One of the best parts of exploring Elden Ring is finding these large, well-protected castles scattered across the land. Within these castles lie some of the best bosses within Elden Ring, as well as intense yet captivating encounters with various field enemies. Castle Sol is no exception, and it stands as one of my favorite places to explore throughout Elden RIng.
How to Reach Castle Sol:
Castle Sol is nestled within the snowy landscape of the Mountaintop of the Giants. You will want to start at the Freezing Lake site of grace and head down the snowy path the opposite way you are facing. You will know you are heading in the right direction if you see a few giants roaming down below.
Once you reach the frozen river below, keep heading Southwest underneath a few large bridges. You will encounter a few giants on this path, and you are welcome to engage with them. However, I find it easiest to ignore them and continue your journey. Keep traveling Southwest until you encounter some bats fighting the villagers, and here you will find your first landmark on the path.
There will be a small shack titled Shack of the Lofty, and while it does not give the player much besides the Traveling Maiden attire, it serves as a marker for the path to Castle Sol. From the Shack, head south towards the Spring stack and use it to get up the mountain in front of you. Once on top, cut back Northeast to cross the large bridge before you, heading left.
On this path, you will be met with a few giant skeletons that will spawn out of the ground and shoot projectiles at you if you cannot evade them in time. Keep heading past them, and go Northwest to the back of the skeleton and drop down below. Here you will encounter a mini-boss called the Death rite bird, but you can ignore it now and continue to head Northwest. You will follow a winding path down to the area below, and in front of you, you should be able to see a walking mausoleum.
Head towards the mausoleum, and once you are close enough, Castle Sol will be revealed. There is a grace point to the right of the stairway entrance, so interact with that and make sure to spend runes, memorize spells, and whatever you want to with this time. I say this because Castle Sol is sure to cause a few deaths to most players, so it is essential to minimize the overall loss.
Castle Sol Entrance: 2 Paths
Path 1: Middle
This Castle features some of the more robust, annoying enemies within Elden Ring, so whichever path you choose, know they both have their challenges. The first path I will discuss is the middle path, which is quicker, but players will need to avoid this route immediately due to a few roadblocks.
When you enter the Castle, you will first notice that a giant lion is roaming the area. He is fast, aggressive, and tanky and has a massive knife that he holds in his mouth, slicing away at you as he flies into the air. There are actually two lions, however, the second one is relatively hidden until you get the first lion down to around half health. These guys do not respawn and are the key enemies blocking your way to the middle path.
These lions are a fun fight, but some people have a lot of trouble with certain enemies. There is a way to cheese the lions, as you can use the doorway in the front of the Castle as a wall. By getting the lion to enter the entrance, you can slowly chip away at his health without much risk of getting pounced. The lions can still swipe you and deal massive damage in the process, so be careful. Also, the second lion only has around half health, which helps immensely.
Lions are No More
After the lions are defeated, you can head to the far right of the entrance, right by a gravestone, to find a Golden Rune ten. Next, head back to the middle area where you fought the lions and towards the large staircase in the back. Underneath the stairs is a smithing stone five behind a pillar, so be sure to grab that before you head up.
As you make your way up to the top, be cautious of the enemies ahead. You will get somewhat startled by dogs walking into the frame from the left, but the real danger is the fire-breathing hawk. The birds are the new dogs for me in Elden Ring, as their erratic movements and quick decisions make hitting them with my greatsword near impossible. Be careful and strategic, and when you have finished that fight, keep heading forward towards a small entrance. Be sure to grab the three permafrost boluses.
Once inside, head up the winding staircase to the top of the structure, and outside there will be a group of invisible teleporting enemies. I like to kill the two enemies closest to me, head up the staircase behind me, and grab the Golden Rune 10. Watch out for two more invisible enemies, and kill them to continue. Head back down the stairs, and bee line it towards the archer shooting above. A larger, more potent version of these enemies will appear, and killing him is the main priority. After, head inside the building and take a left into the room with a grace point.
Path 2: Left
If you are anything like me, your first couple encounters with the lions did not go so well. I had some brutal deaths, with the most memorable one coming before I knew about the second lion, and I was about one hit away from taking care of the first one. I was desperate to find another way, and like all other Soulsborne games, there is always a different approach you can take.
Instead of engaging with the lion, stealthily sneak off to the left, head through the wooden barriers to the end of the pathway, and looking right will reveal a larger path, most notably with a small entrance on the left-hand side. This is where we want to go, so stand up and head over there. I call this room Slug Room, and that is because it is filled with them.
Take your time at the entrance, waiting for all the slugs to fall, and take them all out. After they are finished, grab the Nascent Butterfly in the back of the room and proceed up the ladder. Once you reach the top, grab the Fan Daggers on the ledge in front of you, and then proceed on the path to the right.
Flaming Arrows, Flaming Bombs
This path will be the most annoying part of this journey, in my opinion. On this path, you will be met with a standard teleporting enemy, which is not much of an issue. However, when fighting this enemy, another enemy will be on top of a building across from you, nailing you with firebombs. If you try and continue forward on the path to avoid the firebombs, you will be met with a barrage of exploding arrows as soon as you round the corner. These arrows have been the cause of my demise more times than I’d like to admit, and I developed a good strategy for this encounter.
You will first want to get the attention of the invisible enemy of the path in front of you and lure him back towards the safe zone from the firebombs. After taking him out, pull out the bow, and snipe the enemy chucking bombs. From here, head towards the arrow alley, and bait out the first barrage. After this barrage is baited, run forward as fast as you can towards the arrows, and dodge into them as they are fired. If you are quick enough, you should be up on him and can take him out quickly after this second barrage. Go back down the path you came and grab the Golden Rune 10 before proceeding.
Head on a Swivel
Continuing on the path will be much the same, as an enemy will be waiting in the same way that the other was, waiting for you to turn the corner. Most people will assume it is safe to just run up to this guy after dodging the arrows and killing him. However, another enemy is waiting for you to rush his friend. He will shoot you from the left as you get close, leaving you minimal safe areas. I wish I had a strategy for this part, but I get hit every time, so it becomes a game of dodge and pray. Don’t immediately take out the first enemy; roll past him to bait out the arrows. Go back and kill him, then head towards the next enemy, dodging the arrows from above as you sprint for the stairs.
You can now safely take out the enemy manning the arrows, as no other enemies will be shooting you. Behind you, there will be a Smithing Stone 6, so be sure to grab that before you head down the ladder. After dropping down the ladder, you will be able to acquire the Sorcerer Painting, and opening the door behind you will take you to where the dogs and hawks were in the middle path. A dog will be sleeping directly to your left when you exit the door, so be sure to take him out for a quick and easy kill.
If you want the Stormhawk Axe, head to the opening in the wall where you killed the archer. From here, you can use the broken wall to the right to climb up the wall, and from here, tightrope walk across the perimeter until you come across a platform with an item. Dropping on this platform will allow you to grab the Stormhawk Axe, where you can jump down to the ground below, right next to the door you just opened.
From here, follow the same route mentioned above to reach the site of grace named the Church of the Eclipse. Again, manage your upgrades/spells/weapons here because a few significant challenges lie ahead.
Upper Castle Sol
After interacting with the grace, head out the door and to the left towards an altar. Right before the altar, a phantom NPC will be knelt over praying. When we talk to him, we can hear him say:
“Ohh great sun! Frigid sun of Sol! Surrender yourself to the eclipse! Grant life to the soulless bones!”
On the altar in front of him, we can pick up the Eclipse Shotel weapon, a nice curved sword. From here, head out the door on the right side. Once outside the door, head right and follow the path behind the building. Again, we have a few choices about where we want to go. This time, however, one way will lead us straight to the area’s boss, so we will want to head in the other direction.
There is an area to drop off below, with a rune arc waiting to be grabbed. Drop down and grab it, then head towards the doorway on the right side. Like Slug Room, I call this room Rat Room because around five rats will immediately jump you. Take them out, grab the Smithing Stone 7, and head up the ladder. Up here, you will encounter one of the funniest jumpscares in the game, as the giant knight that seemingly has his back turned to you on the path in front will sense you and immediately teleport behind you.
This enemy has caused many deaths and heart-pounding moments, so best of luck fighting him. He will drop an altered Banished Knight Helm, so collect that and head on the path. On the right side, you can pick up the Cerulean Amber Medallion +1, which dramatically raises the maximum FP. From here, you can fast travel back to the Church of the Eclipse, and now you are ready to find the area’s boss.
From the grace point, again head towards the phantom, and take the exit on the left side. Instead of going right, we will head straight into the small doorway in front of us. In this room, there are multiple teleporting knights and annoying rock enemies, but on your first time going through this place, it is essential to kill all of them to unlock some shortcuts.
Unlocking the Elevator/Secret Area
After killing all the enemies within the room, head outside and activate the elevator to the left. This elevator takes you down to the bottom of the Castle, allowing for easy access from the first grace point in Castle Sol. Instead of going all the way down, jump off onto the platform that appears a quarter of the way down because there is some excellent loot here.
After dropping onto the platform, head to the right to find a Golden Rune 9. Keep following this path until you encounter a few dogs and a sizeable teleporting knight. Fighting them is not too bad because, for some reason, the dogs are not too aggressive. After the fight, head up the stairs to the right and grab the Swordstone Key. Now, head back to the elevator, and now you can face the boss of this area, Commander Niall.
Below, I will list the key items that you can find within Castle Sol, as missing these could really be a detriment to your gameplay.
Key Items Within the Castle
- Haligtree Secret Medallion (Left): This item is the main treasure of Castle Sol, as collecting both halves of this Medallion offers you the chance to explore an optional but fantastic area of the Forbidden Woods. From this area, you can enter that Haligtree area, where Malenia resides. This area may be optional, but I strongly recommend that every player at least tries to tackle these challenges, making the run through Castle Sol essential.
- Cerulean Amber Medallion +1: This is a great talisman for any build, but will be most useful for sorcerers and those reliant of their Ash of War. This Talisman is the upgraded version of the Cerulean Amber Medallion, and it offers a great boost to FP when equipped. Guarded by the Teleporting Knight dual-wielding swords, it is a worthy prize for the battle you must endure.
- Swordstone Key: These little keys allow you to access certain blocked off areas all over the map, housing weapons, loot, enemies and more. It is up to you to find these areas, but it always helps to have a couple of these keys handy.
- Eclipse Shotel: This curved sword is great for Faith and Dexterity builds, and its added bonus is the ability to inflict death blight on your opponents. Even if you are not a Faith and Dex build, with the ability to switch stats at any time in the playthrough, why would you want to limit your arsenal?
- Stormhawk Axe: Much like the reasoning I gave for the Eclipse Shotel, the Stormhawk Axe may not be for everyone. It scales with Strength and Dexterity, and has a unique skill attached to it called Thunderstorm. You never know what weapon or build you will want to run next, so again, make sure not to limit yourself by not grabbing this weapon.
- Somber Smithing Stone (8): While Castle Sol has a plethora a regular Smithing Stones scattered about, the ones you really cannot miss would be these Somber Smithing Stone (8)’s. There are two of these stones hidden in the less practical spots of the map, and for good reason. One of them can be found right before the drop off where you acquire the Rune Arc. Platforming atop a broken wall will lead you right to one of these precious stones. The other can be found on the outside walls, atop a small cliff that will require some platforming. Missing these will be a mistake, as they allow for special weapons to be upgraded.
- Sorcerer Painting: There are only seven paintings that you can find across the map, and one of them is buried within Castle Sol. These paintings are not only beautiful, but they also can offer the player some answers to the many secrets within the land, or confuse them even further. Either way, attaining all seven paintings should be a goal of many players, so be sure to grab this before you head out.
This boss is located up the stairs after the elevator, and he has a little trick to his fight. He will spawn in the two larger teleporting enemies, and they will immediately begin to charge you. I like to open this fight up on the right side and attract the knight with two swords. From here, be intelligent and patient with your hits, and try and take him out while constantly moving backward.
During this part, watch Commander Niall as he will try to poke at you with his weapon and buff his soldiers. After taking out the enemy with the dual swords, the shielded enemy is much the same. Be patient, wait for openings, and eventually, he will go down. Now that both enemies are dead, the real fight can finally begin.
Commander Niall will not be happy that you, too, took out his soldiers and will now summon the powers of frost and lightning to take you down. He has a few notable moves, and you must get the timing down to punish him appropriately.
Niall will load up a charge with a few swings of his weapon. He will be in your face within seconds, dragging his weapon behind him, loading up a slash attack. You want to delay your roll until he is just about to swing, and unless you have weapons that can quickly punish, you will want to get out of the way. He will follow up his charge with a frost stomp AOE, which has a relatively large range. You can avoid this with a well-timed dodge. However, it can be rather tricky to get the timing down.
Niall will telegraph this attack by stomping his peg leg into the ground, and a bolt of electricity will run through it. After this, he will leap into the air and hang there for a few seconds. You will need to delay your roll, as this is a very delayed attack. After he lands, a small lightning AOE will cover the ground near him, which is easily avoided. He will follow this attack up with a few swipes, so dodge those before punishing. He can also stomp after a combo without jumping in the air, so be on the lookout for that.
He has one AOE attack covering nearly the whole arena, and it has hit me so many times. He will lean over and charge his weapon up, and giant gusts of frost will circle him. After a few seconds, he will swing his weapon in a circle close to five times, with each swing creating a wave of AOE frost damage. He will usually follow this attack up with a charge attack, but you can punish him this time.
- Veteran’s Prothesis
This weapon scaled with Strenght and Dexterity, and comes with solid lightning damage. It also features a special skill called ‘Storm Kick’, which started with you slamming down the prothesis, which has been imbued with the power of wind. Next, you can follow that up with an overhead lighting slam, doing massive damage.
- Runes Dropped
- 90,000 – NG
- 180,000- NG+
- 198,000- NG+2
After defeating Commander Niall, interact with the new grace point, and proceed out of the arena to an elevator on the right. Ride this elevator up, and you will find a phantom NPC slouched near the edge of the Castle. Talking with her reveals this dialogue;
“Lord Miquella, forgive me. The sun has not been swallowed. Our prayers were lacking. Your comrade remains soulless… I will never set my eyes upon it now…Your divine Haligtree.”
Next to her, we can find the Left half of the Haligtree Secret Medallion, which will grant us access to the second part of the Mountaintop of the Giants. The second half of the Medallion can be found in the Village of the Albinaurics, given to us by a character named Albus. Congratulations! You have now conquered Castle Sol and are ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. Best of luck, Tarnished!
Many people struggle with this boss, and for good reason. His moveset may not be too complex, and we have seen the enemies he spawns in countless times. However, throw all of these factors together, and this fight can become rather hectic if not approached properly.
Of course, an easy way to counter the difficulty of this boss would be to use the Mimic, or any other Spirit Summons, as soon as you enter battle. This will ‘split aggro’, meaning that the enemies will now have multiple targets to focus on, not just you. The Mimic or other Summons will likely tank some damage from the soldiers, allowing you to clean up shop in a one-on-one with a basic enemy. Once they are both taken down, be patient with your hits and do your best to keep the summon alive for as long as possible. Shields would help a lot, as you can block some of the punishing hits, but are not essential at all.
If you choose to not use a summon, this fight may seem extremely oppressive at first. Aggressive enemies with a large health pool thrown into a room with nothing to help separate them can be overwhelming at first. However, you will notice that the enemies are designed to get you some one-on-one action. When you enter the arena, immediately run to the right side of the arena. Now, just wait a few seconds. The enemy without the shield will run at you, while Commander Niall and the other enemy hang back a little.
From here, the only thing you have to be worried about is this enemy’s long swiping combo. Be patient, keep an eye on Commander Niall and the other enemy, and whittle him down. I used the spell called Aspects of the Crucible: Horns, which allows you to charge up a heavy hit that projects your shoulder into their gut. This will stun them for a second, allowing you to back up and do it again. Do not try this too much with the shielded enemy, instead try and bait out his leaping shield slam, and then punish until dead.
The fight with Commander is more of the same. We want to bait out his charge attack, as well as his electric foot slam. You will need to dodge his follow-up attacks right after these moves, but then he can be punished. The name of the game for this fight is to be patient, as he can take advantage of greedy and aggressive playstyles easily. Channel your Dark Souls experience and prepare to take this fight slow and steady.
If you are really having issues with Commander Niall, remember that there is always a way out. From the area where you grabbed the Swordstone Key, hop on top of that castle wall. From here, continue forward on the top of the wall until you can jump to the first platform on the right side wall. When facing East, we can see a large castle wall in front of us and a few small holes in the wall. These are the holes we are going to use to kill Commander Niall.
We need a bow and plenty of arrows for this, so stock up accordingly. When aiming the bow at these small holes, it is important to know exactly which hole you are shooting through. Make sure your compass marker above is exactly on the East, and then move it one latch to the left, or North. This will leave you aiming at the second hole from the left. Keep firing at this hole until you damage someone, and then you have your lineup. Simply fire away until he is defeated, and Great Enemy Felled appears on your screen. Congratulations, you have taken down the Commander!
Question: Is Commander Niall optional?
Answer: You do not need to beat him to progress the main story. However, he does guard access to one of the best areas in the game.
Question: Are there two Commander Nialls?
Answer: While the enemies feature many of the same moves, the Commander that we fight in the Aoenia Swamp is known as Commander O’Neil.
Question: Is Commander Niall Worth It?
Answer: Yes, very much so. The area it guards is home to one of the most notorious bosses in the Soulsbourne universe and so many more bosses and places to explore.
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