Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree ends on a real motherfucker of a boss. Seasoned and novice players alike have mostly loved the journey featured in the expansion to 2022’s biggest game, but a decent few are split on the very final boss fight and how fair it is. Honestly? It’s kind of bullshit.

Spoilers for the ending of Shadow of the Erdtree.

At the very end of the DLC, players are tasked with fighting Radahn, a returning boss character from Elden Ring’s base game. Much like he was in that initial encounter, Radahn is an imposing figure who towers over you and wields weapons so massive that they’d make an NBA player feel small. He looks like he hits hard as hell, and somehow manages to hit even harder. Radahn is not a joke.

Fans of FromSoftware’s deep catalog of punishing RPGs have likely come to expect bosses like Radahn from the expansions to these games. One of the hardest bosses in the original Dark Souls was Artorias of the Abyss, who was added to the game in their eponymous DLC. In my opinion, the most riveting fight in Dark Souls 3 is that against Slave Knight Gael at the end of its final DLC, The Ringed City. Bloodborne’s best fight, and one of FromSoft’s best encounters ever, is the Orphan of Kos at the end of its Old Hunters expansion. FromSoft expansions have always provided some of the very best fights found in these games, not to mention some of the most difficult.

Radahn, however, is seemingly on another level. It’s not really a matter of him being too technically demanding. His difficulty seems to stem from the fact that he’s straight-up unfair.

Radahn’s busted nature has everything to do with his horrendous hitboxes. Hitboxes, for those who may not know, can best be thought of as an aura around certain characters and animations. When a hitbox on one character collides with that of another, that informs the game that a hit has connected.

On the Elden Ring subreddit, someone shared a video of their fight against Radahn and paused it to highlight how they had taken damage before a swing had even connected due to Radahn’s immense hitbox. And theirs isn’t the only story like that. Elsewhere, players are taking damage in the middle of an otherwise perfect dodge roll, or catching strays from a stomp attack while clearly standing outside of its area-of-effect. Radahn is unfair for a number of reasons, including some unpredictable and seemingly undodgeable attacks, but the fact that he can deal damage in places he shouldn’t is probably a step too far.

Some players have taken to calling this the return of Dark Souls 2 hitboxes, which were notably egregious. In response to one of the aforementioned Reddit posts, a user joked, “Close enough welcome back Dark Souls II hitboxes,” while another dubbed the DLC “Scholar of the Erdtree” in reference to DS2’s DLC-inclusive re-release, Scholar of the First Sin. I could sit here and try to regale you with the ins and outs of what folks mean when they invoke that title, or I could point you to this very handy reference.

What’s funny is that, upon release, Elden Ring was actually acclaimed for some of the ways in which it is nakedly similar to Dark Souls 2. Some saw the new game as a triumphant reclamation of the tenets that were buried by the older’s tepid reception, such as powerstancing (or dual-wielding). Many see Elden Ring as Dark Souls 2’s big brother of sorts, or like a spiritual successor to the black sheep of the Souls games, so it’s hilarious to see the comparison finally invoked in a negative way.

Radahn doesn’t appear to be alone in this unfairness either. Other players seem to have pieced together that quite a few bosses benefit from the unfair advantage of excessively generous hitboxes, including Messmer’s snake and Rellana, who at one point does a sweeping sword attack that apparently generates a hitbox across the arena before the swing has even come out.

Radahn in particular has a certain set of players asking for FromSoftware to balance the fight in their favor, which is ironic considering his history in the base game. When Elden Ring launched, Radahn’s boss fight was widely criticized for its difficulty. The complaints got far enough that FromSoft did patch the encounter, which reportedly made the fight fairer, except it also unintentionally paved the way for players to erect an idiotic hierarchy. At the top of it were those who had beaten the “harder” version of the fight prior to it being nerfed, and at the bottom were those who played and beat the fight after. I wonder how many of those at the “top” are pleading for the developers to tune down Radahn now.

Considering the fact that Radahn has been patched before, I could see FromSoft doing it at least one more time. The studio did recently patch out a strategy that made the fight easier, but it also made a balance change beforehand that eased up on some of the DLC’s difficulty, so there’s really no way to know which direction the team will go in.

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