Elden Ring's Crystalian is a fantastic example of a gimmick-rich boss in the first encounter
The Crystalian bosses in Elden Ring are distinguished by their unique gameplay mechanics, providing a challenging and intimidating first encounter wi...
The Crystalian bosses in Elden Ring are distinguished by their unique gameplay mechanics, providing a challenging and intimidating first encounter with seemingly insurmountable foes.
The player must utilize the Stance-Break mechanism in Elden Ring to defeat the Crystalian enemies, as their defense is initially high, and weapons only inflict minimal damage.
Subsequent encounters with the Crystalian enemies bring forth new challenges, such as simultaneously dealing with multiple bosses and the addition of Lesser Crystalians. However, for some players, the gameplay mechanics may lose their appeal and become overused.
With 165 boss encounters in Elden Ring, it takes a special enemy to stand out among such a large number. However, the Crystalian bosses, which can be encountered early on, such as Liurnia of the Lakes, quickly make their presence known due to their unique twist, providing an impressive and intimidating first encounter with a seemingly insurmountable foe.
The boss roster of FromSoftware doesn't consist entirely of bosses with unique gameplay mechanics, but in almost every one of their Soulsborne titles, from Demon's Souls to Elden Ring, there is at least one such boss. However, with the Crystalian variants of the bosses, these enemies manage to tick the "gimmick" box while still providing a meaningful fight before and after the specific method to defeat them is discovered.
Crystalians Show the Importance of Elden Ring's Stance Breaks
The challenge of the Crystalian enemies and overcoming their twist requires the player to make the most of Elden Ring's Stance-Break mechanism, which disrupts the balance of foes and bosses, making them vulnerable to a riposte attack. For the Crystalians, this is the only reliable way to deal significant damage with most weapon types, at least at the beginning of the fight. This is because the Crystalian boss's defense is initially so high that even fully upgraded weapons only inflict minimal damage, regardless of which version of the encounter takes place.
As soon as the player breaks the Stance of the Crystalian, not only does it expose the enemy to a riposte, but it also creates a crack in the crystal skin, causing attacks to suddenly inflict normal damage. In fact, the damage of some stronger weapons in Elden Ring becomes so significant after breaking the Crystalian that this "boss" entity ultimately reveals itself to be just an ordinary enemy. The result is a battle that initially appears almost impossible, as weapon changes or character build modifications cannot really inflict damage at first, but it unexpectedly becomes easier as the fight progresses.
Later Encounters Reset the Gimmick by Adding Additional Challenges
As is often the case with the multitude of bosses used and reused in Elden Ring, FromSoftware did not consider it sufficient to simply pit players against a single Crystalian boss. Instead, the battle is repeated multiple times. This elevates the individual Crystalian into sets of Crystalian duo fights, along with an incredibly challenging encounter with the Crystalian trio, where variants infected with the Scarlet Rot are used. All of these battles challenge the initial mastery, as multiple Crystalians must be dealt with simultaneously while simultaneously maintaining enough pressure to break through a Crystalian's defense before it can be killed.
The addition of Lesser Crystalians in later sections of the game also provides unique encounters in specific areas, as these enemies are difficult to escape due to their boss-like frequency of attacks and strong aggression. However, at this point, the unique element has unfortunately worn off and begins to overstay its welcome. That being said, one variant found in Haligtree effectively utilizes the Spirit-Caller Snail Boss from Elden Ring as another minor enemy to make traversing this area challenging by simply running.
Considering that the entire beginning of what fans refer to as the Soulsborne series started with a handful of gimmicky bosses in Demon's Souls, this type of encounter is evidently welcomed in FromSoftware's boss design philosophy. Therefore, during a first playthrough of Elden Ring, encountering a Crystalian for the first time is a new experience for players. The only potential issue players may have now with the Crystalian is its excessive use, as any gimmick can easily overstay its welcome when repeated too often without much variation between repetitions.
Elden Ring is now available for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.