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Dark Souls 2 is easily the most divisive game in the Souls series. Its additions to the framework laid down by Demon’s and the original Dark—limiting enemy respawns, the introduction of lifegems—received praise for being welcoming to new players but also criticism for supposedly toning down the series’ difficulty to make the game more accessible. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the bosses in this sequel are no joke and will tear you to pieces the first chance they get. We can help you with that.
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 2, 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. Covetous Demon: The Covetous Demon is a big, nasty slug monster that will literally devour you if you get to close and then spit you back out with all your armor and weapons unequipped. The good news is that this fight is pretty easy. Just run around the arena, wait for him to do an attack, and then roll in. Swipe him once and roll away. Keep away from his telegraphed attacks and you'll be fine.
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2. The Pursuer: The Pursuer is one of the first boss fights you can access in the game and it seems like a pretty difficult battle at first thanks to the knight's intimidation factor. However, a trick will make this battle a simple matter. The Pursuer is one of the easiest foes in the game to parry, so, at the start of the fight what you want to do is parry his attack. It's fine if you waste a few lives getting the timing down. Once you've successfully parried him, RUN to the giant crossbows behind him. You can use one of them to do a ridiculous amount of damage to the knight. If you're speedy enough to hit him twice, the fight's over.
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3. Prowling Magus and Congregation: Magus and his church of weirdoes is a surprisingly easy fight. Just run in, kill the weak mob of worshipers first while dodging the blasts from Magus and the clerics, then kill them. Nothing here has that much health so focus on doing hit and runs and you'll come out of without much trouble.
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4. Royal Rat Vanguard: Okay, so this fight might seem a little difficult at first because you can't summon anyone, NPC or player, but it's actually your typical mob boss fight. There are a bunch of rats that try to bite you. One of them has a mohawk. A mostly effective strategy here is to run back and forth across the room, attacking only the mohawk rat when you have an opening. With a little luck you'll take him down pretty easily. Don't get greedy as the rats' poison attacks can make short work of you.
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5. Flexile Sentry: The Flexile Sentry is yet another boss that looks tougher than it actually is. Summoning an NPC or player basically makes the fight a cinch as the Sentry will focus on them, allowing you to arrow/firebomb the boss to death from afar. If you want to be a badass and take this guy on by yourself, you need to look out for a lunge attack animation. After dodging that, roll in (or fire away) for two good hits and then get out of the monster's attack range. Keep doing this, maybe lob the occasional firebomb, and Sentry goes down easy.
Summon? No, unless you just want this to be no challenge whatsoever.
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6. The Dragonrider: Dragonrider is technically optional but you'll want to defeat him so you can access an NPC summon who will help you with several of the hardest boss battles in the game. To beat this relatively easy boss (modeled after Smough from the first game, no doubt) you need to figure out when to dodge his attacks and roll around to his backside. Don't bother trying to shield his attacks as he can knock you off the platform. Just attack his back until he's dead.
Summon? Only if you're having trouble learning when to dodge his attacks.
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7. The Guardian Dragon: This one is simple, especially if you've got some ranged weapons. Just run around, dodge the spews of flame, and fire arrows, bolts or magic at the dragon. If you're melee-focused, dodge his attacks and wait for him to drop down. He'll lean in and shoot flames everywhere. Roll under him before he does this and go to town on his legs, belly, and tail. Keep it up and the overgrown lizard will be dead soon.
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8. The Last Giant: It is likely that The Last Giant will be the first boss you fight in Dark Souls 2. He's also a bit of a pain since he takes up at least a quarter of the room and his long-reaching attacks hurt a good bit. Focus on learning when he's about to swing and then run to the side of him that's not swinging at you, attack his ankle. Firebombs help out a good bit here but don't waste arrows. Summoning someone if you're having trouble here will help immensely since they can distract the tree.
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9. The Giant Lord: The Giant Lord is pretty much the same as The Last Giant except he's tougher, has a sword, and you're fighting in a very small space. Stick to his legs, chop at them, accept you're probably going to get hit a lot and carry a huge number of healing items. If you can take his hits and heal between them, this fight won't be an issue.
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10. Mytha, The Baneful Queen: This fight can be easy peasy or an utter pain in the ass. What you need to do to put the odds in your favor is find the windmill in Earthen Peak (it's right next to the second bonfire you find here) and use a torch to set it on fire. This removes most of the poison from Mytha's room and gives you access to an NPC summon who's actually pretty powerful. My suggestion here is to attack from a distance. Use arrows, bombs, bolts, whatever, as Mytha's tail can do a nasty bit of damage if you get close.