10 things every new Elden Ring player should know

Elden Ring
Elden Ring (Image credit: Windows Central)

Elden Ring is, without a doubt, FromSoftware's largest fantasy RPG yet. Featuring a gargantuan open world and the deep stamina-based combat that fans of the developer's previous projects have fallen in love with, the size, scale, and depth of Elden Ring is unparalleled. This makes it an incredibly exciting game, but also a very dense and intimidating one to jump into — especially if you're a newcomer to Soulslikes.

For that reason (after putting over 60 hours into Elden Ring), I've decided to put together a spoiler-free list of 10 things that every Elden Ring player should know before starting the game. This will give you a good idea of what to expect from the overall experience so that you're not caught off-guard.

It's (usually) more forgiving than Dark Souls

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The most important thing you should know about Elden Ring before diving in is that in general, it's less punishing than Dark Souls is. You can often avoid fights you don't want to take while exploring in the open world thanks to the speed of your steed, Torrent, and there are many tools you can find or create, such as sleep arrows, that give you alternative options in most combat scenarios. Sites of Grace are more plentiful than bonfires ever were in Dark Souls, too, and while you're exploring the open world, defeating groups of enemies replenishes your healing flasks.

Dying in Elden Ring is also less punishing as well. While you'll still lose your experience if you die and then die again without retrieving them, you no longer need to worry about a hollowing mechanic or finding Embers to buff up your health. You always respawn with 100% HP and mana, and you can always summon other players for Elden Ring co-op sessions as well. Co-op only requires that you craft Furlcalling Finger Remedies, which is incredibly easy since all you need is one of the Erdleaf Flowers that can be found all over Elden Ring's open world.

There are several new moves to use

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

In addition to classic Dark Souls moves like light attacks, heavy attacks, blocks, parries, and dodge rolls, players have several new moves available to use in Elden Ring as well. These include the ability to jump onto nearby platforms, jump attacks that do huge stamina damage to enemies, and a devastating move called a Guard Counter that you can activate by heavy attacking right after an enemy hits your shield.

You can also opt for a stealthy approach in Elden Ring, which is something that you could never do in Dark Souls. By crouching down with a press of the left thumbstick, you'll become harder to detect and can often sneak around enemies without being seen. This will net you several excellent opportunities for backstabs that reward you with critical damage.

Sites of Grace show you the way

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If you get lost while traveling through Elden Ring's open world, pay attention to the golden particles coming off the Sites of Grace you can rest at. These particles will flow in the direction of where you need to go in the region you're in, guiding you through the environment and ensuring that you have a good idea of where your next objective is.

If a Site of Grace doesn't have any directional particles coming out of it, it means you're where you need to go. Look around the immediate area and see whether you can find the area's main boss.

The boss fights are absolutely brutal

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While Elden Ring on the whole is more forgiving than Dark Souls, its boss fights are some of the hardest that FromSoftware has ever created. Bosses in Elden Ring often do a ton of damage and have complicated attack combinations that are difficult to avoid, meaning that your dodge roll timings and shield blocks have to be timed very carefully. They also have sizable health pools, so you're not going to take many of them down easily.

The most important thing to do is to stay calm and use every defeat as a learning experience. Study each boss' attack patterns and figure out when you can and can't go in for attacks of your own. Practice dodging the boss' main combos and figure out what the warning signs are for rarer and special moves. As long you remain persistent and patient, you'll come out on top eventually.

You don't have to fight every boss

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

While most of Elden Ring's bosses are very difficult, you don't have to fight all of them. In fact, most bosses located in the game's open world can be ran away from quite easily, especially if you're riding Torrent. Bosses will only pursue for a certain distance, as they're programmed to stick to their spawn area. Therefore, if you don't feel confident in your ability to take down one of these optional bosses, you can always come back later once you've leveled up or upgraded your weapons.

You need to explore the open world

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While many other open-world games make going off the main story path optional, Elden Ring makes it mandatory. Without exploring the open world, you won't have enough experience, upgrade materials, or gear to comfortably progress through each stage of the game. Therefore, you should be prepared to spend many hours combing through the Lands Between.

The open world is full of secrets

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Since exploring the open world is a requirement in Elden Ring, the fact that FromSoftware packed it full of secrets to discover is fantastic. The Lands Between are home to everything from cryptic dungeons and hidden underground tunnel networks to enemy-controlled forts and abandoned ruins. Each location has a story to tell, and they always have a nice piece of loot or two to find as well.

You can also often find helpful resources within these locations, such as Smithing Stones or various types of crafting materials that you can use to create useful items. Therefore, I highly recommend searching them thoroughly and taking every item you find.

You have to prioritize upgrades carefully

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Compared to the Dark Souls games, it's generally more difficult to come across Smithing Stones for upgrading your weapons. Therefore, when you do upgrade, we recommend picking a weapon or two and sticking with them rather than trying to keep many weapons upgraded. This way, you'll end up with a weapon or two that's highly upgraded instead of a variety of weapons that are only slightly upgraded.

NPC dialogue is important

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NPC quests in Elden Ring don't work like they do in most other games; Elden Ring never gives you waypoints for side quests, and there's no in-game journal or quest log, either. Therefore, it's crucial that you listen carefully when NPCs speak to you. They'll often tell you where they plan to go next or where specifically they want you to go, so listen up if you want to progress their quest. Many NPCs will also provide hints about the main story path or events in the game's world.

While you don't need to do this, it can be helpful to jot down some notes as you play to keep track of each NPC and what they say. I did this by keeping a Notepad document open in the background, tabbing out of the game to type up a few sentences whenever something NPC-related happened.

Boss souls can be duplicated

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Finally, one huge difference between past FromSoftware games and Elden Ring is that "boss souls" — items you receive after killing a major boss that can be used to obtain a variety of different powerful weapons or spells — can be duplicated. To do this, players need to keep an eye out for massive turtle-like rock creatures in the Lands Between that stomp around. Using Torrent, ride around its legs and use your weapon to slash at the strange growths visible on them.

Once you've removed the growths, the creature will lower itself to the ground and you'll be able to spot a staircase on its back that you can jump to. Go up the stairs and you'll find yourself in a large room that you can duplicate your boss souls in. This is extremely useful, as it allows you to get all of the potential rewards from a boss soul rather than only one.

Final thoughts

Elden Ring is almost an incomprehensibly big game, but hopefully the information in this article has given you a good idea of what you can expect from FromSoftware's most ambitious game ever. Have you played Elden Ring yet? Do you think there are some other things that players should know before jumping in? Sound off in the comments.

Elden Ring is finally here, and it's available for $60 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC. It's one of the best Xbox games you can play right now if you're a fan of challenging RPGs, and we strongly recommend it.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.