|Health *||NG: 2,520|
|Souls *||NG: 5,000|
|* Recorded in PATCH 1.05|
The Hydra is a Mini-Boss in Dark Souls.
Situated in a shallow lake at the very end of Darkroot Basin, lies a 7-headed Hydra. As if the challenge wasn't daunting enough, you are required to slay four Crystal Golem in the woods before the lake, all the while being shot at with water projectiles, by none other than yours truly.
Each head can spit a powerful water projectile that can travel a disturbingly long distance, and is not affected by gravity. The range on these projectiles is so great, that the Hydra often begins spitting them even before the player can see the culprit. The player should utilize all available cover when working their way up towards the Hydra, as the projectiles are numerous, and only very precise rolling will allow you to evade them.
While it can be considered magic, the water attack is deals only physical damage, so don't go into this fight thinking a magic shield will do you any good. About a second before firing the projectile, the Hydra will suddenly jerk its heads around faster than normal, which you can use as a sign of impending (watery) doom.
While the player is within range, the heads will all strike the ground in different areas, in an attempt to hit them. These attacks can be blocked almost entirely with a good shield but you can also reduce the risk of getting hit by evading them, using some good ol' dodging and rolling skills. This attack is preceded by an easily distinguishable loud shriek, which allows you to prepare yourself.
If the Hydra has waited a bit longer than normal between attacks and has not shrieked, it is time to start running sideways and zigzagging as the projectile attack is probably coming.
Strategy 1 - Melee
Once you've dealt with the Crystal Golems, head to the lake and position yourself a few feet into it, without traversing too deep; there is a slightly visible cutoff line that separates the shallow water from the depth, crossing that line will drop you to your watery grave. Standing on the shallows will cause the Hydra to switch primarily to its head strike attack. Once close, just keep up your shield - the Hydra's attacks are fairly weak and with a good shield like the Heater Shield you should deflect all damage. After a strike, the heads will rest on the ground for a couple of seconds before raising back up and striking again. Simply locate one of its heads during this period, and hack away. A few hits with a decent weapon should cut it off. Rinse and repeat until the Hydra is no more.
Strategy 2 - Ranged
Use the Melee Strategy above, but only in getting the two heads in the middle. While there is a spot around the middle of the lake's edge where none of the Hydra's heads will attack, it is safe to cut the two in the middle to ensure your safety. Find that spot and you can shoot with arrows or use sorcery. You won't even need a shield to block at all. You must hit a neck, a head or even the stump where a neck used to be, because the body itself is not vulnerable at all; which is also why it's a good idea to stump the two heads first, giving you a more stationary target.
A good crossbow, such as the Heavy Crossbow located in the Depths, can be very effective once the player reaches the edge of the lake. A crossbow, it's not needed, enables the player to block with a shield between shots, and the Hydra can be target locked from quite a distance. However if you find yourself in a situation where you have to, simply block the Hydra's bite attacks with a shield, and then fire crossbow bolts at its main body. Often the Hydra's heads or necks will interfere with the shot, resulting in even greater damage due to the close range.
Another way to kill the Hydra and take 0 damage is to equip the Dragon Slayer Great Bow and a Hawk Ring. Using the Darkroot Garden entrance, climb down to the last ladder, but do NOT climb down beside the waterfall. You can shoot him from the top of the waterfall without him using his spit attack.
- The most convenient bonfire to the Hydra is usually the otherwise little-used bonfire at the bottom of Darkroot Basin, near the lone knight with a halberd, and the Grass Crest Shield. The bonfire is located in a tunnel near the knight, and allows for a fairly easy run back to the Hydra in the event of the player's demise.
- Summoning (and PvP) activity in the Basin tends to be low, so the player should expect to take on the Hydra solo.
- The water projectiles should be avoided at all costs. They do heavy damage and can travel a surprising distance. Try to stick around the trees in the level and keep moving, as they'll sometimes block the projectiles. You can also use the Crystal Golems as shields, as they can be killed by the water projectiles. You will have to contend with the Crystal Golem first. While they have strong attacks, they are less mobile, which can be used to your advantage as you manoeuvre around them and make them the victims of the Hydra's projectile attacks.
- The water projectiles are actually classified as physical damage. This means that individual water projectiles can be blocked with a high stability shield (albeit at significant stamina cost), but be wary of the other projectiles landing behind or beside you - they can still damage you and even knock you into more incoming projectiles. It is generally safer to try to avoid the projectiles or hide behind cover rather than try to block them in the open.
- Bring as many Estus flasks as possible, ideally at least 10, and try to upgrade your flask to at least +3 prior to the battle. You may have to heal repeatedly before you can even get to the shoreline thanks to the incoming water blasts, and may only have time for a single flask between the Hydra's projectile attacks. Thus your Estus should be strong enough to keep you alive if you get hit by multiple projectiles and have little time to heal.
- Obtaining the Rusted Iron Ring can lessen the difficulty of the fight as it allows you to walk through water without speed reduction.
- While melee attacking the heads after they strike the ground, move beside them and do not stand under/behind them (i.e., between the head where it has impacted the ground, and the main body of the hydra). As the head withdraws for another strike, it can drag you backwards towards the Hydra and there is a significant risk you will then fall into the drop-off zone in the water and instantly die.