|Health *||NG: 9,604|
|Souls *||NG: 60,000|
|* Recorded in PATCH 1.05|
Four Kings is a Boss in Dark Souls and Dark Souls Remastered.
Four Kings Information
The wraith-like remnants of the four leaders of New Londo Ruins who fell to dark after being tempted with the art of lifedrain. Defeating the Four Kings is necessary to the plot, and is also needed for those players wishing to join the Darkwraith covenant as they must defeat the Four Kings before obtaining the Lordvessel from Anor Londo and talking to Kingseeker Frampt.
You can also obtain the Lordvessel then go to kill the Four Kings instead of talking to Frampt.
In order to safely survive the Abyss, all players (host and any summons) must equip the Covenant of Artorias Ring prior to entering, and keep it on during the entire fight. Removing it at any point will result in death. It is not necessary to continue wearing the ring after the Four Kings are defeated.
This boss is located at the end of the New Londo Ruins in the Abyss. Despite the name, this boss actually consists of five individual, seemingly identical wraiths, who appear one at a time out of the darkness of the Abyss to fight you.
The appearance of each new wraith is timed (45 seconds), so it is important to defeat the current one before the next one appears. If you do, you will have a few moments in which to heal yourself, reapply buffs, or change equipment before the next wraith appears. Failure to do so will result in having to fight more than one wraith at a time, which rarely ends well.
As the Four Kings share an overall boss health bar, with sufficient summons assistance or overall damage output it is possible to deal enough damage to the first three that the fourth King does not actually appear.
The Four Kings are generally considered the most dangerous boss in NG+ and beyond, and as discussed below many strategies have been developed to try to assist players on subsequent playthroughs.
They have the highest HP of any boss in Dark Souls 1.
The Kings' Sword
The Kings' sword attacks inflict primarily magic damage. The farther you are from the melee attack, the more damage you will take, so stay as close to the boss as possible when using melee weapons. Spells or buffs that reduce magic damage, such as Great Magic Barrier or Great Magic Shield, are very helpful. His main melee attacks are:
- A pair of Horizontal Slashes, which must be rolled through, tanked, or blocked.
- Vertical slice which can be evaded by dodging to the side.
- Stab Attack which can also be dodged by moving to the side.
The Four Kings also have an array of ranged magic attacks and spells:
- The Kings may fire off a Large Homing Purple Mass that slowly but surely glides to you from the side. This attack can be difficult to avoid once launched, so it is often better to stay at close range to lower the odds it is used in the first place. However, if you are willing to run away for about 15 seconds, it will dissipate after that time.
- The Kings may also employ a rare spell attack in which it launches an array of missiles at you in an arc, which also home in on you. They usually do this when you are extremely far away from them. Dodging or blocking with a high magic resist shield, is the most effective countermeasure.
- An AoE charge-up explosion that can cause significant magic damage in front of it. Rolling away is extremely effective.
They also have an attack in which they grab you, inflicting massive magic damage and also stealing one Humanity from the player. A telltale warning of this is a 360 degree spin, which gives you the opportunity to back up sufficiently or roll behind them. Don't confuse it for the Area of Effect spell, which has a similar starting animation. When summoning, note that only the local King performing this attack is invincible; another player attacking the King will still reduce their overall health.
Given the nature of the attacks as discussed below, it is generally better for melee characters to get as close to the King as possible and continue strafing to one side, as this will cause the King to rely mostly on melee attacks in response, many of which will miss or do relatively little damage. Mage characters with low stamina or armor will want to either stay close and rely on dodging, or keep well away in order to employ spells better. In any case, the worst strategy is to remain at a middle distance, as this will subject the player to the full array and impact of the King's formidable arsenal of attacks.
Although friendly summons can be helpful in many boss fights, they are especially useful against the Four Kings, particularly if the summons and host are a mix of melee and caster characters. With such an arrangement, the King will typically focus on sword attacks on the melee character, who should be attacking at close range. This will then free up caster characters to stand off safely and rain spells down on the boss. If you are helping someone fight the Four Kings, an easy way is to equip Havel's Set, Havel's Ring, the Grass Crest Shield, and your strongest weapon (two-handed).
As soon as the fight starts, charge each King and engage in an all-out melee assault. If your health gets low, instead of relying on the host heals or using the Heal Miracle, pop a Humanity. This way, you will be able to focus on the King without interruption; you shouldn't be taking too much damage, and if you do just heal and repeat. Unless the host isn't attacking at all, the boss should go down even before the next one spawns.
The most common places for summoning signs for runs on the Four Kings are on the platforms near the Hollows at the base of the elevator leading down from Firelink Shrine into the New Londo Ruins, and near the Abyss fog gate. Summons should always remember to wear their Covenant of Artorias Ring before entering the Abyss.
Phantom Witch Beatrice:
NPC Witch Beatrice can also be summoned before the fight, if the host is in human form. Her sign is located behind a wall just before entering the Abyss, but only if you consoled in her help, against the Moonlight Butterfly in the Darkroot Garden.
There are often complaints or reports of a "glitch" with this NPC not entering the Abyss or otherwise not targeting the Four Kings. This is not actually a glitch. When she is summoned, a ghost spawns ABOVE the tower to the Abyss. When you walk through the fog, the ghost will hover and Beatrice, who is NOT cursed and therefore unable to harm the ghost, will senselessly shoot at the ghost to no avail instead of following you. Just kill the ghost then jump down, and Beatrice can be a major help in the battle. Her magic is quite strong, and if nothing else, can give you a breather as she can take a few hits for you.
In later playthroughs, though, she becomes virtually useless. This is because the damage she inflicts will be nearly ineffective and she will die much more quickly from their melee attacks than in the first or second playthrough.
Set-Up Beyond NG+
Of all the powered-up bosses in NG+, it is generally held that the Four Kings are the deadliest. Even with high poise and high defense armor, their attacks whittle away at your vitality quickly and they have significantly increased health, which can throw off timing and make it difficult to kill one before another appears. Additional tactics in NG+ include:
- Equipping either Havel's Set or Smough's Set.
- Dedicating two attunement slots to Great Magic Barrier, or alternatively, one to Great Magic Barrier and one to Normal Magic Barrier if you can't dual-equip or lack the faith requirement.
- Equip the most powerful two-handed weapon in your arsenal and enter the Abyss.
- A shield with high Magic defense and the Cloranthy Ring are also recommended.
Upon arrival, cast Great Magic Barrier either when the first King spawns or when you've dispatched him. When it runs out, be sure to recast, no matter if you're taking damage from their weapon, as the magic that the Four Kings cast is much deadlier than their blades. Heavy Combustion is also recommended for dealing damage along with your weapon of choice. Along with a proper use of Estus (at least 10), this is a viable strategy for melee builds with limited faith requirements.
- Despite being called the 'Four Kings', more than four bosses may spawn if the fight lasts long enough. You do not have to kill all of them, however; as soon as the boss' main health bar reaches zero, the fight will end regardless of how many kings you've defeated or how many have spawned.
- If using the Chaos Blade, attacking a king counts as two hits (one to the king and one to the boss health bar) and therefore drains 40 health rather than 20.
- The Lifehunt Scythe also counts as two hits, doubling the buildup per attack. Its half-health self-bleed, combined with the Four King's bleed immunity, make it a very difficult weapon to use, especially on NG+.
- Black Iron armor increases your poise by 79 points without sacrificing mobility, allowing you to withstand most strikes except for the heavy swing.
- Do not remove the Covenant of Artorias Ring during the fight. Doing so will cause you to fall through the floor and die. This gives the message "The Abyss has taken you."
- However, once you have defeated the Four Kings, you no longer need to wear the ring in order to walk around the Abyss.
- It is possible to remove the Covenant of Artorias Ring and put the Serpent Ring (extra souls) between the short animation of the King dying and souls being accounted for, without dying. Doing so on NG+ yields about 244,000 souls.
- You must wear the Artorias Ring if you have defeated the Four Kings and are summoned to help someone against them. Since they have not beaten the them in their world, their Abyss will still take you, whether you have done so, or not.
Strategy 5 - NG+
The Kings have an extended amount of health, and it can often be difficult for most players to defeat the first before the appearance of the second, third and fourth Kings. Staying within direct melee distance will usually prevent any of the other Kings from attacking you until the King you are focused on is dead, whether this is due to the fact that they can damage each other or if its just a bug we don't know. It is recommended that you wear a heavy armor (e.g Havel's, Golem, Giant +5 Etc.) and use a two handed weapon, spamming RB / R1 and healing when necessary.
At close range, the Kings only use one attack (excluding the grab attack which is easily dodged) and fortunately the attack they do use is deals the lowest damage of all of their attacks. Lower level characters may be unable to do this as the Kings do deal a lot of damage overtime and their grab attack proves to be deadly. However, a soul level of 170+ guarantees a victory. 100+ is also quite easy.
The Abyss can be a confusing place to those entering it for the first time. By its nature, there are few visual cues as to the direction the player is moving, and it is easy to get disoriented. The first King will not appear instantly, so it is important to continue rotating the camera, as the King may appear from any direction in this shapeless void. It will first appear at a distance, so try to spot it as quickly as you can. If you're not a mage, it's recommended to have good poise and just charge the first King to reduce the likelihood it starts using ranged spells.
Strafing to one side as close to the King as much as possible possible, will allow you to repeatedly land your stronger melee attacks. It is generally better to attack rather than to try block, so two handed weapons often work better. Leave yourself just enough stamina to block or roll if you get into trouble, and make sure to top off your life bar whenever it drops below 50 percent. Having 15-20 Estus +5 or higher, can make a big difference. You may also have time to use Humanity items during the fight or if you kill each King before the next appears.
Try to defeat each King as quickly as possible after it spawns, as the continuous spawning is on a timer and you can give yourself breathing room between wraiths if you kill them quickly.
Strategy 1 - Mage:
As a caster, it is important to get your build right, so:
- If you have the Greater Magic Shield Spell, you'll take little to no damage from the Kings, particularly if using a powerful shield such as the Greatshield of Artorias. Other good options are the Crest Shield or a Giant's Shield upgraded along the Magic upgrade path (increasing magic blocking). This is critical for caster characters with low Endurance and Vitality.
- Equip the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring for longer duration of the Strong Magic Shield, and the ability to basically, spam the Kings with Homing Crystal Soul Mass and as many other spells that you can fit.
- Homing Crystal Soulmass, Crystal/Soul Spear Great Combustion, Great Chaos Fireball, Great Fireball, and any other spells you think might be good for DPS use them.
- Iron Flesh is not recommended for mages since the Great Magic Shield virtually cancels out every attack thrown at you here (even without the shield being up) and casting Iron Flesh will waste time and cut mobility which are needed to back up and recast Great Magic Shield.
For casters, defeating the Kings is relatively straightforward, as you can generally do enough damage to kill off each wraith one by one, avoiding the danger of fighting multiple Kings at once. Learn to dodge all of the Kings' slashing physical attacks, particularly the two horizontal slash combo. This attack poses the most danger as failing to dodge the first slash will almost necessarily result in the second hitting you, which will deal enough damage to kill most casters. The Kings' other physical attacks are a Vertical Slice and a Stab Attack, both of which can be simply evaded with a sideways dodge.
The Kings' magical attacks are extremely difficult or impossible to dodge, so should instead be blocked with your shield; even the 10%-15% damage that gets through might require you to use an Estus as soon as possible. When you see the Kings charge up for an AOE attack, prepare to block it.
Blocking the Kings' physical attacks is a waste of stamina, especially for casters who haven't invested many points in Endurance. After dodging both the horizontal slashes or any other sword attacks, cast a spell or use an Estus Flask. Don't hold back your spells, and remember: an overkill on one King will affect the total Boss HP remaining, so go ahead and use your most powerful spells first. You shouldn't have much trouble killing each wraith before the next spawns as they are not particularly resistant to magic.
Strategy 2 - Melee
Once again, the right build is key, and the key for a melee character is this:
- Equip high mobility armor, lighter and quicker animation weapons (swords, hand axes, etc) Do not be afraid to charge one of the Four Kings. Get as close to him as you can, and start hacking away with whatever your best weapon. Even if they hit you with their melee attack, there is a good chance that they will bash you with their hilt, which causes substantially less damage. By quickly attacking one at a time, you will limit the amount you will fight, as more are summoned throughout the fight. They appear to have some weakness to fire, like many undead, so a fire weapon may be a good choice.
- Using the Grass Crest Shield, Mask of the Child, and/or Cloranthy Ring will help with the fight. The extra stamina recovery ensures you can focus on attacking without worrying that you will be unable to preform a roll to escape. If you're confident about not getting hit by any physical damage, you can try using simple magic resistant cloth gear.
Timing is the critical factor for survival. The sword slashes are easily dodged due to the slow attack animation, and the height difference. The blasts encountered by the Four Kings is by far the more difficult attack to evade. Due to the darkness of the Abyss, it is difficult to roll through because your depth perception is thrown off. One way to help with this is to stop locking on, and focus on dodging the blast. As you see it coming, quickly run to the side of it and then roll very quickly. With some practice, you can evade the explosion of the attack just before it hits, and the attack will still explode.
His grab attack is more damaging than his regular melee strikes, but shouldn't kill a well armored target. His grab isn't difficult to dodge, but during your first few fights, it may be difficult to tell what attack he may try using.
The real key to this strategy is focusing on one King at a time. Individual wraiths can be brought down once they take enough damage, which obviously limits the difficulty and what other wraiths may be doing. For the most part, dealing enough damage quickly limits the amount of ghosts from two or three, and by the time you get the Four Kings of New Londo down to low health, you should be able to do a final combo of hits to bring him down.
Limit your time not locked on, as its easy to lose the ghost you were fighting if you keep trying to evade everything. Focus on beating down one by one. Also don't panic about your back being turned to some of the Four Kings, just pivot your character and try to face the majority of them, so you can see what they are planning.
Strategy 3 - Power Within Rush
This aggressive strategy revolves around using the Pyromancy Power Within. You can check out where to get it here. This Pyromancy will substantially buff your damage (around 40%), at the cost of having your health constantly drained. If you have high Vitality this is an ideal strategy for your character.
Take your Pyro Flame and cast Power Within as soon as you reach The Abyss. For the next 100 seconds you'll be under its effect so make the most out of it. Bringing along some Green Blossoms and equipping the Grass Crest Shield to help with Stamina recovery is recommended. The faster you recover your stamina, the more swiftly you can deal damage. Employ a two-handed wield of your weapon for extra damage while getting the Stamina recovery boost just by having the shield on your back. It's also advisable to stay under 50% equip burden.
Do NOT worry about defending, blocking or rolling: just stay as close as you can to those Kings and whack away no matter what they do. While under the effects of Power Within, and your High Vitality, stay close to them you won't have to worry about their damage; just heal when your HP is getting below 25%. Use your strongest weapon and make sure you're two-handing it. When you're not healing you're attacking. Stay aggressive at all times. The only move that's worth trying to dodge is the Humanity Grab Attack, and only because of its long animation time. Usually the Kings will do a 360 degree spin before going for the grab.
Strategy 4 - Early Darkwraith Build
To become a Darkwraith, you need to kill the Four Kings before you get the Lordvessel in Anor Londo and talk to Kingseeker Frampt in Firelink Shrine. At higher levels, the Four Kings may be defeated normally as discussed above. Some players, however, may wish to defeat them as soon as possible in order to join the covenant. For a low level melee character with a reasonably damaging weapon, an effective approach is to increase your attunement to 10, obtain the Iron Flesh pyromancy, and equip the heaviest armor you have. The strategy is simple:
- Apply Iron Flesh, approach the Kings and strafe as close as you can, and just aggressively attack with a two-handed weapon. The Zweihander, Claymore, and the Gravelord Sword, are all obtainable early on, and upgrade just as well. When you are very close to the Kings almost all of their attacks do very little damage (except for the huge purple explosion, so watch out for his charge up).
- Make sure you have Estus Flask +2 or +3 so you can fully heal in one go, and stay as close to them as possible.
- Mages, particularly those with little vitality or stamina, should expect to need the assistance of player summons and/or Witch Beatrice. Obtaining the Magic Shield spell from Griggs can help, and a mage may be able to do some damage with the various soul arrow spells at range. However it is generally easier to rely on summons, while playing defensively and acting as a healing station via Estus Flasks. You may wish to first return to the Asylum to obtain the Crest Shield for its high magic resistance, and possibly upgrade it with Twinkling Titanite. obtained by trading with Snuggly during the same trip. You can also simply switch over to melee combat for the purposes of the fight, by two-handing the Claymore (strength requirement of 16, which should be usable in two hands by even most mage characters), and possibly using more powerful pyromancy attacks or buffs - all of which lack any stat requirements. Iron Flesh combined with Great Combustion can be effective.
- Killing Knight Lautrec very early on can help by allowing for use of the Ring of Favor and Protection with its attendant hit-point and stamina bonuses, and also ensure that Firelink Shrine stays lit so you can bring 10 Estus flasks with you.
- Doing a quick run into the Catacombs to kill Pinwheel and get the Rite of Kindling can push that up to 20 Estus Flasks, which should be more than sufficient even at low levels.
- Note: if you are trying to upgrade your Estus, picking up the Firekeeper Souls in the Parish, Blighttown, and New Londo Ruins will cause Lautrec to kill the Firelink Shrine Firekeeper even if you haven't rescued him, talked to him, or even beaten the Gargoyles. So if you want to keep Firelink lit for the purposes of New Londo Ruins trips, kill Lautrec before picking up all three of those Firekeeper souls.
- Warning! The Coop mechanic of increased HP can drastically raise the difficulty of the Four Kings. You are basically working against time, killing them quickly to avoid multiple Kings clumping up on you. This lowers the risk of drawing 2 or more in Melee range at once. The increased HP for each Summon gets even worse beyond NG+. Depending on your build you may be better off doing the fight alone.