Elden Ring's Malenia is an optional encounter but also by far the hardest boss in the game.
She is however a required opponent if you wish to complete Millicent’s questline and obtain Miquella’s Needle, which is a key item for reversing the Lord of Frenzied Flame ending if you had visited the Three Fingers.
As Malenia has attacks that can easily one-shot you, it’s highly recommended using spirit ash summons for this fight just to give you some breathing room.
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How to prepare for Malenia, Blade of Miquella
Summoning a spirit ash, especially Mimic Tear, is going to be essential for most players, so it’s heavily recommended you bring a spirit at +10 level.
The higher your spirit ash’s level, the higher their health will be, and they will actually survive attacks from Malenia that will normally mean instant death for a human player.
Malenia is susceptible to bleed damage, which makes the Bloodhound’s Fang a very effective melee weapon against her.
She is also weak to frostbite, although be warned that FromSoftware has since the Hoarfrost Stomp skill, and you don’t really want to be rooted to the spot too long against this fast-moving opponent.
You should be at least Level 120 (but preferably even higher) before even considering taking on Malenia, and be sure that you have upgraded your weapon and shield to their maximum levels.
You may also want to respec your character so that your endurance is at around 50. While you should ideally be dodging her attacks, having a high guard boost and stamina gauge means you’ll withstand the first part of her fatal flurry combo that will normally kill you.
It will also help to have armour or items that give you high resistance to scarlet rot during her second phase. Oh yes, there’s a second phase.
How to defeat Malenia, Blade of Miquella
While she can be a very agile opponent, Malenia approaches you at a walking pace to begin with, meaning you have plenty of time to summon a spirit, neck a potion like a Flask of Wondrous Physick before you properly clash.
Malenia attacks with slashes and thrusts from her blade, and the real kicker is her attacks recover her health with each hit, even if you’re blocking.
This is a particular downside to bringing allies with you since this potentially means more opportunities for her health bar to stay topped up, so coordination is paramount.
Her frightening attack power is balanced by the fact that she has low poise so her attacks can easily be interrupted, though you preferably want to stagger her before she even begins her attack animation.
Players with an ally should try to flank her and coordinate attack timings to prevent her from having any breathing room.
Successive attacks (such as two combos of the Bloodhound’s Fang’s unique skill and follow-up) will knock her down and open for a critical attack, although she’s quite nimble and can easily pirouette out of your range.
Her attacks can also be parried, but be warned it takes three successive parries to stun her for a riposte, so this tactic isn’t recommended unless you’re incredibly confident with your parry timings.
A few attacks that you need to watch out for, one is her charged thrust that has a huge range but which takes a couple seconds to charge so you can usually anticipate this and dodge roll under it.
The other is a grapple which has a much smaller window to react as she pulls her arm back before reaching out to grab you.
If caught, she’ll throw you up in the air then impale you on her sword, which will in all likelihood kill you right away. A high-level spirit caught in this attack will however survive it.
The most deadly attack Malenia has occurs once you’ve taken her health below 75%.
She will leap in the air, hold for about a second and then home in on you with a vicious flurry of attacks that deal enough damage to kill you.
And if it doesn’t, then she follows up with a second flurry, and then a third, which finishes with a small stationary AOE flurry. It’s the first part that is the most fatal, whereas the second and third parts can be avoided by dodge-rolling.
To avoid the first part, if you have a spirit ally, there’s a chance she will home on them instead, and a high level spirit will survive the successive attacks (although this will also mean Malenia regains a good chunk of health).
If she’s coming for you however, then you can try to run away, but you have to anticipate it otherwise she will almost certainly catch up to you and you’re dead.
The better tactic is to have a shield with high guard boost and a high stamina gauge, and you will be able to block the first part of this attack.
You should still have some stamina left to then dodge roll the next part of the attack, and if you still get caught in the attack, these won’t be nearly enough to kill.
We’ve also found that it’s actually possible for a heavy attack with a high reach to stagger her out of this attack phase, but the chances of this are very slim so we wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy, unless your summoning spirit pulls it off.
When you get her health down to zero, don’t congratulate yourself just yet. It’s time for her second phase!
How to defeat Malenia, Goddess of Rot
Unfortunately, Malenia is one of those rare Elden Ring bosses where their second phase actually means a new health bar.
She retains some of her same moves from the first phase, including the ability to heal from her attacks, except they can also inflict scarlet rot.
At least she’s still susceptible to the same attack damage as before, and can still be stunned.
If you’re not prepared at the start, she’ll likely kill you straight away with her new attack. She’ll begin floating high in the air and then dive-bomb you.
Luckily, this can be avoided simply by rolling forward when she makes the dive. As soon as you’ve avoided it, immediately run away as she will summon a giant flower that explodes like a mini nuke around her, leaving scarlet rot-inducing mist in its wake.
Consider this area radioactive until the petals have dropped down and fade away, as this not only damages your health but also inflicts scarlet rot.
The good news is that Malenia stays still for the whole duration, so ranged or magic users can take this opportunity to unleash their most powerful attacks from a safe distance.
Melee players can still rush in safely at the last moment to get in a couple hits too.
One other new attack to beware of is when Malenia is flying in the air and fires out spirit versions of herself to attack you.
You can lock on to her and dodge the spirits as they come but also look out as she ends this with a swooping attack herself.
She’s also got an attack where she jumps in the air then slams her blade on the ground, followed by a burst of scarlet rot-inducing wind in front of her. This burst happens a little while afterwards, giving you a small window to attack before backing away.
Your best bet is to avoid the worst of these attacks and continue coordinating with your spirit, if they are still alive.
Also make sure you’ve got the maximum number of healing flasks and hope that you didn’t use too many during her first phase.
Because of the heavy damage and potential scarlet rot, you’ll want to keep your health at max at all times.
Malenia, Goddess of Rot reward
Malenia, Goddess of Rot drops a hefty sum of 480,000 runes when defeated.
You’ll also be rewarded with the Remembrance of the Rot Goddess item, which can be exchanged at the Roundtable Hold for some powerful items and abilities, as well as Malenia’s Great Rune.
You’ll need to go to the Isolated Divine Tower via the portal at Leyndell’s Divine Bridge in order to restore the Great Rune’s power, which when equipped grants you Malenia’s ability for your attacks to recover your health when you consume a Rune Arc.
That’s not all. Once you’ve defeated Malenia, rest at the new Site of Grace that appears and you’ll see a flower has bloomed in the middle of the room.
If you have the Unalloyed Gold Needle from towards the end of Millicent’s questline, interacting with the flower will grant you Miquella’s Needle, an item required to reverse the Lord of Frenzied Flame ending, as well as a Somber Ancient Dragon Smithing Stone that’s used for strengthening special weapons to their maximum +10 level.
Congratulations on overcoming Elden Ring’s greatest challenge!