Throughout the Soulsborne games, the difficulty has been a staple in each installment. That brutal punishment became somewhat of a drug to players, as the feeling one gets after overcoming an insane boss is unmatched in most games. This punishing, brutal combat is pushed to the next level with some of the endgame bosses, and Malenia fills that role perfectly. Some regard her as the most challenging boss across all of FromSoftware games, and in my personal experience, it took me about fifty attempts until I finally finished her.
Melania is located deep within the Haligtree, an optional area within Elden Ring. You will need to get both Secret Medallions even to access the Grand Lift of Rold, where it will give you the option to hoist the secret medallion. Once you have done this, you will need to take the hidden path to Haligtree and fight through a few enemies to reach the grace we will start our journey.
We will start from the Prayer Room site of grace and take the exit to the right. This will lead you to a narrow path with a few enemies scattered across in bunches, so you will want to take out the ones that stand in front of you. Next, run down the path and the staircase until you see an enemy seemingly looking in the distance for something. Run next to him and jump over the little fence, which will allow you to drop down safely below.
After you have dropped down, head towards the area’s western end, and jump on the tree to travel to the next platform. Once up here, you will be presented with another narrow pathway. Run down this walkway while looking down and to the right. A few platforms look very similar to the ones in Anor Londo in Dark Souls 1, where you had to dodge the arrows from the archers as you ran up. Our goal is to drop down the side of the roof and land on the ground right near those.
Aim for the farthest beam, and once you are down there, follow the beam down to the next platform. Take a left, jump down onto the staircase below, and remove the enemies guarding it. Head up the stairs and take out the guys manning the arrows. We want to head up the path to the enemies’ right, so jump on that platform and head up. Only go up to about halfway, though, as you will want to jump to the area on the right. This path will take us to a room where we can descend a ladder and interact with the site of grace.
I like this route because it is faster, and you can avoid confrontation with several enemies. If you want to fight through the usual way, please feel free to do so. I chose to do that in my first playthrough, but after quite a few visits to this place, I found this route to be the most effective and efficient.
I hope you have a few Rune Arcs handy because you will need every bit of help. Malenia is a humanoid enemy, and her design is similar to Lady Maria in Bloodborne. She wields a katana known as the Hand of Malenia, which is one of the main reasons she is revered for her difficulty. I will list the aspects of Malenia that make her so tricky below.
- Heals back whenever she damages you
- Waterfowl Dance Attack
- Scarlet Rot
The Bloodborne similarities do not stop at Lady Maria. Much like the rally system in Bloodborne, Malenia gains back health whenever she does any damage to you. Unlike the Bloodborne rally system, Malenia does not have to be damaged to regain health. Whenever she touches you, she siphons health points back into her overall bar.
Only hearing about this mechanic does not do it justice because the speed at which her attacks come at you is incredible. She can string combos together faster than most bosses I’ve ever seen, and one misstep can cause you to die immediately. This mechanic is why fights with her can take so long because even if you get her to less than half health, a few successful combos from her can bring her up to total health. It is beyond demoralizing to be fighting her for ten minutes to have her gain all that health back after a few mistakes.
This healing mechanic is already a hassle, but some people may think, ‘Oh, that’s simple. I just won’t get hit!’. In other encounters, this is a fair take, as most of the time, your deaths can be directly traced back to mistakes you made. However, in this fight, there is one particular move that requires so much precision to dodge that you will most certainly die unless you have had an immense amount of practice.
Malenia will leap high up into the air during the fight and float there for a few seconds with her horizontal sword. This one move from Malenia has the potential to wipe out your health bar in seconds, and if you are in the wrong position, it is seemingly inescapable. This telegraph is the calm before the storm. It is also your cue to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
This is because, when she finally attacks, she will close the distance in seconds, covering the length of the arena with a flurry of sword strikes. She will start with a few flurries to catch up to you, and don’t be fooled, because she will catch up to you. After this, she will launch herself at you with another flurry and continue this attack while flying above head level. She will float to the other side quickly and finish the move with a final flurry while standing in place.
This move was a controversial topic at the launch of Elden Ring because players felt that it was cheap and seemingly impossible to dodge. I also felt this way in my first attempts because any move I made, she would be right on top of me, eviscerating my health bar. Even if I managed to survive this move, all that hard work I put into whittling away at her health bar is nullified because she gained about twenty-five percent of that health back in a few seconds.
If you are directly in front of her when she jumps up in the air, get ready to be sent back to the grace point because there is almost no chance you will survive this. Positioning is everything with this move, so you will need to focus on when she uses this move and plan accordingly. I noticed that she uses this move at:
- 25% Health Taken Off (75% of overall health left)
- 50% Health Taken Off (50% of overall health left)
- 25% and on will be sporadic, so finish her off quickly
There was speculation for weeks about how Fromsoftware greenlighted this move for the game, and everyone felt it was way too overpowered. Then, a YouTuber I consider to be the chosen one of Fromsoftware Games, named ONGBAL, uploaded a video titled ‘How to Dodge Malenia’s Flurry Combo’, where he showed us the method. Once you have fought her a few times, you will understand when she will use this move so that the positioning will be less of an issue.
- Start far away, and as she winds up, run as far away as you can
- As she catches up to you, turn around and dodge into the upcoming flurry
- Next, turn towards her and crouch down, moving ever so slightly forward
- As she lands in front of you, carefully back away to avoid the final flurry
This method works well, and with enough practice, you can dodge this move with no issues. That is, if you are in the correct position. As I mentioned above, if you are too close to her when she starts this move, you are dead. While playing through my battles, I found a little trick that helps you survive if you are in the wrong position.
Wrong Position? Jump!
When she starts up her move, and you are right in front of her, you will want to run as fast and far away as you can. Since you are so close already, she will catch up quickly, usually resulting in you being buried underneath her flurry, unable to run out of it. However, if you jump as she is about to hit you, you will be boosted forward instead of getting pulled under, only taking slight damage. From here, you can turn around, get ready to dodge into the next flurry, and proceed with the strategy as you would.
That move took a lot of explaining, and that is because it is easily one of the most deadly and punishing moves in all of the Soulsborne games. Once you have mastered the dodge, though, it becomes slightly more manageable. That is until we reach phase two.
In the second phase of this fight, Malenia, the Goddess of Rot, will start inflicting Scarlet Rot with every hit she deals. This is a nightmare because if you are inflicted with the rot, Malenia leaves you no time to cure it, forcing you to chug potions until it’s gone. What is worse is that Scarlet Rot is like poison on steroids, and it will take massive chunks out of your health bar the whole time it is active. It wouldn’t be a Fromsoftware game without a poison-like status effect somehow making its way into brutal battles.
Now that I have covered what makes this fight such a nightmare, I’ll review some of her other standard moves and how to dodge them.
The fight will begin with a gorgeous cinematic opening with a few shots of the Haligtree and some ominous wind-blowing in the background. The camera pans to a seemingly lifeless body of a woman with red hair and a missing arm. Then, we see a helmet and arm on the ground by her feet, and we sense that this lady will be who we are fighting. Malenia arises from her chair and says these lines of dialogue;
“I dreamt for so long. My flesh was dull gold…and my blood, rotted. Corpse after corpse, left in my wake…As I awaited…his return.”
As she is doing this, she is putting on the arm and helmet that we saw earlier on, and after she does this, we are treated to some of the most intimidating dialogue in Elden Ring. Malenia turns to us and says,
“Heed my words. I am Malenia, Blade of Miquilla. And I have never known defeat.”
This is such a great introduction; I was filled with fear and determination hearing those lines. It became my goal to show her what defeat looks like, and I will share all that I have learned in my duels.
Here Are Her Standard Attacks
This is one of her most commonly used moves in this first phase, and it can deplete almost all of your health bar, sometimes killing in one hit. She will leap into the air for a second, with her sword drawn back at about eye level. Next, she will launch herself at you with blistering speed, requiring a quick dodge to the side. You can punish after successfully dodging this move, but try not to get greedy.
4 Hit Combo
When Malenia has her weapon down by her hip, and a spark appears, she is about to unleash a punishing four-hit combo. She releases a flurry of quick horizontal swipes and will sometimes finish it off with an overhead slam. When she loads up this move, and you see the spark, dodge into the hit where the spark came from. She will miss all the follow-up attacks, and by avoiding the last overhead slam, you can get in there and punish her safely.
Malenia will eliminate some windows for punishment by hopping to the side and following this up with a horizontal swipe. This is made to punish those who are impatient and greedy, so wait for her to finish her reposition, dodge through the swipe and get a few hits in. She will sometimes try and hit you with a quick swipe coming back the other way after her first attack, so patience is critical.
Delayed Uppercut/Downward Slash
When Malenia leans down and holds her blade behind her, she will swipe herself up into the air and come down hard to punish. This move is very telegraphed and easy to dodge; you must be patient with your dodges. She will leave herself open to punishment if she does not reposition with a hop-step swipe, so be on the lookout for that.
Yes, she will kick you. This is a frustrating move because I am so focused on her sword and will constantly allow her to kick me in the face and get some health back. Watch her legs, and be sure to dodge the kicks.
She will constantly fly backward away from you, being able to get across half the arena in a few jumps. It is essential to stay on her, but when she does this, take this opportunity to heal and cast spells, as this is one of the few openings you will have. After about three Waterfowl Dances, the first phase should be over, meaning we can move on to phase two.
“The scarlet bloom flowers once more. You will witness true horror. Now, rot!”
This is where the Scarlet Rot comes into play. It was obvious that this status effect would make its way into the fight at some point, given that she is the Goddess of Rot. Even though it was apparent, that does not make it more enjoyable. She will open up this phase in a new form, with no clothes on and high up in the air.
After a few seconds of floating, she will dart down on your position and unleash a beautiful, giant Scarlet Rot flower AOE attack. You need to run far away from this attack, and I would recommend having some projectile item/spell to use on her at this time. She leaves herself vulnerable in the middle of the flower, and since you cannot enter the flower without getting damaged, the projectile works excellent. She can use this attack whenever, which will be telegraphed by a slow rise up in the air, with her sword pointed at you.
Slam Down Scarlet Beam
When Malenia rises in the air and plunges her sword into the ground, she starts this attack. Once the blade is in the ground, she will unleash a vertical beam of scarlet rot, damaging any near. Try to dodge away or to the side, and then get a few hits.
Malenia will jump up in the air, and from here, she will launch six clones at you, one after the other, all with different variations of her sword swipes. This can kill you quickly, as getting hit once will stagger you, causing the other clones to hit you. After all the clones attack, Malenia will come down with a plunging attack right on you.
The best way to dodge this move is to keep moving backward until the third clone attacks. From here, roll forward, and delay the dodge after the fourth clone to simultaneously dodge the sixth one. Then, escape to the side and punish when she is plunging.
Besides these changes, most of her attacks will remain the same, although they will be imbued with the Scarlet Rot. This can make a huge difference, as the status effect coupled with Malenia flying around dealing with death can be a lot to handle. Now that all of her moves are outlined, I will go over the best equipment to use against her.
One saving grace about this second phase is that she will start with an already worn-down health pool, likely because we nearly killed her in the first phase. Please do not take this for granted, as a few hits, and she is back to total health.
Malenia is resistant to Scarlet Rot and poison, so those weapons will not be useful against her. Instead, you will want to focus on a bleed or frost weapon. Although it was nerfed, and people constantly complain about this weapon, the Rivers of Blood Katana feels as though it was made for this fight. The ash of war allows for quick and relatively risk-free punishment while at the same time stacking bleed. Those bleed hits speed up this fight, so if you feel you need to respec to a bleed build, now would be the time.
Malenia can also be staggered somewhat easily, which can be very helpful in stopping certain combos and attacks. It can be beneficial when the bleed or frost status builds up as she loads up an attack like the Waterfowl Dance because this will knock her out of the air. She can be parried, however, it takes three parries to get a riposte, so be aware of that when using the shield.
Some people heavily rely on the Mimic and other summons to get them through this fight. In my experience, even with a +10 Mimic Tear, Malenia would use my summons as easy ways to siphon her more health. This would make this fight so frustrating because I would be doing significant damage, only for it all to be nullified as she swiftly takes out my summon. If you are going to use a summon, I would say wait until the second phase so that you can give them the best chance of survival and longevity.
Bloodhound step is an excellent ash of war for this fight, as you can seemingly glide through many of her most punishing attacks. I get weary using this, though, as sometimes you can quickstep too much, putting you directly in harm’s way.
Spells are great for most bosses but not for Malenia. She will easily dodge many projectile spells when fighting one-on-one, and magic that constantly hits like the Elden Stars will often cause her to go crazy. When this happens, she becomes too unpredictable and leaps around the arena, flailing in chaos, which will most likely hit you.
One Spirit Ash that is helpful would be the Greatshield Soldier Ashes. This is because this summon has multiple allies, and their shields will allow them to tank most of her melee attacks. However, none of these strategies are guaranteed, and it will mostly come down to you and your skills.
After Beating Malenia
When you deliver the final blow to the second phase Malenia, you will be treated to a very satisfying voice line from her as she falls to the ground dead. She says;
“Your strength, extraordinary…The mark…of a true Lord….”
After she dies, you will be rewarded with Malenias Great Rune and the Remembrance of the Rot Goddess. This Great Rune, when active, allows you to gain back damage taken within five seconds of getting hit. Sound familiar? This is much like the rally system in Bloodborne, however I never found it as helpful as I did that mechanic. Maybe it’s because other Great Runes have much more beneficial qualities, in my opinion. Regardless, it is still serviceable and can be helpful.
The real reward from this fight comes from the Remembrance. With this Remembrance, you can swap it out for either the Scarlet Rot Flower attack that Malenia has or the katana known as the Hand of Malenia. While the flower spell is excellent and aesthetically pleasing, the real treat is the katana. This weapon will not be for everyone, requiring a whopping 48 dexterity to wield. However, with it, you can access the Waterfowl Dance that Malenia used; granted, it is much less powerful.
On top of this, you get runes and have conquered one of the most challenging bosses in all Soulsborne games. While all these strategies and tips I have given worked great for me, everyone is different, so maybe another approach would be more beneficial for you. However you choose to tackle this battle, I wish you the best of luck.
The final goodbye from Malenia comes after you receive the items from the battle. She cries out for the last time, saying;
“O, dear Miquella…O, dearest Miquella, my brother. I’m sorry. I finally met my match.”
Yes, you did, Malenia, and you should take pride that you finally showed her what defeat feels like, even though she may have killed you hundreds of times in the process. Who cares? She is gone, and you can continue your journey to become the Elden Lord.
Question: Is Malenia optional?
Answer: Yes, she, as well as the whole area of Haligtree, are optional. However, can you say you beat Elden Ring without tackling one of its most significant challenges?
Question: Does Malenia have connections to Radahn?
Answer: Yes, Malenia is why Radahn is so big, and the story behind their relationship is heartbreaking. Just know that Malenia tried to separate Radahn and his horse, but he loved his horse so much that he learned gravity magic to be still able to ride him. Malenia needed to be taken out for what she did to Radahn.
Question: What level should I fight Malenia?
Answer: I have seen some people recommending levels of 120 and above before you fight her. While this is true, and the extra levels will help, I think she is doable at an earlier level. She is only found late game anyway, so you should be relatively strong when you encounter her for the first time.
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