OPINION: Elden Ring may well be the most accessible ‘Souls’ game by FromSoftware yet, but it’s still brutally difficult if you go in unprepared. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of Elden Ring tips and tricks to help you make the starting few hours as seamless as possible.
It’s worth pointing out that these pointers will be general advice for series newcomers who need help right at the beginning of the game. If you’ve already defeated multiple bosses and have completed previous Souls games, then this guide probably isn’t for you.
But if you need help with the basics, and are looking for some tips to give you an extra edge in combat, then here’s everything you need to know.
Focus on the strengths of your class
When you’ve discovered enough Sites of Grace, you’ll unlock the ability to level up your attributes. You’re able to pick which attribute to strengthen, which includes Vigor, Mind, Endurance, Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Faith and Arcane.
It may be tempting to choose the most exciting-sounding attribute or even pick at random, but doing so can imbalance your character build, making it difficult to defeat enemies and early bosses.
There isn’t one attribute that’s best to focus on, but I recommend focusing on up to three attributes that compliment your character class to start with. For example, if you want to build a character that’s strong with melee combat (such as the Vagabond or Warrior) you’ll want to concentrate your experience points into the likes of Strength, Dexterity and Vigor.
The same applies to magic builds, as there’s little point investing in the above attributes when you’re going to be spending more time casting spells than slashing at foes with a sword. Instead, you’ll want to upgrade Faith or Intelligence (depending on what type of incarnations you want to use) as well as Mind so you can increase your FP meter.
Once you’re a little further into the game, you can start experimenting with additional attributes. For example, I’ve started to increase my Faith stats for my Vagabond class so I can use healing and fortification incarnations. But I recommend sticking to three or four key attributes until you’ve defeated Margit at the very least.
Upgrade weapons with Smithing Stones
The Smithing Stone is one of the most important items you can find early on. This is used to upgrade your weapons, helping them to deal more damage which can be a life saver early on.
Smithing Stones can be purchased from merchants and looted from soldiers, while there’s also a bounty of them available in Limgrave Tunnels which has an entrance on the edge of the lake that the dragon patrols.
Once you’ve collected enough, return to the Church of Elleh and you’ll find a hammer and anvil that allows you to upgrade your weapons. You will have to spend some runes to improve your weapon’s stats, but it’s undoubtedly worth it.
Every weapon has a maximum level, so don’t think you can keep endlessly upgrading your sword until it’s the most powerful weapon in the game, but you should start being able to dispatch general soldiers in a couple of swipes once it’s jumped up a few levels.
Don’t be afraid to run past enemies
This is one of the most common mistakes that Souls newcomers make in Elden Ring, as they assume any enemy they encounter at the beginning should be easy to defeat – this is not the case.
One of the first enemies you’ll meet is the Tree Sentinel, which is an optional boss kitted out with golden armour. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to defeat him with your starting level and equipment, so the best course of action is to sneak past him. This is essentially FromSoftware’s attempt at teaching you that it’s okay to avoid enemies where possible.
And if you venture north towards Stormveil castle, you’ll also encounter an army of soldiers and a giant. While it is possible to defeat these foes by luring them out one at a time, newcomers will probably struggle to do so without dying multiple times. Instead, you can jump on your horse and simply gallop past them. There’s no shame in doing so, as the game actively encourages you to use such tactics.
Of course, you can’t run past every enemy, as it’s mandatory to defeat certain bosses such as Margit, but if you’re struggling to defeat someone then it’s worth backtracking and exploring the map to level up.
Make use of crafting
A lot of Elden Ring players have confessed to neglecting the crafting element of this RPG. This mechanic certainly isn’t compulsory, but it can make combat slightly easier, especially when it comes to ranged attacks. You can purchase a Crafting Kit from the merchant at Church of Elleh for just 300 runes, which unlocks crafting for the rest of the game.
The Bone Dart is a handy craftable early-game item, allowing you to hurl them at enemies to deal damage from a safe distance – I found this especially useful for killing wolves. Once you find or purchase a Nomadic Warrior’s Cookbook, you’ll also be able to craft arrows. I purchased a longbow just so I could make use of these craftable items, which are really useful for dealing with airborne monsters.
The best thing about crafting is that the components required can sometimes be very easy to find. Both the Bone Dart and Bone Arrow just need Thin Beast Bones, which can be looted off wildlife such as harmless deer.
Once you acquire the relevant cookbooks, you’ll also gain the ability to craft Fire Pots and Fire Grease which can deal serious damage to certain enemies. I also found the Neutralising Boluses to be invaluable for reducing poison build up, as they’ll be plenty of poison swamps to contend with throughout your journey.
Keep an eye on your Equip Load
There are a lot of features in Elden Ring that FromSoftware does a poor job of explaining, and one of them is Equip Load. If you have too many heavy items equipped, it will affect your manoeuvrability and reduce the speed and length of your rolls.
Since rolling is so important for avoiding enemy damage – particularly in boss encounters – having a slow roll could end up costing you a victory, making it an incredibly important factor to consider.
Equip Load is the total weight of all of your equipped inventory, and can be found underneath ‘Stamina’ on the Equipment page. You don’t need to worry about all of the items in your inventory, but any equipped armour and weapons will contribute to the total figure. This means you may want to consider wearing lighter armour, even if it’s less efficient at absorbing damage and reconsider having multiple weapons equipped at once.
It’s best to aim for a medium Equip Load, striking an ideal balance between armour weight and manoeuvrability. Fortunately, you’re able to increase your Equip Load threshold by levelling up your Endurance attribute, so it’s still possible to roll freely with heavy armour. Just make sure to keep an eye on it, as it could well be the main reason why you’re struggling to defeat Margit.
Use Spirit Ashes against bosses
If you visit the Church of Elleh at night, you’ll meet a character that gives you a Spirit Bell, which allows you to summon NPCs to fight alongside you. These spirits can take a variety of forms depending on which you have unlocked, ranging from a pack of wolves to a lone mage.
Unfortunately, you can’t use Spirit Ashes whenever you want. You’ll need to be near a Rebirth Monument – if you are, a grave icon will appear in the bottom-left corner of your screen. The Spirit Ashes are unlikely to be able to take down a boss alone, but they’re very useful for distracting the enemy so you can get in some free hits.
It’s worth pointing out that you’re only able to use one Spirit Ash between rests at a Site of Grace, and it will also take up a chunk of your FP which could be an issue if you’re playing as a Mage. But if you’re focusing on melee combat instead, then it’s worth taking advantage of your unused FP.