Recently, I did a challenge run where I went through Elden Ring on New Game Plus. I had to beat all of the bosses without using healing potions and by using only melee attacks. No summons or magic (I do allow the Bloodhound’s Step Ash of War though because I love it.) I also turned the hud off so I couldn’t see my HP, FP or stamina, nor could I see the enemy’s HP. With these conditions, I was attempting to make the game more immersive and less frustrating. I have to say, it worked. I felt I was able to grow much more accustomed to the subtle intricacies of every boss fight. Naturally, I had to ask myself ‘which of all the Elden Ring bosses are the most fun?’.
When you’re not stressing about resource management the whole time, it’s much easier to treat every boss battle like a dance. You move as they move, to the timing of their attacks. You don’t have to worry about whether you can survive their next attack because you either will or you won’t. It’s interesting, taking away the healing mechanic made me feel like I was in much more control of the situation.
Now, because I only played with melee, this list may not apply to magic builds. To be specific, I’m ranking these bosses on how satisfying it is to learn their movesets. How well their attacks are telegraphed, whether there is any randomness involved, etc. I also take into consideration how the fights change over time, and just how epic they get. And the first of this list definitely gets most of their points from the epic category.
The lead-up to Placidusax rocks. They’re a late-game optional boss that you fight in Farum Azula, the crumbled ruins of the dragon realm caught in a perpetually spiralling tempest. As you enter Placidusax’s boss arena, time spins backwards, rebuilding the ruins through reversed entropy. And at the heart of this pocket of timeless space, rests the decaying Elden Lord of dragons, waiting eternally for their deity to return. If I was ranking strictly on epicness, Placidusax would be much higher on the list.
I felt I had to put a dragon in but I think Elden Ring does a bad job with its dragons. Most of them have you running up and slapping at their feet until they die which is unsatisfying. It’s frustrating too because the camera doesn’t let you see anything that they’re doing. Placidusax fixes all that by giving you a big torso to attack front-on so you can respond accordingly to their moves. I put them at the bottom of the list though because of two things: his health bar is too big, and fire sucks. Fire in Elden Ring looks great but it’s too hard to tell if it will damage you. I spent five hours trying to beat Placidusax, and it was mostly spent dying from inconsistent fire.
Margit, the Fell Omen / Morgott, the Omen King
I put Margit and Morgott in the same spot because Morgott is essentially just an evolved form of Margit. Margit is a perfect starting boss because he’s one of the hardest bosses in the game. By starting with Margit, Elden Ring gives you a sense of what to expect from the rest of the game. That euphoric feeling you get when you hear the boss’s death sound and see him turn into particles that blow away in the wind … you’re gonna be feeling that a lot. Of all of the Elden Ring bosses, I probably had some of the most fun with Margit simply because he was the first, and he let me know that this game was not going to be easy.
Morgott I never found that difficult which I think is quite cool. He works as a barometer to measure how far you’ve come as a player. There are a lot of moments in Elden Ring that test your resolve; Morgott reminds you that you are progressing and you are getting better, which makes him a perfect mid-game boss. I also really like Morgott’s arsenal. He has a big sword then he’ll manifest a hammer and a spear at times, he also has projectiles and big area-of-effect attacks. All of these weapons are so visually distinct that you always know what to expect when he brings them out.
I completely missed this boss in my first play-through of Elden Ring and I hate that because he is one of the most fun bosses of anything. It’s literally an asteroid with a cute furry face, and could possibly be the chrysalis to the butterfly that is Astel, Naturalborn of the Void (more on them later). What makes the Fallingstar Beast uniquely fun is the arena. You’re fighting in a crater so you’re constantly taking into consideration who has the higher ground.
There are points where you have to treat it like a bullfight, then others where you have to watch out for magic. You must be versatile but every attack from the Beast is so cleanly telegraphed, making it satisfying to learn all the patterns. I did cheat in my video and use a Meteorite spell, but it was just to get a cool photo. I’m pretty sure the attack missed anyway, hah.
Radagon of the Golden Order / Elden Beast
Of course, the final boss would be somewhere on this list. Radagon is a pleasure to fight. It’s fun watching him start off all staunch and arrogant then become more aggressive as you show him your skills. The timing of his attacks are varied. You have to pay attention or else you’ll get slammed. He also has a lot of ground attacks that you can punish with well-timed jump attacks. You get enough practice with jump attacks in the boss before Radagon, so it works as a logical through-line of that mechanic. Sadly, after Radagon comes the Elden Beast.
Elden Beast is by no means the worst of the bosses in Elden Ring, but it’s nowhere near the most fun either. It’s certainly epic, being the vassal of the Elden Ring itself, but it’s boring. You spend most of the fight chasing him as he swims around the arena. It has the annoying fire attack that Placidusax has, and the Elden Stars attack which follows you around for far too long. I get that they made it easy because players have to fight Radagon again every time they die, so they didn’t want to be too punishing. If they’d just made it easy, this fight would be higher on the list. But they didn’t just make it easy, they made it annoying so screw Elden Beast.
General Radahn is a spectacle. They literally call it a festival in the game so of course, it’s going to be fun as heck. It’s as if when the designers got to Radahn, they were just like “screw it” and packed as much cool stuff in as they could. The arena is a seemingly infinite desert framed by scarlet skies that turn a cold dark blue halfway through the fight. He has powerful projectile attacks, massive range with his greatswords, area-of-affect attacks, gravity magic, and he’s aggressive as hell.
It balances the difficulty by letting you summon like a thousand NPCs to help, turning the fight into a cacophonous brawl. Not only that, but the fight tells a story of its own. The beginning is all about surviving as he pelts you with arrows, and you have to go around rallying your troops. The middle is the clash, as you have your chance to fight back. Then he leaps into space and, like a comet, crashes back into the battle, with a new influx of gravity spells to shake things up. If this was a list of the most epic, the top five would all be General Radahn—then Placidusax.
From a mechanical standpoint, all of Radahn’s attacks are actually pretty simple. Once you get over how insane everything is, the fight becomes average. He’s too big and bombastic to truly follow what he’s doing half the time. Nevertheless, Radahn gets the trophy for being the most memorable boss fight in Elden Ring.
Astel, Naturalborn of the Void
I’m a big cosmos fan so I’m probably biased towards Astel. Seeing a giant eldritch creature with the title ‘Naturalborn of the Void’ releases the butterflies in my stomach. For the longest time, Astel was my favourite boss on its design alone (I do happen to be a Bloodborne fan, how did you know?). Mechanically, Astel is the way they should have designed the dragons in Elden Ring. It is massive but you always have direct contact with its head. The focus is centred in a way that gives you a full view of Astel, so you always know what it’s doing. All big bosses should be designed this way. Keep everything clear so the player can react. It’s such a shame that Elden Ring fails so much in that regard.
Astel has a variety of attacks from short range to long range. It also teleports and summons meteorites. It only happened to me once, but there’s also an attack where it makes a whole bunch of copies of itself that all try to grab you, it scared the crap out of me. All of Astel’s attacks are great and satisfying to dodge … except for one. There’s one attack where it slams half of its arms down and they all release an area-of-effect attack. It happens so fast that there’s really no reasonable way of reacting to it. It’s not the most unreasonable attack though … that’s coming soon.
Malenia, Blade of Miquella
This placement of Malenia might be controversial. Some might put her higher because she’s the hardest; some might put her lower for that same reason. Though I think some of the lower bosses on this list might be better designed, Malenia fits here for how satisfying she is to conquer. When you first fight Malenia, it feels like they built her without a single opening for attack. She’s relentless, constantly blending all of her attacks into each other. Whenever you think you have an opening, she’ll get some quick hit in.
Every attack she lands on you heals her. I’m sure that annoyed a lot of people but I actually think that’s one of her greatest features. They designed her in a way that incentivises players to beat her without getting hit. Most players tend to lean too much on their health potions. Malenia forces players to really concentrate on what she is doing. Because of this, she feels most like a dance than any other battle in Elden Ring. She is what inspired me to do the no-healing run in the first place. That being said, I cheated and use a Crimson Tear in between phases. If she can have two health bars, so can I!
Because of how aggressive her attacks are, it’s so much more satisfying to find the pockets of time in which you can punish her. She’s almost perfect but fails with just one attack: the Waterfowl Dance. She delivers a flurry of high-speed, high-range sword swipes that get you from no matter where you are. Yes, it is possible to dodge it—and is fun when you learn how—my issue isn’t with the actual attack, it’s with the wind-up leading into the attack. She can use it anytime, from any spot, and it needs specific movement to dodge it. Because of this, some attempts are destined to fail. It’s random and it’s unfair. But it does afford the player an opportunity to be humble. Sometimes, you won’t be in control. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but lose. It’s a valuable lesson to learn … but it’s not that fun.
Mohg, Lord of Blood
Now we’re getting into the section of fights that I think are straight-up perfect game design. Mohg is unique in that you need to do more than just fight him to beat him. He has an attack called Bloodboon Ritual that cannot be dodged. It completely heals him while killing you unless you heal through it. In order to protect from this attack, you have to get an item from out in the world. If you’re playing an open-world game, you’re most likely into exploring and collecting stuff. Elden Ring revolutionizes the open-world formula and Mohg is part of it. Mohg is one of the only bosses that incorporates the explorative nature of the game.
His attacks are all well telegraphed and fun to learn. He uses a lot of blood attacks that (unlike fire) are easy to understand, and they stain the ground so you have to be conscious of the environment. He has a second phase where he sprouts wings and gets a bunch of new attacks. Mohg is pure fun.
Godfrey, the First Elden Lord (Hoarah Loux)
Godfrey has all of the fun of Mohg but with the added benefit of being one of the most epic bosses in the game. Throughout Elden Ring, you’re fighting giants, beasts, aliens, sorcerers, demigods, and countless supernatural and super-powerful beings. Hoarah Loux, though, is just a guy. He’s a warrior. Like you, he’s Tarnished. When you see him, he has the spectre of the Regent Beast Serosh attached to him and you assume that you will at some point fight this beast. But as the fight goes on, you learn that Serosh was actually suppressing his lust for battle as he tears the beast out of him and becomes more ferocious than anything you’ve encountered thus far. You learn over the course of the fight why Marika chose him to be Elden Lord.
The fight itself is also a masterclass in escalation. The first half teaches you how to punish with jump attacks as he constantly stomps the ground. There’s enough of a wind-up for you to quickly understand the mechanic and get good at it. Then in the second half, he forces you to use what you have learned as he chases you around the arena. He becomes like Malenia, encouraging you not to heal because there are no safe moments to heal. If I was completely unbiased, I would probably have Godfrey at the top of the list. But I’m human so …
Maliketh, the Black Blade
I feel people will disagree, but I think Maliketh is the most fun of all the Elden Ring bosses. Maliketh is the only fight where I purposely died just so I could keep fighting him. From the first seconds of entering the battle arena, adrenaline torrents into your brain as it thrusts you into high-energy action. He’s fast, he’s aggressive, he’s versatile, he’s powerful. And you have to match him to keep up. He has the feeling of dancing like Malenia and Hoarah Loux, but he’s fair and consistent. From the moment the battle starts to when it ends, you have to be in full focus. No other boss induces the flow-state like Maliketh does.
I’ve heard the argument that the first phase doesn’t adequately set you up for the second phase and I disagree. The second phase is just as exciting as the first but he incorporates more of the arena rather than keeping it local. Instead of just watching him closely for subtle cues, you’re watching for those same cues as he’s jumping around everywhere. He’s also epic as hell. Being Marika’s shadow, he’s pretty much on par with a god. He’s the guardian of Destined Death, the only means by which to kill Marika’s immortal children, and she entrusted that responsibility to him for a reason. Sure, Ranni was able to steal it off him … but no one beats Ranni. Anyway, Maliketh is the best, fight me.
Most Fun Elden Ring Runner-up Bosses
I personally love the idea of fighting a mirror version of yourself, going all the way back to Zelda 2 on the NES. It’s always good to see if you have the skill to defeat yourself.
Elemer of the Briar / Ball Bearing Hunter
These guys are the best examples of small humanoid bosses, I feel. Their moveset is interesting and varied. I’ve always been a sucker for a blade that they’re controlling telekinetically.
If you want to see more videos of me doing this challenge run, you can find them on my YouTube channel.