Elden Ring is a massive open-world game that focuses on overcoming difficulty, action, and unconventional storytelling. It's got a unique multiplayer model that helps you feel like you're part of a massive community, whether you're struggling with a difficult boss alone or playing together with your friends. While the enemies and challenges in Elden Ring can be challenging to overcome, the game's gigantic world is full of tools that you can utilize to change things up and imbalance the playing field in your favor.
Elden Ring is a spiritual successor to Dark Souls. Created by From Software, the team behind Dark Souls, Sekiro, and Bloodborne, the story of Elden Ring was written in collaboration with George R. R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice And Fire. Like other From Software role-playing games, Elden Ring has an unconventional multiplayer model. When other players die, their bloodstains show up in your world, giving you a hint of upcoming danger as you watch the actions their characters took before meeting their demise. Additionally, players can be summoned to your world to assist you during difficult encounters, and you can even invade the worlds of other players and attempt to fight them directly as they try to progress through the world.
Elden Ring is a fantasy role-playing game in which you play as a hero. Shortly after launching the game, you meet Melina, a mysterious woman who gives you a spirit horse and asks you to take her to the foot of a giant tree. The world of the game is very, very big, and the horse is a welcome addition that gives you the ability to run quickly between places, double jump, and even partake in mounted combat. You can use weapons like swords and lances, cast spells, and even use items on horseback.
As you progress on your travels through the Lands Between, you'll gain the ability to level up your hero, upgrade your weapons and equipment, and learn new powerful spells and abilities. In addition to the sorceries and incantations of previous games, Elden Ring allows you to use special skills called Ashes of War with your weapon. These Ashes can allow your strong melee fighter to stomp the ground and send out shockwaves, shoot giant cones of fire, or coat their sword in blood for more damage. In other words, you don't need to use magic to access powerful abilities.
The way that stories are told in From Software games is somewhat unique, and Elden Ring is no exception. Rather than spoonfeeding you expository dialogue at every corner, Elden Ring gives you a hint at a grand tapestry through item descriptions, snippets of dialogue, and the occasional cutscene. This helps create verisimilitude, a sense of wonder, and a rich and complex story with plenty of room for interpretation. It's a lot of fun to get the last piece of a puzzle and finally realize what an item description means or what an NPC meant when they told you something.
Perhaps most importantly, Elden Ring is designed to be difficult. The sheer scope of the game and the tools you have access to allow you to mitigate this difficulty, but the game deliberately puts challenges in your path and asks you to overcome them. This gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment when you finally get that difficult boss down or you finally figure out that puzzle. Due to the open nature of the game, however, it's very possible to run into challenging late-game encounters very early in your playthrough. When this happens, it's up to you to realize that you might be better off doing things in a different order and coming back to this challenge later, after you've picked up some equipment.
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Elden Ring has a control scheme somewhat similar to the Dark Souls series. There are a few important differences, however. You can attack in four ways. You can use light and strong attacks with their right-hand weapon, use light attacks with their left-hand weapon, and use the Ash of War of your primary weapon. If you're two handing a weapon or off-handing a shield, the light attack for your left-hand weapon will allow you to block. You can run, which consumes stamina, lock on to enemies to make movement and camera control easier, and perhaps most importantly roll and jump.
Jumping is somewhat new to Elden Ring and it sends your character high into the air. While you're airborne, you can perform a light or heavy jumping attack with either weapon. In many cases, these jumping attacks serve as a great way to combine movement, evasion, and damage all at once.
Rolling is an old mainstay of From Software games. In Elden Ring, as long as your character doesn't have too many things equipped (if you're below 70% of your max carry weight), you're completely invulnerable during the middle of your roll animation. When you combine this invulnerability with the distance that your roll travels, you can roll through many dangerous attacks from enemies and bosses. If you're new to this sort of game, try rolling in multiple directions depending on the attack you're trying to avoid. If a projectile is flying towards you, it's usually better to roll towards it rather than away. If you're trying to avoid a big lingering attack that goes all around a boss, however, it's best to let the movement of your roll carry you out of the attack so you can live to retaliate.
As you progress through the Lands Between, you'll gain runes and gain the ability to level up your character. You can get a whole lot of runes very early on if you're willing to travel to Caelid. While the monsters in Caelid will probably kill you in one hit at a low level, you can look around for items that give runes. These are often found near the big coffins you see in the world, including right up the cliff next to Lenne's Rise in eastern Caelid. There's also a big sleeping dragon in northern Caelid, near Fort Farroth, that you can kill for tens of thousands of runes. The dragon won't fight back if you attack its tail. While it has tens of thousands of hit points, you can use a weapon that causes bleed and a bit of patience to get through its health bar in a few minutes. Finally, if you wait until nightfall at the Lenne's Rise site of grace and ride north over the bridge, a Night's Cavalry miniboss will appear and attack you. If you continue to ride north away from him, he'll eventually teleport back to the bridge. With a bit of luck, he'll fall and die, giving you even more runes and the Bloodhound Step Ash of War. This miniboss can be uncooperative sometimes, but if you keep trying and try to run as far away as you can before he teleports back to his starting position he'll eventually fall to his death.
There are a number of tools that you can utilize in Elden Ring. Bleed is very strong, as it deals a percentage of enemy health, so it's especially potent on powerful bosses. Unfortunately, a handful of bosses in the game, including the last two bosses, are immune to bleed. If you want to take advantage of bleed, you'll want to level your arcane stat. Spells are also very strong, including incantations like Black Flame and Swarm of Flies and spells like Rock Sling or Comet Azur. If you'd like to use incantations, you'll want to level your faith. If you want to use spells, you'll want to level your intelligence. If you want to hit people with big weapons, you'll want to level your strength. In general, try not to get any single stats above about 60, as the relative value of an individual stat point goes down at about that point. After 80 points in a single stat, the benefit goes down even more.
One other tool that you should definitely take advantage of is the summoning system. In addition to being able to summon players, you can use powerful Spirit Ashes to call warriors into battle by your side in Elden Ring. There are a lot of very good spirit ashes, some of which can kill difficult bosses on their own. You get access to your first Spirit Ash by talking to the lady in the witch hat at the Church of Elleh in Limgrave after you get your horse. Spirit Ashes range from entire bands of marauding monsters to powerful warriors with big weapons to stationary archers that you can plop down to do damage while you fight a boss. Spirit Ashes are so powerful that you can only summon them during especially difficult sections of the game, including most boss fights and some open-world encounters. Be sure to find a few you like and upgrade your favorites to make them stronger.
Have you played Elden Ring? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below! We'd love to hear about your favorite parts of the game, what weapons, spells, and Spirit Ashes worked best for you, and what parts you found the most difficult (or easy). By sharing your experiences, we can work together to help more people enjoy Elden RIng.