20 Hardest Elden Ring Bosses, Ranked

Difficulty alone may not be the only thing that makes FromSoftware’s games so enticing, but it is undoubtedly a major contributor. The critically acclaimed studio has continued this decade-long design cadence with Elden Ring. The game does offer a few concessions compared to its spiritual predecessors, particularly in the way it handles traversal and death. Combat too is made relatively forgiving with the addition of powerful Spirit Ashes and reusable throwables, if one chooses to use them. Elden Ring’s bosses more than compensate for these leniencies, however, with movesets that are considerably more ample and diverse, not to mention a ton of input reading. Many around the web are already dubbing one particular boss as the hardest in the Soulsborne series.

As is tradition here at Geek Cosmos, we’ve put together a difficulty ranking for the game’s bosses. Given the sheer number of bosses in the game, we’ve limited our list to the twenty that we found to be the hardest based on three playthroughs with two different builds. A bonus section at the end compiles the hardest boss of each kind, covering a number of bosses that didn’t make the ranking.

Note: As mentioned earlier, our Elden Ring boss difficulty ranking is based on three playthroughs with two different builds – a melee-only build and one that combines ranged and melee attacks. Each boss was fought solo, without Spirit Ashes.

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The Hardest Elden Ring Bosses

  1. Elemer of the Briar
  2. Death Rite Bird
  3. Full-Grown Fallingstar Beast
  4. Draconic Tree Sentinel
  5. Misbegotten Warrior and Crucible Knight
  6. Fire Giant
  7. Dragonlord Placidusax
  8. Valiant Gargoyles
  9. Putrid Crystalian Trio
  10. Commander Niall
  11. Godskin Duo
  12. Margit, the Fell Omen
  13. Radagon of the Golden Order and Elden Beast
  14. Morgott, the Omen King
  15. Hoarah Loux, Warrior
  16. Crucible Knight and Crucible Knight Ordovis
  17. Mohg, Lord of Blood
  18. Starscourge Radahn
  19. Maliketh, the Black Blade
  20. Malenia, Blade of Miquella

20. Elemer of the Briar

The Force is strong with this one. Elden Ring’s rendition of a Sith Lord is a phantom menace both up close and at a distance. The Bell Bearing Hunter can send his sword flying through the air at considerable distances, so it’s never really safe to catch your breath or pop a heal. Close in on him and he’ll stop you in your tracks with a vicious grab attack or force you away with a shield bash followed by a delayed AoE explosion. If you manage to stay within melee range for most of the fight, however, the difficulty drops dramatically.

19. Death Rite Bird

One of the several nocturnal bosses in the game, the Death Rite Bird, as you might realize halfway through its first phase, looks meaner than it is. There is one attack in the second phase of the fight that can jolt you out of your false sense of ease, however. The nightmarish aviary chimera holds its spear vertically over the ground, charing it up with Ghostflame for a couple of seconds before bringing it down to trigger a huge explosion that lights seemingly random parts of the ground with Ghostflame. Even if you dodge the initial AoE burst, you may very easily find yourself within the fiery trails it leaves behind.

18. Full-Grown Fallingstar Beast

The stone ant from space seems harder to tame than it actually is. It’s far from the most nimble enemy in the game. You have ample time to strafe around or run out of range of most attacks. The tough carapace protecting its torso and legs does make it quite resilient to physical damage, which makes the fight a test of patience for melee builds.

17. Draconic Tree Sentinel

The Draconic Tree Sentinel feels like an amalgamation of all the mounted enemies in the game, striking a near-perfect balance between ranged and melee attacks. Stay up close and he’ll swing away at you mercilessly. Keep your distance, and he’ll force you closer with a volley of fireballs, only to catch you in a massive AoE attack. In the second phase of the fight, the horseman imbues his attacks with lightning and adds a few new moves that deal run-ending damage. Of these, the targeted lightning bolts are particularly nasty. The dodge timing against these is tight. Roll too early or too late, and you’re likely to find yourself at your last Site of Grace.

16. Misbegotten Warrior and Crucible Knight

It’s fortunate the Misbegotten Warrior is a glass cannon, otherwise, this fight would’ve been an absolute nightmare. It also helps that the beast is significantly more aggressive than the Crucible Knight as this can be leveraged to create some distance between the two for low-risk hits on the former. Similar to the encounter with the Valiant Gargoyles, the fight starts with a one-on-one bout. The Crucible Knight shows up after you’re already halfway through the Misbegotten Warrior’s health bar.

15. Fire Giant

The biggest challenge when fighting the aptly named Fire Giant is hitting his weak points, specifically in the second phase. As the colossus zones you out with massive AoE attacks and homing fireballs, you must summon Torrent to gallop out of range. You’re better off on foot close up, however, as it’s easier to target the giant’s weak points this way and, more importantly, to avoid being flattened by that infernal barrel roll.

14. Dragonlord Placidusax

The battle-worn Lord of Farum Azula might very be the most formidable dragon in the game. He has fewer attacks than the likes of Lichdragon Fortissax and Ancient Dragon Lansseax, but neither of them can vanish into thin air. Toward the end of the fight, past his terrifying lightning attacks, fire breath, and aerial assault, Placidusax will repeatedly vanish only to reappear a second later to swipe at you with his lightning claws. Take a moment too long to counterattack, and you’ll be left swinging away at nothing.

13. Valiant Gargoyles

Whenever you see a gargoyle in a FromSoftware game, you’d best prepare to meet another one. The Valiant Gargoyles are essentially bigger, badder cousins of the Bell Gargoyles from Dark Souls. The fight plays out in nearly the exact same manner as the one that inspires it, starting with one gargoyle and adding another when the first loses half of its health. The two tend to drag their feet from time to time, which makes separating them and creating space for attacks relatively easier than it is against the other boss duos in this list. You’d do well to keep your eye on both at all times, as even out of melee range, they can make short work of your health with poison breath that travels the length of the arena.

12. Putrid Crystalian Trio

Arguably the most infuriating multi-boss fight in the game, the Putrid Crystalian Trio requires equal parts strategy and good luck to get through without Spirit Ashes, especially for melee builds. You need to use Strike-type attacks or break poise to do any significant damage, though that may be a tall order against two ranged attackers and one tireless, hoppy spear wielder, all three of which inflict Scarlet Rot buildup with each attack. It’s fairly easy to parry the spear-toting Crystalian and the caster often leaves itself open to backstabs, but beware the Ringblade wielder, always closeby and ready to ruin your day.

11. Commander Niall

The fight with Commander Niall and his two soldiers is a mob boss battle done right. At the beginning of the fight, the Commander tends to hang back and buff his two minions, one of which is more aggressive than the other. Down both soldiers and you’ll have Niall’s undivided attention. Be prepared to give him a wide berth. He may not be agile or have the most versatile moveset, but he more than makes up for said discrepancies with quick, lightning-charged lunges and AoE frost attacks, some of which can cover nearly half the boss arena.

10. Godskin Duo

This one was hard to place. How you fair against the Godskin Duo depends on how many times you’ve encountered the Godskin Apostle and Godskin Noble earlier in your playthrough. Neither enemy is the hardest to deal with on its own, but the considerable speed and reach of the Godkin Noble’s attacks combined with the Apostle’s tendency to interrupt any healing attempts with ranged volleys could make this fight a nightmare for the uninitiated. What’s more, the two will continue to respawn after being downed until their shared health pool is depleted.

9. Margit, the Fell Omen

Margit is the first story boss you come across along the beaten path, so naturally, you’d assume he’d be among the easier encounters in the game. You’d be wrong, of course. Margit has one of the most versatile movesets in the game and tends to continue chaining together attacks with little to no downtime as long as you are within range. Try to heal at a safe distance and he will immediately counter with a ranged attack. The fight is designed to test your patience.

8. Radagon of the Golden Order and Elden Beast

The final boss of the game is more a test of your patience than anything else. At this point in the game, the first half of the fight shouldn’t pose as much of a challenge as most of the other bosses on this list. Radagon may look intimidating but it doesn’t take much to get used to his attacks. His tag-team partner, however, is a different story. The Elden Beast is annoyingly elusive despite its size. Every time you get close to it, it tends to float away and bombard you with magic. You’re likely to spend half your time running after the chubby holy dinosaur.

7. Morgott, the Omen King

Essentially a supercharged version of the game’s first story-related boss, Morgott is a test of how much you’ve improved since you first faced him in Stormveil Castle. He’s more agile and has a much wider variety of attacks as well as some of the lengthiest combos in the game. As with the original variant, players will likely struggle to find openings against the Omen King unless, of course, they opt to use Margit’s Shackle against him.

6. Hoarah Loux, Warrior

Godfrey mixes fast attacks with much slower swings and AoE abilities that cover nearly half the arena, and this isn’t even his final form. The First Elden Lord reveals his true strength halfway through the fight, swapping his axe for a number of moves taken right out of Zangief’s playbook. When Hoarah Loux isn’t chasing after you relentlessly, trying to land one of his lethal grapple attacks, he will make the entire arena erupt with his very fists.

5. Crucible Knight and Crucible Knight Ordovis

Mob and duo bosses are famously hard to get right. Taking any two enemies and grouping them together always has the potential to create a challenge that seems unfair or heavily reliant on RNG, the inherent randomness of the game. A good example of this is the Crucible Knight duo at the end of the Auriza Hero’s Grave dungeon. It’s hard to separate the two from each other, which makes sneaking in a hit extremely risky and getting stun-locked by chained attacks.

4. Mohg, Lord of Blood

Apart from a couple of oddly telegraphed melee attacks, the first phase of the battle with the Lord of Blood is far from the most challenging in the game and can be rendered downright trivial by using Mohg’s Shackle. The true battle begins in the second phase, however, as Mohg sprouts wings, adds a couple of devastating aerial moves to his arsenal, and creates pools of Bloodflame on the ground with each attack, but not before he both damages you and heals himself with an unavoidable blood curse. “Nihil!”

3. Starscourge Radahn

The battle with Starscourge Radhan is perhaps the only one in the game best tackled with a mix of horseback battle and fighting on foot. The Red Lion may be slow on his feet but he hits like a truck, both with his sweeping melee strikes and powerful gravity magic. The second phase of the fight adds multiple attacks that can one-shot all but the tankiest characters. Unless you plan on using the NPC summon signs strewn across the arena, be prepared for a tough battle.

2. Maliketh, the Black Blade

While the first half of the fight with Maliketh is no cakewalk either, it’s the dreaded second phase that earns it a rank this high up in the list. When he brings out the Black Blade, his moveset changes completely. He’ll leap to the pillars in the arena and bombard you with multiple ranged attacks from afar or swoop down on you with a wide swing routinely followed by a deadly AoE attack. The cherry on top is that all of his attacks temporarily reduce your maximum health and apply a brief damage-over-time debuff.

1. Malenia, Blade of Miquella

“I am Malenia, Blade of Miquella. And I have never known defeat.” The rot maiden’s pre-battle declaration isn’t mere posturing. Malenia is agile, hits hard, and heals herself every time she tags you, even if it’s through a shield. If the lifesteal mechanic alone wasn’t enough to make this optional boss a nightmare, she has two phases with separate health bars and a deadly three-part “Waterfowl Dance” attack that, at first blush, seems near-impossible to dodge. The second phase also adds Scarlet Rot buildup to each of her attacks, in addition to making her significantly more aggressive and harder to read, with her movements being partially obscured by her new wings.

Hardest Bosses of a Kind

  • Hardest Dungeon Boss – Crucible Knight and Crucible Knight Ordovis
  • Hardest Evergaol Boss – Crucible Knight
  • Hardest Overworld/Field Boss – Draconic Tree Sentinel
  • Hardest Overworld/Field Dragon – Borealis the Freezing Fog
  • Hardest Erdtree Avatar – Erdtree Avatar duo in Mountaintops of the Giants
  • Hardest Night-time Overworld/Field Boss – Death Rite Bird
  • Hardest Boss Duo – Crucible Knight and Crucible Knight Ordovis
  • Hardest Boss Trio – Putrid Crystalian Trio
  • Hardest Remembrance Boss – Malenia, Blade of Miquella
  • Hardest Non-optional Story Boss – Maliketh, the Black Blade

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Sameed Khan

I write, game, design at times, and revel in sarcasm. You can find me on Twitter.