Anatomy Of A Brutal God Of War Boss Fight

Weekends are a great time for relaxing, reading, or spending time with loved ones. Or, if you’re me, you can spend an entire weekend trying to beat the Valkyrie Queen in God of War.

Valkyrie fights are among the more straightforward of the many challenges in Sony Santa Monica’s fantastic Nordic murder-fest. Each one is a head-to-head boss battle against a raging, possessed winged warrior.

Each one is difficult, and each one is slightly different. As you explore Midgard, you’ll find eight Valkyrie arenas. Some are hidden, some are sitting in plain sight.

Each Valkyrie awaits you in her arena, and each employs distinct moves. Beat all eight of them, and you’ll unlock a final fight against Sigrun, the Valkyrie Queen.

I fought, and eventually defeated, Sigrun back in April. It was one of the most arduous and challenging boss battles I’ve ever encountered in a video game.

Yet on reflection, it was also such a well-designed battle that I think more people should give it a shot. In the wake of the gruelling Radiance fight in Hollow Knight, the toughest things I faced in Monster Hunter World, and my ongoing replay of Bloodborne, I’ve been thinking more and more about difficult boss fights. Feels like it’s time to go back to the Sigrun fight and look at what makes it tick.

It starts with a big F U.

Sigrun immediately lets you know exactly what to expect from her. Kratos walks up to a familiar realm tear in the middle of the circle at the Council of Valkyries. As a player, you’re probably thinking you know what to expect, since you’ve opened and closed a ton of these over the course of the game. You confidently approach this one, and...

Sigrun plows into Kratos like a 747 coming in for a particularly aggressive emergency landing. She starts the fight this way every single time. That means that every time you lose lose, you’ll have watch her grind your face into the pavement all over again.

It’s subtle psychological warfare. The game is beating into you the idea that this foe is stronger than you are. Maybe you should give up. (Don’t give up!)

Kratos’ attacks do hilariously little damage.

I fought Sigrun with all but the final axe and blades upgrades, and was repeatedly galled by how little damage my attacks did to her. Check this out:

Looks like I’m really dishing out some punishment, right? Look at Kratos there, landing a series of heavy blows with his big axe. Now watch it again, but keep your eye on her health bar:

It barely moves. Sigrun’s many-segmented health bar is massive, and even if you think you’ve landed a devastating combination of melee and runic attacks, you’ll usually hardly make a dent.

Sigrun’s attacks, however, do tons of damage.

Here’s what it looks like when you screw it all up:

One minute, I had been doing fine. I had half health and was in a defensive position. Then I failed to dodge a simple red lunging attack, which is both one of Sigrun’s simplest attacks and, given its short windup, one of the hardest to dodge.

As I’m recovering from the hit, she leaps up to go into her unblockable dive-bomb attack, and I screw up the timing on my dodge. All at once, it’s game over.

Throughout my fight with Sigrun I was wearing some of the best armour in the game, and I was only playing on Normal difficulty. Even then, her attacks were so ludicrously strong that a single screw-up could turn an otherwise flawless fight into failure.

She has loads of different attacks and constantly changes patterns.

That’s two vital aspects of the fight that could be said of a lot of difficult boss fights—her attacks do a ton of damage, and your attacks do little damage.

There’s little room for error, so you have to play cautiously and defensively, only attacking at a few key moments of opportunity. The wimpiness of your attacks extends the length of the fight and leaves many, many opportunities for error.

I blew it a couple times after getting Sigrun’s health bar down to its segments, all because I got excited and thought I could burn her down faster than I could.

Those last bits may look like a relatively small part of her health bar, but they’re actually enough for her to absorb several more combos while getting off a dozen or more attacks of her own.

The third part of the difficulty triangle is the variety of Sigrun’s move-set. At my count, she has around 16 different possible attacks. Here they are, broken into a few sub-categories.


A pair of standard wing attacks transitioning into a spinning attack.

UP-CLOSE MELEE ATTACKS

1. Standard wing attack. 2. Unblockable lunge. (Can also function as a rush attack.) 3. Spinning wing attack. 4. Closed wing turtle to open pushback.


A not-that-rare example of a ranged attack quickly becoming an unblockable close attack followed by a closed-wing turtle.

RANGED ATTACKS

5. Ranged wing-blade launch. 6. Long-range ground shockwave. 7. Long-range meteor attack w/ flaming aftermath. 8. Ice-blast attack w/ unblockable follow-up.


A classic flying scythe rush.

RUSH ATTACKS

9. Flying scythe rush. 10. Unblockable blinding dazzle attack, with follow-up. 11. Flying scythe spin, hits 2x. (Probably the most easily parried of all her attacks.)


An Aerial Damaging Shockwave, which does an absurd amount of damage.

AERIAL ATTACKS

12. Aerial blinding shockwave. 13. Aerial damaging shockwave. 14. Aerial ring-throw ending in mega-ring. (This is sort of a ranged attack.)


Nailed by a Swooping Dive-Bomb after a mistimed roll.

GRAB ATTACKS

15. Plunging drop-attack, chains up to 3x. (This is the most dangerous and infuriating move.) 16. Swooping dive-bomb, chains up to 3x. (Easy to dodge, but ruinous if she gets you.)

I think that’s her entire move-set, though it’s possible (probable?) that I missed one or two. When I put them back to back like that, they don’t seem that intimidating.

Each one can be blocked, dodged, parried, or otherwise countered. But if you put them all in a blender and chain them together in unpredictable sequences, it becomes a lot to keep track of. Which gets to the last thing that makes this fight so hard…

She’s so, so fast.

Kratos is a beefy, slow-moving guy. He can run, and he has a few semi-ranged attacks. He’s also got Atreus, whose arrows can interrupt Sigrun’s worst area-of-attack spells.

But by and large he’ll have to get up close to do damage, and most of his best non-runic attacks have a lengthy windup period.

Sigrun is ridiculously fast in comparison. She can cross the entire arena in a fraction of a second. She can escape combat and zoom to the far side of the arena, then close that distance for a heavy attack, all in about a second and a half. She’s hard to stagger, and recovers terrifyingly quickly.

She combines her attacks in unpredictable ways, and a couple of them have ridiculously short telegraphs.

Here’s a clip from one of my many failures, which shows how quickly she can reposition herself and turn the tables:

I had her staggered with a runic attack, and then she was just gone. If I’d used the quick turnaround button, I could’ve been ready to block her follow-up.

I didn’t, and she ate most of my health before I even saw what was going on. That kind of stuff happens all the time in this fight. You can’t get comfortable or greedy, because Sigrun can turn things around in the blink of an eye.

And yet, I really think you should try this fight if you haven’t.

After all that, you might think that I’d tell you to avoid fighting Sigrun. But I actually feel the opposite: the Sigrun fight is the toughest thing in God of War, but it’s absolutely worth your time. Each of God of War’s three side activities is a worthy challenge, and each tests you in a different way.

The fire realm of Muspelheim tests your abilities against standard combat mobs, with a variety of twists and modifiers. The mist realm of Niflheim combines exploration skills with combat and resource management. And the Valkyrie fights are pure tests of combat prowess.

I’m guessing that a fair number of people played through most of God of War, finished the story, maybe dabbled in the optional stuff, then left the toughest challenges—like the Sigrun fight—incomplete. If that’s you, take the opportunity to dust the game off, return to Midgard, and hop into the ring with the Valkyrie Queen.

You can do it. I believe in you.

...and if you’ve already beaten her and are feeling cocky about that, watch this video of Faraaz Khan beating her with no character upgrades, on the highest difficulty, without taking a single hit:

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.................................. jeez.


Comments

    Some of the Valkyries are surprisingly easier than others, but I certainly agree that Sigrun is the hardest Valkyrie (and hardest boss) in the entire game.

    I raged pretty hardcore when I fought Sigrun. Eventually I gave up when I learned that I had "level up" Kratos by getting better gear, so I did just that. Honestly, having better gear did improve the fight, but more defensively, I would say (e.g. I'd take less damage). My damage output was still pretty much the same, or nearly identical anyway.

    Personally, I think there's only a couple of attacks that you really need to be on the ball for, and that's generally the ones when she flies up into the air (you've got to be quick with Atreus and shoot off some arrows straight away in order to stop her)... with the exception of the attack when she flies straight up into the sky to try and pounce down on you. That means you'll have to move/dodge roll as quickly as you can.

    I also found that when Sigrun raises her wings to defend herself, if you're close, you should use your shield's block break, which can make her temporarily vulnerable as she's stunned, allowing you to get in some quick attacks.

    When Sigrun is stunned, even though it's only for a moment, Kratos' powerful rune attacks are your best friend for dealing decent damage.

    I think it's a good idea to go into the fight prepared. Be at full health, have a full rage meter and have a resurrection stone, not the normal stone, but the one that gives you full rage upon revival. I read online that Kratos' overall level should at least be six, preferably seven before tackling this fight.

    Don't use rage at all until you're nearly dead (if that happens), as your rage mode will heal you. When/if you die and use your resurrection stone, be sure to activate rage straight away upon revival (note: if Sigrun does the flying pounce attack from above and kills you, you won't be able to revive with the resurrection stone).

    When in rage mode, if your rage is just about to run out, use your most powerful rage attack (which is most likely the boulder throw). Remember that rage mode will make you impervious to damage, but if Sigrun hits you, you'll lose rage instead of health, so you'll still want to try and avoid most of Sigrun's attacks.

    What a battle! My tips:

    - had a Talisman that slowed time for about 10 seconds when I hit R1-O. Allowed me to get off all 4 runic attacks 3-4 times. Allows a good moment to get your bearings if she’s pummeling you...
    - Sigrun can attack you THROUGH some runics. I recommend focussed lights and AOE Heavies. Never throw a runic attack at her if she’s only going to clip you, uninterrupted, and knock you out.
    - Rage is less effective for this reason. Lock on, punch a few times and R2 to stagger. Or alternatively, just use the rage time to pick up green spheres...
    - learn her attacks! The dive bombs and swoops are easy enough to avoid if you see the tells, Atreus can interrupt all air attacks with the bow and she only becomes vulnerable afterwards.
    - Bring a ressurection Stone.
    - lastly, do it... last. With all the weapons upgrades and most of the max armour (about level 8.5) you have enough clout and defence to take 2-3 hits before falling. Makes it much easier to claw your way back.
    - honestly, if you aren’t below halfway killing her when you first get ressurected, you’re probably gonna die...

    Have fun! :-D

      I agree that you should use rage mode to pick up the green health orbs rather than deal damage.
      When I beat her I had fully upgraded the Valkyrie armor set, the axe and blades and my level was about 8.5.
      I would also recommend using runic attacks that do AOE damage.

      You probably won't believe me but I did it without buying any resurrection stones at all

        Nah, totally believe you. Took out several Valkyrie’s the first time with no stone. It’s a crutch, to be honest. Matter of fact, I’d gotten so attuned to Sigrun’s move-set I’m pretty sure I didn’t use the stone on the round I took her down.

        Awesome game :)

    This is the only thing I have to do short of getting platinum for GoW... and I put this game down in May. She's too hard for me. I realize it's a matter of learning each of her attacks individually and sorting out how to avoid damage from them, but that takes a lot of time and study. I'd rather move on to something else.

    All the other Valkyries I actually found easy. Though, I side-quested pretty much everything in this game before completing the main story and focusing on the Valkyries (knowing by reputation they were suppose to be the most challenging thing here), so I had Kratos pretty much maxed out. Once I came back to do all the Valkyries, I think I did all of them without dying.

    Anyway, good game. Hard to see it being topped for GoTY; let's see what RDR2 does later this year.

      I did it in much the same way. Look through your talisman’s for the Talisman of Kvasir. Once equiped you can slow time. Allows you to get off a number of runics. The rest is just learning how to counter/dodge her move set.

      Go get the platinum!!!

    these comments make me feel a tonne better. I leveld up and still got spanked... might go back though after reading this. It feels like it's even more of a worthwhile achievement now : )

      Seeing that 100% appear when she died was hella satisfying :)

    I always new she was on of the hardest fights in the game, as already Valkyries are no push over on hardest difficulty. I don't even want to see her on max difficulty. I'm sure most if not all of her attacks are one shots!

    This is a great guide and would love to see more on hard bosses on other games as well.

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