Sure, Shadow of the Erdtree has its share of colossal pains in the ass, but even in a world where the likes of the Scadutree Avatar and Messmer exist, there’s at least a sort of begrudging fairness to them. They can be scouted and planned for. You can see the openings your enemies are giving you after you’ve taken enough L’s to them. That can even be said for what’s waiting for you at the end of the DLC. But one particular boss stubbornly resists that trend.

The Putrescent Knight takes fairness and kicks it down a dank well, Spartan-style. That’s not too far off from literal, either: You actually have to take a leap of faith down into a pit to even get to the boss. And then once you’re at the bottom, this skeletal douchebag and his douchebag horse come to take you down, fast. The good news is that he’s optional. The bad news is he’s still standing between you and the end of one of the expansion’s most rewarding NPC quests. But don’t despair. We can’t promise it’s easy. We can’t promise it’s fair. But we can promise that yes, this thing is beatable.

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Putrescent Knight’s Abilities

On the most basic level, the Putrescent Knight is just another knight on a horse, similar to the Tree Sentinels. It’ll ride by, swinging its giant, Bloodborne-y cleaver around to the left and right. He also has a combo which ends with a big double-handed slam, but the timing on it is beyond erratic. The Knight will break up those moves occasionally with a more focused attack, slamming down three times as if he’s using his blade like a potato masher. If he’s far enough away, he’ll also toss his blade at you like a boomerang. He’ll also roar at you, which doesn’t do too much damage. He just likes being a dick.

The problem isn’t necessarily the attacks, though. The discombobulated nature of the boss’s design means it’s hard to even tell this guy’s skull from his pelvis, let alone whether he’s about to take a swipe at you. No, the real problem is the relentless nature of the attacks. The Putrescent Knight will swipe at you as he passes, as he passes, then turn around to do it again with virtually no breathing room.

One opportunity you do get is a split second moment where he pulls out his big special move, dismounts from his horse, and they attack as a duo. The Knight will come spinning at you like he’s doing his best M. Bison impression while the horse rushes at you from the other direction. They’ll do this three or four times..

Around the 50-percent health mark, the Knight will introduce these very pretty blue flame spells into the mix, rearing back as a pile of black goo lifts them into the sky and waves of fire radiate out from them. Get hit with too many of those and, surprisingly, they’ll inflict Frostbite. What a twist. From then on, the Knight will also perform that move in reverse, rising off the ground in the goo again, except the flames actually start at the far edges of the area, and spiral towards the Knight. All that, on top of its usual barrage. God, this guy sucks.

Defeating The Putrescent Knight

So, if you wound up at the Stone Fissure because you progressed Thollier’s quest far enough that he told you where it was, the good news is you’ll have some company during this fight: Thollier will be available as a summon. If not, you’ll also have a good 5-10 seconds once you land at the bottom of the pit to call in a Spirit Ash, even heal if you’re using the Mimic Tear. That’s great because that’s about the only respite you get during this fight.

Faith-based users have the biggest leg up here. The Knight is extremely weak to Holy damage, so, even if you’ve got to spend some considerable time waiting for an opening, once you’ve got it, you can seriously melt this bastard down. Discus of Light, in particular, works particularly well, since it functions much like the Knight’s own boomerang.

Everybody else, though, is in for a world of pain. Even though the Knight is also weak to Bleeding and Fire, he’s likely to run you down long before you put a significant dent in his health bar. And straight up melee users and tanks? Good luck. Greatshield users can eat his strikes, but the attacks do so much stamina damage, all it can really do is delay the inevitable. For what it’s worth, Greatshields do hold up pretty well from the dual strikes when the Knight dismounts from his horse, so you get that at least.

Magic users have an opening anytime the Knight’s some distance away, just be mindful of the Knight’s boomerang if you’re mid-spell. The quicker the spell, the better. For melee folks, you have two openings and you need to make ‘em count. One: The Knight’s two-handed smash attack freezes him in place, so if you can get out of the danger zone after that first smash, you can roll to a safe area and take a couple of good swings at him. Two: After the dismount attack, the Knight takes a couple of seconds to get back on his horse. If you can get close enough, you can land a jump attack. Again, make it count. Imbuing your weapon with Holy damage also can’t hurt. Honestly, the best chance you have is when your Spirit Ash/Thollier manage to distract him. Flank him when he’s taking a swing at your friends, hit him once–twice if it’s the smash attack–then back away.

The Knight’s flame attacks aren’t terrible once you realize they can actually be jumped. Distance is key for the attack at the 50-percent mark, though. When you see him rear back, haul ass far enough to where you can see the wave coming and leap over it. This is trickier with the reverse wave; you’ll actually want to get a little closer to the Knight and watch the wave come from the margins instead to time the jump correctly. But, of course, that puts you in danger of getting sliced up when the Knight recovers. And just to kill your next bright idea right now: The Knight’s invulnerable while being lifted by the goo. Don’t try to get cute with an extra hit. Stay on defense and be prepared to capitalize on the few moments the Knight gives you. He’ll go down, eventually, we swear.

All that for a paltry 220,000 Runes, too. Ugh. The Remembrance weapons aren’t even that great, with the Putrescent Cleaver a little too slow, and Vortex of Putrescence able to cast quickly, but for weak damage. That said, the real reason you want this guy dead is to go down the cave after and meet St. Trina, who not only progresses Thollier’s story, but has some wild lore about Miquella to impart. Kill the Knight, activate the Site of Grace, then have a drink with her. Don’t be shy.


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