With the launch of Elden Ring this week, players unfamiliar with the series are bound to give it a try after its phenomenal critical reception. It’s currently sitting at a 97 out of 100 on Metacritic, making it one of the highest rated games of all time. If you’ve never played a Soulsborne before, but desperately want to see what the hype is about, there are plenty of ways to make your journey throughout The Lands Between less terrifying.
Here are some tips on how to survive Elden Ring’s ruthless open-world.
Avoid that boss
Elden Ring is massive, and unlike previous entries in the Soulsborne series, you’re almost never locked to a single area or boss. If something seems too hard for you, mark it on your map and come back to it later. There’s no shame in avoiding a boss that’s too challenging. Elden Ring practically encourages it, as the first boss most players will encounter (Tree Sentinel) is not manageable at an early level.
FromSoftware’s placement of this terrifying boss is likely intentional to signal that players can and should avoid things that seem too hard to handle. This continues to be the case throughout the rest of the game, with plenty of areas boasting nightmarish bosses and extra-hard enemies that are best handled by coming back at a later time. And if you somehow find yourself in a challenging area that you can’t fast travel away from, just run. Run for your life and don’t look back.
How to craft items and upgrade weapons
If you haven’t unlocked the Crafting Kit yet, it can be found near the start of the game. Head to “The First Step” Grace Point and move forward until you see a church out in the distance. You'll see the Tree Sentinel, a massive boss riding around on his horse (unless you beat him already), so we recommend avoiding him and rushing into the church. Grab the Grace Point and check your map, you should be in the “Church of Elleh.” If so, talk to the merchant ahead and purchase the Crafting Kit.
A few steps to the left of this merchant sits an anvil where you upgrade armaments. You can only upgrade to +3 here, and that won’t change until you get further into the game. For this, you need Roundtable Hold unlocked and the blacksmith to be present. To unlock Roundtable Hold, continue to follow the lights on your map from “Church of Elleh.” Once you battle the first boss of Stormveil Castle and sit at the nearby Grace Point, you should have the opportunity to do so. I got to Roundtable Hold by going around Stormveil Castle entirely, so if you’re having trouble with the boss, feel free to explore the outskirts of the castle until you find a safe path.
How to level up
If you’ve just started the game and are looking for a way to turn your Runes into levels, you can quickly accomplish this by rushing to the “Gatefront” Grace Point. This can be found above “The First Step,” beyond the forest above “Church of Elleh,” on the western end of the road of “Gatefront Ruins.” If you’re having trouble finding it, “The First Step” Grace Point should be directly pointing towards it with a glowing light on the map.
Once you sit at the “Gatefront” Grace Point, you’ll receive a brief cutscene. After that, you’ll be able to start turning your Runes into levels.
Mark everything and take notes
Unlike many open-world games, Elden Ring does not hold the player’s hand when it comes to the locations of points of interest. If you find an NPC in the world, they won’t appear on your map or in a quest log. If a character divulges important information to you, they might never repeat it again. If you discover a locked door, it’s entirely possible you’ll forget about its existence. If you want to make progress in discovering the great secrets within The Lands Between, you need to put in the extra effort to decipher the cryptic nature of this world.
Found an NPC in the world or discovered the location of a boss you can’t fight right now? Place a marker on your map. Is a character spouting cryptic nonsense to you? Write down what they say, word for word. Found a secret path that’s unrelated to the path you’re currently treading? Use a marker as a reminder to visit later.
I regretted not doing this during the early moments of Elden Ring. In fact, this regret came back to haunt me when I started a quest line somewhere in Limgrave to find a specific item. Far later in the game, I got my hands on that item, but had no idea where that quest giver was located. I still haven’t found them, but that could have been easily avoided if I had marked their location on my map.
Head to southern Limgrave
Although Elden Ring nudges players towards the northern side of Limgrave, where Stormveil Castle stands, we actually recommend new players head south once they unlock the many things we’ve mentioned in the above tips. You will need to cross the Bridge of Sacrifice, which can be found below Agheel Lake. Once you do, you’ll be in the Weeping Peninsula. While this part of Limgrave isn’t necessarily easy, it offers useful items that will make your journey manageable.
There are three Churches scattered throughout the region, each offering a Sacred Tear upon discovery. Sacred Tears increase the amount of HP or FP replenished upon consuming a Flask of Crimson/Cerulean Tears. Going through this area should get your flasks to +3, which is a huge upgrade. This will mean life or death for you within The Lands Between, so we highly recommend you go through this region before tackling Stormveil Castle.
Use Ashes during difficult encounters
Elden Ring introduces Ashes for the first time. When one is used, it summons the ghost of a previously encountered character to fight by the player’s side. These are infinitely usable at the cost of Focus Points, and can also be upgraded in the same way you’d improve a weapon. However, it can be used only once per battle.
Although they cannot be used during every part of the game, they’re immensely helpful when tackling tons of enemies in the open world. It can save your life if you can’t handle a challenging boss, although there will be many instances where an Ash cannot be summoned during one. I currently have one of my Ashes upgraded to max level, and although I try my best to avoid using it, it’s been immensely helpful in getting through rehashed boss fights.
I highly recommend that you keep one on you at all times. Even if it fails to deal much damage to a boss, it can occasionally distract them and give you time to breathe. It can also break up large groups of enemies and make those battles a bit more manageable.
Grab a buddy
If you ever have trouble in Elden Ring, don’t underestimate the power of friendship. Calling upon other players to tackle a challenging boss or area full of savage enemies is a great way to lessen the game’s difficulty. Especially if the person you’re playing with is a close friend, the two of you will have a blast exploring The Lands Between together.
The game features the classic Soulsborne summoning system, meaning players must use the Tarnished’s Furled Finger (which can be found in the same room as the “Stranded Grave” Grace Point) to place a sign within the world for cooperative play. However, unlike previous games, the Furlcalling Finger Remedy isn’t a rare item. If you have the Crafting Kit, it’s easily craftable using two Erdleaf Flowers, which are found commonly throughout The Lands Between.
If you’re planning on playing with a friend, head into the game’s menu and select Multiplayer. On the right, you’ll see a menu to set a specific password (make sure your friend inputs the same one). When you or your friend places a summon sign down, it will be the only one visible to the player getting summoned. However, you need to coordinate where you place your signs.
If you’re looking to summon random players, you’ll need to find a Summoning Pool within the world. These are scattered throughout most locations, and one can be found right next to “The First Step” Grace Point. Walk a few steps east and you should see a little statue with wings. Use the Furlcalling Finger Remedy and a bunch of signs should appear.
Unfortunately, you cannot mount-up while in multiplayer. This could potentially hinder the pacing of certain moments, but if you don't mind running around with a friend, it shouldn't be the biggest issue.
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Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.