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Elden Ring is finally upon us, and it won't be long until bold adventurers around the world set out across The Lands Between for FromSoftware's latest.
Having spent close to 50 hours with Elden Ring at this point, I'm pretty confident it's an absolute masterpiece that's going to keep fans busy for a long time. The Lands Between is stupidly massive, with so much to do, see, and kill. Of course, in typical FromSoftware fashion, very little beyond the absolute basics are explained to players. That's why I thought I'd share a few top tips that you absolutely need to know before you dive into Elden Ring.
Get The Spirit Bell
One of the most important items on your quest is the Spirit Bell, a magical tool that gives you the ability to summon AI allies (called Spirit Ashes) for certain encounters and boss battles. You’ll know when you can use the Spirit Bell when the white icon appears in the bottom left of the screen.
Getting the Spirit Bell is easy enough, although you might miss it at first. After the cutscene with Melina at the Gatefront you’ll receive the Spectral Steed Whistle, Torrent, and the ability to level up. From here, simply teleport back to the Church Of Elleh (it’s just to the South-West if you somehow haven’t found it yet) where you’ll find the witch Renna sat atop a nearby wall. Simply speak with her, and the Spirit Bell is yours!
Your first Spirit Ash is on the house, but you can find more powerful Spirit Ashes hidden across the world. You can select your Spirit Ashes from the Equipment menu and add your chosen summons to a quick-use slot. Be aware that using a Spirit Ash consumes FP, and more powerful summons will require higher magic reserves.
Don’t Get Hung Up On Bosses
Lindsey Buckingham once advised us all to go our own ways. And while I don’t think he was referring to Elden Ring, it’s solid advice to apply to FromSoftware’s latest. Previous Souls games would traditionally see your path blocked by a boss. If you couldn’t beat the boss, you couldn’t move forward.
Given this, I know that the instinct for veterans will be there when playing Elden Ring to keep fighting the same boss over and over until it finally falls. You don’t have to do this. The Lands Between are absolutely massive, filled with branching paths, hidden dungeons, and optional bosses. If you find yourself stumped by one encounter, just back off and go do one of a dozen other things. You’ll level up, probably find better gear, and come back so much stronger for your revenge. Which brings me to my next point…
Explore Everywhere - And Don’t Worry About Getting Lost
Elden Ring is a ridiculously massive game that invites you to lose yourself in its forests, swamps, ruins, and dungeons. While you can absolutely follow the main path through the game by following the Guiding Light between Sites Of Grace if you want to, you’re going to have a much better time of it if you allow yourself to take time and explore. I guarantee that just by looking around everywhere, you’ll come across valuable upgrades, gear, Spirit Ashes, and more manageable boss battles that can be taken out for those sweet, sweet runes.
It took me 20 hours to get to the second main boss because I spent so long exploring, and it made an incredibly difficult fight so much easier than it might otherwise have been.
Seek Out The Map Fragments
To properly explore, you’ll want to make full use of the map. Elden Ring doesn’t provide players with points of interest in the traditional sense. Instead, you’ll have to examine the map and mark out any curious looking sports yourself with custom waypoints. To do that, you first need to unlock the various map fragments, lest you spend the game staring at a dirty brown slate.
Map fragments are actually easy enough to spot. In any area of the map you’ve yet to properly unlock, you’ll see what looks like a small brown plinth. They’re really not hard to see, given they’re the one of the few details on a locked segment of map. Simply pop a custom waypoint on the spot so you can make your way there, and keep an eye out for the nearby stone obelisk. The map fragment will be a glowing item at its base.
Explore Mines And Upgrade Weapons
Upgrading your favourite weapons is, of course, a vital part of survival and progression in Elden Ring... unless you want your shiny new Twinblade to bounce uselessly off of some of the higher level enemies in the game.
To keep improving your arsenal, you’ll need to collect various smithing stones scattered across the world and upgrade them at Blacksmiths. There’s a basic anvil at the Church Of Elleh where you can get most weapons to plus five. For more advanced improvements you’ll need to wait till you get to the Roundtable Hold (a sort of hub area), where a dedicated blacksmith waits. You’ll be invited to Hold automatically once you reach a certain level early on in the game, and you can then teleport there from the map screen at any time.
Smithing stones come in several shapes and sizes, with certain weapons requiring different variations. While these can be found hidden on enemies and at various points of the world, the most consistent place to pick up smithing stones is in the game’s various mines. Check your map for what looks like little black holes in the ground - these are usually mines filled with the all-important upgrade resource, enemies, and maybe a boss or two.
Elden Ring has no interest in holding your hand, to the point that it can be quite hard to keep track of who you’ve spoken to and what you’re doing. The game has plenty of side quests, but with no journal to track them in, you’ll want to write your own notes to remind yourself who’s asked you to do what and where. You can also make full use of the map screens' custom markers to set waypoints and lay down beacons for areas you need to come back to.
Use The Environment To Your Advantage
When facing bosses in Elden Ring, it’s vitally important to make sure you’re intimately familiar with the environment. This might sound obvious to Souls veterans, but newcomers who don’t pay attention will quickly learn the horror of being boxed into a corner by a decaying nightmare tree monster.
Use the environment to take advantage of your strengths and exploit their weaknesses. If they’re big, slow bastards and you favour ranged attacks, see if you can find a vantage point they’ll struggle to get to. If you’re out in the open world, remember that Torrent can easily be used to keep a distance between you and the enemy, dashing in and out of range for quick strikes.
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