Terraria is probably as well known for its bosses as it is for its many weapons and armor sets. But Terraria has an interesting system when it comes to bosses. Although it has a number of them for players to take on, not all of them are needed to complete the game. These optional bosses allow players to take on a unique challenge and potentially get some exciting gear.
The Empress of Light is arguably the most brutal optional boss in Terraria, with some bullet hell moves that deal lots of damage. Today, I’ll teach you how to defeat her and get those sweet drops. Just remember: no amount of training can prepare you for what you’re getting yourself into. Dying is pretty much a guarantee with the Empress, and you’ll likely have to figure out her moves before you can defeat her.
Welcome to a Terraria Empress of Light guide.
About the Empress
The Empress of Light is a terrifying force of nature in butterfly princess form, with 70000 health and 50 defense, making her stronger than Plantera and Golem! She’s also the fastest boss in the game, with powerful attacks that are difficult to evade:
- Melee attacks: 80
- Prismatic Bolt: 90
- Everlasting Rainbow: 90
- Ethereal Lance: 100
- Sun Dance: 100
- Dash: 120
She can’t be confused and becomes enraged during the day; when she does, her attacks can instakill players. Not only is it difficult to kill her, but spawning the Empress in the first place is a hassle! She can only be summoned by killing a Prismatic Lacewing. The Lacewing is a small, glowing butterfly that only appears on the surface Hallow between 7:30 PM and 12 AM. The Empress can be summoned on demand if you catch it with a bug net.
During her first phase, she’ll combine all of the following moves:
- Prismatic Bolt. It creates bolts that lock on to the player, making them difficult to avoid.
- She’ll appear to the left or right of the player and use a Dash Attack. This is her most powerful attack, so avoid it as much as you can.
- Sun Dance, which creates a damaging barrier of sun rays around her
- Everlasting Rainbow, which creates a circle of stars that leave damaging trails
- Ethereal Lance, which fires a ton of swords at the player
When she reaches her second phase, she’ll teleport above the player and transform before combining some of the same moves with new variations:
- The new Ethereal Lance summons waves of swords that attack from different directions and fire across the screen.
- Prismatic Bolts now attack in a spiral, making them harder to dodge.
The rest of her moves are the same as before but will be used faster than in the first phase. Each phase will follow the same pattern of these moves forever until the Empress either transforms or is killed.
Now it’s time to work towards defeating the fastest and arguably most annoying boss in the game. Before you try to fight the Empress, you should consider getting the Guide to Critter Companionship; it prevents you from killing critters accidentally, meaning that you won’t randomly kill the Lacewing and have to fight the boss completely unprepared. I’ve died to the Empress more than once for this reason, so I recommend you find the book. You can unequip it once you’re ready to fight, or maybe you could swap it in whenever you enter the Hallow.
If you don’t want to get the Guide, you could get a Bug Net and catch the Lacewing; that way, you can go to the Hallow and fight when you’re ready. You can also use the Lacewing outside of the Hallow, but it’ll disappear really fast, so you’ll have to kill it right away. I recommend you stick to releasing it in the Hallow since they’re pretty rare and losing one blows.
You’ll want to be ready to fight the Empress, so here are some ideas on how to do that:
- Summon her as soon as night falls (7:30 PM). This gives you the most time possible to fight her, which you’ll probably need since she’s pretty hard to kill.
- Carry the best healing potions possible. Unless you’re a Terraria god, these will keep you alive through the fight. The same goes for mana potions if you use magic.
- You can also build an arena. Generally, I’ll build them with multiple platform levels to be able to jump up and down, and I’ll make the arena decently wide, so I have room to run around. Some people like to use Dart Traps to damage bosses, but I’ve never done so. All of that being said, an arena isn’t vital if you’re well equipped and have enough space to move around.
- Another idea is to build a long skybridge. This is a common strategy for fighting bosses in general, especially for mobile bosses like the Empress or Moon Lord. Make it out of asphalt so you’ll be able to run faster.
Another thing you could do is use objects that give you stat boosts. Here are some standard ones:
- Heart Lanterns, Campfires, and Honey all boost health regeneration.
- Stars in Bottles boost mana regeneration.
- Bast Statues boost defense.
- Sunflowers increase movement speed.
- Sharpening Stations boost armor penetration, but only for melee
- Ammo Boxes reduce ammo usage for guns
- Crystal Balls increase magic power
For armor, you should have the Hallowed Armor at the very least. I personally wouldn’t recommend using it for this battle, as it is pretty weak relative to the Empress. However, the armor set has a good buff that lets you dodge attacks entirely. If the idea of a challenge interests you, try it.
At this point, I’d say that you should have a complete set of Beetle Armor. It’ll give you as much defense as you can get up to this point, and it has some pretty sweet buffs. Depending on the chest plate you get, you can boost your offense or defense a fair bit, which is pretty helpful in this fight.
For melee users, the Terra Blade is your best bet. It does plenty of damage and has projectiles, meaning that you can fight the Empress at a distance. You should also try to get the Vampire Knives since they steal life. The knives are an excellent option for most bosses in Hardmode but are hard to get. You’ll have to obtain a Crimson Key, which rarely drops from Crimson enemies, before going to the Dungeon and finding the Crimson Chest.
For gun users, the strongest gun you can get for this battle is the Xenopopper. It drops during the Martian Madness event, so you’ll have to complete that before fighting the Empress. I’ve never used this gun for the Empress and would probably recommend you stick with the Megashark or get the Chain Gun since it’s the fastest gun in the game.
For magic users, Betsy’s Wrath is a good choice, especially since it has a debuff that lowers defense. However, you’ll have to complete the Old One’s Army event to get it. The Spirit Flame is another good choice.
If you’ve already fought the Empress and got it, the Nightglow would be good too. If none of these are your speed, or they’re too hard to get, I’d just stick with the strongest magic weapon you have up to that point; I’ve never needed to use these weapons to battle the Empress.
If you’re into summoning, use the Xeno Staff. It’s only obtained through Martian Madness but is the best option for the Empress up to that point. If you want to reach endgame level and then go back to fight her, use the Stardust Dragon Staff.
This is arguably the best summoning weapon in the game, although you would have to destroy the Stardust Pillar to get it. I don’t recommend you go for this one unless you want to fight Moon Lord because if you leave the pillars standing, there’s a chance that you’ll have to fight the Pillar enemies as well as the Empress.
- You absolutely must have wings or some kind of flight gear. The Fishron Wings, the Jetpack, or Steampunk Wings are all good choices. I enjoy using the Jetpack.
- Melee users should get some kind of melee boosting accessory. The Fire Gauntlet is a great choice.
- If you’re using yoyos, have the Yoyo Bag ready.
- The Master Ninja Gear gives you a dodge and a dash ability, so that’s a great choice across multiple bosses.
- Get the Magic Quiver if you’re using a bow.
- The Celestial Shell boosts many stats, so I’d recommend working towards that one.
- Summoners should have the Papyrus Scarab and the Necromantic Scroll.
- Have some kind of Hermes Boots combination ready. I like to work towards the Terraspark Boots since they give you various benefits, including a rocket boost, walking on water and lava, increased movement speed, and more.
- I also recommend the Cross Necklace for this specific fight since it gives brief invincibility. If you combine it with a Star Cloak, you’ll get a Star Veil, which can help you deal a bit more damage.
- If you want to use a mount along with any other accessories, go for the Gelatinous Pillion since it can fly and descend very quickly. You can also hop on the Empress and do decent damage, although I wouldn’t recommend doing this since she’ll probably shred you if you get too close.
Fighting the Empress
The Empress repeatedly attacks in certain patterns. In the second phase, she’ll attack faster and new variants of some of her moves will appear. If you can kill her quickly enough, some of the attacks can be avoided.
First Stage sequence:
- Her first attack is a barrage of Prismatic Bolts, which you’ll want to avoid by flying. Since they lock on, you’ll have to perform evasive maneuvers to get them off of you. An easy way to do this is to fly in a large circle and take sharp turns. Ideally, you’ll be fighting with a weapon that has range.
- She’ll dash at you. So long as you’re moving around enough and flying where needed, avoiding this attack isn’t hard.
- Next up is the Sun Dance. The easiest way to avoid this move is to keep a good distance, since it isn’t a ranged attack. Once again, having a weapon with range is a huge plus.
- Another dash attack.
- Next is Everlasting Rainbow. The stars circle out and the trails leave damage, so all you have to do is avoid the initial launch and the trails. The stars don’t lock on, so avoiding the attack is pretty easy.
- Prismatic Bolts again.
- Another dash.
- Ethereal Lance, which fires swords. These start off as static lines before firing, so you’ll want to time your moves so you can jump or fly out of the way just as they launch.
- Another Everlasting Rainbow.
Second Stage sequence:
- A new variant of the Ethereal Lance that fires swords across the entire screen. The directions they fire in are telegraphed beforehand, but there isn’t much space to dodge. Control your movement and find spaces in between the lines.
- Prismatic Bolts
- A dash attack, followed by a short Ethereal Lance attack
- Everlasting Rainbow
- Prismatic Bolts
- Sun Dance
- Ethereal Lance
- Dash attack
- The 2nd version of Prismatic Bolts. They’ll circle around you, so you’ll probably have to fly in between them. Try moving horizontally as you fly.
Nightglow: A magic weapon that does 50 magic damage. It’s a lantern that fires homing crystals at enemies. It has a 25% chance of dropping when the Empress is killed.
Starlight: A sword that does 80 melee damage and rapidly fires beams at enemies when the attack button is held down. It has a 25% chance of dropping.
Kaleidoscope: A whip made of crystals that does 180 summon damage. When an enemy is hit, existing minions will lock on to it and attack. It has a 25% chance of dropping.
Eventide: A bow that fires Twilight Lances at enemies, dealing 50 ranged damage. Note that it only fires lances when firing Wooden Arrows. The bow has a 25% drop chance.
Empress Wings: A pair of wings that look like the Empress’ wings. They have the ability to speed up ascent by holding up.
Prismatic Dye: A special rainbow dye that has a 25% chance of dropping. It cycles through colors much like the Empress’ wings do.
Stellar Tune: A star-shaped guitar that fires homing stars at enemies, doing 85 magic damage. It also plays chords when fired. It has a 2% chance of dropping.
Rainbow Cursor: A vanity item that turns your mouse cursor into a rainbow one that cycles colors. It has a 5% drop chance.
Terraprisma: A summoning weapon that summons a floating sword to attack enemies, doing 90 summon damage. It’s probably the hardest summoning weapon to get in the game since you have to defeat the Empress during the day to get it, and all of her hits instakill during the day.
Empress of Light Trophy: A trophy of the Empress’ crown to be put on the wall. It has a 10% chance of dropping.
Empress of Light Mask: A mask of the Empress’ face for you to wear. It has a 14.29% chance of dropping.
Greater Healing Potions: The Empress will always drop 5-15 Greater Healing Potions when killed.
Question: Can you fight the Empress during the day?
Answer: Yeah. You can only get the Terraprisma by killing her during the day. Here’s the problem: since every single attack she fires at you instakills during the day, you would have to kill her without getting hit once. I haven’t even bothered to see it through since it’s kind of a nightmare. There are better summoning weapons that you can get not long after fighting the Empress, so it’s not necessary either.
Question: Is there any benefit to fighting the Empress outside of the Hallow?
Answer: Not really. You can avoid the enemies in the Hallow, I guess. Or maybe you could fight her in an arena you set up somewhere else. I don’t think it’s worth risking the Lacewing disappearing, so I’d just fight her in the Hallow.
Question: Can I cheese the Empress?
Answer: The Empress is a bit harder to cheese than other bosses. You can ride a minecart rail across the entire world and dodge most of her attacks, but that seems like too big of a hassle to me. I’d rather build a skybridge and run across or just fight her in the Hallow like normal.
Question: I’m having trouble finding the Lacewing! How can I make it easier?
Answer: They’re rare, so you’ll have to look carefully and be patient. Remember that they only spawn from 7:30 PM to 12 AM. Look for a small rainbow butterfly. Having a Lifeform Analyzer helps since it’ll register there, and you’ll know when one’s in the area.
You should now have a better chance of taking down the infamous Empress. The thing about this boss that makes her stand out is that her attacks are very bullet-hell, so you’ll have to be especially good about moving around. Maybe they should call her the Empress of Death. I know it doesn’t really match her look, but appearances can be deceiving!
The Empress is also optional, so you don’t have to fight her at all. There aren’t that many optional bosses in Terraria, and boy am I glad she’s one of them. I’d hate having to beat her to progress my character since she’s so hard to kill. And I haven’t even gotten into fighting her during the day!