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“Elden Ring” Ultimate Beginners Tips, Tricks and Hidden Mechanics

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Mark is a college lecturer from Liverpool. He has a keen interest in Japanese culture and loves video games. A proud father and grandfather.

After spending over a hundred hours on Elden Ring, I can confirm that it is the best Souls game of the series. It takes the base gameplay from Dark Souls 3 and adds elements from Sekiro and my previous favorite, Bloodborne.

There are also hidden mechanics that Dark Souls veterans will know that first-time players may be unaware of as the game doesn’t directly tell you. These range from very helpful to invaluable, and they should help you on your journey through the Lands Between. Please read until the end; you may know some strategies, but there may be a few unfamiliar tips that will really help.


Level Up Your Character

You unlock the ability to level up once you have spoken to Melina at the third Point of Grace that you touch. These are where you rest to replenish your health and flasks. You collect runes when you defeat enemies. If you can get to a Point of Grace before you die, you can then use all the runes you have collected to level up.

If you die, you drop the runes collected so far, and you have one chance to retrieve them. If you die before getting them back, you lose them for good. This is the games way of making sure you learn from each death.

Every time you level up, the cost of the next level increases so you need even more runes. The game doesn't allow you to level up until you have mastered the basics.
Each Attribute has a different effect on your character.

Melee Build

When you are starting out, levelling your Vigor, Stamina, Strength and Dexterity are the important ones for a melee build. A new mechanic for this game is the Guard Counter. If you hold L1/LB you guard with either your shield or weapon, when an enemy hits your guard instantly press R2/RT and you will perform a powerful counter stroke.

Magic Build

If you are going down the magic route then Vigor, Mind and Intelligence are the important ones.

You can change the way you character plays after you have gotten a bit of experience and know what you want to do. Experiment with different weapons, magic, etc., to see what you prefer.


The Game Is Giving You Hints

One of the first things you encounter when you enter the open world is the Tree Sentinel. If you try and kill him this early, you will be killed in one shot. The game is letting you know that you do not have to fight everything you find straight away and that you can go away, level up, and be more prepared at a later date.

This boss is so much easier when you have your mount, which you don't get until you have spoken to Melina. The game does not hold your hand, but it does give you hints.


Inventory and Equipment

Your Equipment refers to the items you are using at the moment, weapon, armour etc. In your Inventory are all the items you own and have picked up along the way. If you go into the Equipment tab by pressing start, you can swap items at anytime.

Let’s say you find a new sword. Go into Equipment and press on the sword you are using. All the available swords will show up for you to select and have a play with. I picked the Samurai as my starting build and the character comes with a Katana. I finished the game with the same weapon as I loved the Ash of War that it came with and it got stronger as I levelled up and it also got stronger as I increased my Strength and Dexterity.

You can also pick up some very powerful weapons early in the game, including the Golden Halberd from the Tree Sentinel. You can quite easily use this all the way through the game, but some people will prefer to change weapons depending on the enemy. The great thing is, you can do what you want, there is no "right way" to play Elden Ring.


Info Pages

If you press Start and Inventory and press the Left Bumper, you will get a page full of brief information screens to give you some help. This is very useful.

How to Use Rainbow Stones

These can be picked up in the world and bought from merchants and are found in your Inventory. They have two great uses.

  • Drop them in dark or maze-like areas to guide your way.
  • If you are unsure as to whether a drop will kill you if you jump, drop a Rainbow Stone over the edge. If it smashes, you know the drop is too far for you, if it starts glowing, you know it is safe! That may help prevent a few of those unnecessary deaths.

Messages on the Ground

Messages have been a staple of the Souls series since Dark Souls. Some are from the developer with basic hints but most are from other players. And you know what people are like, any chance to cause some mischief is taken up. If a message is telling you to "Try Jumping," be very wary. You can also write your own messages.

How to Leave Messages for Players

Will you be helpful or a trickster? Here's how to leave messages in the game for other players.

  • Make sure you are connected to the Internet
  • Go to the Main Menu and select Messages.
  • There are templates you can use to write the message, so be creative.

You can also use the Tarnished Wizened Finger. Assign it to a consumable slot in your Equipment tab and select it. You can now write a message. This is available from very early on in the game.

Ladders Tips and Tricks

Souls veterans can give you plenty of stories about ladders in the series, and Elden Ring has plenty of them to traverse. But there are quite a few things you can do on a ladder.

If you hold your dodge button and pull down on the left stick when you are on the ladder, your character will slide down, speeding up the process. Also, when you are on the ladder and an enemy is above you, press R1 (RB) and you will punch upwards, if you press R2 (RT) you will kick downward.

Trust me, though: you will die at some point due to a ladder!

How to Perform a Backstab

These are Critical Attacks that can be performed on most enemies that are of a similar height to you.

  • Crouch and manoeuvre yourself behind the enemy.
  • Press Light Attack.

Practice on the low-level enemies at the beginning to get your position right and this will be invaluable when up against Knights later on in the game.

I Hate The Rats and Dogs

Rats and dogs on their own are weak and easily killed in a few hits. But that is not the way they attack. They usually wait until you are fighting a tough enemy and then attack in numbers biting at your ankles taking only a little bit of health, but as they are biting, you cannot fight properly, getting mini staggered and also poisoned, then ultimately getting killed.

Keep your distance and take them out one by one with a bow. This will leave you free to engage the tough enemies unmolested!

Buffs and De-Buffs

The art to playing any FromSoftware game is using the Buffs and De-Buffs available to you. Some are permanent and can be gained by changing Talismans or some equipment, making sure you read the item descriptions each time you collect a new item. Some are temporary that you gain through consumables. These can usually be crafted after you have collected the correct cookbook.

Underneath your green Stamina bar there are icons letting you know if you have a Buff/De-buff enabled. Get familiar with these icons to maximise your abilities. You can have multiple buffs working at the same time, which can be very handy when you need that little bit extra.


Status Effects

These are damaging effects which usually build up from recieving damage from certain enemies. Most can be countered with a consumable that you can craft.

  • Poison: The meter slowly fills and when full you start to recieve damage.
  • Deadly Poison: Stronger than above and faster acting.
  • Frostbite. You recieve greater damage when Frostbitten.
  • Sleep. As the meter fills you gets sleepy and then fall asleep. If you are weak to this you will fall asleep instantly.
  • Scarlet Rot. Damage over time after the meter is full.
  • Hemorrhage. Bleed build up will make you lose a lot of HP.
  • Madness. As this builds up you will go mad and lose a lot of HP, similar to Frenzy in Bloodborne.
  • Death. If you die you wake up at the last Point of Grace or a Stake of Marika, if you choose this. You will lose all your Runes on Death and have just one chance to retrieve them. If you die before getting them back, you will lose them for good.


This may seem like a simple one but a lot of players don’t know you can sprint while on foot and it doesn’t use up any stamina when in the open world. Just hold down your dodge button. Plus, you can make longer jumps if you sprint before you jump. When you are on your horse, press the dodge button once to start sprinting.

Flask Management

You are given a Red Flask of Crimson Tears at the start of the game, this is your main healing item. You select it with the down on the Direction pad and press Square/X to use. You also get a Blue Flask of Cerulean Tears which replenishes FP.

How many times have you got yourself in trouble pressing down on the direction pad trying to find your healing flask? If you put your healing item in the first slot of your Consumable Equipment Section in your Inventory (at the bottom of the Equipment Tab), then when you hold down on the direction pad it will jump to the first item in your Consumable Equipment slots.

This also works for Magic Spells. Hold Up on the D pad and it jumps to the first slot. Great during the heat of battle.

You can allocate your flask to give you more FP if you need it. You need FP not only for Magic but also for Ashes of War (more on those later). When you are resting at a Site of Grace, select Flasks and then Allocate Flasks. You can give yourself more FP flask uses if needed.

All your Flasks are refilled when you rest at a Site of Grace, so if you mess up an encounter and you don’t think you will have enough health to finish the level, bite the bullet and go back to the Site of Grace and start again with full flasks. Saves risking your Runes unnecessarily.

As you explore the map, you will come across small golden trees. These have Golden Seeds which you can use to reinforce your flask. Also, you find Churches of Merika, these have Blue Tears that also reinforce your flask, so you not only get more shots per flask, but the amount they give you is also increased.


Flasks of Wondrous Physick

Elden Ring has an extra flask called the Flask of Wondrous Physick. You have to find this in the world but gives you a great boost and is customisable. It is found in the Third Church of Marika, North of Waypoint Ruins (beware of the massive bears).

Once you have found it, go into you Flasks menu at a Site of Grace and experiment with different combinations to give you a buff when needed. I usually leave using this flask until I really need it as you can mix the flask to give you HP or a boost in strength.


Red, Blue and Silver Scarabs

These are scattered around the world and can be very useful indeed. If you hear a ringing sound it means you are close to a Scarab. They are rolling up material and if you kill them the Red ones give you three charges for your HP flask and the Blue ones give you 3 charges for your FP flask.

The silver scarabs give you a collectable like an Ash of War so make sure you get them. But if you spot one you must be quick, they will disappear after rolling away from you. The best way to kill them is to lock on and shoot arrows at them, this way they are not alerted to your presence until you get that first hit in. Should only take three hits to get them. If you miss one, then reset at a Site of Grace and try again.


Map Fragments Are Easy to Find

If you look on your map you will see the area is completely blank apart from a small monument. This is the location of the map fragment for that area. Head there on Torrent as soon as you can, run past all the enemies as they will be too difficult at the beginning of the game and collect the map fragment. This will help massively when planning your route or exploring.


Smithing Stones and Leveling Up Your Weapons

You can level up your weapons once you have unlocked the Roundtable Hold. This is done automatically when you are approached by Melina for a second time after you have been exploring for a while and found some more Points of Grace. There is a Blacksmith in the Roundtable Hold who will upgrade your weapon of choice with Smithing Stones. These are found around the world and also in high quantities in the various mines of which there is one per area.

Smithing Stones come in different grades. When you speak to the Blacksmith and ask for Armament Strengthening, it will tell you how many of which grade of Smithing stones needed to upgrade. Weapon upgrades are much more effective in Elden Ring. You can upgrade your sword, shield and bow and see a massive difference when you then fight enemies with increased damage.

Ashes of War

These are special attacks which you can add to you weapon. There can only be one per weapon and all weapons already come with a unique one, so if you find one you like you can copy it at the Blacksmith and then add it to another weapon. For example, if you start as a Samurai, the Katana comes with ‘Unsheath’. This is a powerful attack which can one shot most of the small enemies, break through a shield and great for staggering bosses. You hold down the Left Trigger and the character sheathes his sword then press the Right Trigger and the powerful attack is unleashed. Try new ones when you pick up new weapons, you may find one you like better than the one you already have. When you use the Ash of War it uses some FP, so allocating an extra blue flask is advisable.


Need Some Help? CO-OP

One of the best features for new players and if you are having a particularly hard time with a boss is the Co-op system. When you get to the Fog Wall of a boss, use the Furlcalling Finger Remedy which will be in your Inventory. You can also buy more of these from various merchants. When you use this item, summon signs from other players and NPC's will be visible on the floor. Select one and the player will come into your world to help you kill the boss. The 'Souls' community is the best and there is always someone willing to help.

Invasions and PvP

PvP or Player Versus Player is a returning feature. But unlike Dark Souls 3 where you could be invaded at any time if Embered, Elden Ring only allows you to be invaded if you invite invasions and are playing co-op. You can also Invade other people with different Fingers that you collect. Read the Item Descriptions as you pick them up to see what they do.


Explore, Explore, Explore

Make sure you try and explore thoroughly each new area before you move on to the next. The game is designed so you can find new things and level up to prepare you for the next area. If you find a new item that helps reduce your damage to poison you can bet there will be an area with poison coming up. The game subtly helps you at the same time as trying to kill you constantly.

Most of all, don't get frustrated and enjoy the game. Learn from each death and experiment with new items.