Hollow Knight is an extremely confusing and difficult game. Even at the beginning of the game, there are no instructions on how to navigate the maze-like world.
It is all intentional. The Metroidvania style of exploring and navigation can be very daunting, despite the beautiful artwork and atmosphere.
My best advice is to show you the optimal route to take to face all the bosses in the main game. You can always return to any boss you meet later, even if they are not on this list. All bosses must be defeated to win the game, with the exception of Radiance, which can only be encountered if you choose a particular ending.
If you need help with any of these characters, please refer to our Ultimate Guide To the Bosses Of Hollow Knight. If you don’t care about spoilers, or in the story, or the individual “aha!” moments, please do not come back to this page if you are lost. Hollow Knight is best enjoyed slowly and undiscovered, not mapped and guided.
1. False Knight
Location: Forgotten Crossroads
The False Knight is a great opening boss. It teaches you how to win boss battles without being overwhelming. Although he seems intimidating at first, he becomes laughably simple after the second and third plays. Like every boss on the list, take your time and learn the patterns. Don’t be too greedy in big moments. False Knight is an excellent start to a great list of bosses.
You can “bat” falling asteroid projectiles into the boss to stop the attack. This will give you a window to wilt on him.
The first Hornet fight in Greenpath is my favorite because it doesn’t feel like an evil force to face, but instead feels like a long lost friend. Many of her moves are similar to ones you’ll learn throughout the game. You can explore more of the map, earn upgrades and help in the fight but you won’t be able to advance further until Hornet understands you mean business. You can be grateful that she is patient with you the first time, as she won’t be so kind when you come up against her again.
3. Soul Master
Location: Soul Sanctum
This boss was a bit difficult for me on my first playthrough. His attacks tend to be downward-slams, and he does this after teleportation. That really threw me off. Other players that I spoke to said that he was not a problem. Maybe you’ll be able to do better. His overall aesthetic and moveset are great. The amazing set-pieces, battle arenas, and victory celebrations make it all worthwhile. Despite his steep learning curve, Soul Master is an enjoyable boss to work with.
4. Dung Defender
Location: Royal Waterway
This is my opinion, Hollow Knight’s turn to more difficult territory. Nearly every boss after him is on the more difficult side of things, with the exception of a few. Although his arena is a pile of crap, don’t let that stop him. I am also a “honorable soldier” who is always soaked in dung. You should be able to defeat him by now. However, as with all bosses on this list, you can refer to my detailed guide to defeating him.
5. Broken Vessel
Location: Ancient Basin
It might be harder than the boss fight to find your way to him. While he is difficult in his own right it is also challenging to navigate the Ancient Basin blindly. You will only be one step away from eliminating one of the three Dreamers. Once you defeat him, you will have crossed all three of them off your list. Some people may have difficulty managing the space on the screen due to his AOE attacks, but he is able to memorize the correct spacing for those sequences.
6. Hornet (Sentinel).
Location: Kingdom’s Edge
Hornet’s second encounter is more difficult than her first, and it may cause some confusion for first-time players. Although her attack and skill set remain the same, there are barbed traps all over the battlefield that add an extra challenge. To defeat Hornet in Kingdom’s Edge efficiently, it is important to prioritize the removal of these traps. This is the best “cutscene” sequence in the game, so you know that there is a worthy reward for the victorious.
7. Watcher Knights
Location: Watcher’s Spire
You will likely have perfected your game enough by the time you reach “Watcher Knight”, so they won’t be as challenging as before. It is crucial to time your strikes in Hollow Knight, but perhaps more so here. You will be able to quickly win by knowing when you can get a strike in and when you should evade the rolling attack. You will eventually overcome the phases if you pay attention to them.
8. Traitor Lord
The Traitor Lord is the boss that gave me the most difficulty. He is very different to any other boss, except the Hollow Knight. He is a tall and powerful figure in the arena and it can be difficult to pass him to the other side. For a second, wait for his lunging attacks. He will dip his head to attack him from behind. This is a great way to beat him up. I’m telling you, be as defensive as possible with this guy.
Uumuu is not difficult to me in the same way I wouldn’t find standing in line at DMV frustrating. He’s just plain annoying. While waiting for Uumuu’s friendly NPC, you have to dodge several “seemingly random electric attacks” while you wait. This guarantees that the fight will take as much time each time no matter how well you know his attack patterns. As you bounce around, keep your feet light and your eyes on the next platform. This jellyfish overgrown will “swimmin’ with the fishies”.
10. Hollow Knight
Locality: Temple of the Black Egg
Although the Hollow Knight isn’t the “final boss” of the game, many players will consider him to be their first playthrough. Although his attacks can be relentless and varied, he has plenty of healing time that allows for more fights. These things make the battle feel epic compared to many other bosses. He is a great boss and a joy to fight against. After the three Dreamers are killed, the Hollow Knight fight will be available at the endgame.
Locality: Temple of the Black Egg
The boss is the only one you might not see in your playthrough. This boss requires that specific things be found and decisions made to make it visible. This boss is a “difficult boss for all the wrong reasons” type of boss. If you don’t see him, it’s not a big loss. The fight is based on pattern recognition and reaction speed, which results in many deaths that feel unfair. It also feels more like memorization rather than active decision-making. You will be rewarded for your perseverance against this formidable foe in one of the most enjoyable Metroidvania games ever!