- The major bosses can only be killed once per playthrough. The reward for defeating such bosses varies between Humanity, Twin Humanities, or in rare cases Homeward Bones.
- The required bosses must be killed in order to finish the game, whereas the optional ones may be avoided if so desired, which could potentially have negative consequences for the course of the playthrough.
- The Souls column represents the amount of souls you get during your first play-through. For each New Game Plus, that amount increases proportionally.
- Even though some of these boss fights don't immediately start after you enter the fog gate, you cannot go back out through the fog gate. If you want to exit, you can use a Homeward Bone or Homeward miracle, and be returned to the last bonfire you rested at. Alternatively, you can quit the game and when you reload, you will be in front of the boss' fog gate.
- These stronger enemies are considered Mini-Bosses. Each of their iterations, except for Black Knights in the Kiln of the First Flame and the Prowling Demon in the Demon Ruins-Lost Izalith shortcut, only spawn once per game.
- Most items in the loot column are not guaranteed drops, though some (such as Prowling Demons' titanite) are.
Order of major bosses
Since Dark Souls is more-or-less an open world RPG (though "seamless" would be the better word), it is not always easy to find the next boss you should defeat in order to advance. This is a list that shows an example of an order in which you can defeat the bosses. Since you can access a lot of places right from the start, there are not many restrictions on an order to defeat the bosses.
Ringing the first bell
- You start off in the Northern Undead Asylum, the tutorial area. The boss here is the Asylum Demon, but the very first time you meet him fighting is optional. An open door to the left of the entrance will allow the player to temporarily skip the boss. After acquiring a decent weapon, however, the player will be required to face the Asylum Demon yet again. This second encounter is not optional.
- Your next boss encounter is the Taurus Demon in the Undead Burg. You'll find it after the first bonfire between two castle towers on top of the castle walls. Players with the Master Key may skip this boss by unlocking a door prior to the fog door. This door leads to Havel the Rock who is guarding yet another door which must be unlocked with the Master Key. This door leads to Darkroot Basin. To access the other side of the Taurus Demon's zone follow Darkroot Basin -> Darkroot Garden -> Undead Parish -> Undead Burg. Note that this route is likely more difficult than fighting the Taurus Demon itself.
- Within the Undead Parish a non-respawning tower knight and six-eyed channeller guard the path to the Belfry Gargoyles. They are technically optional as a player may run past to the fog door, but defeating them is highly recommended as they never respawn.
- Venturing on you'll have to fight the two Belfry Gargoyles on a rooftop. They're guarding the first bell you need to ring.
Ringing the second bell
Note : The Capra Demon and the Gaping Dragon are actually optional, as there is a shortcut, if you want to skip these, take this path :Undead Parish -> Darkroot Garden -> Darkroot Basin -> Valley of Drakes -> Blighttown (this way you don't need the keys these two bosses drop, making them optional) Alternatively, if you have the master key, you can take this path: New Londo Ruins -> Valley of Drakes -> Blighttown. Just take the elevator down from the undead parish to the Firelink Shrine.
- Next step is the Capra Demon far down in the depths of the Undead Burg. Kill it and you'll get a key to open up the door that leads to the next area.
- Now it's time to find your way to the second bell. Your first boss on this journey will be the Gaping Dragon, located in the Depths. This area is accessed via the Lower Undead Burg.
- From the Depths you can now access Blighttown with a key, there is no required boss here, but there is an optional mini-boss, the Parasitic Wall Hugger. This mini-boss may be defeated from a range, but note that a path leads to the tunnel it is covering. From this path it may be defeated in melee and does not fight back.
- Once you made your way down to the swampy bottom of Blighttown walk up to the spiked hill you can see on the far side. It contains the next important boss, Chaos Witch Quelaag. She is guarding the second bell.
Meeting some more requirements
Note : These two below are required, but you can do them in any order you want.
- Sif, located in the back portion of Darkroot Garden. This area is accessed via a ladder behind the Hydra in Darkroot Basin, or via a door unlocked with the Crest of Artorias sold by Andre of Astora. He drops the Covenant of Artorias, a ring needed to traverse The Abyss, you need this ring to fight The Four Kings later on.
- Pinwheel, located in The Catacombs. He is on the way to Gravelord Nito, so you have to kill him anyway, giving you the ability to enlighten the flame. However, you won't be able to progress further into the Tomb of the Giants afterwards as you need the Lordvessel to unlock the huge orange fog, leading to Gravelord Nito.
Getting the Lordvessel
The Lordvessel is a very important item in the story of Dark Souls that you need to get your hands on. Getting it will also lift the orange fog opening up new areas you couldn't access until now.
- Ringing the second bell made the colossal gate near the Undead Parish open up. The gate leads to Sen's Fortress, a nasty dungeon full of traps and enemies. Make your way up to the top and fight the Iron Golem. It's a pretty easy battle compared to the nasty dungeon you had to go through. A shortcut to the entrance of the Fortress may be unlocked using the Cage Key on a cage near the Iron Golem boss door.
- Once the iron golem is history, touch the ring of light at the middle of the boss area, and you will be dragged away to Anor Londo (talk to the gargoyle atop the wall to return if you need to). Your next target (which may take time reaching) is to kill the dynamic duo of Dragon Slayer Ornstein / Executioner Smough. One of the harder battles, but never forget you can summon other players for help.
- Now the path (elevators left or right) to Gwynevere, Princess of Sunlight is opened up. Talk to her and get the Lordvessel. This lifts the orange fog doors blocking the path to The Duke's Archives, Demon Firesage and Tomb of the Giants. Your next step is to fill the Lordvessel with the four powerful holders of the Lord's Souls.
Filling the Lordvessel
So after the orange fog is lifted, three new areas open up, each with one of the holders of the Lord's Souls. Note that The Four Kings are accessible prior to attaining the Lordvessel.
Note :There is no order in which you have to kill them. You just need to retrieve their Lord's Souls and feed them to the Lordvessel, so select as you like from below :
- Seath the Scaleless: Residing in the Crystal Cave, reached through The Duke's Archives (accessed via Anor Londo form the first bonfire to the left).
- Gravelord Nito: Guarding the Tomb of the Giants (accessed via The Catacombs through the boss area) . Note that you may want to find yourself the Skull Lantern or Sunlight Maggot, or you won't be able to see a thing. There are two bonfires here, and from the second one it's only a few steps to Nito.
- The Bed of Chaos: In Lost Izalith. You can get there through the Demon Ruins, very quickly if you have activated the bonfire at Quelaag's Sister. There is only one bonfire in this area, but the boss fight is extremely simple as you don't fight the boss itself but rather destroy three parts of it, with no punishment (other than lost souls/humanity) for dying. Accessing Lost Izalith will require defeating Ceaseless Discharge and either defeating Demon Firesage and Centipede Demon, or reaching Chaos Servant rank 2 to unlock a shortcut into Lost Izalith.
- The Four Kings: They are located in The Abyss. To access them go to the New Londo Ruins and either kill or (after recieving the Lordvessel) talk to Ingward, and he'll hand you a key to a lever that drains the water. Now you can go to a tower that leads down to these bosses. Equip the Covenant of Artorias and jump into the hole to reach them.
- Now return to the Firelink Shrine and go down with the help of Kingseeker Frampt, or go to The Abyss and talk to Darkstalker Kaathe and put the souls in the Lordvessel.
- The door behind it will open up and you can get to the final boss fight of the game against Gwyn, Lord of Cinder.
Important Note : After killing Gwyn, the game is over. If you touch the bonfire or leave the game, it's over and you'll see yourself starting from the beginning with a New Game Plus. So if you want to do other things (optional bosses, farming, etc.). Don't kill him yet!