Vanitas makes his first appearance as a boss in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, fought by Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. While he only faces Terra as an aid to Master Xehanort during their final battle, he battles Ventus in hopes of making him stronger and with the goal of fusing with him in the end to create the χ-blade. Should Ventus fail to serve his purpose, he wishes to use Aqua as his backup plan. Vanitas appears as a boss six times in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
Vanitas also appears as a boss in Kingdom Hearts III at the Land of Departure against Aqua in a bid to collect Ventus's body, and at the Keyblade Graveyard alongside Terra-Xehanort against Sora, Ventus, and Aqua.
In Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind, a data version of Vanitas is fought.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
The only time Vanitas ever faces Terra in combat is during the final battle with Master Xehanort, during which Vanitas assists Master Xehanort in a battle against the young Keyblade wielder. During this battle, Terra has access to D-Links, Shotlocks, and Command Styles. While clearing this boss fight without the use of these special powers and abilities is quite possible, it is recommended that Terra instead make full use of them.
It is very important that Terra immediately go on the offensive against Vanitas at the start of the battle, as he has two powerful bosses attacking him simultaneously; fortunately, only Vanitas must be defeated to progress. Vanitas will not attack often and will mainly attempt to dodge the Terra's attacks, but certain abilities such as Chaos Rave will allow Terra to stay on him. When Vanitas vanishes, Slide out of the way; if Terra does not, he will fall victim to an downward strike from Vanitas with his Keyblade. When Vanitas sinks into the ground, only visible by a moving pool of darkness, immediately chain Slides together. Otherwise, Terra will be bombarded with fireballs as the boss reemerges. Vanitas may leap into the air bombarding Terra with dark lightning, or he even may shoot a single, large fireball that later splits into three homing ones. Slide can be used to dodge these attacks, as well.
Once enough HP has been depleted from Vanitas, the battle will automatically end, regardless of how much of it currently remains, but in the 1.5 + 2.5 version, it will end when his health's completely gone. However, remember that Master Xehanort is also present during the battle, and he may strike Terra with his Keyblade or shoot a long-range, dark Blizzard spell in his direction. Master Xehanort may also combine the two attacks, assaulting Terra with a fast-paced physical combo and ending it with a Blizzard spell that can freeze Terra, leaving him open to both Vanitas and Master Xehanort's attacks.
Vanitas first fights Ventus in a two-part boss battle after luring him to the Keyblade Graveyard. The first will end only once enough HP has been depleted from Vanitas, the second beginning soon afterwards. However, in the second part of the battle, Ventus has the assistance of King Mickey. He will also have access to Shotlocks, Command Styles, and D-Links, increasing the easiness of winning the battle along with Ventus's normal abilities.
Vanitas at first challenges Ventus with the goal of testing his power. During the first part of the two-part battle, Ventus should go on the offensive while also following a hit-and-run strategy, using both physical and magical attacks in a balanced manner before fleeing Vanitas's close combat attacks. Vanitas may disappear during the battle, but Ventus should immediately Dodge Roll, or he will fall victim to his downward strike if they do not dodge. The boss may also shoot a single, large fireball at Vent that will soon separate into three smaller, homing fireballs after traveling forward in the his direction. Dodge Roll again can be used to avoid this attack. If Vanitas leaps into the air, he may strike Ventus with a dark lightning attack, which has a relatively long range. Dodge Roll is recommended in terms of avoiding it. lastly, Vanitas may perform a simple two-hit physical combo, an attack easily dodged with Dodge Roll.
In terms of offensive tactics, Mine Square and Tornado are highly recommended for use, as they will deal great damage to the boss, as well as interrupt his attacks. Other good weaknesses to exploit are the boss's vulnerabilities to Magnet, Aero, and Gravity magic. Each of these spells temporarily hoist him into the air, leaving him open to major damage, although timing is key to successfully use these attacks on him. Note that this rule applies to all of his battles. Whatever physical attacks Ventus attempts should be the most powerful in his arsenal. Continuation to use powerful physical and magic attacks is the key to ending the first part of the two-part battle with ease and minimal damage.
Now that King Mickey has joined Ventus in his battle with his darkness, Vanitas is forced to eliminate them both. His HP will be the same as what it was depleted to in the first part of the battle, and will also use the same battle tactics. Ventus can follow the same strategies as in the last battle to defeat Vanitas this time. In terms of King Mickey fighting alongside Ventus, his physical attacks are strong, and there is no need to worry when his HP reaches 0. He will automatically revive himself in time. One major advantage to fighting with Mickey is that he will grant Ventus the usage of a powerful offensive ability, Burst of Faith. Again, continue using the same strategies as the first part of the battle, and take advantage of the King's presence.
Ventus initiates the second battle with the embodiment of his darkness, after Vanitas had attempted to eliminate Aqua by ambushing her. His HP has not increased since the two-part battle, but Ventus no longer has King Mickey to aid him. By now, Ventus should not need his presence. The only thing Ventus needs to worry about would be the new attacks added to Vanitas's arsenal.
Vanitas will begin the battle by jumping onto a vortex of flying Keyblades. As he travels around the battlefield, he will cast dark Blizzard spells in Ventus's direction. These Blizzard spells have strong homing capabilities, but they can be dodged with relative ease. Fire Glide, Shotlocks, and other magic attacks can be used to make Vanitas fall from the flying Keyblades. If Ventus doesn't knock him off the Keyblade vortex, when returning to the ground, he will imbue the Void Gear with darkness, strengthening his attack power. Vanitas also may sink into the ground once he dismounts the Keyblade storm, visible only as a mobile pool of darkness. Vanitas will travel to Ventus's location, so Dodge Roll to prevent being hit by several fireballs. Note that he may perform this attack up to three times in a row.
Vanitas's other attacks are the same as those he used in the first encounter with him, save for his two-hit combo, which now adds a blue crescent-shaped wave of energy. Also, when he teleports behind Ventus, his downward strike now causes a large pillar of ice to erupt out of the ground. But they can be dodged the same way. As with the last battle, careful timing of Dodge Roll and a balanced use of physical and magic attacks are the key to winning this battle. However, it should be noted this battle can be won purely with Reprisals (Reversal Slash, Counter Rush, etc.) as almost all of his attacks can be countered this way.
The final battle with Vanitas has come; Vanitas has entered Ventus's heart, fusing with him and creating an incomplete version of the χ-blade. This tremendous weapon has not only increased the strength of his attacks and changed those he can use, but his HP has also increased a great deal. Ventus has access to D-Links, Shotlocks, and Command Styles during this battle, so make full use of them.
Vanitas will first charge his weapon, surrounding it and himself in a damaging aura. The attack is indicated by the lines "Forge the χ-blade!", "What's yours is mine!", or "Show me anguish!" He will then proceed to lunge at Ventus with the massive weapon, slam the ground and create an X-shaped shockwave, perform another lunging slash, and even shoot a homing blast of energy in the shape of an "X" at Ventus. Dodge Roll can be used to avoid this attack. Note that if Vanitas is attacked while charging the χ-blade, the attack is cancelled, so Reversal Slash can be used to avoid damage altogether and cancel out the attack. The boss also still favors the dark lightning attack, and he still has the ability to vanish and appear behind Ventus. However, rather than performing a single, downward strike, Vanitas will use an attack called Dark Splicer, similar to Time Splicer, wherein he will slash Ventus multiple times while teleporting around him to attack from all sides. Dodge Roll until he stops or, a more preferable option, block his attack. This leaves the boss open to damage from Counter Rush.
Vanitas also may begin to utilize an attack called Dark Spiral, similar to Riku's Dark Aura, charging at Ventus at a fast pace multiple times, while the χ-blade cloaks him in dark energy. Dodge Roll can be used to avoid this. The attack can be predicted by the quotes "There's no escape!", or "Darkness waits!" While Ventus should continue to use a hit-and-run strategy, it is advised to use Tornado and Mine Square to interrupt Vanitas's combos while still dealing great damage to him. Physical attacks should not be used as the main offense, as this will open Ventus to Vanitas's attacks. Instead, utilize magic or other long-ranged attacks to the fullest.
It is impossible to fully deplete Vanitas's HP once Ventus deals an attack that should defeat him. Instead, Vanitas's HP will remain at 1, and he will then shatter the pillar on which he and Ventus are fighting on. Vanitas will then become a temporary D-Link, granting Ventus the attacks that are key to defeating him once and for all, which uses his own attacks against him. As the two Keyblade wielders float in a dark realm amidst shards of stained glass, Ventus can move to Vanitas's location and hit him with Dark Spiral or Dark Splicer. However, it is recommended to merely use Ventus's only available Shotlock, Dark Link. This will cause Vanitas to fire his own version of the attack, Dark Cannon, to counter. As the two beams of energy collide, rapidly tap a button or spin the analog stick to win the grapple. This method can also be done with the Dark Spiral and Dark Splicer attack. This must be repeated several times before the combo finisher, Last Word, can be activated. Once this is done, Ventus will surround Vanitas with three beams of crystallized light. He will then shatter them, defeating Vanitas once and for all. However, Ventus can miss when performing this attack, therefore timing is crucial. Ventus also cannot heal during this phase.
Vanitas first challenges Aqua in the Radiant Garden. While his attacks are the same as in the early battles of Ventus's scenario, keep in mind that Aqua favors magic, which calls for a change in strategy. Aqua has access to D-Links, Command Styles, and Shotlocks in this battle, and they should be used if possible to gain the upper hand in battle.
Aqua should go on the offensive while also following a hit-and-run strategy, using magical attacks as her primary source of dealing damage. Vanitas may disappear during the battle, so Aqua should immediately Cartwheel, or fall victim to his downward strike if she does not dodge the assault. Vanitas may also shoot a single, large fireball at Aqua that will soon separate into three smaller, homing fireballs after traveling forward in the her direction. Cartwheel again can be used to avoid this attack. If Vanitas leaps into the air, he may strike Aqua with a dark lightning attack, which has a relatively long range. Cartwheel is recommended in terms of avoiding it. Lastly, Vanitas may perform a simple two-hit physical combo, an attack easily dodged with Cartwheel. In terms of offensive tactics, Seeker Mine and Raging Storm are highly recommended for use, as they will deal great damage to the boss, also interrupting his attacks. The Sleep magic command works great as it inflicts sleep status, leaving Vanitas at Aqua's mercy. Whatever physical attacks Aqua attempts should be the most powerful in her arsenal.
Vanitas next challenges Aqua in Neverland. Aqua has access to D-Links, Command Styles, and Shotlocks in this battle, and they should be used if possible to gain the upper hand in battle.
Aqua should go on the offensive while also following a hit-and-run strategy, using magical attacks as their primary source of dealing damage. Vanitas may disappear during the battle, so Aqua should immediately Cartwheel, or instead will fall victim to his downward strike. The boss may also shoot a single, large fireball at Aqua that will soon separate into three smaller, homing fireballs after traveling forward in the Aqua's direction. Cartwheel again can be used to avoid this attack. If Vanitas leaps into the air, he may strike Aqua with a dark lightning attack, which has a relatively long range. Cartwheel is recommended in terms of avoiding it. Vanitas may proceed to sink into the ground, visible only as a pool of darkness that will move to Aqua's location. Unless Aqua Cartwheels away, she will be hit by several fireballs. Lastly, Vanitas may perform a simple two-hit physical combo which now adds a homing, blue, crescent-shaped wave of energy, an attack easily dodged with Cartwheel. In terms of offensive tactics, Seeker Mine and Raging Storm are highly recommended for use, as they will deal great damage to the boss, also interrupting his attacks. Whatever physical attacks the Aqua attempts should be the most powerful in her arsenal.
Kingdom Hearts III
Vanitas's second and final battle occurs at the Keyblade Graveyard. Sora has Aqua and Ventus as party members, but Vanitas is also aided by Terra-Xehanort.
In this fight, Vanitas's attacks generally remain the same. He has a new desperation attack in which he summons a twister of Keyblades and rides on it, often barreling into the party or firing blizzard shards, the latter of which can be guarded or even deflected back at Vanitas at the right angle. Eventually, Vanitas will guide the twister towards the center and surround himself with the Keyblades, often sending then groups at a time at Sora. Once this is done, he continues the fight as normal, though he does occasionally continue this attack.
Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind
Vanitas's first battle in Re Mind is a revisit of his and Terra-Xehanort's battle from the base game. For the first part of the fight, the player plays as Aqua with Ventus as a party member. Once Sora joins the battle, the player can choose to play as either Sora or Aqua. When playing as Aqua, she and Ven can use the Icy Slider Team Attack.
Vanitas's data serves as a boss in the Limitcut Episode. His moveset has been heavily upgraded. He constantly melts into the ground and emerges with a cluster of fireballs multiple times. He also can fire multiple sword beams with his Keyblade which can be parried. His ultimate attack has him ride a twister of Keyblades before converging at the center and continuously firing Keyblades while using copies of himself akin to the Vanitas Remnant. This attack can be cancelled by attacking him as he summons the Keyblade twister.
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Notes and references