What better way to celebrate the original game and open it up to newcomers than a look back at some of its best bosses? But there’s a twist – this one was ranked by the IGN community.
For the full list with vote count, check out the gallery above, or keep scrolling to get straight to the IGN community’s 10 favorite original Dark Souls bosses.
All images below courtesy Boss Fight Database.
10. Gravelord Nito
Gravelord Nito doesn’t just command an army of skeletons. He is literally a huge, rotting heap of skeletons built around one very large skeleton. He lives in a giant tomb of skeletons and wields a massive greatsword made of skeletons. One of his moves is just screaming. We love you, Nito.
9. Bell Gargoyles
You’ve already tested your might on a few minor Dark Souls bosses by the time you reach the Bell Gargoyle, but the thrill of slaying not one, but – surprise – two winged demons on the roof of a massive church… it feels like a rite of passage. Especially when you get to ring that first bell at the top of the tower, letting all surrounding players in Lordran know your journey has really begun.
8. Black Dragon Kalameet
Kalameet puts up one of the toughest fights on the list thanks to his vicious speed and menacing black fire, and that’s even after being shot down by a giant with a greatbow. After hearing so much about the ancient dragons, getting to fight one of the last, and most powerful of its kind, is a thrill that shouldn’t be passed up.
7. Four Kings
Four Kings is the one boss that can literally kill you before you even make it into the boss room… if you can even call it a room. Fighting these horrifying, corrupted abyss-dwellers feels like lashing around at deep sea abominations swimming up to you in the dark. A fitting climax to a level full of flooded ruins and shrieking ghosts.
6. Gaping Dragon
Dark Souls doesn’t waste any time subverting expectations and the Gaping Dragon encounter is one of the earliest examples. What seems like a relatively harmless tiny-headed reptile turns out to be something… a lot more. The Gaping Dragon is such a visual shocker that you find yourself unsure of what to expect – where do you attack something made of giant ribs and teeth? Can it even fly? And as if to answer, this giant abomination eventually starts leaping into the air with its mangled wings and slamming into the ground without warning.
5. Manus, Father of the Abyss
This big, hulking demon of the abyss is so much faster than he looks and he has the most HP out of all the original bosses. Coupled with the relentless fury and dark magic of his moveset, fighting Manus is a long, adrenaline-pumping nightmare from start to finish. Bonus points for letting us summon Lordran’s #1 pup to the fight.
4. Gwyn, Lord of Cinder
The last boss fight of a game is usually going to be memorable by sheer virtue of being the last boss, and in a game packed to the brim with solid boss fights, that’s especially true. After hours of fighting, dying, and coming back for more, finally making your way through the Kiln of the First Flame to face off against Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, for the very first time, is a moment every Dark Souls fan remembers. And learning you can parry him, this once-great king, like a common enemy? Cue sad piano music.
3. Great Grey Wolf Sif
Like many boss fights in Dark Souls, battling the Great Grey Wolf Sif is a tense mix of exciting and… actually really sad. Especially when you start whittling down this powerful beast’s health. Instead of having to deal with a new phase of deadly moves, Sif starts limping about and fumbling attacks, and you start to feel like the hugest jerk in Lordran. Especially if you rescued young Sif in the Abyss and approach the fight as a long-lost friend. Despite their gratefulness, Sif is still sworn to protect Artorias’s grave and a fight to the death is the only option.
2. Knight Artorias
A solid fight against an incredibly designed and formidable opponent with a tragic backstory? That’s like, peak Dark Souls. And like anything in Dark Souls, there’s always something much more complicated at stake. Slaying Artorias isn’t just a well-earned victory, but a way to save a legendary knight’s legacy and honor, and liberate him from the darkness he sacrificed everything to defeat.
1. Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough
Is this a surprise to anyone? Ornstein and Smough are a legendary team and, together, make up arguably the most iconic Dark Souls boss fight of all time. Maybe it’s the way they complement each other perfectly – Ornstein with his razor-sharp armor and lightning speed to match, and the hulking, rounded Smough with his almost cartoonishly large hammer. Maybe it’s the scale of the fight, set in a grand Anor Londo ballroom where one reckless swing from the deadly duo can send an entire pillar crumbling to the ground. Maybe it’s the odd dynamic between the two: Ornstein, a respected knight of Gwyn, and Smough, a jealous and impulsive cannibal who doesn’t hesitate to smash his partner mid-fight to absorb his power. Whatever it is, IGN’s readers and the Dark Souls fandom at large love these guys almost as much as Smough loves smashing stuff. And that’s a lot.
Those were the Top 10 best Dark Souls bosses as determined by IGN readers – that means you can’t get mad at us if your favorite wasn’t on there!
But you can still join the conversation in the comment section.