Elden Ring’s hardest boss used to be even harder

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Elden Ring dataminers have been increasingly turning to the pre-patch, 1.0 build of the game in search of FromSoftware’s development secrets. Earlier this month, dataminer kotn3l uncovered a version of secret megaboss Malenia who’s more aggressive, blocks your attacks better, and has a second variation of her signature move.

Love her or hate her (I love her!) Malenia is hands down one of the hardest bosses to appear in a FromSoft game. She’s a master swordsman, with fast, varied attacks, vampiric healing on hit, a second health bar, and the legendarily difficult-to-avoid anime samurai flurry attack, Waterfowl Dance. 

I think she took me as many attempts as Bloodborne’s gnarly Orphan of Kos, but condensed over the span of a few days instead of weeks. Most of those attempts met their end against Waterfowl Dance.

Kotn3l’s investigation revealed that the boss’ ultimate ability seems to have been originally called “Malenia’s Blade,” given that’s how it’s referred to in the 1.0 item description of Malenia’s sword. In the 1.0 build, she has a second moving flurry attack which traverses less distance and doesn’t have any long pauses. Given its rhythmic, dancing quality, kotn3l surmises that this was the original Waterfowl Dance, with the run-ender we know and love being Malenia’s Blade.

In the post-1.0 versions of the fight, Malenia has to be reduced to 80% health for her to start using her flurry attack. Here, she has no such restriction, and as her two different flurry abilities are on separate cooldowns, she can use them back-to-back from the onset of the fight. She’s also more adept at blocking attacks, will more aggressively pursue players in her first phase, and drops her Scarlet Aeonia attack more often in the second.

I love the animation used for Waterfowl Dance 1.0⁠—it feels more grounded, something closer to a dueling technique than a superhuman spell, but I can easily see why it was cut. Two anime flurry super moves could “dilute the brand” a bit as it were, and of the two, Malenia’s Blade is so much more special.

It looks like kotn3l is able to pretty handily outrun the cut attack in his video, contrasting with the mastery of running, dodging, and timing demanded by Malenia’s Blade/post-1.0 Waterfowl. As for the other changes, the ramped up aggression, Scarlet Aeonia spam, and lack of an HP threshold all seem like they would have just been frustrating, even for the Let Me Solo Hers of the world. I’m happy with the Malenia we got, my personal favorite boss in the Souls series, but it’s very cool to see this “in-progress” version provided by kotn3l.

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