Dark Souls is considered by many in the gaming community to be a masterpiece not because it is a difficult game, that would be an understatement. Dark Souls is held in such high regard because it seamlessly combines together separate game systems and mechanics that other games would have failed to harmonically blend.
One such system that adds to the appeal of Dark Souls, apart from the punishing difficulty, is the roleplaying game (RPG) mechanics. You are allowed the freedom to make your nameless waste of skin undead character into a flashy revenant. All this is made possible with Dark Souls’ robust selection and variety of armor sets. They can be acquired from bosses and other enemies/characters. In fact, there’s so many of them, it can get rather confusing. Still, whether you’re a Dark Souls newbie or veteran of many playthroughs, finding the balance between function and form when it comes to armor takes experience. Having the best armor stats in the game but ending up looking like an Avante-Garde runway model is a pathetic display.
So, here’s a list of some of the best armor in Dark Souls to help your chosen undead look more decent than a fancy Mardi Gras participant while still being a functional combatant.
10 ELITE KNIGHT SET
One good thing about Dark Souls‘ marketing is that the art and characters it uses are all found in the game. That means if you saw something you want in the trailer or poster, it can be obtained. The Elite Knight set is one of the poster armor sets of Dark Souls. It is perhaps, one that best fits the chosen undead. It can be seen first worn by Oscar, the undead knight who gives you his Estus flask after dying.
It’s also no joke for an armor set, it provides a decent balance between poise (the ability to endure stagger) and weight. Even a character with less than optimal endurance can equip the Elite Knight set without getting slowed down… too much. The armor can be found in a semi-hidden area in the Darkroot Garden. You can pick up the complete set from a corpse located in an area gated by a white fog.
9 ARTORIAS’ SET
The other poster armor of Dark Souls. However, its backstory is more than meets the eye. This armor set belonged to the great and tragically heroic Knight Artorias. He sacrificed himself to contain the darkness and impending doom in Lordran. As a result, Artorias himself became corrupted and berserk.
Generally, Artorias is regarded as one of the best bosses of Dark Souls. Meaning that wearing his armor is an honor. That is until you realize that its stats are easily surpassed by other armor and are probably the reason why Artorias lost. Still, the chance to cosplay in-game as a fallen Artorias is what makes this armor worth acquiring. Artorias’ complete armor set can be bought from Domhnall of Zena (changes locations) once you defeat Artorias.
8 CATARINA SET
Hmmm… Oh. The Catarina armor set, worn by the brave but foolhardy Siegmeyer of Catarina or his daughter, Sieglinde. This is probably what you’ll notice the very first time you meet him. It gave him the unanimous community moniker, “Onion Knight.” Making Siegmeyer more pleasant, however, is the fact that he is a respite in such a desolate and deadly land.
He talks to you as if you’re both in a jolly morning stroll. Then you realize he’s actually a bit senile once you meet his worried daughter. Still, he happens to get out by the skin of his teeth. This is probably thanks to the Catarina armor set which boasts high poise and respectable protection. It may not look the best, but wearing it is one of the best ways to befriend other players. The Catarina set is sold by the Crestfallen Merchant in Sen’s Fortress.
7 DARK SET
Ever wanted to look like a supervillain in a skeleton costume? Here’s your chance to fulfill those dreams of angst. The Dark Set lets you play out your Skeletor fantasies while instilling fear to players you invade. It is also worn as a regular armor by Darkwraiths, edgy NPC enemies that can stun-lock you. The stats are pretty decent but offer no curse resistance, which is not that big of a problem.
Acquiring the Dark Set, however, is not as easy as killing Darkwraiths over and over again. You have to join the Darkwraith covenant offered by Darkstalker Kaathe. Afterward, you’ll have to achieve rank +2 in said covenant by hoarding and giving Kaathe 30 humanities, only then will you be awarded the armor. Hey, no one said it’s easy being edgy.
6 HAVEL’S SET
Compared to the Havel armor set, all the previous armor featured above are pretty much just fragile luxury cars. The Havel set is a tank, if the tank was made out of pure rock and testosterone. No kidding, its owner is literally named Havel the Rock, a dude who wanted to slay dragons so much, he wore rocks because it’s immune to their attacks.
Havel also beats up dragons with a huge mace fashioned out of a dragon fang he yanked out from one of his victims. As a result of wearing the Havel set, enemies will have to cry (or die) first before they stagger your character. The tradeoff is that it’s really heavy and won’t allow you to dodge optimally. Thankfully, you don’t have to actually defeat the real Havel to get his armor. The Havel set can be found in a chest hidden behind an illusory wall located in the main building leading to Gwynevere in Anor Londo.
5 SMOUGH’S SET
If Havel’s armor is too much for your feeble body to bear, then you can try one of the closest alternatives, Smough’s armor. Of course, that is assuming you actually defeat Smough and didn’t quit after his huge hammer shattered your hope of finishing Dark Souls. Smough and his S.O. are considered the first real wall of Dark Souls and made many players quit halfway through.
For those who persevered, however, and defeated Smough on steroids, you get to have his armor. It’s comparable to the Havel set in terms of stats but has less poise or resistance to stagger. Smough’s armor is also slightly lighter. Either way, you can’t go wrong with both heavy armor sets. You can buy Smough’s armor set from Domhnall of Zema after defeating Ornstein the Dragonslayer first then Smough, the Executioner after. This is the easier way to win said boss fight.
4 ORNSTEIN’S SET
Ornstein’s armor set is a badge of honor. That’s because the only people who get to have Ornstein’s armor are those who chose the harder version of the Ornstein & Smough boss fight. It requires players to kill Smough first and deal with an enraged and supercharged Ornstein who deals more damage is more agile and is bigger.
It’s the less popular option, of course. Who you kill first or last depends on which armor set Domhnall of Zema will sell to you (Ornstein’s armor or Smough’s). Still, Ornstein’s set is worth the additional hard work. It’s one of the best medium armor sets in the game due to its excellent physical and elemental resistances. The cherry on top is its lion design– to let players know you’re no quitter and you took the harder path.
3 BLACK IRON SET
So, you want armor with no gimmicks and does the job with no nonsense? Behold, the Black Iron set. Its original owner is a badass tougher than Havel the Rock– Black Iron Tarkus. Thankfully, Tarkus is a friend and not a meanie like Havel. When summoned in a boss fight in Sen’s Fortress, you can usually sit back and watch Tarkus kill the boss by himself and look back at you like the thankful wimp you are.
You can have Tarkus’ no-nonsense armor by looting his corpse located to the left of the huge painting in Anor Londo, you shameless looter. It is lighter and has less poise than Havel’s armor but has the highest fire resistance of all armor. It also has the second highest physical defense in all of Dark Souls’ armor sets.
2 IRON SET/SOLAIRE’S ARMOR
If only an armor sets could be so grossly incandescent like the sun. If there ever was an armor set which could inspire hope like no other, it would be the Iron set. It is the one worn by sun bro Solaire of Astora himself, whose existence and character is in stark contrast to the dark and ominous atmosphere of Lordran.
Whenever you’re having difficulty with bosses who refuse to fight you fairly, you can call on your buddy Solaire to even out the playing field. As such, his armor has come to represent his favorite phrase, “jolly cooperation.” The armor, however, does not have the best stats. In fact, they’re nothing special compared to others here. What makes the armor special, of course, is the one who wears it– a true friend who won’t hesitate to help in the darkest of times and praise the sun! You can be a Solaire after you acquire his armor from his corpse in Lost Izalith… oops, er– forget you read that.
1 GIANT DAD
Giant Dad is not an official character or boss, nor an official armor set in Dark Souls. He’s actually more of a combination of different armor pieces and weapons (called “build”). He was also designed to maximize damage and take advantage of the stagger or stun-lock mechanic of the game. Despite this, Giant Dad also has a high physical defense, high poise, and is agile enough to dodge.
In essence, Giant Dad is a character (or meme) created by players of the Dark Souls community because the build is somewhat overpowered. Giant Dad was an amalgam of the Mask of the Father (hence “dad”), the Giant armor set (hence “giant”) among other gear. The result is a hatemail magnet and the most popular and most infamous build in Dark Souls.
Bear in mind that the Giant Dad was specifically designed to ruin the player-vs-player (PvP) experience for others in Dark Souls. That means using it is bound to attract hate. It also does exceptionally well in boss fights. You can acquire the Mask of the Father from the boss Pinwheels in The Catacombs. While the Giant armor can be bought from the Giant Blacksmith at Anor Londo. Those are only two of the base requirements for Giant Dad, you’ll need more. Once you complete them, you’ll become unstoppable. The legend never dies.
NEXT: 10 Impossible Dark Souls Cosplays That Seemed As Hard As The Games