Ranking the Dark Souls 3 Bosses – Hard to Soul-Crushing Part 2

Author: Liam Riker 

Hey guys. This week has been a busy one for me, from both an academic and personal/social perspective, so I haven’t had much time to make anymore progress on Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD or any other ARPG’s I currently have my eye on. I’ve been continuing playing Resident Evil VII, and am nearing the end of the game it looks like, so hopefully I’ll have a review of the game ready for ya’ll once I’m done with it, even though that isn’t my area of focus on this blog. So stay tuned for that.

One thing I wanted to mention, is that my friend, roommate, and fellow blogger on “The Gamer’s Smorgasbord”, Blake Biehle, has recently obtained a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for his Nintendo Switch, which looks absolutely breathtaking! I highly recommend following Blake’s postings on the game, as he continues his  exploration of this gorgeous, ground-breaking and overall fun looking “Legend of Zelda” game. Breath of the Wild has brought over numerous ARPG elements to the franchise, which I’m sure Blake will cover in his postings, so if you’re interested in ARPG’s, checking out his exploration of the game would definitely be worth your time. You can find his first post on the game here.

Alright, so now to continue the countdown of Dark Souls 3‘s large roster of bosses, ranked, in my opinion, from easiest to most difficult. In my last post, I covered the bosses filling up the number 25-23 slots, so I’ll be starting now with #22 on my countdown.

*Potential Spoilers Below*

22. Iudex Gundyr

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So, after those three gimmick-based boss battles, we’ve finally gotten to the first boss the player actually encounters in the game: Iudex Gundyr. First let’s start with that interesting, and very non-English, name of his, which after analyzing and some translation can actually reveal a lot to the player, in regards to what Iudex Gundyr’s purpose in the game is. Iudex in Latin translates to “judge”. And “Gund” in Old-Germanic translates to battle. So when you translate the whole name, Iudex Gundyr basically translates to judge by battle. In other words, Iudex is hear to test you to determine whether you’re worthy enough to proceed through the rest of the game. And for the first boss in the game, Iudex is quite the test.

Iudex Gundyr can be found at the end of the tutorial area of the game, The Cemetery of Ash, and if you’ve encountered and defeated the Giant Crystal Lizard, who’s located earlier in The Cemetery of Ash, odds are you’ll be prepared enough to handle Gundyr. However, Gundyr is already ranked higher than three other bosses on this list, because his battle actually requires real-time action strategy and timing. Gundyr, along with the Giant Crystal Lizard, are an excellent test for the player early on in the game, to test their timing with dodge-rolling and knowledge of what directional input they should use depending on what type of attack their opponent is using. The first half of Iudex Gundyr’s fight functions as this sort of test of the player’s competence with dodging and reading boss patterns, and thus knowing when it’s appropriate to attack.

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However, it’s when the second phase comes, that the actual challenge of the fight becomes extremely evident to the player; it’s likely also the first time the player will feel like they’re playing a “Dark Souls” game. When his health bar reaches the halfway point, Gundyr, get completely overtaken by the Abyss that’s been attached to his back, and undergoes an extremely intimidating transformation. To see what I mean, take a look below…

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During his transformation, although the player may be tempted to go ham at him since Gundyr looks vulnerable, they should be very vigilant of the giant Abyss covered arm that sprouts from the newly transformed Gundyr, as this will deal a lot of damage to the player. For the rest of this phase, the transformed Gundyr will use large sweeping melee attacks, that have a considerable range, deal a lot of damage, and that will come out quicker than expected. The easiest way to get past this phase of the battle, is for the player to get up behind Gundyr and go ham at his backside: a common theme of a lot of monstrous-looking Dark Souls bosses. If the player uses this strategy, they’ll find that this second phase of the fight isn’t nearly as bad as it appears.

The only threat to the player, is if they allow Gundyr to intimidate them and hang back, as this is when Gundyr poses the largest threat because of his mid-range attack distance. The transformed Gundyr also has a jumping attack, for players who stay really close to Gundyr’s body, but aren’t mindful of their surroundings. The player will want to be vigilant of this attack.

Since the 2nd phase of Iudex’s Gundyr’s fight can turn into a DPS race, and the 1st phase isn’t that difficult once the player gets the hang of the bosses melee-attack patterns, Iudex Gundyr comes in at #18 on my countdown.

21. Vordt of the Boreal Valley

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Vordt of the Boreal Valley, or the “Vile Watchdog of the Boreal Valley”, as the High Priestess of Lothric Castle calls him, will be the second boss the player encounters in Dark Souls 3 (unless the player is stupid, or overly ambitious, and decides to kill the High Priestess, in which case they’ll be greeted by one of the most difficult bosses in all of Dark Souls 3, which I’ll be covering way later in my countdown). You can find this ice-breathing giant armored “dog” at the end of The High Wall of Lothric, guarding the path to the next area, The Undead Settlement. And he’s not the easiest of foes to overcome.

All of Vordt’s attacks, unlike Gundyr’s take up a considerable amount of space, and aren’t the easiest to dodge. Certain attacks will use up more wind-up, and others will come out suddenly, so the player will have to be quick on their feet and ready to react, in order to dodge all of Vordt’s attacks. Vordt attacks with a giant mace, and will occasionally try to ram you with his behemoth-sized body. However it’s in the second phase of the battle that things can really get out of hand, as Vordt’s attack speed increases, his patterns change, and the damage he deals with every blow will also increase. During this second phase, Vordt will start breathing ice, which will inflict frostbite damage on the player, slowing down their movement and reaction speed. If the player is frostbitten, they can pretty much kiss their ass behind, as dodging the wide-sweeping range of all of Vordt’s attacks will be nearly impossible at this point.

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Then there’s his charging attack, where Vordt will charge after the player at a high-speed three consecutive times. The player will have to dodge each charge, or risk death, as each charge that connects with the player, knocks the player down, leaving them vulnerable to the next follow-up charge/attack. These charge attacks also do a considerable amount of damage, and if the player is frostbitten, they can be considerably difficult to dodge.

The strategy for most of the Vordt boss fight, is the same for the 2nd phase of Iudex Gundyr’s: get on that booty! So for this reason, Vordt comes in at only #18, as his fight isn’t that difficult once the player gets ahold of all of his patterns, and is abel to consistently position him/herself behind Vordt. Vordt leaves a wide opening for the player to do this when he’s breathing his ice-breath across the stage, where the player can get in a considerable amount of damage. Still Vordt has more tools, and the player will have a harder time reading his attacks, so he still comes in higher than Iudex Gundyr.

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20. Curse-Rotted Greatwood 

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Keeping with the linear trend of this section of my Dark Souls 3 boss countdown, coming in at #16 is the third boss the player will encounter, the Curse-Rotted Greatwood. Forget everything you’ve heard me say about massive enemies, being intimidating on virtue of just their size. The Curse-Rotted Greatwood definitely takes the cake with this, as it’s size is absolutely monstrous and it attacks primarily by slamming it’s monstrous tree body on top of you.

The Curse Rotted Greatwood is yet another gimmick battle, but even after knowing what the gimmick is, the fight is far from easy. In order to defeat this boss, the player will have to attack and burst all the protruding egg sacks the giant tree has scattered over it’s body. The largest quantity of these are located in a sack hanging in front of the tree.

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Once the player brings the Curse-Rotted Greatwood to two-thirds health, either by taking out what’s basically it’s ballsack, or taking enough of these bulbs scattered across it’s body to equal half of it’s health.  It may even be suggested, that the player leave the egg sack for last, since the 2nd phase of the battle will be much more difficult and the bulbs scattered on his arms and legs will be much harder to get to at this point.

During the second phase, the Curse Rotted Greatwood will smash the floor beneath you, and bring you into the Pit of Hollows with it. During this 2nd phase, the biggest thing the player has to look out for is the giant, creepy-looking arm that grows out of the tree’s stomach. This arm is both disgusting and horrifying, and can pack quite the punch. The attacks it deals with this arm come out very rapidly, and are pretty difficult to dodge. Since the arm grows out of a hole above the egg sack, this is why it is advised to take out the egg sack during the 1st phase of the battle, since it’ll be much harder to do so now.

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However, in terms of the most dangerous attack the Curse Rotted Greatwood has up its arsenal, it’s the massive roll it does across the stage. Since the size of the Greatwood is so massive, when it starts rolling across the stage, it can be exceedingly difficult to dodge, especially if the player is already in a perilous position. And if the roll connects the player can almost get instant-killed.

Putting all these factors into consideration, the Curse-Rotted Greatwood comes in at #16 on the countdown.

Well that’s all for now, but stay tuned for next week as I continue my countdown. We’re starting to get to some of the actual challenging bosses of Dark Souls 3, but we’re not quite to the soul-crushing level yet.

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