What makes a good boss fight? Is it the difficulty of the fight? The artistry of the bosses and their arena, or movesets that push you to your limit while just remaining within the limits of fairness? For Elden Ring, the answer is all of the above.
Each fight is a carefully crafted challenge that’s equal parts gorgeous aesthetics and captivating gameplay. In Elden Ring, these bosses are meant to be the culmination of your explorations in that area. Out of all of these encounters, we’ve made a list of the best boss fights you should look out for.
Warning: Heavy spoilers ahead!
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6. Dragonlord Placidusax
Placidusax is the Elden Lord before the arrival of the Erdtree and Godfrey. When you meet him, he’s well past his prime – his scales are falling off his body, he’s missing two heads, and he struggles to move without the aid of magic.
With that in mind, Placidusax is a visually stunning fight. The ancient dragon will rain crimson lightning around him and breath golden flames at the player. His attacks look so impressive, it makes you wonder what he was like in his prime.
Placidusax’s phase two is the personification of the “nothing personal, kid” meme, because he’ll teleport all over the map and then attempt to rip you to bits with his lightning claws. Even more intimidating is when he summons a gargantuan lightning spear to nuke the stage. The resulting explosion is so terrifying even the music stops.
5. Praetor Rykard
Rykard has one of the most unique fights in Elden Ring and amazing lore with it. After the Shattering, Rykard fed himself to a great serpent in an attempt to gain immortality without the Erdtree. We find Rykard still fused to that massive serpent, surrounded by spires made from the charred remains of those who challenged him and his body writhing with the flesh of his past victims.
This sets the scene to one of the most thrilling fights in Elden Ring. To slay Rykard in his grotesque arena, we’re given the Serpent-Hunter Spear, a final gift from the men Rykard abandoned and devoured. The spear attacks with a long range beam that allows our Tarnished to safely hit Rykard. The spear offers a unique way for our Tarnished to feel both powerful and out of their element. Gimmick fights like this haven’t always worked in the Souls series (looking at you, Bed of Chaos), but this one is truly memorable.
4. Malekith, the Black Blade
In many ways, Malekith’s entire fight is like a dance.
The first phase against Beast Clergyman is a slow waltz. The steady choral music paired with the Clergyman’s cumbersome attacks encourages the player to pay careful attention to their death-dance partner’s obvious tells and dodge accordingly. Fittingly enough, each attack from Clergyman rewards players for dodging toward him, further invoking a sense of sticking close to and dancing with him.
Its in the second phase where this boss fight becomes an incredible experience. The Clergyman will use the rune of Destined Death to become Malekith, the Black Blade. With this transformation, the choral music crescendos with a surge of string instruments and cymbals. In step with this new melody, Malekith pirouettes through the air, raining projectiles and earth-shattering strikes on the player in a dazzling display of acrobatic power. Dodging through Malekith’s onslaught and weaving in your own attacks creates an unforgettable sense of give-and-take throughout the entire fight.
3. Godfrey, The First Elden Lord
Our showdown with Godfrey is the epitome of a fair but difficult fight. Godfrey is an aggressive opponent, thrashing the player with colossal attacks and ceding almost no breathing room.
Godfrey’s first phase feels fitting for the first Tarnished the world has ever seen. He fights with attack strings that feel similar to your own and a few abilities that look like they could be Ashes of War. It’s when you drop him into his second phase that everything hits the fan.
After a blood transformation, he becomes Hoarah Loux. In this form, he is power and aggression incarnate. His attacks shred the very arena you stand in, his voice alone will blow you away, and if he gets his hands on you, he will power bomb you back to the nearest Site of Grace. The moment you defeat Hoarah Loux is the moment you become the strongest Tarnished in the Lands Between, and that’s a hell of a feeling!
2. Morgott, the Omen King/Margit, the Fell Omen
Gaming is filled with famous rivals for its players. Gary/Blue from Pokemon, and Vergil from DmC to name a few. But Elden Ring’s Morgott stands out with just how hard he bullies you at Stormveil Castle. Going by the name of Margit, he is the first real challenge that locks new Tarnished into a boss room and relentlessly pummels them for all the runes they’re worth.
From that point onward, when you meet Morgott again in the capital it’s no longer just a boss fight – it’s a grudge match.
Duelling Morgott is a heart-pounding experience. He twirls around you and summons shining weapons to smother any sense of breathing room you may have. His second phase has his sword alternate between a holy aura and blood-flames, turning any poorly timed dodges into a death-sentence. But that moment when you finally put Morgott down is an exhilarating last laugh against a rival that tormented you at your weakest.
1. Starscourge Radahn
When you reach the inner sanctum of Castle Redmane, you’ll be greeted by an austere soundtrack, characters you’ve met on your travels, and an announcer that explains how they’re holding a festival to see who can put Radahn out of his misery. The following cinematic – one of very few in the game that actually pulls you away from your character – and its voice-over invokes a sense of sympathy for Radahn’s fall from grace. That sympathy, however, goes right out the window when Radahn welcomes you with a javelin-like arrow to your face.
Radahn’s fight is memorable for several reasons. The arena is littered with summon signs to bring up to six allies with you. Once your allies are summoned, the initial part of the fight has you lead the charge toward Radahn. Up close, Radahn is a striking foe with his massive attacks and almost comedic aesthetic since he’s a giant of a man riding a tiny emaciated horse. The cherry on top is how Radahn’s transition into his second phase – where he shoots off into the stars then plummets down in the form of a meteor – is one of the best “oh shit” moments in Elden Ring.
Hunting for more ways to avoid death? Check out our list of the Best Talismans in Elden Ring, and our guide on How to Parry like a Pro.