskin of a boss would have actually been considerably higher. If you are going to do a reskin fight then this is a prime example of how you do it.

Don’t just up the damage and defense, give him new moves and also slightly different timing alterations to throw the seasoned player off their game, and that is exactly what they did here.

Quality: 8 out of 10

14. Old Dragonslayer

It is an absolute crying shame that this boss was the pushover that he was because when I saw one of my old foes coming toward me with spear at the ready I was ready for an epic duel.

While it didn’t end up being the fight that I wanted it to be, it was still very enjoyable in its own right and I always jog over to the Cathedral of Blue to face him even though it is no where near required to finish the game.

Quality: 8 out of 10

13. Scorpioness Najka

Even though this fight is very clearly meant to be a spiritual successor to Queelag from the original, I find it to be a great fight and a far more balanced experience for the player.

Continually hanging around near the body is just asking for punishment from her tails and hanging back far away from her is inviting her powerful spells to be cast. Its an excellent system that forces the player to literally “pick their poison” with her based on their play-style and build.

Quality: 8.25 out of 10

12. The Duke’s Dear Freja

This boss is definetely up there for me when it comes to the most underrated bosses of the series. The boss gives just enough time to get away before major attacks, has just the right amount of help from her spiderlings to keep you off her at times, and has a mechanic to prevent you from only hitting one head as it will come off at a certain damage threshold.

The very long runback hurts this boss a bit but it can’t be all her fault now can it?

Quality: 8.5 out of 10

11. Demon of Song

Out of all the bosses in the base game, this boss was the one that screamed “this would fit in the first game” the most! She has such an unusual design that her mere appearance alone can shake you for a minute while trying to figure out what she is doing.

This fight isn’t necessarily hard but it can feel a bit unbalanced at times with her attacks having hit boxes that seem to stretch the entire arena for some of her swipes. Other than that she can be dealt with fairly easily.

Quality: 8.5 out of 10

10. Ruin Sentinels

My first playthrough these guys messed me up pretty good a couple times but then I realized the mistake I was making, I was playing too defensively. The first sentinel needs to be dispatched very quickly before the second one can jump up and forces you off the platform.

The you can fight the second one on the platform if you wish or fall down and use that opportunity to rebuff or heal again if needed. Lightning works wonders against these guys and help to produce a much more gratifying experience that being smashed by three halberds over and over again.

Quality: 8.5 out of 10

9. Smelter Demon

This boss gets so much hate from the community that it honestly makes me question my credentials to do these sorts of ranking because I freaking love this boss! His appearance, the way he activates his internal furnace when you enter the boss arena, the way the arena forces you to actually dodge through his attacks instead of away from them, and the way that you have to pick your opportunities for attack extremely carefully all made me fall in love with learning this fight.

I do not find him difficult today but on my first playthrough this guy was a major roadblock that held me up for quite some time. Every step of the journey makes you a better From Soft player, but some steps are a lot higher to reacxh than others!

Quality: 8.75 out of 10

8. Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon

If it weren’t for the fact that this dragon spends far too much time in the air he would finds himself up a bit higher on my list as he is a whole lot of fun to fight up close and personal. The addition of his poisoning attacks and tail swipes keep the player from hanging around the backside like you would typically do and his forward slashes and bites are a perfect balance or damage and avoid-ability.

All in all Sinh is a great addition to the already fantastic library of dragon fights in the Souls series.

Quality: 9 out of 10

7. Lost Sinner

To be honest the fight against the Lost Sinner is pretty standard and doesn’t have too much unique about it besides the mechanic of lighting the fires on either side of her arena, but that doesn’t take away any enjoyment for me personally.

Her moveset is fun to learn and the lore behind this particular boss is easy to find in her area and adds to your understanding of why she appears the way she does. Both of these things combine to form a fun and memorable boss that I personally always look forward to reaching.

Quality: 9 out of 10

6. Darklurker

As with quite a few of the bosses on this list, the run up to face this boss again is one of the major things holding it back from being a little higher. This boss himself is quite awesome, being both visually and mechanically interesting and challenging.

It is the run through the Dark Chasm of Old and the cost of one Human Effigy each time you fail that really hinders him here. You can’t simply run through the enemies found in the run up, they must each be dealt with and depending on which section of the three required that you did last you may end up having a really hard time getting back to him consistently.

Quality: 9.25 out of 10

5. Looking Glass Knight

I still remember the very first time I crossed the boss fog of the Looking Glass Knight only to have him leap savagely across half the arena and slam his lightning infused sword down onto my head, causing me to audibly yell and nearly drop my controller to the floor!

Perhaps it is that one moment that has tricked me into thinking he is such a great boss but my opinion of him remains the same even to this day. If you are lucky enough, especially now that the vast majority of the PvE player base has moved on to other titles, you can even face a summoned player-controlled phantom that crawls its way out of the aforementioned “looking glass”.

Quality: 9.25 out of 10

4. Velstadt, the Royal Aegis

Of all of the many Demon’s Souls influences that can be found in Dark Souls 2, perhaps none of them are more obvious or on the nose as this boss and the obvious reference to Garl Vinland, the sworn protector of Maiden Astraea.

Luckily this fight boils down to whole lot more than a visually striking knight guarding a small walkway, he is a full blown dark-casting juggernaut with an interesting and unique bell hammer weapon that can pound you into the ground faster than you can see it coming.

I always look forward to getting to Velstadt in each playthrough and he is one of those bosses that I am very glad is required to complete the base game so that every player can experience this incredible fight.

Quality: 9.5 out of 10

3. Fume Knight

This guy is right up there when it comes to my personal favorite fight in the entire series. From the way he rises up out of the ashes to retrieve his sword to the way he abandons his Straight Sword to face you with his Ultra Greatsword alone, this dude screams epic boss at every turn.

He is a huge pain to master but the feeling for doing so is incredibly rewarding. I feel sorry for the player that has never succeeded against him without using summons or tanking strategies. That’s not to say there is shame in those things, I just personally know what it took to overcome him and that feeling is something I wish every gamer could experience!

Quality: 9.75 out of 10

2. Burnt Ivory King

Quality: 10 out of 10

1. Sir Alonne

Just like the previous two on my list, Sir Alonne was a boss I just could not get enough of. Every time I died to him I found myself being partially happy that I would get another chance to duel this well-paced and “excellently difficult” boss.

This guy is hard to fight the right way. Really hard. While he can be tanked with a heavy shield and his health can be chipped away by the extremely patient player, much like the Fume Knight he is meant to be fought with little to no armor, excellent dodge roll timing, and a quick striking weapon for small but consistent damage.

This play-style was completely different that anything I had done up to this point in my Souls game experience and it changed the way I played all Soulsborne games even up to today. Sir Alonne is truly a one of a kind experience if you will take your time to master his fight.

Quality: 10 out of 10

How does my list compare to your own? What do you think I got right and wrong about some of these bosses? While I do agree that this game is the least of From Soft’s offering in the genre they created, I also think that it a great game that deserved far more attention in its day than what it ever received.

Don’t give up, skeleton!