That One Boss: Dark Souls
As you progress through the many difficult dungeons in Dark Souls
and its sequel
, you'd be often thinking that at the end of each of them, you'd be rewarded with not-so-difficult pushovers, becoming a textbook case of Hard Levels, Easy Bosses
? Not for these guys. Unmarked spoilers ahead.
- The questionable honor of the most hated boss goes to one of the first bosses of the game, the Capra Demon. The boss itself wields two very large machetes and loves to slam both of them down on any unfortunate player that thinks they have a chance of blocking its attacks. The two attack dogs that accompany it make the fight all but impossible until they're disposed of, and the brutal speed at which the boss charges at you with powerful attacks as soon as the battle begins, combined with the very small area you have to maneuver in mean many players will stare at the "You Died" screen mere seconds after starting the fight.
- Ornstein and Smough. They are essentially designed to be a co-op boss, and either one of them can kill a player in about two hits. Its nearly impossible for non-ranged players playing solo, as neither one will ever shift their attention, giving no windows to attack. To add insult to injury, they are also a sequential boss, in that if you kill one, the other gains his power and full health.
- This gets even worse if you decide to kill Ornstein second for the Leo Ring. When Smough absorbs Ornstein, he just gains more health and stronger attacks. Ornstein, on the other hand, gains all of this and a completely different moveset, including the incredibly powerful Lightning Impale that provides the page picture and will almost certainly one-shot you if it hits.
- The Four Kings. The battle is essentially a problem of finding a way to kill each King as quickly as possible before the others spawn while surviving/avoiding their highly damaging magic-based attacks, which is easier said than done because their hitboxes are wonky, and the arena – a pitch-black, infinite, entirely featureless void with absolutely nothing to provide a frame of reference – is extremely disorienting. It gets worse in New Game+ since the Kings get a considerable health boost making it that much harder to kill them quickly. Oh, and just to make the fight even harder, the Four Kings do no physical damage at all. It's all magic damage in varying flavors, so that 100% physical block shield that's carried you through the entire game now does nothing.
- The additional content adds a plethora of difficult bosses for your enjoyment, redefining Bonus Boss like never before. To wit:
- The Sanctuary Guardian. The thing is very fast, strong, and has devastating lightning attacks that has an area of effect when shot in the water pond you're fighting in. Also it has '''A LOT''' of different attacks, and they're tricky to read. There are also no cheap tricks or shortcuts to exploit in the arena, which is a huge open area. Oh, and you need to fight it to access the rest of the Downloadable Content. Hurray...
- Artorias the Abysswalker is a likely contender for the hardest boss in the entire game. To wit: his attacks have a very wide arc and range, his pattern is too aggressive to leave many opportunities for healing, his attacks themselves do very heavy damage, he's extremely fast and his stage too small to allow for much manoeuvring, and when you just barely start doing damage to him, he'll go into a supercharged state where he'll get even more aggressive and dish out even more damage. Oh, and as an added bonus, he's resistant to most elemental weapons. Watch in horror as the Quelaag's Furysword that carried you though a good portion of the game deals little more than Scratch Damage to this demonic Lightning Bruiser.
- The final boss of the additional content Manus, Father of the Abyss, attacks relentlessly and his arm can reach you anywhere... even behind him. While it is possible to summon Grey Wolf Sif to aid you, finding him at all is very difficult. The boss also has a huge amount of health coupled with insane resistance to elements, and his most of his attacks will likely break your guard in seconds. And that's not even getting started with the flurry of Abyss spells he can throw at you without a moment's notice, although they can easily be negated by a particular pendant, yet another Guide Dang It.
- Gravelord Nito. He's not that powerful by himself, and most of his attacks are telegraphed. However, several smaller skeletons accompany him, and they respawn constantly until you defeat Nito. While you're busy trying to clear them off, Nito himself will start unleashing gravelord miracles at you or even try to take advantage of the situation by swinging his sword at you (even knocking off some of his minions in the process). Even worse, if you go too far into the boss room, you'll get swarmed by Giant Skeletons, adding to the smaller ones in case you haven't already killed them off with divine weapons.
- Your journey to Lost Izalith is filled to the brim with bosses that will make you want to Rage Quit. To wit:
- The Ceaseless Discharge. If you're not cheesing the boss around, then you'll find that he has nothing but powerful moves at his disposal, and his arm flail greatly suffers from Hitbox Dissonance, often nailing you when you think you dodged it. Straying too far from him will also prompt him to punish you with a fire blast that's unblockable by all but the mightiest fire-resistant shields.
- The Demon Firesage. While it's mostly just a reskin of the Stray Demon, the room it's in is cluttered with numerous wooden branches and roots which litter the entire floor and can make your movement awkward. Some of these roots you can walk over, some of these you can't. Some of these roots you can break, some of these you can't. No indication as to which are which. This all being in a boss fight that's heavily reliant on your ability to dodge and get around the boss who can kill you very quickly if you're stuck in place.
- The Centipede Demon. You're fighting it in a room full of lava, with a small strip of rock near the entrance. The Centipede Demon has several alarmingly powerful attacks with excellent reach, meaning it can hit you from a good distance while you're helpless to do anything about it. Its bizarre anatomy (three big centipedes stuck together on a pair of legs?), obscene range, and tendency to jump around make it hard for you to get your bearings and not immediately obvious where you're supposed to aim at. Worse, you get the Orange Charred Ring, which you need to walk on lava, after you defeat the Centipede Demon. You can get it early, however, if you don't mind trying to cut the Centipede Demon's tail... which is often over the lava.
- The Bed of Chaos. If there was one endgame boss that is absolutely hated by players just for how mind-boggingly frustrating the strategy to defeat it is, it's this monster. Trying to get the full access to its core requires you to destroy two weak spots that become increasingly difficult to reach with the chaos that piles up throughout the boss fight (read: tree arms swinging around wildly, crumbling floor, fire scythes digging their way to you, and straight-up Firestorm pyromancies).
Standard result of a fight against the Smelter Demon.
- The Ruin Sentinels. Their fight is similar to Ornstein and Smough, but it's a trio. It doesn't help that the battle starts with you falling (and taking a small amount of damage in the process) and a Ruined Sentinel spawns right next to you, ready to attack.
- The Royal Rat Authority is a Flunky Boss the size and speed of Great Grey Wolf Sif, whose mooks can inflict toxic on you. He also suffers from Hitbox Dissonance, so some attacks will have problems connecting. Yours, that is. Not his.
- The Royal Rat Vanguard will make you realize that those rats are using every advantage the game provides to the enemies against you. First, you have to kill a high number of poisonous rats before the boss actually appears, who looks exactly like any rat except for his Mohawk, and that he inflicts petrification. Second, all the rats are smaller than you, so a lot of your attacks won't reach them; you will need a weapon that hits the ground like a club. Third, there are statues all over the arena that cannot be destroyed, and every time you hit one your weapon will bounce off, leaving you completely exposed.
- The Smelter Demon is a good candidate for Wakeup Call Boss of the year. In addition to his metric ton of health, his Nightmare-esque BFS with immense range, speed, and damage, and his indifference to most physical damage, he's also the first boss to basically force players to either get a damn good shield, or else outright master the new, harsher dodge timings. As a cherry on top of the flaming, spiked iron cake, he has two traits that specifically punish most players' preferred boss strategies. One, shortly into the fight he bursts into flame, slowly chewing through the health of players who like to stay close to punish his openings easier, and two, frequently performs a large, telegraphed Sword Plant. It looks like an easily-exploitable opening. Sometimes it genuinely is. Other times, it isn't. It doesn't help that a glitch can trap you against the wall, making you easy pickings.
- Despite being an Anti-Climax Boss, the Old Iron King strikes fear into the heart of anyone who doesn't spam lightning miracles at him and are forced to fight him head-on. Punches that can drain your entire stamina bar if you block and flatten you to the ground? Check. Fire breath that also screws with your stamina management? Check. A conspicuously small boss arena which he can abuse to knock into a random crack of lava pool? Check! Its to the point that many posters on message boards claim that they've died to the Old Iron King's boss arena more than they have to the Old Iron King himself!
- However, NG+ (or a patch rework) added a new ability to punish those that liked to snipe from the corner - a red-hot beam of magma that pierces through the wall and can knock the player backward into the nearby lava.
- The Pursuer's Hit Box Dissonance with his attacks, especially his ability to curse you, has him take on this title as well. And on New Game+ you get a chance to fight two at once!
- Remember when the Capra Demon used to slaughter you within seconds of entering the fog gate due to the annoying attack dogs that made a perfect job at distracting you? The Flexile Sentry in New Game+ gains two nasty minions that will keep you on the edge with toxic buildup. And this is at a point where you should be ready for anything after the Final Boss.
- The Lost Sinner has quickly become one of the most hated bosses in Dark Souls II. Not only does she have swift yet powerful, long reaching attacks, her arena is fought in the dark, meaning your lock-on range is terribly short unless you defeat another challenging optional boss, allowing you to light up the lamps in her room. What cements her status however, is when you lower her HP to 60% in NG+,two black phantom pyromancers spawn, both whom have access to some of the most powerful pyromancy spells in game. It's gotten to the point that both of their health and damage output were reduced in Patch 1.03 calibrations 1.04 due to how frustrating this boss was to many.
- Velstadt, the Royal Aegis. While his attacks are easily telegraphed, what makes him dangerous is his serious case of Hit Box Dissonance; you'll be getting clipped for massive damage even if you rolled out of the way. He also has a crazy habit of mixing up his attacks; sometimes he'll string his attacks together, sometimes he won't, something which can throw your roll timing off if you think he's going into a attack animation. Blocking won't be much help either, since he hits like a freight train to your stamina. And once you damage him down to 60% percent. He'll begin to channel Dark Magic and start using Hexes. Which alone is bad, but it also gives him a massive boost in strength while along getting his defense buffed to the point your strikes are just Scratch Damage.
- The first phase of Executioner's Chariot can be extremely frustrating for some. Playing solo, the respawning skeletons don't hit very hard, but they just love to pin you up against a wall and stunlock you, making it very difficult to escape and proceed down the corridor with the extremely small safe zones the arena gives you. Playing online, the chariot's trample seems to gain a very frustrating case of Hitbox Dissonance. Occasionally you will be at the back of one of the cubbyholes, with your partner slightly further forward, and you will get trampled while your partner is fine.
- The Belfry Gargoyles in Belfry Luna. They wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to fight six of them, possibly at the same time if you aren't careful.
- The Gank Squad (aka Graverobber, Varg & Cerah) in the Cave of the Dead are extremely difficult to beat solo—borderline impossible with certain builds. There are 3 of them, one that is like a tank (as in he's a Havel clone), one can make you bleed in about 3 hits and the other spams you with highly accurate and moderately damaged Dragonslayer Arrows. However the biggest issue is simply their large health pools, impossibly high poise, and how they keep together constantly, which make it almost impossible to single out any one of them on your own. Oh and they HEAL.
- Elana has garnered the reputation of being a true, rage-inducing nightmare of a boss due to her ability to summon flunkies ranging from multiple Goddamn Bats to a degraded version of Velstadt, another difficult boss. Just to make it harder, she doesn't give you time to deal with her flunkies; spamming pyromancies and hexes is her order of the day to obliterate you while you're distracted.
- The Fume Knight has a large amount of things working to make him possibly the hardest boss in the game, DLC included: He keeps switching between attacks with the short sword (fast and numerous, easy to block and dodge) and ultra great sword (slow but with reach that's even longer than it looks from the angle you view while locked on), all of which he can recover from somewhat faster than most bosses. The slightly uneven terrain can result in his swipes passing over you while you're standing or hitting even as you try to roll under. If you try to use Estus, he will stop whatever he was doing to interrupted you if he thinks he can, and he's almost always right. He has minimally-telegraphed, wide-arced sweeps to his sides specifically for people who try to continuously circle-strafe him. Then he Turns Red, completely turning the fight on its head: blocking goes from your best defense to almost worthless because his attacks all do three different types of damage, which almost no shield can handle. But they're also extremely hard to dodge because they all involve said ultra greatsword (moving much faster this time) and/or a huge area of effect. And to make it worse, the conditions of what triggers it are so poorly understood that it becomes effectively luck based: sometimes it happens when he's got less than a quarter of his health, sometimes he'll do it with more the three quarters of it left. If you wear part of a certain armor set, he'll do it immediately. If you don't have enough Smelter Wedges to deal with the Idols surrounding the boss arena, you'll also have to keep him away from them, otherwise he'll constantly regenerate health thanks to their wide-range Warmth pyromancy. This is likely to happen unless you had the foresight to save four Wedges, since one Smelter Wedge is only accessible after defeating the Fume Knight.
- According to the game developers themselves, game data shows him to be the boss players have the lowest rate of success against: The odds of him killing the host player are 93%. Only a mere 7% of fights against this boss are successful, so beating him is a mark of sincere skill and perseverance.
- Just when you thought you couldn't have had enough of the Smelter Demon, the end of the Iron Passage introduces you to a blue version which is not only more powerful and has a few new moves (as befitting of a brutal Downloadable Content boss), but increases its Flaming Sword's range, making for more hitbox shenanigans. Oh, and every time it plants its sword, expect it to explode in your face. And since it does magic damage instead of fire damage, no shield can protect you completely.
- The Giant Lord on his own is a bit of a pain. Due to his sheer size it's incredibly difficult to really see when he motions to attack with his sword if you're up close, particularly if you're behind him and his skirt gets in your way. Then he has some massive Hitbox Dissonance and more often than not his arcing swing will hit you even if it's not even facing your general direction. Now pile on a metric tone of other things such as: Fireballs raining from the sky in the surrounding area, dealing massive damage and having equally absurd area of effect, two tanky lesser giants barring the way toward him, a statue head that will utterly squish you if it passes you by, a borderline useless summon NPC and a ridiculously small boss arena (due to the aforementioned fireballs). It all leads up to a very frustrating boss who can get many cheap kills on players.