I went into Elden Ring asking if From Software would be able to fill such a huge open-world game with the kind of hard boss fights that have come to define the Soulsborne games and many of their spiritual spin-offs.
Since players have so many choices and there are so many ways to “cheese” those big battles, it seems likely that Elden Ring’s bosses will end up being a little bit easier than some of the hardest bosses we’ve seen in the studio’s previous games.
Well, let’s say I’m “happy” to tell you that I was wrong. Even though Elden Ring gives you a surprising number of ways to beat some of its hardest boss battles, many of the boss battles in this game are some of the hardest boss battles that FromSoftware has ever made.
If you think that’s heresy, it’s because you haven’t tried to beat the hardest boss fights in Elden Ring or the dozen or so other fights that could have easily made this list.
- 18. Godrick the grafted
- 17. Lichdragon fortissax
- 16. Margit the fell omen
- 15. Full-Grown Fallingstar Beast
- 14. Dragonlord Placidusax
- 13. Black Blade Kindred
- 12. Fire Giant
- 11. Margott, The Omen King
- 10. Astel, Natural Born of the Void
- 9. Godfrey, First Elden Lord/Horah Loux, Warrior
- 8. Commander Niall
- 7. Mohg, Lord of Blood
- 6. Starscourge Radahn
- 5. Crucible Knight Ordovis
- 4. Radagon of the Golden Order/Elden Beast
- 3. Godskin Duo
- 2. Beast Clergyman/Maliketh The Black Blade
- 1. Malenia, Blade of Miquella/Malenia, Goddess of Rot
18. Godrick the grafted
Godrick the Grafted is the “runt of the litter” when it comes to the demigods in Elden Ring, but he is still a tough opponent in the early game.
Godrick, who showed up after Margit the Fell Omen, is another sign that spam rolling won’t work. His strikes are very slow, but he has a quick attack ready to go after them.
Aside from that, his huge ground stomps make you time your jumps, and his wind attacks make you roll in the right way. But you have a lot of chances if you stick close to him and learn his moves.
In one of the scariest Elden Ring boss moments, Godrick cuts off his own arm and replaces it with the head of a dragon. This lets him do a number of dragon/fire moves.
You have to deal with weapons like fire-infused winds, grabs, dragon breath, and more.
17. Lichdragon fortissax
The usual dragon Elden Ring bosses aren’t all that difficult. However, with no Torrent coupled with Lichdragon’s chaotic moveset make it one of the hardest bosses in Elden Ring.
As part of Fia’s quest in Elden Ring, Lichdragon Fortissax makes use of death blight and lightning as its main arsenal. There’s just a lot to deal with in this boss fight.
It has a spell similar to Draconic Tree Sentinel and Dragonlord Placidusax where a lightning bolt lingers on you, striking after a few moments. It also slams two massive lightning bolts on the ground that also spread out like waves on the ground.
At some point, the dragon will summon death blight smokes all over the map and continue its lightning onslaughts. You absolutely need to mind your positioning at all times.
16. Margit the fell omen
The first one in the Elden Ring boss order, Margit the Fell Omen teaches players the ABCs of Elden Ring the hard way.
If the Tree Sentinel didn’t deter you, Margit definitely will while at the same time making you want to explore, level up, and get better weapons.
Margit is a nightmare, especially for melee builds thanks to his double hit dagger move that he pulls out when you get close to him.
His Phase 2 is even more difficult as he summons more weapons and becomes more aggressive, all the while having weird combo timings.
15. Full-Grown Fallingstar Beast
Even though there are a lot of boss fights that could have gone in these lower spots, the Full-Grown Fallingstar Beast won out because of how it attacks and how well it defends itself.
Unless you’re a certain kind of mage who can safely ride around on Torrent while slowly wearing this boss down with spells, you’ll quickly find out that this thing can not only take a lot of damage but also close the distance between you and it in an instant.
There aren’t many “safe” ways to attack this boss up close, and the few opportunities that do come up are followed by huge attacks that are very hard to escape.
This is the kind of boss that seems to get stronger the more you try and fail to beat it. This also means that this kind of boss often gets harder the more you try and fail to beat it.
14. Dragonlord Placidusax
You can easily miss this secret boss because you have to go to a hidden area before the boss fight with Maliketh, the Black Blade and choose to lie down in a grave to get to him.
This means that not many Elden Ring players have had the chance to fight one of the hardest dragons in the game.
The fact that this boss can teleport and move around so quickly in the huge arena where you fight it is certainly a big part of why this fight is so frustrating, but it’s really this dragon’s sweeping melee attacks and devastating AOE skills that will keep you from getting a chance to catch your breath.
In the middle of everything going on, it’s very easy to miss the few chances you have to attack this thing.
Even though it’s likely you’ll be able to beat this boss if you’re ready for what’s coming (more on that in a moment), this fight will be a nightmare for anyone who has trouble with dragons.
13. Black Blade Kindred
Most players will probably run into this boss or try to fight it way too early because its arena is easy to get to through a portal, but even late-game Elden Ring players will have a hard time beating this nightmare.
Black Blade Kindred is, if I’m being honest, a pretty “cheap” boss. Even compared to other late-game bosses, his hits do an absurd amount of damage, and his health pool is ridiculously big.
Even worse, he uses an attack technique that is hard to understand and takes a long time to read and solve.
This fight will be easier if you put a lot of effort into your character’s Vitality, but there aren’t many other ways around it.
12. Fire Giant
I sometimes joke that the Soulsborne bosses that are closer to my size scare me more than the ones that are as big as mountains, but Fire Giant is definitely one of the hardest “giant” bosses that FromSoftware has ever made.
You’ll use the classic technique of staying as close to the giant’s feet as possible to avoid its long reach, but this boss is more than willing to roll out of the way of your attacks and force you into its danger zone.
Even worse, the Fire Giant often summons dangerous fires that turn safe areas into death traps and make it harder for him to close the gap when he wants to roll away from danger.
On top of everything else, this boss has a huge health pool and crazy resistances, which will probably make you wonder if you’re doing any real damage to it. This is a great example of a boss who looks good and is still very tough.
11. Margott, The Omen King
We’ve already talked about whether Margit is too hard, but the fight against Margit’s “true form” will make you miss how easy the first time you met her was.
This boss fight is a lot like the fight against Margit, but this version of the epic enemy is much stronger, much faster, and now uses a devastating AOE “lightning arrow” attack (as well as a few other AOE tricks) that will leave you constantly looking for ways to stay alive long enough to figure out how to avoid Margott’s powerful attacks and get close enough to do any real damage.
Margott is a very tough boss who will make some players wonder if it’s finally time to change their skills.
10. Astel, Natural Born of the Void
I’m glad that fighting this boss is so fun, but only because it would have been awful to die so many times against a less interesting boss.
Astel is basically a Lovecraftian dragon that can use strong magic attacks that are hard to avoid. This is one of those bosses that can hurt you in different ways from far away and when you get close.
This means that there aren’t many ways to fight this boss that will work for everyone.
This is a classic type of Soulsborne optional boss that is just waiting to punish players who suddenly feel too confident in their skills or build.
9. Godfrey, First Elden Lord/Horah Loux, Warrior
This fight was hard to rank because I think the fight against Godfrey is hard but fair. It’s a tough fight, but by that point in the game, most people will be able to get through it.
But once Godfrey changes into Horah Loux, Warrior, things get pretty crazy. As if it wasn’t bad enough that this boss can kill all but the hardest builds in one hit, he can also use huge AOE attacks, jump on you from far away, and deal a decent amount of frost damage that can quickly turn into Frostbite.
This boss fight is a great example of the “you haven’t even seen my final form” school.
8. Commander Niall
Commander Niall doesn’t look like much when you first meet him, but trust me when I say that the fight against him will stop most Elden Ring players from moving forward.
As soon as this fight starts, Commander Niall calls in two very tough helpers, which is funny because he’s already tough enough on his own to be one of the hardest bosses in the game without them.
Even worse than his high attack power and ridiculous defenses is the fact that his strikes are hard to time and often do a lot of frost and lightning damage.
It takes a long time to win this fight, which means you’re more likely to make mistakes as the war goes on.
I just can’t say enough about how hard this fight is. If you don’t have a lot of health and good protection, this is probably going to be the fight that finally kills you.
7. Mohg, Lord of Blood
Some Elden Ring fans are already saying that this fight isn’t that hard and can be “cheesed” pretty easily, but I’ll warn you now that most players will laugh at the idea that they’re supposed to be able to beat this boss.
It turns out that “Bleed” effects are very strong in Elden Ring, which is good news for people who are using a “Bleed” build and bad news for people who are trying to beat this boss, who can do a lot of “Bleed” damage in many different ways.
This boss has an almost impossible-to-avoid power that takes away most of your health right away, and that’s not even the worst part about this fight.
There are a few things you can grab that will make this boss fight a little easier, but using them is like putting bandages on a broken leg.
I like how this fight is built around a very specific mechanic, but the thought of fighting this boss again makes me feel terrible.
6. Starscourge Radahn
I had almost as much trouble putting this boss fight in order as I did trying to beat it. Even though I know that a lot of players think this is by far the hardest fight in the game, I think that some of the later fights in Elden Ring raise the bar in terms of general difficulty.
Still, this fight is definitely as hard as you’ve heard. This boss fight is mostly just a “gimmick” (at least by Soulsborne’s standards), and it starts with you having to cross a battlefield while Radahan throws spears and arrows at you.
Even if you manage to get close to him while calling on the various NPC allies who can help you in this fight, Radhan’s huge attack range and insane speed mean that he can crush you before you can even begin to figure out how you’re supposed to get close enough to him to do any damage.
Oh, and just when you think you’re finally making progress against Radahn, he shoots himself into the air, turns into a meteor, crashes near you, and becomes even harder to deal with.
No matter when you fight Radahn or what kind of character you’ve been building up to this point, this fight will break you.
5. Crucible Knight Ordovis
Most of the time, two bosses are harder than one boss in Elden Ring. This fight against Crucible Knight Ordovis and his friend Crucible Knight shows why two bosses are almost always harder than one.
People have compared this boss battle to the famous Dark Souls battle against Ornstein and Smough, but I find this boss battle to be much harder than all but a few Soulsborne duo battles (except for one, which we’ll talk about in a bit).
These guys are incredibly strong and quick, and they often know how to attack you in a way that makes it nearly impossible to hit them safely.
When you have to fight just one of these aggressive knights, it can be hard enough. When you have to fight two of them, it’s a warning that Elden Ring is not the kind and gentle FromSoftware game that some fans think it is.
4. Radagon of the Golden Order/Elden Beast
Sometimes, the final boss fights in Soulsborne games don’t live up to the standards of the many boss fights that came before them.
However, the fight against Radagon and the Elden Beast will test you no matter where you are in the game at that point.
Radagon is a pretty simple boss in terms of how he works. He just hits very hard and uses annoying area-of-effect moves that can kill you in an instant and ruin even the best plans.
In phase two, Radagon changes into the Elden Beast, a huge creature with a near-constant stream of AOE abilities that have caused even the best and most dedicated Elden Ring players to get angry and quit (at least briefly).
Either of these boss fights would have been a good way to end the game, but the fact that you have to beat them both back-to-back to win the game makes this one of the hardest final fights in FromSoftware’s history.
3. Godskin Duo
I don’t even want to acknowledge this fight because I don’t want to give it a reason to exist, but you can’t talk about the hardest fights in Elden Ring without mentioning the Godskin Duo.
During the Godskin Duo fight, you have to take on two bosses who share a single life bar. The trick is that one boss will always bring the other back to life almost as soon as they “die.”
That means you only have a few seconds to focus on one of these already tough enemies, and it also means you’re almost always forced to find a way to survive their devastating attacks as a pair, which fill most of the small space you’re forced to fight them in.
I really don’t like this fight at all. It’s a badly thought-out and cheap encounter that forces you to use every cheap trick you have to beat it. Still, it should be on this list without a doubt.
2. Beast Clergyman/Maliketh The Black Blade
The Beast Clergyman part of this boss fight is hard enough to deserve a lower spot on this list, but to say that the fight against Maliketh isn’t one of the hardest fights in Elden Ring would be an insult.
Maliketh can fly around the field in a way that is hard to keep track of. When he hits, he usually does so in a way that can kill you right away or at least lower your total health, even if you escape the hit.
You can only beat him if you get really good at defense and learn to enjoy the few seconds when you might be able to do even a little bit of damage to him.
The most amazing thing about this fight is that it is actually quite “balanced.” This battle is all about learning the patterns and controlling your own timing, which is exactly what a hard Soulsborne boss fight should be about.
1. Malenia, Blade of Miquella/Malenia, Goddess of Rot
Malenia’s fight might be the hardest boss fight that FromSoftware has ever made. That’s not a big stretch. I would even go so far as to say that this fight might be over.
Malenia’s incredible speed and anime-like attack patterns are more than enough to beat 99% of Elden Ring players, but even the best From Software fans will have trouble finding a way to deal with the fact that Malenia can heal herself with every hit she takes.
Yes, you did hear me. Malenia gets a lot of her health back every time she hits something, and she will hit a lot of things.
Some of the best Elden Ring players have spent days trying to beat this boss, and I honestly think this is the one boss in the game that the vast majority of players will never be able to beat.
Technically, you don’t have to beat Maleania without getting hit, but if you want to beat this boss, that’s pretty much what you’ll have to do.
I think it was brave of the Elden Ring team to try something like this, but I’d like to ask that they never try to make another boss like Malenia.