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How to beat Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

How to defeat the Shadow Keep’s Dark Chamber boss.

Messmer close-up
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Given that he adorns the expansion’s box art, you would expect Messmer the Impaler to be a formidable boss in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, and you would be correct. He is definitely one of the most challenging bosses you will face in the Shadow Realm, and one you must defeat in order to progress the story.

With his red hair and name beginning with M, you might assume he is related to another powerful adversary, Malenia Blade of Miquella. Though since he's accompanied by a red serpent, Messer could just as well have something in common with Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy. His draconic designs, from his helmet to the dragon wings sprouting from his outfit, could also suggest he communes with dragons.

Based on our Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree playthrough, it appears there is no NPC you can summon for this fight, at least not without advancing any relevant questlines. Messmer also transforms into a deadlier phase during the fight, though thankfully there's only one health bar you have to deal with. But worry not, he’s not invincible, and this guide will show you how to defeat Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.

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How to prepare for Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

Messmer the Impaler can be found in the Dark Chamber in the highest floor of the Shadow Keep’s Specimen Storehouse in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree. A site of grace called Dark Chamber Entrance is available just before the arena where you confront him.

Messmer profile, hand reaching for his eye
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

As the midway boss of Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree’s story, Messmer is going to be pretty difficult so you’ll want every leg up you can. Most importantly, you should spend some time collecting Scadutree Fragments by exploring more of the Shadow Realm as using these at a Site of Grace will increase your attack and defence significantly.

The good news is that while Messmer is a boss you must defeat to progress the story, you will still be able to reach many parts of the map without defeating him first. So if you’re having trouble, by all means continue exploring and then come back once you’ve accumulated more Scadutree Fragments.

It’s worth equipping armour or talismans that can improve your fire resistance. Alternatively, consider respeccing so that you have higher vigor and therefore more health, although even with this stat at about 30, you should still be able to withstand his most powerful attacks if you have good armour. But by far the most useful thing to bring with you if you need assistance is the Mimic Tear from the base game and ensure it has been fully upgraded.

How to defeat Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

Messmer fights with a great spear (they don’t call him the Impaler for nothing), with the power of flames and sometimes combines the two in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree. But the first thing he’ll usually do as soon as you enter the boss arena is jump in the air and create a flaming orb, which home in on you before it detonating and erupting into a flaming AOE. This is fortunately easy enough to telegraph and roll away from.

He swings and thrusts his spear, sometimes in quick combos, which aren’t too hard to deal with simply by guarding with a durable shield. The trouble is when he embues these attacks with flames, because you’ll then also be eating fire damage even if you block his physical attacks.

Fighting Messmer in Dark Chamber
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

For one of his fire attacks, he’ll chuck some red powder in front of him which shortly bursts into flames forcing you to keep your distance. While this is the easier attack to evade, you'll really want to avoid the fire-spearing combo's finisher. Here he charges up the flaming spear while in the air before plunging it into the ground, which causing fiery spears to shoot out around him in an AOE that's more devastating than the attacks before it.

But the worst attack to watch out for is when he’s coming at you with a flame in his hand. That basically means he’s coming in for a grab and, not only is this a long animation, but it will almost certainly end up in you being one-shotted. If you have summoned a Spirit Ash and they happen to be caught by this, the animation also annoyingly gives him invincibility frames so you won’t even be able to deal any damage until it’s finished.

Messmer in grab animation
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Naturally, having a summoned Spirit Ash will make your life considerably easier as you’re not being targeted the whole time. It's also easier to jump in at the end of one of Messmer’s attack phases to follow up with your own hits. If you keep up your attacks, he can also fortunately be staggered for high riposte damage. Steer clear of his flame attacks and you shouldn’t have too much trouble taking his health down to halfway.

But that’s just the start as we go to a bit of a gross cutscene that reveals Messmer’s even more malevolent side. Why did it have to be snakes…

How to defeat Base Serpent Messmer in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

For this second phase Base Serpent Messmer retains many of the spear and flame-based attacks from his previous phase, although he also moves around quicker. The big difference, however, is that he’s got a big help in the fight in the form of a colossal snake. He’s still wearing the red serpent around him (although it’s now turned white, while his red cloak has also turned into smouldering black), so this is something else. Is Messmer’s actually transforming into this thing or simply summoning it? Well as the fight progresses, you might realise it’s a bit of both.

His first attack in this phase is similar to the start of the first, with a large snake, head high in the air with a flaming orb in its mouth, charging up (or is that a hiss?) before it crashes down on you and explodes. Much like that previous attack, you can also time a dodge roll to avoid any damage. Immediately after that the snake’s form dissipates and standing there is Messmer.

Messmer as giant snake and orb of fire
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Besides the fact he’s a lot more agile than before, he’ll also regularly transform back into big snake mode; telegraphed by being surrounded in some thick dark smoke before the snake emerges and charges straight forward, Messmer then reappears where the snakehead made impact. In another version of this attack, his form will dissolve into dark smoke, which then covers the whole area on the ground. That’s your cue to get away as the big snake is going to burst out from the ground, going high up into the air, before coming back down to try and take a bite out of you. You can roll away from this but be sure to hurry back in as you can get a free hit just as Messmer’s form rematerialises.

He can also just summon other large snakes to attack you, some which just shoot out from behind him much like his transformation, but it can also get crazy when he summons a swarm from around him that just shoot out of the ground. If you’re close to him, the blast can hit extremely hard. It’s a little unpredictable but just stay calm and don’t make any sudden movements until those snakes disappear before looking for his next move.

Messmer surrounded by giant snakes
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Even in this phase, Messmer is still susceptible to being staggered and punished with a riposte. But ultimately, the key is to not to rush in with attacks that you might miss and leave you open. Just be patient with his attacks, while dodging those snake charges, and you should be able to finish him off in no time. Of course, if you have a Spirit Ash that’s still alive during this phase, it will make things a lot easier.

Messmer the Impaler rewards in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

Triumphing that difficult fight in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, Messmer the Impaler rewards you with a whopping 400,000 Runes (don’t spend it all at once). You’ll also receive the Remembrance of the Impaler, which you either consume for Runes or take back to the Finger Reader Enia at the Roundtable Hold to exchange for one of the following Messmer’s weapons - Spear of the Impaler or Messmer’s Orb.

Boxout of reward for defeating Messmer: Messmer's Kindling
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

More importantly, you’ll also receive Messmer’s Kindling, a key item you’ll need to advance Shadow of the Erdtree’s story. But what do you do with it? First, you’ll have to find the way into Rauh Ancient Ruins and defeat another fearsome boss, Romina, Saint of the Bud

Continue to next boss: Romina, Saint of the Bud

Need more help? Jump back to our list of Shadow of The Erdtree bosses or our Shadow of The Erdtree tips and tricks.

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