Messmer Phase 2 Transformation during boss fight in Elden Ring
Screenshot via The Escapist

Ranking All Major Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Bosses, From Worst to Best

If there’s one thing players have come to expect from FromSoft games, it’s that they’re going to be stuffed to the brim with bosses. So with that in mind, let’s rank the polarizing baddies from Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree from worst to best.

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Ranking Shadow of the Erdtree Bosses From Worst to Best

In our last list, we took a look at the most difficult bosses that the DLC threw at players and now we’re building on that with a ranking of all of the major bosses. What constitutes a major boss in Shadow of the Erdtree is a bit unclear statement . There are 10 bosses that drop Remembrances, signifying a major encounter, but there are also several major bosses that don’t drop Remembrances that would be rude to leave off. Not only that, but then there are mandatory bosses that don’t drop Remembrances and are unique encounters, so where do they factor in?

For this list, we decided to limit our focus not only to bosses that drop Remembrances but also boss encounters that are either required to progress the story or cap off major sidequests. That gives us 13 encounters to rank based on their overall quality. Difficulty is a factor when ranking these foes, but it also comes down to their overall design, the arena you fight them in, and the ease of learning their patterns.

With that in mind, here is our ranking of every major boss from Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree from worst to best.

13) Commander Gaius

Image of Commander Gaius using a gravity sorcery on the Tarnished in Elden Ring
Screenshot by The Escapist.

Calling Commander Gaius the worst boss of the DLC isn’t an unpopular statement. Outside of blatant input reading, Gaius lumbers around the ring with his boar and thanks to his tricky timing and frame-perfect dodges, is one of the hardest fights in the game. He’s an entirely optional foe and most players won’t even encounter him, making him feel all the more irrelevant. He’s the one boss in the game that feels broken to fight against, whether it’s on foot or with Torrent, making him more frustrating than fun. It’s rare for a community to unite around hating one particular character, but Gaius accomplished that. Nobody likes Gaius and it should stay that way. If only he wasn’t blocking the way to a fistful of Scadutree Fragments.

12) Divine Beast Dancing Lion

The dancing lion  screen cap from Shadow of the Erdtree Elden Ring
Screenshot via The Escapist

The problem with Divine Beast Dancing Lion is the same as a lot of other large enemies you have to fight in close environments: their speed is too great for their size and the confined space leads to camera issues. This is the first boss that most players will find in Shadow of the Erdtree and his wild movements will almost certainly frustrate returning players. The phase shifts where he uses different elements make the fight more interesting and fun, but even when fighting him again in the late-game, dodging his chaotic movements feels like it boils down to luck. Awesome music, though.

11) Golden Hippopotamus

Golden Hippopotamus facing off with player in Elden Ring
Screenshot via The Escapist

Take a lot of the issues that the Divine Beast Dancing Lion had and you’ll find that they’re the same criticisms of the Golden Hippopotamus. The confinement of the arena leads to camera issues, but thankfully his larger size and how he’s a beefed-up version of a miniboss you faced before helps to make his moves more readable and familiar. His second phase is perfectly okay, with him sprouting golden spikes that give him some ranged attacks, but the core mechanics of the fight are still the same. Get up close, hug his side, and keep hitting him until he’s dead. He’s not a bad boss, but a fairly unremarkable one.

10) Metyr, Mother of Fingers

Image of the Mother of Fingers starting  Phase 2 with her floating into the sky with a massive orb and shining celestial effects
Screenshot via The Escapist

Metyr, Mother of Fingers is another boss that most players may not even fight, given how it’s at the end of a lengthy and obtuse sidequest. The fight against this fingered freak is in a wide open arena, which works for players fighting at a distance, but its weak point is the juicy spot right in its front, tempting more aggressive players to target it. Its weird movements are justified given its freakish design and its large AOE attack to initiate the second phase may be a bit too cheap given its large size, but Metyr is a boss that’s fairly forgettable and over a bit too soon if you play it aggressively.

9) Promised Consort Radahn

Image of Miquellla grasping Prime Radhan by the shoulders during a cutscene in Elden Ring

Look, Promised Consort Radahn is, at points, a great boss. He’s undeniably the hardest boss in the game, but in its first phase, it’s because of how well he controls the fight. His large moves and gravity magic will keep you on your toes and his combos are never too long to memorize. If this ranking was just based on his first phase, then Radahn would be much higher.

But then Miquella brings his frail self to the party and all the goodwill goes down the drain. Phase 2 is marked by massive AOE attacks, rapid attacks that hit for chunks of damage, moves that obscure his attacks, and, of course, all of the brutal moves that players learned from the first phase, only with aftereffects that prevent you from staying close. Fighting Radahn and Miquella is straight-up not fun and is the definition of self-inflicted punishment. This is the breaking point of FromSoft making each of their games harder. Radahn is just unreasonable, and the only things keeping him from the bottom is his role as the final boss and the enjoyable first phase.

8) Putrescent Knight

Putrescent Knight trailer screenshot in Elden Ring, with the Knight rearing up on his horse in muck, reminiscent of his second phase
Screenshot via The Escapist

Another boss that most players may not even encounter, the Putrescent Knight gives me Orphan of Kos flashbacks in all of the best ways. While he’s not as aggressive as that nightmare of a boss, the Putrescent Knight and his horse are highly mobile and can lay down some punishment, either while he’s riding his steed or when they separate for some combos. It’s when the knight splits that he becomes more annoying, mostly from how his steed can summon itself from the goopy waters, making this a fairly stiff boss fight, but nothing too taxing. A perfect midgame challenge.

7) Needle Knight Leda and her Allies

Elden Ring player speaking to Leda the Needle Knight
Screenshot via The Escapist

This penultimate fight is probably one of the most interesting fights in the game since it’s a massive PvP fight against Needle Knight Leda and several allies backing her up. You can have allies supporting you depending on how many sidequests you’ve completed, as well as whittle down her forces depending on your actions in certain sidequests. No matter what, it’s probably the best PvP fight in the game, thanks to Leda’s own spread of holy attacks and the sheer variety of combat styles you have to deal with during this skirmish. The longer the fight goes on, the harder it becomes, but as a way to wrap up the stories of the major NPCs in the DLC, it’s a great way to go.

6) Rellana Twin Moon Knight

Rellana Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree wielding two swords
Screenshot via FromSoftware

As the first mandatory boss fight in the game, Rellana Twin Moon Knight will quickly humble players with her odd attack movements and range. At first, she’s not a particularly hard fight, but her second phase really does embody a central problem with Elden Ring bosses in general: chaotic second phases. With a flurry of magical attacks being thrown out at a speed that’s almost impossible to avoid, Rellana’s fair difficulty becomes much more unfair once she decides to channel her inner Pontiff Sulyvahn. It’s still an enjoyable fight and one that feels like an accomplishment to overcome, but because of her magical attacks in the second phase, it’s kept just out of the top five.

5) Romina, Saint of the Bud

Romina battling the player in Elden Ring
Screenshot via The Escapist

Romina, Saint of the Bud is a boss that feels oddly easy given how she’s encountered late in the game, but that doesn’t diminish her skills or overall challenge. Her centipedal body may lead to some odd movements, but distinguishing between the head and the tail will help cue you to her attacks. She also has access to Scarlet Rot, making players debate whether to fight her from a distance or up close and personal. Her arena is absolutely gorgeous and her beautiful AOE attacks are deadly, yet easily dodgeable. In a game that seems dead set on killing you at every chance, Romina is the first boss in a long while that feels like it’s readily possible to overcome her, leading to a thrilling fight.

4) Scadutree Avatar

Scadutree Avatar in boss arena in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot via FromSoftware

It’s odd saying that a giant sunflower is one of the best bosses in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, but the fight against the Scadutree Avatar is a smartly designed encounter. The large open arena is a double-edged sword, leading to some very far-reaching yet easily dodgeable attacks, but hitting the flower up close will deal the most damage. Its health is paltry, but once you realize you have to kill it three times for it to stay dead, then the fight gets more interesting. Each resurrection adds new attacks, like a huge rush across the arena or a projection of lasers, but the fight’s core doesn’t change. In fact, each time the Avatar dies, it gives the players just enough time to heal and apply buffs, giving you somewhat of a breather. It’s just a well-designed fight, one made all the better by the changing score as you keep killing this decayed sunflower.

3) Bayle the Dread

Bayle approaches the player
Screenshot by The Escapist

The top three bosses are all excellent for their own reasons, but Bayle the Dread is something special. Serving as the climax of a huge ascent up Jagged Peaks, Bayle is a spectacle of a boss, complete with fire-based lightning attacks, massive rushes, and the now legendary screams of Igon. Hitting Bayle is no easy task, especially when your sole lock-on point is his tiny head, but it’s a marvel just watching this fight play out. For theatrics alone, this fight is top-tier. However, what keeps him off the top spot are the camera issues that plague most agile large enemies and how actually reaching him to attack is cumbersome. Still, for the challenge and scale of this fight, Bayle the Dread is one of the best bosses in Elden Ring, DLC or otherwise.

2) Midra, Lord of Frenzied Flame

Midra, Lord of Frenzied Flame in Elden Ring.
Screenshot by The Escapist.

The fight against Midra, Lord of Frenzied Flame is, again, one that many players will miss, but I implore you to find him in the Abyssal Woods. As far as humanoid fights go, Midra has plenty of obvious tells and easily read attacks, giving you opportunities to either punish him or heal. How he can inflict Madness on the player keeps you on edge, which forces you to play cautiously or risk taking huge amounts of damage. Get too cautious though and Midra will start to combo you, made all the worse by the flames that he starts to use in the second phase. There are plenty of opportunities to stagger him, so players who can learn his tells will have a great time fighting this wonderfully memorable boss. The only thing keeping him from the top spot? The first phase just kind of… exists.

1) Messmer the Impaler

Messmer Phase 1 opening cutscene Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot via The Escapist

It should come as no surprise that the DLC’s poster boy is the best boss of the game. Messmer the Impaler is a thrilling fight from beginning to end. He’s the definition of a tough, yet fair, encounter. His moves all have easy-to-read tells and he’s never aggressively fast, unlike other bosses. Even when he brings out his inner snake for the second phase, it never feels too chaotic, with plenty of opportunities for you to get in hits. He’s not the hardest boss in the game, but that’s arguably a point in his favor since he’s not a boss that feels like an insurmountable challenge or a damage sponge with absurd HP. He’s exactly the kind of boss you want from a FromSoft game—tough, with just the right amount of spectacle, an easy-to-learn pattern, and one that encourages split-second decision-making. Without a doubt, Messmer is the best boss of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is available now.

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Jesse Lab
Jesse Lab is a freelance writer for The Escapist and has been a part of the site since 2019. He currently writes the Frame Jump column, where he looks at and analyzes major anime releases. He also writes for the film website Jesse has been a gamer since he first played Pokémon Snap on the N64 and will talk to you at any time about RPGs, platformers, horror, and action games. He can also never stop talking about the latest movies and anime, so never be afraid to ask him about recommendations on what's in theaters and what new anime is airing each season.