After years of waiting, suffering through delay after delay, we finally have Elden Ring in our hands. This expansive, open-world adventure is the newest game from legendary development studio FromSoftware, and, although it doesn’t bear the name of any of the series that the company is known for, Elden Ring carries the DNA of the Souls series. It can be brutally difficult, wildly creative, and probably the most gratifying game many will play this year. But, carrying that DNA also means that Elden Ring can be extremely unwelcoming to players who have no experience with the Souls games.
I imagine that there is a large number of gamers who are getting into Elden Ring just based on the glowing reviews and promises of a once-in-a-generation experience. For those gamers, I present this list of tips that will hopefully get you locked into the game like so many others. Rise, Tarnished, let’s get started!
Death Doesn’t Mean Failure
FromSoftware’s games are renowned for their apparent difficulty. From Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls, to Bloodborne, and even Sekiro, they make games that can shut players out completely if they don’t understand the systems at work. Because of this, the challenges you face, even at the beginning, will seem insurmountable, but that is not the case. Death in a FromSoftware game is merely an opportunity to learn. You will fight the same boss many times before you beat them and travel the same path down a dungeon until you clear it, but with each attempt, you will become a little more familiar with what you’re facing. This is the FromSoftware secret sauce. Determination is rewarded with glory, and Elden Ring is no different. Learn from your mistakes, and you will become an Elden Lord in no time.
In the same vein as never giving up and learning from your mistakes, it is important that you never underestimate any enemy. What might initially not feel like a threat can quickly overpower you if you act carelessly? These games like to throw many enemies at you all at once, so while you are facing one enemy who might be fairly weak, it could have a partner hiding just around the corner that will lock you into a corner and annihilate you (this was my experience in the Stormfoot Catacombs). There’s nothing wrong with being confident, but these games have a way of humbling even the most seasoned Souls fan. A wise player will observe enemies for a while, learning their moves and patterns, before taking them on.
Elden Ring was reportedly in development alongside Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and one of that game’s best mechanics seems to have spilled over in the form of the stealth system. Elden Ring allows you to walk and even run in a couched position that will let you get up close to enemies and backstab them, eliminating them in one hit. This can be a great way of dealing with groups of enemies early in the game, before you have decent equipment or any significant upgrades. The Lands Between are covered with thick foliage that your character can hide in before sneaking out and stabbing an unsuspecting enemy, and I would recommend putting them to good use.
Learn The Parry
Another feature imported from Souls and also Bloodborne, is the parry/riposte system. Many builds include a shield from the beginning of the game, which will, with proper timing, allow you to deflect an enemy attack, stun them, and deal a powerful blow in return that will either eliminate them in one hit or take off a huge chunk of their health bar. Taking the time to master this move early on will not make the rest of the game “a breeze”, so to speak, but it will give you an advantage, and advantages in FromSoftware games are precious and rare. Also, every enemy, especially the bosses, will have moves that take advantage of your learned timing, taking just slightly longer to complete than you expect and resulting in you whiffing the parry and taking huge damage. So, as I stated earlier, never underestimate anything, and take the time to learn patterns.
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED!!!
Most importantly, as with every FromSoftware game, it is important that you don’t get discouraged and “rage quit”, because you will be tempted to. You’re going to die in one hit, be ambushed by enemies from out of nowhere, and make bad decisions that will send you back to a site of lost grace, but through all of that, it is important to keep your composure. As I said at the beginning of this list, learning from your mistakes is the only way to come out on top. This game is intentionally difficult, but not impossible or even unfair. If you have the drive and desire to see this adventure to its end, your blood and tears will be rewarded, and you will get to experience something that not many people will because of their lack of conviction. So after every death, pick yourself back up, take stock of what you learned, and get back to it. Also, due to the open-world nature of Elden Ring, if you just can’t seem to be at a specific area or boss, just start walking in another direction. There is something to do around every corner, and maybe the next area will be more manageable while giving you equipment or skills that will make the former task beatable.
There you go, Tarnished. Take these tips and venture out, keeping them in mind every time you hit a wall or come across something that stomps you into the ground. Follow the shimmering golden light coming off of the site of lost grace to your next discovery, and enjoy all that Elden Ring has to offer.