Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
A crumbled soldier seemingly lost in a land overrun with sludge, Commander O'Neil is a boss you can avoid if you so wish. It's not a bad idea, either - this guy summons in help when he's in a pinch, and he can do significant damage on his own. Still, if you want an extra challenge, Commander O'Neil is more than happy to oblige.
This guide will show you how to beat Commander O'Neil in a brawl. You'll get plenty of Runes out of it, as well as some other goodies, so... why not?
Finding Commander O'Neil
Despite appearing as though he belongs back at Stormveil Castle, Commander O'Neil is located in the fetid swamps of Caelid. You can find him by traveling there via the roads, but the quickest path - one you may have discovered way too early in your game - is back in Limgrave.
Head to Agheel Lake, the body of water near Elden Ring's starting point in Limgrave. In the south of the lake you'll find the Dragon-Burnt Ruins, and in them some stairs. Below the Ruins is a very small combat area that you can whip through with ease, and at the end of it is a chest. Pop the chest open...
... and you'll instantly be teleported across the world to the Sellia Crystal Tunnel. You can't teleport back out, nor can you leave any way but through the front door, so immediately leave the small shack where you've appeared and descend through the Tunnel's main area. You'll get shot by projectiles on your way out, most likely, so travel by rolling. You'll find a Site of Grace near the Tunnel's entrance.
When you emerge you'll be on the edge of a vast, red bog. If you travel south through the bog - you'll want to summon your horse to cross the bog, as stepping on it will build up to the awful Scarlet Rot status ailment - you'll soon see another Site of Grace, this called Inner Aeonia. Just south of this are tree roots twisted into a tunnel. Go through the tunnel to trigger the battle with Commander O'Neil.
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Commander O'Neil's Moveset
Commander O'Neil is largely a melee fighter, and he will stalk you slowly through his arena, only occasionally moving quickly to attack. His halberd is long, however, and he is more than capable of skewering you from a distance. You can expect the following attacks from Commander O'Neil:
- The usual combination of spear swipes and thrusts. Normally he'll swipe horizontally from one side to the other, though occasionally he'll thrust straight towards you and up, knocking you around if he connects. Overhead chops can also be expected.
- A backward nudge. If you wind up behind Commander O'Neil he'll occasionally poke you with the back of his halberd, stunning you so he can turn around and face you again. This attack is so fast that you probably won't avoid it, but it's also pretty weak.
- A windy area of effect attack. Commander O'Neil charges up momentarily, planting his halberd in the ground and channeling wind around it, and unleashes a burst. He'll often follow up by swiping his halberd at you with an extra touch of wind energy that gives him more reach. The chances are good that you'll be well out of the area before he performs this follow-up attack, however.
- A much wider area of effect attack. If Commander O'Neil begins to gather winds around him he can also greatly widen the damage radius around him. Get well away from Commander O'Neil if you see the winds around him expanding. Note that he can also move a little once he's summoned this damage radius around him, so you're not necessarily safe once you're out of the way. Wait several seconds for the winds to subside.
- A summoning attack. Both at the beginning and near the end of the fight Commander O'Neil will call in reinforcements to help him. These enemies will look familiar if you've visited Stormveil Castle. You need to prioritize killing his soldiers, and Commander O'Neil will buff them using his Commander's Standard. They'll also prove an annoying distraction while you're fighting the commander.
It's important to note that most of Commander O'Neil's attacks will inflict small amounts of Scarlet Rot buildup. Not a ton, but every little bit adds up over time, and if you get hit by the status ailment's full glory your battle is probably going to end in a hurry.
Beating Commander O'Neil
Fighting Commander O'Neil is a three-step process:
- First, defeat the soldiers he summons. The first group will use crossbows from a distance and swords up close. Both weapons are a nuisance when trying to face Commander O'Neil. Kill them quickly or Commander O'Neil will close the distance on you and skewer you while you're fighting with his troops.
- Second, drain Commander O'Neil's health. He's a standard, slow, powerful enemy, and most of his attacks are telegraphed well in advance. If you're fighting at a distance there's very little to fear from Commander O'Neil.
- And, third, wipe out the second wave of summoned troops. Commander O'Neil will call them in when he's down to about a third of his health. The next three that appear are stronger soldiers with giant axes, and they will rush you in a group. Draw them well away from Commander O'Neil so he doesn't interfere, then turn back to the boss to finish the job once his flunkies are dead.
In short, wait for Commander O'Neil to attack, roll out of the way, and get in a hit or two. Pretty standard Souls combat. Because Commander O'Neil is slow with his attacks he's not that difficult to hit, and if you're experienced enough you can pretty easily parry his horizontal strikes. He takes a moment to swing, so time your parry for about a half a second after you see his arms start to move.
This fight can get a little hectic when it's full of soldiers, so you'll do well to bring in some help. Only fair both sides have troops. Any of your Ashen Spirits should be fine for this battle, and will prove especially useful if you need your foes distracted so you can launch arrows or spells.
You'll earn 12,000 Runes, the Commander's Standard, and an Unalloyed Gold Needle for defeating Commander O'Neil.