Dark Souls Boss guide

Can you hear it? Grown-ass adults all over the world are weeping like babies thanks to Dark Souls' grueling difficulty. Innocent controllers are being snapped in half. Divorce rates are skyrocketing. And that gurgling sound? That's just Dark Souls force feeding everyone their own tears. If you can't cut it on your own, don't fret. We've peeled through Dark Souls' most daunting layers, boss by boss. Below is an archive of our journey—may it help you maintain some semblance of sanity while exploring From Software's most sadistic of creations. 


General tips

Observation is key. We know, this seems obvious—but when you get killed by a boss for the eighth time, remember to be patient. Learn its attacks, know when to dodge, when to block, and when to strike. One mistake can easily mean death. There’s no shame in dying as long as you’re learning something from the death.

Choose your stats carefully. When it comes to leveling up, consider what you're pumping points into. Vitality and Endurance are critical early on, as health and stamina are your two most important resources. Depending on what kind of character you're building, some attributes are only useful for meeting equipment requirements. 

Circle strafe. Many of the game's melee monsters aren't as scary as they seem once you get up close. Unless you're fighting a monster that can grab you, try hugging their bodies as you strafe in a counter-clockwise circle around them. Most enemies will miss you entirely if you're constantly circling them, giving you ample time to land a backstab. You can usually roll between the big guys’ legs as well if you time it right.

Cut off the tail! Fighting a monster or boss that has a tail? Try cutting it off. Chances are you can get a sweet weapon as a result. Seriously, give it a shot.

Humanity is used to reverse hollow status and kindle bonfires. Resting at a bonfire replenishes your healing flasks (known as Estus Flasks). By default, you have five of these. If you have any humanity, you can reverse your hollow status at a fire to become human. Doing so allows you to spend additional humanity to kindle a fire. Any fire that has been kindled provides ten flasks instead of five.

Secret items and passages

This is not an all-encompassing list of secrets. Below are some items and locations we came across during our time with Dark Souls.

Best farming route - If you're anxious to snag more souls, we found the best place to farm them. In the Darkroot Forest, there is a door that is locked by a circular device. First, save up 20,000 souls (now's a good time to use all those soul items in your inventory). Next, visit the blacksmith in the tower leading to the Darkroot Forest and buy the crest from him. Head back to the locked door in the forest (note: there is a hidden bonfire right next to it behind a fake wall). Once unlocked, you can use the strategy in the video below to farm up over 12,000 souls in roughly 2 minutes. Note that the ghost enemies can easily be tricked into jumping off the ledge if you bait them up the stairs. 

It takes a little practice, but try and position yourself so that when the ghost walks off the stairs that he’ll fall directly on your head, this will bounce him off of you and into the void.

Drake Sword – This one-handed sword has a base damage of 200 and can be obtained early in the game. Snag the Longbow from the passage between the Darkroot Forest and the Valley of Drakes, buy some arrows, and head back to the bridge in the Undead Burg with the dragon on it. Head under the bridge and shoot 30-40 arrows at the dragon's tail and the sword will automatically appear in your inventory. This sword has a very low stat requirement, making it an excellent fit for almost every class. It can also be upgraded with dragon scales, and each upgrade adds an additional 20 attack damage to the already absurdly high 200.

Havel's Ring – Substantially increases equipment weight capacity. Obtained by defeating Havel, who rests at the bottom of the tower leading up to the Taurus Demon. Havel weilds an enormous dragon tooth mace that can easily one shot you, but don’t be scared, he’s slow as molasses. Hug his body and circle strafe to avoid his attacks, and backstab until he's dead. He has an enormous amount of health, especially if you’re still early in the game, so don’t be surprised if this one takes you 10-15 minutes. Patience wins the day here

Havel's Armor – Obtained in Anor Londo. Once you reach the second bonfire (the one inside the actual castle), explore the nearby side rooms. There is a hidden passage behind a fireplace in one of them, leading down into a storage area with multiple chests. There’s a mimic or 2 in here, so make sure to whack each chest with your sword before opening them. Which you should be doing anyway.

Ash Lake – This hidden area can be found by traversing through the swamp in Blight Town. Locate the giant hollowed out tree. There’s seemingly only a plank shield inside, but attack the walls to find a hidden passage, which leads to a treasure chest. Directly behind the chest is another fake wall. Travel down through The Great Hollow to reach Ash Lake. Here, you will find another Hydra and several Dragon Scale drops, as well as the Path of the Dragon covenant.

Painted World of Ariamis – After obtaining to the Peculiar Doll in Anor Londo, head to the lower level of the cathedral in which you fought the white-clad ninja dudes. There is a painting of a snow-covered bridge in the back of the cathedral. Examine it, and you will get sucked into the Painted World of Aramis, a secret zone definitely worth exploring.

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  • Scrawnjuan - January 31, 2012 1:01 p.m.

    Incorrect. The Peculiar Doll is NOT found in Anor Londo. You must revisit the Undead Asylum to acquire the doll.
  • SDHoneymonster - September 8, 2012 5:11 a.m.

    This man is correct. You must use the Crow in Firelink Shrine to return to the Asylum and make your way back to the cell you started the game in. You'll have to defeat a black knight, but you can find the doll inside the cell after you do. It's well worth revisiting the Asylum for the Crest Shield (hugely useful in the Moonlight Butterfly boss fight) and Rusted Iron Ring (essential if you plan on going through Blighttown the long way) anyway, so combine it with that and just avoid the middle of the main room floor if you want to avoid the Stray Demon boss fight for now, which can be difficult at low levels.
  • wiitard07 - December 29, 2011 8:02 p.m.

    There isn't actually a way to end the Sif fight without killing him. You have to kill him no matter what.
  • musashi1596 - October 16, 2011 9:03 a.m.

    The Hydra is a sub-boss at best so it has no place here. You encounter at least two in the game.
  • IsaacShadow - October 9, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    Some of the bosses you haven't coverd, like The Hydra
  • TriforcePlayer - October 6, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    This guide is awesome.
  • fullmetallegend - October 5, 2011 5:41 p.m.

    I only get 7,000 each run. I wonder what I'm doing wrong.
  • codystovall - October 5, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    I cannot look at any of this.......errrrgh.
  • NocturnalRight - October 4, 2011 4:15 p.m.

    I find it hilarious that I just got back from getting this game and decided to look at Gamesradar and this is the first thing I see.