Malenia in Elden Ring is the ultimate bait-and-switch character

By Kenneth Williams


Mar 10, 2022

Reading time: 3 min

Malenia, Blade of Miquella was expected to be a hero in Elden Ring, but she’s actually one of the game’s most sinister villains.

Malenia, Blade of Miquella is the most controversial character in all of Elden Ring. While portrayed as a valiant hero in trailers and art, players are now discovering that Malenia is one of the most despicable characters in the entire game. FromSoftware took a massive risk with Malenia’s marketing, and fans are finally seeing the payoff in-game. Here’s why fans thought Malenia would be a hero and why she works perfectly as a villain.

Malenia, Blade of Miquella ticked every box as a poster character for Elden Ring. She featured heavily in promotional material, often framed as a heroic character clad in gold armor with a prosthetic arm. It’s easy to draw comparisons to Sekiro, where severed limbs are a calling card for heroic characters.

The ultra-expensive Premium Collector’s Edition even came with a nine-inch statuette of the character. FromSoftware clearly wanted players to think Malenia was a supporting character before the game’s release.

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The best example of Malenia’s bait-and-switch nature is in the story trailer, where she squares off against Starscourge Radahn. The fight is framed with Malenia as David and Radahn as Goliath. She is apparently outmatched, forced to abandon her prosthetic arm to even get a hit on Radahn. How could a character who sacrifices herself and explodes into a beautiful flower be evil?

Is Malenia evil in Elden Ring?

Malenia is arguably the second-most evil character in Elden Ring and responsible for the biggest tragedy other than The Shattering.

Before the events of Elden Ring, Malenia was the daughter of King Radagon and Queen Marika. She was also a prized bodyguard of Miquella, her brother and fellow Empyrean. Though Malenia did not gain a Great Rune in The Shattering, she was still feared as an extremely powerful warrior who has “never known defeat.”

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Without the power of a Great Rune, Malenia developed her own weapon to help in the fight. In lore, Scarlet Rot is portrayed as an extremely dangerous disease that destroys both the mind and body of its victims. It spreads extremely quickly, taking over entire regions if left unchecked.

By the time of Elden Ring, the entire region of Caelid is stricken with Scarlet Rot. The only thing protecting the rest of the Lands Between from becoming overrun with Rot is a magical stone barrier surrounding Caelid.

Malenia is the reason why General Radahn, who was a pretty good guy by Elden Ring standards, is now a mindless cannibal wandering the desert. Even Malenia’s own brother Miquella remarks on how terrible Malenia has become.

This extreme danger is represented in-game by the Scarlet Rot status effect, which deals moderate damage over an extremely long time. This effect plays a big role in Malenia’s late-game boss fight, which is entirely optional and extremely challenging.

Upon defeat, Malenia doesn’t even acknowledge the danger she has unleashed on the world. Instead, she apologizes to her brother Miquella for not killing the player.


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