Skip to main content

10 Elden Ring tips to help you survive

Elden Ring screen shot
(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

After three years of uncertainty, Elden Ring is finally here, and it’s just as difficult as the games that inspired it. Elden Ring comes courtesy of Japanese developer FromSoftware, which previously developed Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series. Like those titles, Elden Ring requires precision, accuracy and creativity to conquer — and even then, you’ll probably die as often as not.

While a challenging game — just read our Elden Ring review — it’s anything but impossible. From designed the experience to reward any player with the perseverance, determination and forethought to see it through. With a lot of trial and error, some skill and a little bit of luck on your side, you can handle almost any challenge that Elden Ring throws your way. Here are 10 Elden Ring tips to help you survive the Lands Between. You'll also want to read our primer on what you need to know before you play Elden Ring.

If you're just starting out, you might also want to learn how to find smithing stones and upgrade weapons in Elden Ring.

Don’t start with Wretch (unless you really want to)

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

Elden Ring offers 10 different starting classes. Nine of them are excellent choices for any kind of player, from the hardy Vagabond, to the wise Astrologer, to the versatile Confessor. However, there’s one class that inexperienced players should avoid, particularly if this is your first FromSoftware title. The Wretch starts with minimal stats, a weak wooden club and absolutely nothing else. You don’t have to take my word for it, either. Hidetaka Miyazaki, Elden Ring’s director, specifically recommended against this class for most Elden Ring players.

For the record, though, I started my playthrough as a Wretch, and loved the experience of building up from absolutely nothing. Playing as a Wretch also gives you complete control over how to allocate your stats as you level up, rather than having a variety of starting values. Just know what you’re getting into.

Meet Melina as soon as you can

Elden Ring

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

After Elden Ring’s brief tutorial, you set off into the open world of the Lands Between. The entire Limgrave region is yours to explore as you please. However, no matter how many enemies you defeat, how much gear you find, or how many optional dungeons you explore, there’s little you can do with the valuable Runes you acquire as you go. You’ll want to find Melina, a non-player character who vows to accompany you as your Maiden, and channel your runes into valuable attribute increases.

Melina isn’t hard to find. Simply follow the trails of light from the first two Sites of Lost Grace that you find, and try not to die en route. Once you team up with Melina, you can go back and explore Limgrave to your heart’s content.

Use a shield — in moderation

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

Shields are one of the most valuable tools you can find in a Soulsborne game. They’re also a trap. That’s because while shields can block a ton of damage and save you from any number of ignominious deaths, staying on the defensive is a great way to get killed, particularly during boss fights.

However, as with most other systems in Elden Ring, there’s a way to strike a happy medium with shields. First, find a lightweight shield that can block 100% of physical damage; this is the most common type of attack that you’ll encounter. Then, get used to exploring with your shield up, which will save you from a lot of surprise attacks. During tough fights, however, learn when to keep your shield up and when to dodge — especially if you can dodge toward the enemy, rather than away from it.

Explore on horseback

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

Elden Ring gives you a summonable steed called Torrent, and you’ll want to make use of him whenever you can. In any part of the open world, you can hop on Torrent at will, and use him to traverse great distances, double-jump onto high platforms or perform hit-and-run attacks on enemies.

While Torrent’s primary purpose is to help you explore, he’s also an excellent companion for battles. While mounted combat is a bit imprecise, enemies will very often hit Torrent instead of you, giving you greater survivability. Furthermore, Torrent can outrun just about any opponent in the game, up to and including ferocious, gigantic bosses. There’s no shame in living to fight another day.

Work toward Margit the Fell Omen

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

While you can explore the Limgrave region for as long as you like, it’s relatively difficult to leave unless you fight the game’s first major boss: Margit the Fell Omen. Margit is a tough foe, as he wields a variety of weapons, strings together unbreakable combos and doesn’t seem to take a whole lot of damage. However, Margit is, indeed, fallible, as long as you have a little preparation and luck on your side.

You’ll fight Margit just as you enter Stormveil Castle, and after a few tries, you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not you can beat him. (The real challenge is the last third of the fight, when his attacks get much faster and harder to block.) If you can’t, head back out into Limgrave and hunt down optional dungeons and upgrades until you’re ready to try again. It's a good litmus test; if you can beat Margit, you can beat the whole game. Just prepare for longer loading times in between attempts if you're playing on Xbox Series X. 

Visit, and revisit, Roundtable Hold

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

As you get to know Melina better, she will eventually invite you to Roundtable Hold: a distant respite where Tarnished adventurers can rest and collaborate. Roundtable Hold is an incredible place to build up your character, as you meet a blacksmith, a spirit tuner (for summonable creatures), a priest, a sorcerer and more.

However, the real advantage to visiting Roundtable Hold is that you can confer with Gideon Ofnir: the ostensible head of the Hold. Ofnir considers himself a leader among the Tarnished, and has collected extensive lore about the four demigods who threaten the Lands Between. As you progress through the game, you’ll need to talk to Ofnir if you want to figure out where to go — and which boss to fight — next.

Fight giants for fun and profit

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

Compared to the Soulsborne games, Elden Ring is a bit stingy with its all-purpose currency (Runes, in this case). If you die twice in a row, you’ll be in a lot of trouble, since grinding out the thousands of runes required for each attribute increase can take a long time. To expedite the process, however, there’s an area early in the game that gives you at least 5,000 Runes per run. It’s a little difficult, though.

If you travel southeast of the Warmaster’s Shack in central Limgrave, you’ll find five giants (called Troll Warriors), each of whom drops 1,000 Runes on defeat. They’re tough enemies, particularly early-game. But if you fight them on horseback, they’re much simpler, and they’ll get a little easier each time you level up.

Spend your Runes frequently

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

It’s relatively difficult to hold onto Runes in Elden Ring. If you die once, you have to trek back to where you met your demise, and you can retrieve them. If you die twice in a row, however, they’re gone forever, and you’d better hope there’s a good spot nearby to start grinding.

The best way to ensure you don’t lose Runes is simply to spend them whenever you can. Attribute increases are the safest best for Runes, but if you don’t have enough for a costly level-up, you can also buy equipment or upgrade existing gear. Whatever you do, don’t walk around with thousands of Runes, unless you absolutely have to. You may not get to keep them.

Make sure you see our guide on how to farm Runes in Elden Ring to give yourself an edge. 

Heal early; heal often

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

Elden Ring lets you carry and upgrade Crimson Flasks, which restore a good chunk of your health each time you drink one. It may seem like a smart idea to save your Crimson Flasks until you really need them, but this strategy will get you killed as often as not. That’s because enemies in Elden Ring hit hard and fast, and healing takes precious seconds that you may not have.

As such, it’s best to keep your health topped up, even if you’re not at death’s door. Any time your health drops to about 50% or so, it’s worth healing — and if you’re in an area with tough foes (which is most areas), you may want to start quaffing once you hit 75% or so. You’re much better off surviving with a sliver of health than dying with an inventory full of flasks.

Feel free to come back later

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

One of the beautiful things about Elden Ring is that there are very few bottlenecks in the game. I can count on one hand the number of times the game requires you to go to a specific place and beat a specific boss before you can progress. (Speaking of which, I have some tips on what to do next once you've defeated Queen Rennala.) If you’re having trouble with a particular section or enemy, you can always hop on Torrent and seek out a new area. You’ll almost certainly find some helpful new equipment, or an optional dungeon that offers some much-needed Runes.  

The downside, of course, is that the next area you explore might be even more difficult than the one you left. It’s also sometimes difficult to tell whether an area is beyond your current abilities, or simply requires a different strategy. But it’s better than crashing headfirst into an unbeatable fight for hours on end.

Also check out our guide on how to beat Starscourge Radahn in Elden Ring.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.