Though some Souls veterans enjoy running around in tatters while wielding giant clubs, armors is, for most players, essential to progression in Dark Souls. With dozens of sets to chose from, the armor on offer in-game is as varied as it is versatile. Some are outrageously bulky but incredibly sturdy, others allow for improved agility but offer decreased defensive benefits, and others imbue special buffs when equipped.
Fashion, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, also plays a role for many Dark Souls players, and, with some fan-favorite sets potentially returning in Elden Ring, it’s time to re-examine the best armor sets the original Dark Souls had to offer.
Updated on February 25th, 2022 by Tanner Fox: The release of From Software’s hotly-anticipated Elden Ring is right around the corner, and armor looks to be as central to the game as it was in the Dark Souls series. Plus, with rumors of never-before-seen aesthetic configuration options, players may be able to take the concept of “Fashion Souls” to all-new highs.
Though the games aren’t related by lore or narrative, there may be a few armors sets found in Elden Ring which pay homage to characters and fan-favorite builds from the Dark Souls games. As a result, it’s time to reminisce about which armor sets were top-tier.
Elite Knight Set
The Elite Knight set is one of the poster armor sets of Dark Souls, and it is perhaps that one that best fits the chosen undead. It can be seen first worn by Oscar, the undead knight who gives the player his Estus flask just before 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 significantly slowed down. The armor can be found in a semi-hidden area in the Darkroot Garden—the player can pick up the complete set from a corpse located in an area gated by a white fog.
This armor set belonged to the great and tragically heroic Knight Artorias. He sacrificed himself to contain the spread of the Abyss in Lordran. As a consequence, however, he himself became corrupted.
Generally, Artorias is regarded as one of the best bosses of Dark Souls, meaning that wearing his armor is an honor. Unfortunately, its stats are easily surpassed by other armor sets 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 once the player defeats Artorias.
After defeating the first boss of the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, players will encounter Marvelous Chester, an NPC merchant who claims to have been pulled through time and space by Manus, just as the player was. Due to his out-of-place attire, many speculate that Chester is originally from Yharnam, the gothic city seen in Bloodborne.
Unfortunately, earning his set requires killing him, and the set’s stats likely won’t suit most builds in the late game. However, avid fashion Souls fans will definitely want to go through the effort of obtaining it.
Hmmm… Oh. The Catarina armor set, worn by the brave but foolhardy Siegmeyer of Catarina and his daughter, Sieglinde. This bulky armor gave Siegmeyer the famous “Onion Knight” moniker. Making Siegmeyer more pleasant, however, is the fact that he is a respite in such a desolate and deadly land.
He talks to the Chosen Undead as if they’re out for a jolly morning stroll. However, his daughter later reveals that he may have become a bit senile. Still, he’s able to journey from Sen’s Fortress to Anor Londo and Ash lake, and this is probably thanks to the Catarina armor set which boasts high poise and respectable protection. It may not look all that conventional, 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.
A formal gown worn by the habits of the now-ruined city of Oolacile, the Antiquated set can be earned after defeating the Golden Crystal Golem in Darkroot Basin and freeing Dusk of Oolacile, a process that kicks off the events of the game’s DLC expansion.
The antiquated set is favored for its incredibly high magic and curse resistance, but it’s notably weak in most other areas. Fashion Souls fans admire it for its ornate appearance, and it certainly sticks out when compared to the many gruff steel and iron armor sets in Dark Souls.
The Dark Set lets fans play out their nefarious Skeletor fantasies while instilling fear in invading players. It is also worn as a regular armor by Darkwraiths, tough enemies capable of stun-locking the player. The stats are pretty decent but offer no curse resistance, which may or may not be a problem depending on the number of Basilisks in the area.
Acquiring the Dark Set, however, is not as easy as killing Darkwraiths over and over again. Players have to join the Darkwraith covenant offered by Darkstalker Kaathe, a friendly Dark Souls NPC who only appears if the player defeats the Four Kings before placing in Lord Souls in the Kiln of the First Flame. Afterward, they’ll have to achieve rank +2 in said covenant by hoarding and giving Kaathe 30 humanities. Only then will players be awarded the armor.
The Havel set is a tank—were tanks made out of pure rock and testosterone. Its owner is literally named Havel the Rock, a man whose desire to slay dragons was such that he endured the burden of wearing the heaviest armor set known to Lordran.
The Havel set has extremely high defense, and the player can very rarely be staggered while wearing it. The tradeoff is that it’s really heavy and will likely inhibit the dodging abilities of most builds. Thankfully, players don’t have to actually defeat the real Havel to get his armor, though that can be done fairly early on in the game. 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.
Black Knight Set
Encountered throughout Lordran, Gwyn’s army of Black Knights are often reviled by new players due to their difficulty in the early game. However, they have a chance of dropping some of the game’s best weapons when killed, meaning that engaging them in combat is often worth the risk.
Their armor set, however, can only be found in the Kiln of the First Flame on a walkway found shortly before the entrance to the Gwyn, Lord of Cinder encounter. It features some less-than-admirable stats for the late game, but it offers incredible resistance to fire, and it’s undeniably badass.
If Havel’s armor is too much, then players can try one of its closest alternatives in Smough’s armor. Unfortunately, this requires defeating Smough, one-half of the most notorious boss duo in the Dark Souls franchise.
Those who persevere and defeat the suped-up Smough after first taking out Ornstein are granted his armor set It’s comparable to the Havel set in terms of stats, but it has less poise or resistance to stagger. Smough’s armor is also slightly lighter. Players can also buy Smough’s armor set from Domhnall of Zema should they defeat Ornstein last.
Ornstein’s armor set is a badge of honor; as those who’ve earned it likely refused to take the easy way out and killed Smough first, resulting in a difficult encounter with a suped-up Ornstein.
It’s the less popular option, of course, as Domhnall of Zema will sell the set should players miss out on it initially. 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.
Black Iron Set
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 hollow like Havel. When summoned in a boss fight in Sen’s Fortress, players can usually sit back and watch Tarkus kill the boss by himself.
This armor can be obtained by looting his corpse located to the left of the huge painting in Anor Londo. It is lighter and has less poise than Havel’s armor, but it has the highest fire resistance of all armor. It also has the second-highest physical defense in all of Dark Souls’ armor sets.
Iron Set/Solaire’s Armor
If there ever was an armor set that 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 character is in stark contrast to the dark and ominous atmosphere of Lordran. Solaire can be summoned should players have difficulty with the Bell Gargoyles, the Gaping Dragon, the Centipede Demon, and, should they follow his questline, Gywn, Lord of Cinder. As such, his armor has come to represent his famous “jolly cooperation” quote.
The armor, however, does not have the best stats. In fact, they’re nothing special compared to most sets. 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. Praise the sun!
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