After 52 hours, 163 Soul Levels, and 141 deaths later, the Dark Souls II credits have rolled and I have achieved victory. I could do some kind write up about the whole experience and how FromSoftware are the biggest jerks (in a complimentary way) at what they do, but I've kind of done that before. Instead, I thought I'd focus on the real stars of this game. All those
Just to let you know played the game as a magician. I like casting magic because distance is my best friend. The farther away I can keep the enemy, the better I feel. So my thoughts and feelings on all the boss fights are coming from a direction where I'm probably backing away from something, and trying to find a good time to cast Great Heavy Soul Arrow into some abomination's face.
I'm doing them in the order I faced them. But if I've forgotten a boss, it's probably because I didn't find them. Feel free to ask though, because I could have straight up forgotten them also. I used my inventory of boss souls to make this list, and I tried to remember the ones I used to make spells or weapons.
-The Last Giant (Forest of Fallen Giants)
No sweat. Due to the handy nature of Soul Arrow, I never had to get close to the Last Giant. I also had Pate running interference, so I could blast away at the giant's legs with little concern. Although things got a little dicey when the giant ripped off his own arm to get some extra reach out of his swipes. But not a bad first boss. A good warmup.
-The Pursuer (Forest of Fallen Giants)
Man, fuck this guy! What a pain in the ass. A huge leap in difficulty from Last Giant. Maybe because I was a squishy magic man, I barely had the stamina (or enough strength to wield a decent shield) to deal with this guy's three hit combos. And due to my low soul level, my casting was so slow. He was my second boss, and looking back on it now I probably should have come back later. Every time I tried to juke (or roll) he had a wide swing to catch me on his backside. I must have fought him eight or nine times before finally killing him. It was basically a fight where I couldn't get hit once.
-Dragonrider (Heide's Tower of Flame)
I found a summon sign right outside his boss arena. I had also pulled a few switches so there was plenty of room to move around. With my magic and a beefy guy with a great sword holding things down, this guy was a speed bump. Probably one of the easiest bosses in the game. He probably felt super easy just coming from the Pursuer.
-Old Dragonslayer (Heide's Tower of Flame)
I used that same summon sign outside the Dragonrider fight and escorted my phantom buddy to handle this boss fight as well. It feels so good to double team Ornstein (or Ornstein's distant relative/ancestor) and go to town while he tries to body slam the ground and do tricks with his spear. Once again, I gave him wide berth while pelting him with some Heavy Soul Arrows. Take it Ornstein/whoever/whatever you are!
-Royal Rat Vanguard (Grave of Saints)
The weirdest fight in the whole game. At first I thought I just had to kill a mob of rats. Then it became a "Where's Waldo" fight where the boss is hidden amongst a bunch of lookalikes. I had to do a whole lot of dodging and running between rats while trying to find the real target. My Soul Arrows kept getting intercepted by the mob, and my melee weapon was a Fire Longsword which is a little hard to swing when there are five or six enemies creeping up on you. Luckily I beat it in one try, but it was the start of a disturbing trend. Bosses with mobs to help them out.
-Flexible Sentry (No Man's Wharf)
A funky looking boss. But a boss I had to take my time with. The water slowing your movement really sucks when you're trying to make space to cast magic. I had a summoned buddy follow me all the way to the ship, but for some reason they didn't follow me through the fog door to the boss fight. I really had to wait for a good time to cast magic because of the water, and because the guy could almost drain all of my stamina if I tried to tank his combos. That pillar in the middle was really handy though.
-Ruin Sentires (The Lost Bastille)
Fuck these guys. I actually tried to fight the Ruin Sentries right after the Pursuer, but had such a miserable time doing the two-on-one thing that I came back after beating a bunch of other bosses. I found a summon sign right outside their arena, and that really helped. Ruin Sentires suck because they have such wide sweeping attacks and sheer reach on every single swing. The spinning attack where they wind up like a top could wreck my shit because they can take all my stamina, break my guard, and still have enough spins to kill me. Luckily my summon buddy evened the odds. But I really hated fighting these guys.
-Skeleton Lords (Huntman's Copse)
What's harder than two-on-one? Three-on-one! And that's not all! When you kill one of them, they blow up and spawn lesser enemies to harass you while the other two still come after you! This was a fight I beat on my first try, but I'd be lying if I wasn't sweating bullets the whole time. I killed the middle Skeleton Lord first, spawning Wheel Skeletons (those assholes from the Catacombs in Dark Souls) within the first two minutes of the boss fight. I used pillars and piles of bones and every obstacle I could to make space while running for my life and casting all the magic I had. What a pain.
-The Rotten (Black Gulch)
At some point I explored the Gutter, found the Black Gulch and then met The Rotten who reminds me of an abomination from the Warcraft series. This guy actually has a bunch of attacks that are super easy to avoid. The main obstacle (and what killed me most of the time) were the random fire pits scattered around the room. When you lock on to The Rotten, the camera pulls in and you can't see behind you worth shit. I walked into fire and burnt to death before this guy could even touch me once. Not a bad boss fight all things considered, just full of stupid deaths of walking into fire while trying to keep my distance and cast my magic.
-Covetous Demon (Harvest Valley)
I beat this guy in one try. I don't think he hit me once, but I was really afraid to see what he'd do if he made contact or ate me. Every time I tried to strafe around him, he'd do this weird zigzag pattern and I had no idea what he was going to do. Probably would be one of the easiest bosses but definitely a step up from Dragonrider because of his sick mind games.
-Belfry Gargoyles (The Lost Bastille)
Another Dark Souls throwback made ten times more annoying because of adding three gargoyles instead of two. Holy shit. I fought these guys on accident when I found Belfry Luna and tried to explore it, then I came back way, way later when I had some better magic and more survivability. But these guys were such a fucking pain. That seems to be the Dark Souls 2 mantra. Fighting two guys at once is hard, so try to fight three or more at once and see how it goes. These guys are a bag of dicks and a half.
-The Lost Sinner (The Lost Bastille)
I think the run to the Lost Sinner through the waist high water and the guys with the exploding belly flops is harder than the actual boss fight. Due to beating the Gargoyles and finding an awesome key, I was able to light up the whole boss area and keep my eyes on the Lost Sinner throughout the whole fight. I died two or three times getting the pattern down. The other trick was finding good openings to cast magic. The Lost Sinner's jumping attack is usually the best time because of the third slash and long pause before she attacks again. That's right. Lost Sinner is a 'she'. Check her soul item information to confirm. That's my useless fun fact for the day.
-Scorpioness Najka (Shaded Ruin)
I beat this boss in one try, but not without coming close to death more times than I could count. Her burrowing attack, Soul Arrow aerial strike, and constant need to get in my face made this a pretty hectic fight for sure. I was all over the place with healing items and casting magic. Eventually I just had to stab her once to finish the fight.
-Royal Rat Authority (Doors of Pharros)
Holy shit, this one was a doozy. As a magic guy, I didn't have the strength for a really good shield, so I had to do a lot of dodging to beat it. The little diseased rats in the beginning weren't too much of a problem, because I could pick them off fairly quickly with my Soul Arrows. The problem was quickly turning to the Authority and avoiding those relentless paw swipes long enough to cast magic. Eventually I got a good rhythm where it kept trying to charge me. I could roll out of the way, cast magic, and be on my way. But this was a fight where it was super ugly in the beginning.
-Magus and the Congregation (Brightstone Cove Tseldora)
What a funny boss battle. I primarily targeted the guys in white with the lightning spears first off, then the Magus guy, then his undead congregation. I did a lot of running from corner to corner, but there wasn't really any pressure on me compared to other boss fights. I just kept casting Soul Arrow and stabbing zombies as they got close until the service was over.
-The Duke's Dear Freja (Brightstone Cove Tseldora)
One of the most annoying boss battles in the game. This is another one where the boss never killed me once, but all of the giant spider's little helpers did all the damage for it. Freja just kept spamming its death beam while I navigated around the arena and tried to fire Soul Arrows through it's legs. That's if the little spiders weren't blindsiding me like a linebacker when I stopped long enough to attack. They do so much damage and I have no idea if they have patrol routes, or just kind of hang out next to their mother. They didn't seem to make a beeline for me because I always felt they were sneaking up on me. So happy to beat this one in three or four tries.
-Mytha, the Baneful Queen (Earthen Peak)
I'm really tempted to call this the "Bed of Chaos" of Dark Souls II. Or at least give it the "Bed of Chaos" award for being a gimmick boss that is near impossible unless you discover the one stupid trick that makes it a joke. I tried to fight her a few times in a sea of poison while stupidly trying to cure myself and heal before she ran me through to blasted me with magic. It was so dumb that I knew there had to be something to it. And once I figured out what I had burn in order to make it happen, she's stupidly easy. It helps that there's a summon sign right outside her arena that calls in a fire spitting Jester who can wreck her shit in no time flat. This boss just made me feel dumb after it was all said and done.
-Smelter Demon (Iron Keep)
Here it is. Easily the hardest boss in the entire game. The chip damage king! And he's totally skippable. Unfortunately I didn't know that until after I beat him. The reason he's so hard? You can't tank him. Once he sets his sword on fire, he'll just keep swinging until his fire damage does you in. He's all over you, so there's no time to heal. And he hits like a truck. You want to hate him, but you can't. You want to stop him, but you can't do that either. He's too good. Even with a summon buddy right outside his arena, he'll set her on fire, kill her before he's lost half of his health, and then go to work on you.
However, my friend told me about a shield found in the Doors of Pharros that can block 100% fire damage. I managed to get one. Unfortunately, it's a great shield that I couldn't use unless I held it with two hands. So I had to develop this awkward and weird strategy where I held the shield with both hands until I had an opening, switch to my catalyst, cast magic, and then quickly switch back and doublehand the great shield to block all the fire damage. This guy murdered me so hard. He gets the Capra Demon award as an extremely tough boss for no reason. And he's totally skippable! What a fucking asshole. Smelter Demon, you're the boss.
-Old Iron King (Iron Keep)
The Old Iron King wishes he was as cool as the Smelter Demon. He's not even good enough to clean Smelter Demon's shoes. The Old Iron King is some chump of a boss that I could drain half of his health with a Soul Vortex spell before he could spit fire. His hand beam attack and fire spit is so easy to sidestep. And there's a nice little corner you can retreat to if he spits from left to right. To be fair, the Old Iron King did kill me once. But only because I didn't know his hand beam attack would clip through an entire corner of a building to hit me on the other side even though I was clearly hidden. He's still a dumb chump. At least if you've got magic.
-Double Dragonriders (Drangelic Castle)
Smough and Ornstein these guys are not. The guy with the bow and arrow takes insane amounts of damage from magic. And once he's dead, it's just a matter of cleaning up the guy on the ground with some well placed magic shots. I also had a cool Halberd at the time, so I poked him a few times just for good measure. I'll admit, I could see this fight going really bad if you don't stay on top of it. I'm just super disappointed to have to fight Dragonriders again. They aren't cool or memorable or anything. Go home Dragonriders.
-Looking Glass Knight (King's Passage)
What an annoying fight. Oh man, what an annoying fight. The guy just summons phantoms to harass you while he swings his sword and calls down lightning? I must have killed four of his helpers while trying to find a good opening to blast him with magic. That one move where he fires electric balls in a fan pattern sucks.
-Demon of Song (Shrine of Amana)
I wasn't initially impressed with this fight. The boss has a neat design as some Frog/Contra hybrid with great range. It has some easily avoidable attacks and lazy sweeps with its face arms. And then it finally made contact with some sliding charge attack and almost killed me in one hit. Needless to say I had more respect for it after that. I managed to beat in one try, but I ran out of magic halfway through (didn't realize you could only hurt it with the face out) and had to poke it with my halberd to finish it off.
-Velstadt (Undead Crypt)
This guy has potential to be the runner up to Smelter Demon for difficulty. My main problem was his dark magic attack which could kill me in one hit. Velstadt also packs a hard enough punch to break my guard with one hit, and can make short work of the summon buddy right outside his arena. I had to do some planning for this one, an managed to find a shield in my item box that could block dark attacks pretty well. Still damn near killed me with every block. One tough cookie.
-Guardian Dragon (Aldia's Keep)
Magic does so much damage to this thing. Either that or it has very low health. The Guardian Dragon wasn't much of a problem. I even got torched a few times throughout the fight, but managed to pull through. If I was thinking ahead, I should have kept that fireproof shield in my inventory. It would have made this fight way easier.
-Throne Defender and Throne Watcher (Throne of Want)
I hate the concept behind these guys. Any fight where a boss can be revived to full health is a load of shit. And these guys have all of the shit. They are so annoying. They took some real work and the runback for each fight is such a pain. You have to wait for a slow door, and then run down a narrow path, and then you have to fight these two assholes. Basically the trick is that you have to whittle down their health at the same rate. So when they go to revive each other, they're near death. I got so close like three times in a row. The only reason a magic guy like my stood a chance was the two summon buddies right outside the room.
I guess I do have to give it to FromSoftware. They found a way to make a really hard right without resorting to mob enemies.
-Giant Lord (Memory of Jeigh)
So this guy has a really easy pattern, provided you live long enough to figure it out. I died three times before I could actually fight the guy properly. I got hit by a fire barrage and then by his shockwave. I did a terrible dodge and got smashed. The last time I walked backwards into a fire pit that slowed me down long enough to get smashed again. But once I got to the high ground without getting smashed or set on fire, I did a bunch of easy dodges while pelting him with Soul Spears.
-Nashandra (Throne of Want)
FromSoftware's trend of really easy final bosses continues with Nashandra. Who is an evil queen? Or a queen of death? Or just death? I don't know what her deal is story wise, but she can curse me all she wants. It's not going to stop my rain of magic death while I dodge her slow short range hand laser. It's pretty easy to keep distance from her, and she doesn't have sweeping range attacks like Velstadt or Duke's Dear Freja. I actually used the same summon buddies from the Throne fight, but they died so damn fast I shouldn't have bothered. A fight like this only reinforces the notion that the final boss should be some kind of two-on-one fight like the Maneaters or Smough and Ornstein. Or maybe the Smelter Demon.
But that does it for the Dark Souls II boss review. I'm sure everyone's experience will differ especially depending on what build they went through and how good they are at dodging and dealing with Souls shenanigans. I can't say I'm a fan of the bosses with little mobs. FromSoftware seem determined not to mess with group combat or giving you a camera that lets you see what other guys are doing in your immediate area. At this rate Dark Souls 3 will just have four-on-ones for bosses and expect you to deal with all of it.