Commander Niall is an optional boss in Elden Ring who can be found in Castle Sol at Mountaintops of the Giants.
You must defeat him if you’re looking to get one half of the Haligtree Secret Medallion in order to access a secret late-game area, which is essential to completing both Latenna and Millicent’s questlines.
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How to prepare for Commander Niall
Not only is he a very hard-hitting human opponent with high defence, but he also summons two spectral knights at the start of the fight.
It’s then highly recommended that you summon a spirit ash of your own (you can summon other players too but be aware that this raises the defence of Niall and his lackeys, which doesn’t happen with spirits).
Commander Niall is very similar to another optional boss, Commander O’Neill in Caelid’s Swamp of Aeonia, who you have to fight to progress Millicent’s quest.
Both attack with a halberd with huge range that can inflict elemental damage and status ailments and both summon other enemies into battle.
If you’ve fought O’Neill earlier then you’ll know what to expect, except there’s no option for you to get the jump on him first.
Besides physically strong attacks, Niall’s attacks can deal both lightning damage and frostbite.
If you’re to prioritise, frostbite is what you have to watch out for as it not only deals extra damage when the status gauge has been filled, it then temporarily lowers your damage absorption and stamina recovery.
Frost resistance is measured by the robustness stat. Equipping the Stalwart Horn Charm Talisman or consuming the Flask of Wondrous Physick mixed with Speckled Hardtear will help improve robustness, while you can also consume Thawfrost Boluses to alleviate frost buildup.
As a human enemy, Niall is weak to bleed damage so weapons like Bloodhound’s Fang will be very useful for this fight.
The Mimic Tear will be very helpful in this fight but so will spirit ashes that can make very good tanks like Lhutel the Headless or Ancient Dragon Knight Kristoff, who both bear great shields.
Since you’re outnumbered to begin with, spirit ashes that summon multiple spirits like the Greatshield Soldiers can also even the score.
While Niall is found near the top of Castle Sol, you should activate the lift near the boss entrance so that you can reach him from the Site of Grace at the main gate.
This may seem counterintuitive, but the Site of Grace at the midpoint has more annoying enemies en route who will follow you all the way to the boss fog, and they still poke through during the boss fight, which risks distracting your summoned spirit(s).
Commander Niall tips: how to beat Commander Niall
If you’ve already fought Commander O’Neill in Caelid, you should have an idea what to expect, though you’re in a smaller arena and don’t have the element of surprise.
Niall immediately summons two spectral knights to his side, one wielding two blades in each arm similar to Banished Knight Oleg, while the other is equipped with a sword and shield.
Take this moment to summon your own spirit as well and then focus on the knights. We recommend getting rid of the dual-wielding knight first as he’ll go down quicker.
The other knight may take longer on account of his shield, and he even has his own frost-based attacks, but it’ll be alleviated if your spirit takes him head on leaving his back exposed to your attacks.
Niall shouldn’t be much of a threat at this stage but when both knights are gone, then he’ll properly ramp up to his second phase.
You can also trigger this phase just by attacking him to begin with, at which point his knights will just die, but it’s better to get them out of the way first.
While he is a big tanky boss with wide-ranging swings and thrusts, it’s possible to parry him and you can knock his poise with repeat attacks to stun him for a critical riposte.
Getting the chance to attack Niall is, however, a challenge due to the wide range of his halberd, while he can also take to the air to avoid your attacks.
More annoyingly, you have to contend with a blizzard whirlwind area of effect (AOE) he builds up around him, meaning you can’t approach him without being inflicted with frost build-up.
Sometimes, this blizzard covers almost the entire arena giving you little space to work with. Ranged or magic casters will have some advantage here by attacking outside of this AOE range, such as with the Sword of Night and Flame’s night comet.
His hard-hitting attacks mean that if he’s focusing on your spirit they will not survive the fight for very long, but you should take any opportunity for them to aggro him, but beware that even the swing of his halberd can catch you even if you’re not approaching him head-on.
Keeping your distance will not do though as when he leaps in the air he’ll home in on you or another ally, with a short pause before crashing to the ground and releasing a lightning shockwave on impact, though this can be evaded with a well-timed dodge-roll.
If you’re thinking of casting a spell while he’s built up a frost whirlwind around him, then you also have to watch out as he can follow by charging forward then uppercutting you with his halberd, which you can also dodge-roll away from.
When he’s not using frost-based attacks he can also infuse his leg prosthetic with lightning and then stomp on the ground to unleash a large AOE lightning attack, which can also be dodged with the right timing.
Perhaps the most devastating move Niall has is a charge-up that sucks up the wind around him and then fires off three whirlwinds of frost at you, before following up by charging at you from around the side for a devastating halberd uppercut.
If you manage to dodge the end of it, however, this will tire him out and leave him wide open for a good amount of time for you to just lay into him.
Once you have settled on a starting class and starting Keepsake item, you should first work out how to level up, how to respec and use Ashes of War. Need some direction from there? Try finding Golden Seeds, Sacred Tears, Crystal Tears, Talismans and some of our best weapon and best early armor set choices. If you are approaching the end game, we can help with Haligtree Secret Medallion locations, the Millicent quest and defeating the hardest bosses including Commander Niall, Morgott, Godskin Duo, Maliketh and Malenia.
Commander Niall reward
Once Commander Niall is defeated you’ll be rewarded with 90,000 runes as well as Veteran’s Prosthesis, a fist weapon with lightning damage.
More importantly, the path will be open for you to retrieve the left half of the Haligtree Secret Medallion, required to take the secret path to reach the Consecrated Snowfield and Miquella’s Haligtree.
Whether you decide to make your way back to the Grand Lift of Rold to do so or continue back on the story critical path, you’re near the end of the game at this point – so you’re in for a tough time wherever you go.