Hollow Knight is memorable for many reasons, but chief among them has to be the boss battles.
Since its release in 2017, Hollow Knight has become one of the biggest indie games of the past decade. The Metroidvania is heralded among fans and critics alike for its non-linear design, charming presentation, and deep lore. Perhaps most of all, it’s known for tough-as-nails bosses that pose a unique challenge, no matter where or when you stumble upon them.
With several dozen bosses spread throughout the land of Hallownest, it’s best to have an idea of which bosses are particularly brutal, so you know which to avoid—or which to run toward if you’re looking to test your mettle.
Without further ado, here are the toughest boss battles in Hollow Knight, ranked by difficulty:
The Easiest Bosses in Hollow Knight
First up, let’s get the easiest bosses out of the way.
Here’s a list of all the bosses in Hollow Knight you can probably beat without much effort. Although, if you do struggle against them, then you might want to start practicing. The rest of this round-up won’t go down so easily.
- Massive Moss Charger
- Crystal Guardian
- The False Knight
- Gruz Mother
- Vengefly King
- Dung Defender
- Elder Hu
- Soul Master
And, well, pretty much every other boss we might have missed out on below shouldn’t give you too much trouble either.
The Hardest Bosses in Hollow Knight, Ranked
Now that we’ve gotten the easy fodder out of the way, it’s time for the good stuff. Below, we’ve ranked the seven most difficult bosses in Hollow Knight, from easiest to hardest.
A quick note: Ascended and Radiant boss variants are unquestionably more difficult to defeat compared to their base counterparts. But, this should already be a given considering the Hall of Gods area (part of the Godmaster DLC) is endgame content meant for players looking for the extra workout. So, we left variants off this list… save for one or two exceptions.
But enough dallying. Let’s dive in.
7. Sisters of Battle
The Mantis Lords are one of the first real challenges skilled players will face in Hollow Knight. After beating the sisters, many may wonder how challenging the boss fight would have been had the game let you battle all three together instead of separately. Perhaps anticipating this thought from players, developer Team Cherry added the Sisters of Battle boss fight in the Godmaster DLC, answering that exact question.
Unlike the other, more difficult Hollow Knight bosses below, Sisters of Battle is actually quite forgiving. One could argue it makes for one of the most badass battles in the game, though. That picture of the tiny knight fighting against the three Mantis Lords at the same time will never get old.
6. Failed Champion
The Failed Champion isn’t necessarily difficult; you don’t even have to fight it. But, because it’s effectively just an “improved” version of the False Knight, most tend to sleep on it, and this is how it gets you.
For the less skilled players out there, Failed Champion’s main problem is that he doesn’t give you Soul when you hit it. This means you can only heal with the Soul you bring into the fight, effectively limiting your total health pool.
Additionally, the only time you can heal is when he’s staggered. But because he’s erratic and fast, you can’t stagger him as often or as quickly as you’d like. However, once you do manage to stagger him, you’ll have ample time to heal yourself back to full.
Take the time to learn its telegraphed attack patterns, and Failed Champion becomes much more management. Not to mention, if you time your hits just right, you can keep him stun-locked and get the fight over with relatively quickly.
5. Lost Kin
Before all of the endgame content, the Lost Kin is arguably the most difficult boss you’ll encounter in Hollow Knight. This Broken Vessel variant spends a lot of time jumping up in the air, and it can be difficult to judge just how much distance it can cover, as well as how fast it can cover the said distance.
The trick here is to be constantly on the move and to act on instinct. The more time you spend thinking, the more likely you’ll take hits and die.
Make no mistake: It’s a challenging battle. But on the bright side, once you get used to how fast the Lost Kin is, you’ll be well prepared to take on some of Hollow Knight’s other tricky boss fights.
4. Nightmare King Grimm
Depending on who you ask, Nightmare King Grimm (“NKG”) is either the easiest or the most difficult boss in Hollow Knight. For us, he’s simply the best. In a nutshell, fighting against NKG feels like being part of a high-stakes dance, with a sick soundtrack playing all throughout.
Your first few hours attempting to fight him will likely involve a lot of rage, anger, and cussing at the game for “cheating you.” But, once you’ve gotten used to the tempo, you’ll realize that this is just Hollow Knight’s way of testing you. Each time you get hit or die, it’s on you—you just need to get better.
3. The Radiance
If you thought The Radiance was a difficult boss, then wait until you encounter its perfect form sitting at the peak of the Pantheon of Hollownest. Either way, she is the final boss of Hollow Knight for good reason. Most of the time, players struggle against The Radiance as she is so high up that it’s difficult to wail on the boss and gather Soul.
This makes healing difficult to the point of being near-impossible, especially if you’re impatient. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you’d have to go through the entire Pantheon again if you mess up when you’re up against Absolute Radiance.
2. Pure Vessel
The Pure Vessel is a brutal boss that will be damn near impossible for you to beat if you play defensively. This relentless being will constantly hound you every chance it gets, making it fairly difficult to heal. The good news is, the Pure Vessel has a pattern and is fairly consistent, similar to Nightmare King Grimm.
The main difference between the Pure Vessel and NKG is that the former sometimes give you a chance to heal. Just try not to get greedy, though; the Pure Vessel has been known to teleport next to you and wail on you if you’re caught off guard.
Beating Markoth on a normal playthrough isn’t particularly difficult; it’s when you’re fighting against his Ascended/Radiant version that you’ll really be challenged. Unlike other bosses that have a clear pattern for you to learn and react to, or a certain terrain to adjust to, Markoth just tends to spam his attacks until you’re no more.
To make matters worse, the game decides to throw a platforming curveball at you mid-fight, and most of the openings you get are only available when you’re willing to take a hit.
The “TL;DR” version of beating Markoth’s Ascended or Radiant versions is to hit and run. But anyone who’s ever succeeded against him knows this is much easier said than done.
Which Hollow Knight Bosses Do You Struggle With?
There are tons of bosses for you to fight in Hollow Knight. In addition to their normal (i.e., Attuned) versions, you can fight their Radiant and/or Ascended versions as well. Plus, there’s the Pantheons mechanic from the Godmaster DLC that adds an entirely new layer of complexity and challenge.
Ultimately, we tried to stick to the “normal” versions of the Hollow Knight bosses unless we felt the need to bring up the Radiant or Ascended versions otherwise. We’ll leave most of exploring the game’s endgame content to you.
So, if you’re intrigued and would like to try your hand at defeating the bosses of Hollow Knight, be sure to get the game on the Nintendo Switch with some Nintendo eShop Cards available right here at OffGamers.
Did we omit a critical boss? Which Hollow Knight baddies have given you the most trouble? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Want more boss rankings? Check out our list of Cuphead bosses ranked, Dark Souls bosses ranked, and Demon’s Souls bosses ranked.
I find it incredibly funny that The Radiance is on this list, but not Absolute Radiance, an objectively harder version. Also….. is it really fair to rank markoth based on his difficulty exclusively in the final DLC on the hardest difficulty 🥴.
Bro, if you’re judging markoth by his radiant difficulty and every other boss on attuned, this isn’t a fair comparison. Also, Lost Kin and Failed champ shouldn’t even be on this list.
I do agree that this list Is rather stupid but your version Isn’t quite correct either In my opinion, I feel like there are way harder bosses than hornet 2, soul tyrant and great nailsage sly
hornet two i beat in 3 tries
Uumuu is a pain when you fight him in Godhome, because Quirrel won’t help you and you have to weaken him using the Oomas floating on stage
what about abrad
bro i found those rolly polly bug kinda hard lol also any tips for hollow knight cuz i have beaten the game yet im up to the lost kin and those rolly polly dudes i cant remember
im kinda bad tho
Zote in the fools 1st trail is by far easiest