A spiritual successor to the PlayStation 3 exclusive RPG Demon's Souls, 2011's Dark Souls was pretty quickly identified as a landmark title, and, years later, it would go on to earn the almost hyperbolic accolade of Ultimate Game of All Time at the 2021 Golden Joystick awards.
Strangely, while Dark Souls is extremely well-regarded, most of its best content is found in the subsequent DLC expansion Artorias of the Abyss. In fact, FromSoftware seems to have a habit of hiding its best stuff in post-launch DLC offerings.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
8 Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Ivory King
The final of the trilogy of DLC releases introduced to the 2014 Dark Souls sequel, Crown of the Ivory King transports players to a massive castle beset by extreme winter weather. While the content was celebrated for its interconnected environments and new bosses, many derided it for its banal, washed-out visuals, and the Frigid Outskirts quickly earned a reputation as one of the game's most frustrating locations.
Dark Souls 2 is often viewed as the black sheep of the trilogy, and, while it's not all bad, Crown of the Ivory King highlights many of the flaws that held the title back from the highs of its predecessor.
7 Dark Souls 2: Crown Of The Iron King
The second of Dark Souls 2's DLC trilogy, Crown of the Iron King certainly starts strong. Perched atop a massive structure overlooking a scorched landscape, Brume Tower is certainly a location like no other in the game. However, Crown of the Iron King is remembered more for its difficulty than its vistas, and many regard it as the hardest part of Dark Souls 2.
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Necessitating thoughtful use of smelter wedges and forcing players to contend with a litany of status afflictions, Crown of the Iron King can be particularly unforgiving. This culminates in the Iron Passage area, which is downright infamous for its obnoxious layout and incredible level of challenge.
6 Sekiro Shadows Die Twice: Free Update
Tragically, 2019's Sekrio: Shadows Die Twice never received a proper DLC, though it did get an untitled free update which added a not-insubstantial amount of content to the game. The update introduced a set of cosmetics and the ability for players to share helpful remnants—a substitute for the message system in the Dark Souls games—but it also added in the Reflections of Strength and Gauntlets of Strength modes.
Reflections of Strength allows players to tackle slightly altered versions of previously conquered bosses, and Gauntlets of Strength saddles players with the almost unthinkable task of taking down a slew of bosses without dying. All in all, while not a huge change, it was a meaningful one that shouldn't be forgotten.
5 Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Sunken King
Dark Souls 2 was frequently criticized for its often stagnant and linear level design, but this was mostly amended in the game's DLC content. Crown of the Sunken King, the first piece of DLC to release for Dark Souls 2, is an excellent example of this; set in a great subterranean stone city that harbors corridors that double up on themselves and mazes that seem to splinter into more mazes, it's pretty easy to get lost in the Sanctum City of Shulva and its surrounding areas.
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While navigating catacombs and caverns can come to be a bit stale, Crown of the Sunken King felt like a return to the design philosophies that made the original Dark Souls so memorable.
4 Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel
The first of Dark Souls 3's couplet of legendary DLC offerings, Ashes of Ariandel takes place in the titular doomed otherworld beset by a rot that can only be burned away by a chosen champion. Inadvertently conscripted by Slave Knight Gael, the player is transported to Ariandel to reignite a flame that might salvage what's left of the frigid wasteland.
While the tundra can be particularly tough to traverse—especially for newcomers who jump into the DLC content immediately after gaining access to it in the Cathedral of the Deep—it's best remembered for the boss battle against Sister Friede, one of the most grueling multiphase encounters in Dark Souls history.
3 Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss
Though he's construed as a major player in Lordran, Dark Souls fans don't actually get to see Knight Artorias in the base game. Instead, he's a marquee fight in the game's lone DLC outing, Artorias of the Abyss.
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Transporting players to the abyss-corrupted town of Oolacile, they must defeat the once-proud Knight of Gwyn and venture into a black gulch to fight Manus, Father of the Abyss in a boss battle that's leagues more climactic than the somber sendoff to the main game.
2 Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City
Following the events of the Ashes of Ariandel DLC, the player follows Slave Knight Gael to the Ringed City, a cyclopean megastructure seemingly built at the very edge of the world. There, they must find Filanore, the protector of the city, and do battle against Gael, who has been corrupted by the power of the Dark Soul.
Easily the most ambitious Dark Souls DLC, The Ringed City is a fitting send-off to the series, and it concludes with one of the most memorable boss encounters in FromSoftware history.
1 Bloodborne: The Old Hunters
Perhaps the most acclaimed piece of Soulsborne side content, Bloodborne's The Old Hunters DLC elaborated on the histories surrounding important characters such as Lady Maria and Laurence, the First Vicar, and it also introduced some unforgettable locations such as the Astral Clock Tower and the Fishing Hamlet.
Most notably, it included one of the most difficult boss fights of all time in the cosmically terrifying Orphan of Kos. The offspring of a dead eldritch deity, Orphan of Kos stands aside Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's Sword Saint Isshin and Elden Ring's Malenia, Blade of Miquella as one of the most punishing battles in all of Soulsborne.
NEXT: Ranking Every FromSoft Soulsborne Game From Worst To Best, According To Metacritic