Dark Souls Boss Weapons Guide

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The Dark Souls series is known for many things. However, two of the biggest are its punishing difficulty and its boss fights. Each towering boss leaves a lasting impression on players, with fans remembering their attack patterns and tells long after beating them. Every boss in the game also has a particular place in the world and lore of Dark Souls. From the Gaping Dragon to the Bell Gargoyles, every boss is wholly unique and presents an excellent challenge for players to overcome.

Bosses are the greatest enemies that you can face in Dark Souls. Upon defeating a boss, you are rewarded with its soul, a consumable item that can be used to get a heap of souls for yourself that can be used to level up, upgrade your equipment, or purchase resources. However, some bosses stand out from the rest as their souls can be used to ascend ordinary weapons into unique and powerful boss weapons. There are seventeen different boss weapons in Dark Souls that each has their special moves, required stats, and unique attributes.

Critical Information Up Front: No matter what kind of build you are going for in Dark Souls, a boss weapon is suited for it. There is one for every type of weapon in the game, and they each bring fun new options for you to experiment with during combat. To get each boss weapon, you simply need the soul from the associated boss and a weapon of the right type that can be ascended to the boss weapon. Then, you can continue to improve the boss weapon further to raise its damage.

How to Unlock a Boss Weapon

To unlock a boss weapon, you have first to kill the correct boss to get its soul. Before that soul can be used to ascend a weapon of the proper type, the weapon you want to upgrade has to be leveled up to at least +10. Regular weapons can be upgraded to +15, but going above +10 is only helpful if you intend to ascend the weapon to a boss weapon. To get a weapon to +10, you’ll need 9 Titanite Shards, a Large Ember, and 10 Large Titanite Shards. Titanite Shards can be purchased from several merchants or grinded by killing hollow enemies, while you’ll want to grind for Large Titanite Shards. A Large Ember can be found in the kitchen located in the Depths region.

Once you have the right weapon type upgraded to +10, getting your hands on a boss weapon is as simple as killing the boss and heading to the Giant Blacksmith in Anor Londo. There, you can talk to him and ascend the weapon into a boss weapon. The bosses that drop souls that can be used to create a boss weapon and what weapons they can be used to develop are listed in the table below. More detailed information about each specific weapon can be found further down.

Boss Name Weapons
Moonlight Butterfly
  • Moonlight Butterfly Horn
  • Crystal Ring Shield
Chaos Witch Quelaag
  • Quelaag’s Furysword
  • Chaos Blade
Iron Golem
  • Golem Axe
  • Dragon Bone Fist
Ornstein and Smough
  • Dragonslayer Spear
  • Smough’s Hammer
Great Grey Wolf Sif
  • Greatsword of Artorias
  • Greatsword of Artorias (Cursed)
  • Greatshield of Artorias
Dark Sun Gwyndolin
  • Darkmoon Bow
  • Tin Darkmoon Catalyst
Crossbreed Priscilla
  • Lifehunt Scythe
Gwyn, Lord of Cinder
  • Great Lord Greatsword
Manus, Father of the Abyss
  • Manus Catalyst
Artorias the Abysswalker
  • Abyss Greatsword

Artorias the Abysswalker

To get the Abyss Greatsword, you’ll have to kill Artorias the Abysswalker. Artorias is a boss introduced with the Artorias of the Abyss expansion pack that sends the player back in time, centered around the titular knight. Artorias is one of the Four Knights of Gwyn and was a legendary warrior that was unmatched in his skills with his greatsword. Ultimately, he was trapped in the Abyss, where he became corrupted until the player protected his honor by finally defeating him.

Abyss Greatsword

Abyss Greatsword

To defeat Artorias, you’ll have to travel to the Royal Wood and reach the far side where Artorias’ fog gate sits. After getting your hands on the soul, you can ascend any +10 greatsword, dagger, or straight sword to the Abyss Greatsword, except for the Broken Sword and the Straight Sword Hilt.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

22

Dexterity

 

18

Intelligence

 

18

Faith

 

18

Upgrade Level

Physical Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 160 40% 50% 40% 40% 38
+1 176
+2 192
+3 208
+4 224
+5 240

Once you get your hands on the Abyss Greatsword, you’ll want to understand its two special attacks as well as its unique quirks. Your special attack will be a whole circle spin that hits enemies twice if you have it equipped in just one hand. If two-handed, you will do a complete somersault that strikes enemies from above and knocks them down. You can also equip the Abyss Greatsword and do total damage without meeting the Intelligence and Faith requirements, but the sword will bounce off enemies with every attack.

Chaos Witch Quelaag

Quelaag is a massive demon with a body that is half-woman and half-spider. To reach her, you will have to navigate to her lair at the bottom of the poisonous region of Blighttown. She stays in her cave to protect the second Bell of Awakening and keep intruders from getting to her sister, The Fair Lady, who is trapped in a comatose state. If you have a hard time killing her, you can kill an NPC dark phantom named Maneater Mildred to make her summoning sign appear just outside of Quelaag’s fog gate.

Chaos Blade

Chaos Blade

One option for Quelaag’s soul is the Chaos Blade that you can craft with any +10 Katana.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

16

Dexterity

 

14

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level

Physical Damage Critical Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 144 100 45% 10% 30% 30% 30
+1 158
+2 172
+3 187
+4 201
+5 216

The Chaos Blade can be very tricky to use. Thanks to its solid stats and fast attack speed, it has a very high damage output, but it also deals 20 damage to its user with every attack. If you are not careful, you can quickly kill yourself by using the weapon. Luckily, you do not take the damage when you use it to perform either a riposte or a backstab. The Chaos Blade also stacks the Bleed effect on its targets, tearing down 30% of the enemy’s health. This makes it an excellent weapon for PvP fighting, while the animations for its attacks also make it proficient at cutting off the tails of certain bosses.

Quelaag’s Furysword

Quelaag's Furysword

Quelaag’s soul can also be used to turn any +10 curved sword or curved greatsword into Quelaag’s Furysword.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

11

Dexterity

 

13

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Fire Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 60 170 45 10 30 30 30
+1 66 187
+2 72 201
+3 78 221
+4 84 237
+5 90 255

The Furysword has some unique features as well. Its attacks are slightly slower than other curved swords, but to such a slight degree that you likely won’t even notice. Having it equipped also changes your kick action to a fast slash followed by a backward cartwheel. Equipping the sword in your left hand also allows you to parry and attack with the weapon, making it a solid choice for dual-wielding, while it can also be used to defend when being used with both hands.

Crossbreed Priscilla

An optional boss at the end of the Painted World of Ariamis, Crossbreed Priscilla is the only half-dragon in all of Dark Souls. After talking to her at the end of the area, you can avoid fighting her by just walking past and triggering the cutscene to return to Anor Lando, or you can attack her to take her soul. Priscilla’s lineage is unconfirmed, but her father is Seath the Scaleless since she only has a few scales. Her mother is thought to be either Gynevere or Goddess Velka, although evidence supports both. When you fight her, she uses a combination of turning invisible, attacks with a massive scythe, and a blizzard attack that you will have to look out for.

Lifehunt Scythe

Lifehunt Scythe

However, getting Priscilla’s soul can be combined with a +10 scythe, whip, or halberd to make the Lifehunt Scythe.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

16

Dexterity

 

14

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 180 40% 10% 30% 30% 22
+1 198
+2 216
+3 233
+4 252
+5 270

The Lifehunt Scythe has a moveset that is broadly comparable to other scythes throughout Dark Souls. However, it inflicts enemies with the stacking Bleed effect. It is also tied with the weapon Priscilla’s dagger for having the most deadly Bleed effect as it tears down 50% of NPC enemy health and 40% of player health rather than the average 30% when applied. A fun easter egg for From Software fans is that the scythe is highly reminiscent of one of the studio’s earlier titles, Shadow Tower Abyss.

Dark Sun Gwyndolin

Dark Sun Gwyndolin is the last child of Lord Gwyn and leads the Blade of the Dark Moon covenant, and is an optional boss. He can be found in the Darkmoon Tomb, which can be accessed by either equipping the Darkmoon Seance Ring in the Darkmoon Tomb or striking Gwynevere and then descending the movable spiral staircase where the path to Gwyndolin will be revealed.

Darkmoon Bow

Darkmoon Bow

Once you have the soul, any +10 bow can be ascended to the Darkmoon Bow at the Giant Blacksmith.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

7

Dexterity

 

16

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

16

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Magic Damage
Regular 80 80
+1 93 93
+2 102 102
+3 110 110
+4 119 119
+5 127 127

The Darkmoon Bow is a strong option for ranged characters and is best used with Moonlight Arrows as they deal magic damage. If you want to use it, you’ll also want to focus on raising your Dexterity and Faith, as those further scale its damage output the most. The Darkmoon Bow is also classified as a short bow, which allows it to fire faster than its longbow peers. It also has a weight of only 1, which helps keep it very light so that you have the speed to avoid enemies who get too close.

Tin Darkmoon Catalyst

Gwyndolin’s soul can also be combined with any catalyst to make the Tin Darkmoon Catalyst.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

4

Dexterity

 

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

16

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Magic Adjustment Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 44 230 26 8 20 20 16

The Tin Darkmoon Catalyst works like all catalysts in Dark Souls in that it allows the user to cast spells with a focus on miracles thanks to its higher Faith requirement to equip it effectively. The primary stat is its Magic Adjustment, determining just how potent a used spell will be. This means that the Tin Darkmoon Catalyst is a solid option for players looking to cast miracles, although it can be overshadowed by some of the other options that players can find throughout Anor Lando.

Great Grey Wolf Sif

The Great Grey Wolf Sif is a boss that ends up being exactly what its name implies. A massive wolf towers over the player and wields a large blade in its jaws. It can be found by crossing the river in Darkroot Garden or by climbing up the ladder that you can find near the Hydra in Darkroot Basin. Sif was a loyal companion of Artorias the Abysswalker, who protected Sif with his great shield when he became trapped in the Abyss. This allowed Sif to escape back to Anor Lando, where he repays his lost friend by guarding his grave and ring, preventing anyone from making the same mistake. Sif is not an optional boss to beat the game, and he rewards the player with the only Boss Soul that can be used to create three different weapons.

Greatsword of Artorias (Cursed)

Greatsword of Artorias (Cursed)

The Cursed Greatsword of Artorias can be made using Sif’s soul with any +10 straight sword except for the Broken Straight Sword or the Straight Sword Hilt.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

24

Dexterity

 

28

Intelligence

 

18

Faith

 

18

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 178 60% 10% 40% 40% 38
+1 195
+2 213
+3 231
+4 249
+5 267

When making the Greatsword of Artorias (Cursed), the item will be displayed as only the Greatsword of Artorias. To ensure that you get the correct version, you will ensure that you ascend the right weapon. You also check to ensure that you did it correctly by checking the weapon’s stats or description. The cursed version of the Greatsword of Artorias is helpful because its cursed status makes it one of the few weapons in the game that can deal damage against Ghosts. It is also similar to the Abyss Greatsword in that it deals total damage as long as you meet the Strength and Dexterity requirements, while the Intelligence and Faith requirements prevent the weapon from bouncing back with each attack.

Greatsword of Artorias

If you want to obtain the non-cursed version of the Greatsword of Artorias, you have to use Sif’s soul to ascend a +10 Broken Straight Sword of Straight Sword Hilt.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

24

Dexterity

 

18

Intelligence

 

20

Faith

 

20

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Magic Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 120 85 60% 10% 40% 40% 38
+1 132 93
+2 144 102
+3 156 110
+4 168 118
+5 180 127

The demanding stat requirements for the regular Greatsword of Artorias make it only a viable weapon for players attempting a well-balanced build that uses all four combat stats. This will likely come at the cost of having a lower Vitality and Endurance, and any other build will benefit more from choosing a boss weapon that is specialized to its particular strengths. If you decide to use the regular Greatsword of Artorias, however, it benefits well from stat increases that make it an attractive option alongside its magic damage.

Greatshield of Artorias

Greatshield of Artorias

Sif’s soul can also be used to ascend any +10 shield to the Greatshield of Artorias.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

34

Dexterity

 

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 80 100% 50% 80% 40% 88
+1 84
+2 88
+3 92
+4 96
+5 100

The Greatshield of Artorias has the highest stability of any regular shield in the game, making it a great piece of equipment for block-focused melee builds. Its 100% physical defense is also increased and will block physical attacks with no chip damage as long as the attack can be blocked. The shield has the special effect of not allowing any status effect such as Bleed or Poison to build as long as the attack is blocked. However, this does not apply to area of effect attacks, as those cannot be blocked.

Gwyn, Lord of Cinder

Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, was a god and a respected warrior responsible for sacrificing himself to link the very first flame and usher in the Age of Fire. He is the final boss of Dark Souls and can be found at Kiln of the First Flame. He is a mighty boss, but you can summon Solaire of Astora if he survived the Izalith incident. Kiln of the First Flame is also a popular area for PvP players, so you may also have luck summoning a player to help you.

Great Lord Greatsword

Great Lord Greatsword

The soul of Gwyn can be used to ascend any +10 straight sword into the Great Lord Greatsword.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

20

Dexterity

 

10

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 256 60% 10% 40% 40% 26
+1 281
+2 307
+3 332
+4 358
+5 384

The Great Lord Greatsword is only obtainable during New Game+ playthroughs since the soul is obtainable by beating the game. The sword also doesn’t have the flame ability that Gwyn uses during the boss fight, although early after the game’s release, it was thought that unlocking a fire ability for the weapon was possible.

Iron Golem

The Iron Golem is the boss who is Sen’s Fortress’s last trial. The Iron Golem is a towering suit of armor that can be found at the very top of the fortress and defends the path to reach Anor Londo. Before you fight it, though, you’ll want to kill the Firebomb Giant at the very top of the nearby tour. If you don’t, it will throw firebombs at your during the boss fight, making it exceptionally more difficult.

Dragon Bone Fist

Dragon Bone Fist

The core of the Iron Golem can be combined with either a +10 Caestus or Claws to create the Dragon Bone Fist.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

20

Dexterity

 

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Damage
Regular 95
+1 104
+2 114
+3 123
+4 133
+5 142

The Dragon Bone Fist also has a unique special attack. It is a giant uppercut that not only cuts through enemy defenses but launches them into the air as well. Using the weapon also grants the player a bonus of 30% to Magic and Flame defense, although it isn’t an aspect of the weapon. Another nice feature of the Dragon Bone Fist is that it can be further enchanted to deal additional damage and have an associated damage type beyond physical.

Golem Axe

Golem Axe

You can also use the core of the Iron Golem to ascend any +10 ax weapon to the Golem Axe.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

36

Dexterity

 

8

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Attack Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 170 55% 10% 40% 40% 36
+1 187
+2 204
+3 220
+4 238
+5 255

The Golem Axe also has a special one-handed attack that creates an air slash projectile like the one the Iron Golem uses during its boss fight. The attack uses up a whopping 30 durability but will knock down most enemies. The projectile still deals physical damage, and if used at close range, both the swing of the ax and the projectile will hit the enemy.

Manus, Father of the Abyss

Manus, Father of the Abyss, is the final boss you will face in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC. Manus is a human that was corrupted into a demon-like appearance when his humanity went wild. Nobody knows what caused Manus’ transformation, but Manus now strives to regain the pieces of his Broken Pendant. When you face Manus, you will find him in the Chasm of the Abyss, although there is no nearby summon to help you defeat him.

Manus Catalyst

Manus Catalyst

The soul of Manus can then be used with any catalyst to ascend it into the Manus Catalyst.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

14

Dexterity

 

Intelligence

 

13

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Attack Magic Adjustment Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 190 295 26% 8% 20% 20% 16

The Manus Catalyst is a unique piece of equipment. Not only is its strong attack similar to a Greataxe, but it also limits the number of uses for your spells to half. However, it is mighty when used with Dark Sorceries, as its higher Strength requirement boosts their physical damage. When performing its potent attack, it can also be two-handed to increase its damage.

Moonlight Butterfly

The Moonlight Butterfly is found in the first area of the Darkroot Garden. You fight the massive butterfly on a bridge with it hovering next to it and shooting magic projectiles at the player. For melee builds, you will have to wait until it lands on the bridge to rest, bringing it into range. If you are having a hard time with the fight, or get annoyed having to wait so long to deal damage, there is a summoning sign behind a bush by staircase  to the bridge for Witch Beatrice. Summoning her makes the fight incredibly easy and adds her summoning sign before the Four Kings boss fight as well.

Crystal Ring Shield

Crystal Ring Shield

Once you have the soul, a +10 shield is all you need to get the Crystal Ring Shield.

Requirements to Equip
Strength

 

10

Dexterity

 

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Magic Damage Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 100 70% 90% 70% 40% 40
+1 110
+2 120
+3 130
+4 140
+5 150

The Crystal Ring Shield has the highest magic defense in the game, only tied with Havel’s Greatshield. However, it is set apart by its special ability that sends out a magic disc for a ranged attack rather than parrying. This makes the shield an excellent grab for melee fighters that could benefit from a ranged attack, and it is a healthy option to switch to when facing enemies or bosses that favor magical attacks. While the shield has “crystal” in its name, it also is not a crystal weapon, meaning it can be repaired and will not permanently break like crystal equipment.

Moonlight Butterfly Horn

Moonlight Butterfly Horn

The Moonlight Butterfly’s soul can also be combined with any +10 spear or rapier to create the Moonlight Butterfly Horn.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

12

Dexterity

 

Intelligence

 

14

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Magic Damage Critical Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 120 100 40% 10% 30% 30% 26
+1 132
+2 144
+3 156
+4 168
+5 180

The Moonlight Butterfly Horn is a very capable spear perfect for casters. Its magic damage is pretty high, while its low stamina cost makes it suitable for characters with any Stats. It also has a fast attack speed and a solid range that helps users keep enemies away from them instead of dodging or blocking their attacks.

Ornstein and Smough

Ornstein and Smough are the boss duo players have to face in Anor Londo. Ornstein is the captain of the Four Knights of Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, while Smough is the royal executioner that has always dreamed of being knighted. The eventual fate of Ornstein is primarily debated, with some fans claiming that his presence in Anor Londo is an illusion or that he shed his armor to become a dragon. Regardless, the fight is one of the most punishing in the game but allows you to pick which character’s soul you would like to receive. Whichever soul you are hoping for, you just need to make sure you kill that boss last.

Dragonslayer Spear

Dragonslayer Spear

The Dragonslayer Spear is made by ascending any +10 spear with the Soul of Ornstein.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

24

Dexterity

 

24

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Attack Lightning Attack Critical Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 95 65 100 40% 10% 30% 30% 26
+1 104 71
+2 114 78
+3 123 84
+4 133 91
+5 142 97

The Dragonslayer Spear is a potent boss weapon that lets you attack enemies from a range and have two special attacks. With the spear in one hand, you can shoot a long-range bolt of lightning from the spear to attack enemies from an even greater distance. With the spear in both hands, your strong attack is changed into a thrust followed by an upwards thrust.

Smough’s Hammer

Smough's Hammer

Smough’s Hammer can be earned by ascending any +10 hammer with the soul of Smough.

Requirements to Equip

Strength

 

58

Dexterity

 

Intelligence

 

Faith

 

Upgrade Level Physical Damage Critical Physical Defense Magic Defense Fire Defense Lightning Defense Stability
Regular 300 100 50% 10% 35% 35% 32
+1 330
+2 360
+3 390
+4 420
+5 450

Smough’s Hammer is so big that its head can frequently limit your visibility because it blocks so much of the camera. However, this is balanced by it having some beneficial unique aspects. Firstly, its strong two-handed attack knocks enemies down, making it great for dealing with crowds. It also has a slightly bigger hitbox than other great hammers, making it great for PvP fights as strong attacks with the hammer cannot be blocked. Perhaps one of Smough’s Hammer’s most attractive aspects is that heals you for ten hitpoints with each successful attack.

FAQs

Question: Is there a reason not to get a boss weapon with the boss soul?

Answer: Some players will advise that using a boss soul to get souls should never be done, but if there are boss weapons that you aren’t interested in, there is no reason not to use the soul to help you level up.

Question: What is the best boss weapon in Dark Souls?

Answer: Dark Souls’ strongest boss weapon is the Chaos Blade. While using it you have to make sure to not kill yourself with its self-inflicted damage, but its attack speed and high damage can be more than worth the trade-off.

Question: Are any weapons in Dark Souls better than boss weapons?

Answer: Every weapon in Dark Souls is viable to use, but some that the game’s community agrees are the strongest, even when compared to boss weapons. These include the Zweihander, the Balder Side Sword, and the Uchigatana.

Conclusion

There are seemingly countless options when it comes to equipment in Dark Souls. Equipping your character is a balancing act of your build’s stats, defense attributes, and what weapon types you enjoy using. Luckily, this means that just about any loadout can see you through to the end of the game, but some of the most exciting pieces of equipment are the boss weapons that can be earned throughout your playthrough.

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