A vista in Elden Ring.

Elden Ring isn’t an easy game. If you need some help navigating its high-stakes combat, lack of a quest log, and hostile open-world, here are 12 tips to get you started in the Lands Between.

Unraveling mysteries in the Lands Between is half the fun of Elden Ring, but the game doesn’t do a great job explaining many of its core mechanics. For newcomers to the “Soulsborne” genre, this can make things more intimidating than they have to be. If you’re just getting started with FromSoftware’s latest game (or are a few hours deep and need some pointers), these tips will help you get your bearings.

Above all else, remember that Elden Ring is meant to be challenging—and you’re not the only person running into problems. Without further ado, here are some beginner tips for Elden Ring.

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for Elden Ring.

Follow the Sites of Grace

Site of Grace in Elden Ring.

The Lands Between is a confusing place. To make things worse, Elden Ring doesn’t provide you with a quest log or mission markers, and it’s easy to lose track of where you should go next. When that happens, simply open your map and look for a Site of Grace—many of these will have a giant yellow indicator pointing you towards another important NPC, quest, or main story thread.

Get the Spirit Calling Bell

Elden Ring player visiting Church of Elleh.

One of the first places you’ll stumble upon in Limgrave is the Church of Elleh. Here, you’ll find a merchant (Kalé) that sells all sorts of trinkets, but you’re mainly here to speak with Renna. If you’ve visited three Sites of Grace, Renna can be found lurking around the church. You might have to come back at different times of day, but make a point to speak with her, as she’ll give you the Spirit Calling Bell. This is required to summon Spirits, which are NPC helpers that assist you during difficult boss battles.

Place Map Markers

Speaking of maps, the Elden Ring map is rather sparse. Aside from the aforementioned Grace indicators, there’s not much information revealed on its in-game map. You can, however, manually place a variety of markers. Whenever you stumble upon a difficult enemy, hidden location, or locked door, be sure to throw down a marker. With so much else going on, you’re bound to forget about it otherwise.

Unlock Map Fragments

Torrent jumping a chasm in Elden Ring.

The entirety of Elden Ring‘s map is hidden to new players. To slowly reveal it, you’ll need to pick up Map Fragments. These can be found in their corresponding regions and are almost always located next to large stone pillars. They’ll be glowing purple (so they’re hard to miss) and tend to be positioned around main roads or central landmarks in each region.

Upgrade Your Vigor

Newcomers to the “Soulsborne” genre might be tempted to immediately start upgrading attributes that deal more damage, such as Strength or Intelligence. While you’ll eventually want to pump those up, early in the game it’s important to focus on Vigor—a stat that increases your overall HP. Enemies in Elden Ring deal a ridiculous amount of damage and building up your Vigor to at least 20 will help keep you in the battle after taking a few hits.

Activate and Equip Great Runes

Player navigating to the Great Rune menu in Elden Ring.

Congratulations! You’ve just defeated your first boss that carries a Great Rune. These items grant powerful bonuses, such as boosting all your attributes or increasing your HP bar. Unfortunately, they aren’t activated as soon as you loot them. You’ll first need to take them to the top of the Divine Tower within their respective region. Then, head to a Site of Grace, which will give you the option to equip the activated Great Rune. With the Great Rune equipped, use a Rune Arc to benefit from its perks—which will only stick around until you die, at which point you’ll need to use another Rune Arc.

Visit Roundtable Hold Frequently

Central hub of Elden Ring's Roundtable Hold.

The Roundtable Hold is one of the few places in the game where people aren’t trying to kill you. It’s also a great location to upgrade your weapons, pick up new gear, and slowly piece together the game’s mysterious story. While visiting, talk to every available NPC, as they’ll often impart wisdom (or items) that can help you on your journey.

Explore New Areas When Stuck on a Boss

Godrick the Grafted in Elden Ring.

At numerous points in your Elden Ring career, you’ll face off against bosses that are well above your current level. If you find yourself getting knocked out in seconds and dealing little to no damage, it’s time to go explore a new region. This is a typical part of Elden Ring‘s gameplay loop (and it’ll happen multiple times throughout the 60+ hour journey), so don’t feel bad if something is giving you trouble. Pick a new direction on the map, gather some Runes, and come back when you’re ready.

Watch Your Equipment Load

Elden Ring player checking their status.

Equip Load is a crucial stat for your survival. This tallies up the weight of all your equipped gear, and it’s in your best interest to keep this in the “Medium Load” range. If you end up with a “Heavy Load,” your evasive roll will be much slower, and you’ll have a bit more trouble maneuvering. And regardless of what class you’re playing, staying mobile is almost always the key to victory.

Master the Roll

Rolling and blocking are the two ways to avoid damage in Elden Ring. Blocking is useful in some situations (such as when fighting smaller enemies or if you’re playing a “tanky” character), but rolling is a surefire way to avoid incoming damage. The mechanic utilizes something called an i-frame, which essentially turns your character invincible for a split second while rolling. It’ll take some time to master, but figuring out how to roll properly will pay dividends when you reach the second half of the game.

Respec Your Stats

Elden Ring player visiting Rennala.

Without spoiling too much, Elden Ring gives you the option to respec your character after several hours of gameplay. Be sure to make liberal use of this, as you’ll find that some builds work best against some bosses than others—and now that you know more about the game, you can respec to a build that better fits your playstyle.

Watch Your Rune Count

Runes are Elden Ring‘s form of experience points, and any that you’re carrying are dropped when you die. If this happens, you can trek back to your spot of death and pick them up, but if you die before picking them up, they’ll be lost forever. If you notice your Rune count is getting close to the number needed to level up, be sure to focus on weak enemies to accrue that last bit. There’s nothing worse than heading into a boss fight with 50,000 unused Runes, only to lose them all.

Profile Photo for Jon Bitner Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance writer who focuses on topics related to video games, science, and technology. His work can be found across the web, although he's a regular contributor to Digital Trends, Slickdeals, TVGuide, CordCuttersNews, and TheGamer. Before starting his writing career, Jon worked in the biotechnology industry, where he produced monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer patients.
Read Full Bio »