(Pocket-lint) – Elden Ring has now been out for over a month, after being greeted on release with the sort of critical acclaim that most developers only dream of. Millions of players have had the chance to explore its marvellous open world.
Like all of FromSoftware’s other modern releases, though, Elden Ring is hard. It’s a game that often doesn’t tell you things that come to seem entirely integral to the game’s mechanics later, and while it holds your hands more than some in the Souls series, you still might need some help. Here, then, are some quick tips to help you get started with the game.
Don’t sweat your starting class
The way that levelling up and experience works in Elden Ring means that you can build a character to your own specifications over time, even if you end up realising that your starting choice set you off on the wrong foot.
That’s great to know because it means you don’t need to spend twenty minutes deliberating over which to pick when the game starts – choose one that looks fun and see how you do! If you want a melee-focussed build, the armoured classes are good options, while those with high Mind and Faith are ideal for magic casting.
The one thing to avoid, though, is the Wretch; it’s intended for players who want to have full control over their stats and make top-tier builds, but if you’re new to Souls games it’ll make the early stages harder, so won’t be for you.
You can change your appearance later
A big change for Souls games, one that we’re thrilled by, is the addition of an easy way to change how your character looks once you enter the game. It will take a few hours to unlock, but once you can access Roundtable Hold it’ll be open to you.
Just head into Fia’s room and look for a cloudy mirror. Standing in front of it will give you the chance to pop in and change things, and there’s no cost or limit on how often you can tweak things.
Don’t skip the tutorial by accident
Elden Ring has a hilarious approach to getting you into its world – after a short preamble, you’ll wake up in a cave with a ghostly figure sat in a chair. Moving past him, you’ll see a doorway that opens into the full world.
Don’t rush through it, though! The hole that the seated ghost is next to is the entrance to a tutorial area with combat instructions and some key control scheme pointers. It’s a crucial step for those who are new to Souls games, but you can easily blitz past it. Don’t be afraid to drop into that hole, basically.
Practice combat on weaker enemies
Elden Ring opens with a few short areas for you to traverse, including the prerequisite boss to instantly kill you. After that point, you’ll learn the basics of combat against some weak enemies, and we recommend taking things slowly here.
Rather than sweeping through with clumsy but quick kills, take the time to learn how to block properly and experiment with the timings of those blocks and dodges – you’ll thank yourself a short while later, when enemies start to punch way, way harder.
Don’t be afraid to run away
Once you hit the overworld of Limgrave at the game’s start, you’ll start to run into enemies as you move around, and there’s one right out of the gate patrolling on a huge horse. He’s there almost explicitly to teach you a lesson – namely, you can’t take many foes down right now, so try skirting around.
It’s a tactic that will remain useful throughout pretty much the whole game, so if you see a huge foe and reckon it’s likely to crush you, the game might well reward you for staying out of the fight until you’re better equipped to take it on.
Read up on the starting gifts
When you start the game, alongside a class you’ll be able to select a one-off Keepsake that you’ll start the game with. These are worth searching the web about, because they each bring interesting benefits, but if you’re keen to just breeze through our top pick for a beginner would be the Golden Seed.
This will let you add a charge to your healing flask really early on in the game, and while you’ll find more down the line having that early safety net is worth its weight in gold, in our opinion.
Pay attention to your surroundings
In the early phases of the game, there are a couple of locations hiding items that are really valuable and useful, but which you can easily breeze past if you’re not careful. Here’s one – after you get your horse, Torrent, be sure to visit the Church of Elleh site of grace at night; you’ll find a new NPC there with a valuable item for you.
For another example, the Gatefront Ruins that you’ll run into, patrolled by a bunch of enemies, also has a small basement room to find, down some stairs.
In it, you’ll find an item to unlock a mechanic called the Ashes of War, to help you make your weapons take on new attributes. It’s something that we missed multiple times as we cleared the ruins, and serves up another valuable lesson – keep your eyes peeled and check every corner!
Buy notes from merchants
Another way to get a bit of information about the Lands Between is to buy notes from merchants you come across in the wilds – some of them in truly unlikely locations. These scraps of information might hold the key to felling frightful enemies, or to finding nearby hidden locations. It’s way more rewarding than looking things up on the web.
From the very first merchant you meet, in the Church of Elleh, you can get a note that’ll point you toward the Third Church of Marika, for example, a ruined church where you’ll find the Flask of Wondrous Physick. This reusable flask is a hugely useful item throughout the entire game, and lets you augment your character nicely, so make sure you don’t miss it entirely!
Don’t get greedy!
Like the Souls games before it, Elden Ring has you collecting XP from enemies as you vanquish them, but if you die you risk losing it all. Only if you get to the spot where you died in the next life can you reclaim your progress, which doubles as currency as well.
It’s a classic risk-reward mechanic, but all we can say is that if you’ve collected enough Runes to level up a couple of times then you should be wary of pushing into dangerous or unknown fights – fast-travelling to a save point to level up and bank that progress might be the more sensible option.
Rune farming is a way of life
There will come multiple points in Elden Ring where you feel outmatched and just want to gain some levels to get more powerful before a big fight or a new area. Finding an area where you’re comfortable in winning your duels and then getting proper rewards is a big part of that grind, and farming runes in this manner is nothing to be ashamed of.
Early on in the game, you’ll find that the most reliably big-hitters in terms of rune rewards are the huge lumbering Trolls that roam around parts of Limgrave. In particular, there’s a field with a few of them in it in the Stormhill area, in the North of the map. These guys hit really hard when you’re at a lower level, but are manageable with some nimble movement on Torrent’s back, and each one will net you 1,000 souls. That’s a fair whack, so this is a great place to stock up.
Don’t forget to summon
Elden Ring offers you two ways to summon help while you’re in challenging areas – Spirit Ashes and co-op summons. The first you’ll find as you move around the world and beat certain bosses, and bring in spectral helpers to distract enemies from you. They’re super useful and a few of the more powerful ones are huge boosts.
Also enormously helpful is the option to bring in players themselves – up to two can be summoned by using an item called a Furlcalling Finger Remedy. You can buy the recipe to craft it from the first merchant you meet in the game, and using it lets you see players’ summon signs and call on them. Trust us – if you’re stuck on a big boss, use a Remedy outside the entrance and see who you can bring in to help – it’s a gamechanger.
The only risk is that when you have co-op help you can also be invaded by hostile players, so we recommend rushing into the arena once your summons arrive, to reduce the chances of this.
Make the most of your quick items
Equipping items to your quick select menu lets you access them using down on your d-pad, but if you have a lot equipped you’ll often find yourself frantically tapping through to get back to your healing potions. This can easily be avoided – holding down the button will skip you straight to whatever is in the first slot, a huge help in frantic fights.
Similarly, don’t neglect your pockets, which you access by holding Triangle or Y then tapping on your d-pad – having your horse whistle on one of these is a must, once you get it, and other frequently used items make a case for inclusion as well.
Use your map to the fullest
The first map ever in a Souls game is a real boon in Elden Ring – not just because it makes it easier to navigate the world, but because it’s one that you can mark in-game. Firstly, hitting Cross or A on the map will put down a blue beacon that you can see in the world to guide you around, which is great for directions.
Secondly, though, you can hit Square or X to put down a themed green marker on the map, and we highly recommend you do this every time you find a merchant or an NPC – it’ll be invaluable for helping you remember where to head when you need to stock up or talk to them again.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.