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The first Dark Souls is one of the few contemporary games destined to become a classic. Even though its other qualities—its world, its art design—are just as worthy of attention, there’s little doubt the game’s difficulty is its most famous feature. We’re going to say it plainly: the bosses in Dark Souls are nasty, ornery stooges that will pound you into the ground over and over again. Let’s see if we can lend you a hand with those pesky jerks, eh?
This list includes all the mandatory bosses you must fight in the game and most of the optional ones, but none of the DLC bosses. If you’re looking for some tips on how to conquer the monsters of Dark Souls, and whether or not you should summon a fellow player to help out, this is where you want to be.
A warning: spoilers on all boss battles ahead.
Javy Gwaltney devotes his time to writing about these videogame things when he isn’t teaching or cobbling together a novel. You can follow the trail of pizza crumbs to his Twitter or his website.
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1. Asylum Demon:
Unlike Demon's Souls, which throws a big nasty at you in the tutorial, Dark Souls' first boss is pretty easy. Run past him to the door the first time you meet him to continue the tutorial and then when you return to fight him just roll around a lot and poke him with your weapon. An easy fight if you can avoid his attacks. Beware: his butt stomp is fierce.
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It's actually more of a pain getting to Pinwheel than fighting him. He's your typical low health/high damage output boss, but his gimmick is that he has some illusionary clones that can distract you. Find the real Pinwheel—you'll know because when you attack him the boss health bar goes down—and just focus on him. If you've got a shield, use it. If you don't, roll around a lot. Whatever you do just don't get hit by his fireball attack—it hurts. Some direct hits will make this fight painless.
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3. Taurus Demon:
This monster is intimidating but pretty easy to take down. Before the fight starts climb up on the tower behind you and kill the archers and then run to the center of the bridge and the monster will drop down. Run back to the tower behind you, climb up it, wait for the demon to appear beneath you (don't wait too long or he'll attack) and then do a drop down attack for MASSIVE damage. Run back to the center of the bridge and when he charges you, roll past, and return to the tower again. Do the drop down attack once more when he comes after you. He should be dead or close to dead by then. Finish him off with a swing of your weapon if he's not.
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4. Gaping Dragon:
All Souls game have an unspoken rule: the uglier the boss is, the easier to take it down, and man, Gaping Dragon is not winning any beauty contests. A giant, vile monster with rows of sharp teeth, the dragon will try to slam you into the ground while far above, on a nearby ledge, some sorcerer shoots magic at you. That guy is the real threat. Go kill him first and then take on the dragon. What you want to do is bait the beast into doing a slam attack and then roll in, slash at the monster a couple of times, roll out. Rinse and repeat until the dragon is dead.
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5. The Bed of Chaos:
The Bed of Chaos fight is super easy once you figure out what you have to do since dying in the battle doesn't reset the progress you made. Just run to side of the big tree, slash away some limbs, and you'll see a glowing root. Kill it. Do the same for the root on the other side. You'll probably die a couple of times thanks to the floor giving way, but no biggie, just come back and pick up where you left off. After both roots have been cut, run to the center of the tree and jump down into the hole where you'll find a bug-like core. Kill it and the fight is over.
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6. Ceaseless Discharge:
Ceaseless Discharge (ew) is a goofy, fun little fight that's pretty easy to do. The encounter starts after you attack him—or steal some nearby clothes—and as soon as it does what you want to do is run alllll the way back to the fog door. Roll a lot to dodge his attacks. If you time it right, he'll follow you and leap on to the ledge you're standing on, gripping it with his hands. All you have to do is simply poke his hands a couple of times and he falls to his doom. Fight over. The only trouble here is that his attacks are kind of difficult to dodge.
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7. Seath The Scaleless:
The first time you meet Seath he kills you. Death is unavoidable. What a jerk. However, the second time you meet it's a surprisingly easy fight (the real challenge lies with reaching him in the Crystal Cave, ugh). If you've got heavy armor on here, unequip it. Seath has a nasty cursing attack that will kill you pretty quick if you're hit, so you need to be speedy. As soon as the fight starts, look for a giant crystal. Break it. Seath can't regenerate his health anymore. Roll around, dodge his breath attacks, and lay into him until he's dead. Bonus tip: slicing off his tail will net you a pretty rad sword.
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8. Moonlight Butterfly:
Moonlight Butterfly is a battle that's easy to understand but difficult to pull off. Butterfly shows up, glows, shoots magical stuff at you that does lots of damage. You're supposed to attack the butterfly when it gets close to the roof you're standing on. That's the whole fight. The problem is that its magic attacks are hard to dodge. Just have max Estus and hope for the best.
Summon? Yes, if you can.
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9. Demon Firesage:
Demon Firesage is essentially a flaming, harder-to-kill version of the Asylum Demon. Don't bother with ranged combat or blocking. You'll screw yourself over that way thanks to the narrow hallway. Just roll around a lot, wait for him to do his butt stomps and swing attacks, and then roll in to do some damage before you hop away. This fight isn't so hard except that it goes on for a good while, so messing up just once could mean your death. Find a pattern that works and stick to it. Don't get greedy.
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10. Bell Gargoyles:
Every Souls game has a wake up call fight, a sort of slap in the face, where the game laughs at you. "You think it's been difficult so far? Oh you have no idea what we have in store for you." In Dark Souls, that fight is with The Bell Gargoyles. It starts off bad enough with one giant halberd-wielding, fire-spitting gargoyle. Things get worse when you knock that one's health down to halfway as another gargoyle joins the fight, forcing you to rework a strategy that you probably had to die 10 or 11 times to formulate initially. Rolling is your best friend here. Do it a lot, and try to have a big weapon capable of doing damage from a bit of a distance. Also: never attack the gargoyles when they're close to one another. Divide them and go after the weaker one.
Summon? Yes, if possible.