8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Playing Elden Ring

A screenshot of Elden Ring showing the player character riding Torrent and the Erdtree in the background.
FromSoftware Inc.

Elden Ring is the hottest game right now, but it’s not exactly easy to get into, especially if you’ve never played a Souls game before. Although it’s not a Dark Souls sequel, it borrows a lot from the series, including its notoriously challenging difficulty.

I had never played Dark Souls or any of FromSoftware’s similar games like Bloodborne or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, but I was lured into Elden Ring because of its huge, mesmerising open world and the promise of secrets just waiting to be found. After my first 20 hours with the game, I can confidently say that it’s the most difficult game I’ve ever played, but it’s worth the effort. My other key takeaway is that anyone who’s new to Souls games will benefit from having an Elden Ring beginner guide. These are the beginner tips for Elden Ring I wish I’d known before playing. May they inspire you to step into the Lands Between with confidence.

If You’re Struggling, Restart

Don’t expect Elden Ring to be easy, especially at the start. That being said, you should never feel like it’s impossible to beat. If you’re struggling more than you think you should be, try restarting and choosing a new class. There are 10 starting classes, and each one has a unique playstyle that can totally change your experience of the game.

Classes are, roughly, broken up into melee and magic styles, although some classes are a mix of both. The Vagabond is a good melee class for beginners, while the Astrologer is a good starting class for players who want to dabble in magic.

If they don’t feel quite right, the Warrior, Hero, Bandit and Samurai are other melee-focused classes, while the Prophet, Prisoner and Confessor specialise in casting. The final class is the Wretch, a “poor, purposeless sod, naked as the day they were born” who’s best-suited for the most experienced Souls players. Tempting, though.

Melina in Elden Ring.

Save by Resting at Sites of Grace

You’ll find golden shrines scattered across the map in Elden Ring — these are Sites of Grace, and they’re how you save the game, restore your health, refill your flasks, fast-travel, level up and more.

To save your game, just approach a Site of Grace and interact with it. Your game will be saved automatically. Keep in mind that every time you rest at a Site of Grace, the enemies you defeated will respawn.

Rest Overnight at the Church of Elleh

One of the first places you’ll visit when you’re following the story is the Church of Elleh, but don’t let that stop you from returning at night. Visiting the church at night, or resting here at the Site of Grace until nighttime, will introduce you to the witch Renna, who gives you a spirit calling bell and a wolf summon. If you miss Renna, you’ll have to wait until much later in the game to be able to summon spirits to help you in battle.

You Don’t Have to Beat the First Boss Right Away

If you’re following the story, you’ll meet Margit the Fell Omen pretty quickly. He’s the first real boss in Elden Ring and will most likely defeat you in a few hits. It’s a good idea to follow the story until you reach the Site of Grace just before Margit (inside a narrow castle hallway leading up and to the right) as this will make sure you receive certain important items, but then you should go off and explore.

Come back to Margit later when you’ve levelled up, found better gear and upgraded your weapon. You’ll be in a much better position to beat him.

Two NPCs in Elden Ring.

Upgrading Your Equipment is More Important Than Levelling Up Your Attributes

Levelling up at a Site of Grace lets you improve your base stats — like vigour, dexterity and intelligence — but only one number at a time. To see real improvement, you should focus on upgrading your weapons and armour. To do this, you need an anvil, runes and smithing stones. There’s an anvil near the start of the game at the Church of Elleh, and you earn runes by defeating enemies. Smithing stones are harder to find, but you’ll stumble across them as you play — you can pick some up early on in Limgrave Tunnels, just north of where you start the game.

I wish I’d known this before I spent twenty minutes farming runes to level up and still got wiped by Margit.

Roll a Lot — But Not too Much

Rolling is an essential part of Elden Ring combat, but rolling at the wrong time or spamming the roll button can get you in trouble. Learn how to time your opponent’s attacks and roll right before it would otherwise hit to dodge to safety and get a small window of invulnerability.

Play with a Controller or Configure the Mouse and Keyboard Controls

Elden Ring is made for a controller, and the mouse and keyboard controls for PC are pretty awful. They’re way better, though, with a few tweaks.

For starters, you should change the “Device for On-Screen Prompts” setting in the System — Sound and Display menu to “Keyboard and Mouse”. After that, you might want to change the controls for jump, sprint, crouch and cycling items.

Torrent is a Good Boy

Resting at your third Site of Grace will prompt Melina to appear. She’ll make you an offer, and if you accept, she’ll give you the Spectral Steed Whistle. Using this item will summon your mount Torrent, a sort of horse/bull hybrid who makes travelling faster and can help you out in combat. Torrent is a good boy.

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