I know what a lot of you are thinking. You are thinking that there is no possible way you can hope to topple the mountain that is Elden Ring. Especially after all those unsuccessful attempts at taking down any of the Soulsborne games. But fear not, dear reader, for I am here to quell your nerves and bolster your resolve. Umbasa.
From inexperienced players to veterans of the series, there is always something new to learn. And with knowledge comes power. With power comes great responsibility - and the ability to progress. And that is the long and short of this article. It is simply a collection of tips that will hopefully help you progress in some form or another if you are struggling.
Do Your Own Thing!
This one might seem incredibly obvious to most. The number of times people have asked me about ways to improve or get better at playing any of these games is staggering. The simple answer is always the same: do your own thing. The way in which I build my character, the way in which I play, the equipment I use etc, are all ways that I have found work for me personally. The remarkable thing about Elden Ring is its diversity when it comes to character builds, and they are all pretty well balanced. There is nothing wrong with playing as a faith stacked character that uses a spear and shield. Just as there is nothing wrong with dual-wielding great hammers coated in bleed damage. There are so many facets of this game in regard to builds, and for a lot of the ‘elite’ builds, you will need to thoroughly explore each area. There are weapons and equipment that might fit your current build perfectly, but you just haven’t found them yet. This leads me smoothly to my next point…
Since the game’s release, a few people have asked me to help them with fighting Margit (the game’s first main boss). This can be a brutal boss, even for self-appointed veterans of the series like myself. The easiest way to get over this hurdle is to simply ignore it (for now). The first area of Elden Ring (Limgrave) is enormous. It's built to explore, to challenge, and to plunder. It can lead you into the Peninsula, Caelid, and even open up the first part of an expansive sub-terranean series of areas. Each of these areas is massive in scope and filled with valuable items, equipment, NPCs, and, of course, bosses to take down. Elden Ring allows for vast exploration into many areas at any time. This means if you hit a wall and can’t progress in one direction, put a pin in it and go wander in another direction for a while. See what the world has to offer you. Doing this will make the game much more enjoyable, as well as keep you levelling up at a steady pace. Learning how to take down sub-bosses, levelling up, and acquiring new equipment, all goes into making the thing you were originally stuck easier to manage.
Put a Pin in it!
- Sword – tough fights to come back to
- Skull – boss fights to return to
- Person – rough area of NPC questline
- Animal – scarabs that I missed
- Plant – rare resources for crafting
- Diamond – items spotted with no direct access
- Chest – locked fog walls
- Flag – locked doors
- Fort – when I felt I needed to explore an area more
- Tree – when I think an area will be different at night/day
This is by no means definitive, make use of them in your own way.
First of all, when killing enemies, sometimes they will burst with a smoky wisp. You may have noticed this but are unaware of its purpose. This visual effect denoted that an enemy has dropped an item. This is an incredibly subtle touch. Anyone well versed in the older games will appreciate this one. No more waiting around for a few seconds to see if an enemy has dropped anything or not.
Secondly, there are two different subtle ways (that I know of) in which you can bolster the number of runes you receive a little. The first are enemies that have glowing eyes. They appear randomly and give you more runes than regular if you kill them (though don't confuse them with the frenzied flamed eyes). I have seen this effect on many enemies from rats to trolls. The second is a weather phenomenon that covers an area in little lights, somewhat like a cloud of fireflies. This will grant you a buff that increases runes earned.
Thirdly, the weather itself can affect certain damages. If it is raining or an enemy is wet, then they will take increased lighting damage and less fire damage. But it's the same for you, too. It isn’t a dramatic difference, but something that I thought was an interesting detail.
There are many, many tiny details in Elden Ring. Next time you are playing, keep an eye out for some of your own.
This is an aspect of the game that many people overlook. The first spirit summon most people come across will be the simple jellyfish summon. It's given to the player by Roderika at the Stormhill Shack after exhausting her dialogue. A jellyfish doesn’t feel very threatening, so it is understandable why some people ignore this feature. The spirit summon is an incredible feature born from future-proofing the game (in my opinion). If (like me) you are not a fan of playing games online, then the spirit summons function as a substitute for this. You will be able to summon these aids to help you take on specific areas of the game and during boss fights. If you have ever seen a ghostly gate symbol on the left side of your screen, that is what symbolises a spirit summon enabled area. This helps a lot in tough areas and during boss fights that people don’t like to help with. It will also help keep the game playable in distant years when the servers are baron.
In the same vein as upgrading weapons, is upgrading spirit summons. In order to unlock the ability to do so, you need to undergo a small series of NPC back-and-forths. You will need to exhaust Roderika - who gifts you the jellyfish - of dialogue several times. Primarily when you first meet her. And again, after defeating the grafted scion in the Stormveil castle, and looting the corpse pile nearby. Returning to her will open up a new dialogue to exhaust, after which she will depart for Roundtable Hold. When there, exhaust her dialogue again and start a handful of dashes between talking to Roderika and Smithing Master Hewg. This will then open up the ability to upgrade your spirit summons with all the grave gloveworts you have collected. You will need to EXPLORE to find these.
Throughout your travels, you will pick up tons of weapon arts that you can swap between most weapons. Some weapons lock into specific arts, but, for the most part, you can play around and find one that works well for you. This replaces the imbuing method of previous games; you no longer need special materials and embers to apply such effects to your weapons. You do, however, need a range of weapon arts to play with, and whet blades to apply them in diverse ways. Neither of which you will find without EXPLORING (see earlier entry). This is how you can apply a bleed effect to your katana. Or a frost effect for your great axe, or even give you a mighty stomp attack or flurry of strikes, etc, etc, etc. Experiment, play around and find something interesting that you enjoy using.
Within the world itself there are more cookbooks, whet blades, scrolls, prayer books, memory stones, perfume bottles, celestial dew, weapons, etc, etc. A lot of these items are through sealed areas unlocked by stonesword keys. Many of these you may not use in your playstyle, but having these items collected will come in handy if you decide to re-spec your character.
Re-spec Your Character
There is an item called a Larval Tear that you will likely come across if you have been EXPLORING (they look like grey kidney beans). This item is to re-spec your character at a certain point in the game. There are 18 of these throughout the world, so you have plenty of chances to try different builds for your character. This can also come in handy if you are having trouble with a boss. Trying a new build is the best way to try out different weapons that you haven’t had the stats to use. This is a fantastic way to experiment with all the items and equipment you have acquired. It also helps you refine your playstyle into a build that you enjoy playing the most. Or help you finetune a build that can reap devastation in the PvP scene. Whatever floats your boat.
Thoroughly Explore More!
The world of The Lands Between is vast and intriguing. It is easy to miss dungeons, NPCs, locations, items etc. There is plenty to see in the world. Most of the ways you can further your progression are tied very intricately to the exploration of the areas of large. And that is where you will find a lot of the enjoyment from the game too. Get lost. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Try not to ruin things too much by using online uncovered maps or guides. I would always suggest for your first playthrough to be your own. You will inevitably mess up one or two questlines, miss some dungeons etc. And that is ok. There is a lot to the game. Make it your own.
There you are. Ten tips to help you in your time with Elden Ring. This is by no means a definitive guide. Just some points to keep in mind on your travels that will hopefully make things a tad easier, or at the least, help you enjoy your time in The Lands Between some more.
Even if you completely disregard everything in this article, make sure you are making Elden Ring your own. Enjoy it for everything that the game is. Happy gaming!