11 Elden Ring tips for intermediate and advanced players

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(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Elden Ring is a long game, but it has a consistent difficulty curve throughout. You’ll come into an area feeling vulnerable and outmatched; you’ll upgrade your stats, weapons and skills; you’ll conquer enemies that you previously thought impossible. Then, you’ll reach a new area, and the cycle will start all over again.

If you’ve already got a pretty good handle on Elden Ring, then it’s time to consider a few more tips to take your playthrough to the next level.

(If you don’t have a good handle on Elden Ring, or if you’ve just started, consider our Elden Ring tips for beginners instead. Roughly speaking, if you’ve beaten Margit the Fell Omen, then you’re probably ready to incorporate the tips on this page into your playstyle.)

Whether you’re in the game’s long middle stretch, or having trouble conquering the difficult endgame bosses, here are 10 Elden Ring tips for intermediate and advanced players. Some of these, you’ll probably have figured out already — but others might just give you the edge you need to finish the game.

Kill skeletons for good

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To be fair, killing skeletons in Elden Ring isn’t exactly an advanced trick. You can find catacomb-style dungeons well before you confront Margit. If you can’t fight your way past the skeletons in them, you’ll be unable to pick the valuable Glovewort that grows in these charnel houses. However, putting skeletons down for good requires a slightly different strategy in each FromSoftware game.

In Elden Ring, you have to land a killing blow after you’ve taken a skeleton down. A second or two after a skeleton collapses, it will start to glow blue. Just hit it with your weapon once more before it can reform, and it won’t get up again.

Attack from both sides on horseback

Best open world games: Elden Ring

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Another “so silly, we can’t believe we didn’t think of it” tip involves horseback combat. When you summon Torrent, you’ll be able to attack foes with your right-hand weapon. (As such, you should consider upgrading a fast weapon with a long reach specifically for horseback combat, but that’s sort of a separate tip.)

However, if you encounter enemies on your left, you don’t need to circle around them before you attack; simply hit the left bumper or left trigger instead. You’ll swing your right-hand weapon in your left hand instead. It’s a simple fix, but you’d be amazed how much of a difference it makes.

Don’t be afraid of multiplayer

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Elden Ring isn’t strictly a multiplayer game, but it’s not strictly a single-player one, either. You have lots of options to engage with other players, which range from leaving messages for them, to teaming up with them to fight bosses, to invading their worlds and fighting them directly. It may be tempting to simply go through the whole game solo, but it’s much easier, not to mention more fun, with a little help and/or competition. There’s also very little consequence for failing in a multiplayer match, but potentially great rewards, from items and Runes to completing questlines. If nothing else, at least don’t be afraid to leave or rate helpful messages.

Upgrade your Spirit Ashes

Elden Ring

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If you’ve taken our earlier advice about killing skeletons for good (reminder: hit ‘em once, then hit ‘em again when they’re down), then you’re all clear to explore catacombs. You’ll find catacombs in every corner of the Lands Between, usually pitting you against pitch-dark environments, undead foes and fiendish traps. 

While catacombs are difficult, they also provide a resource that most other areas don’t: Glovewort. This flower (sometimes called lily of the valley in real life) is a vital resource for upgrading your Spirit Ashes — and these can make a night-and-day difference during tough boss fights. Explore catacombs; upgrade your Spirit Ashes with Roderika in Roundtable Hold; beat tougher bosses; repeat.

Use the Flask of Wondrous Physick

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To answer your most burning questions: No, the Flask of Wondrous Physick doesn’t consume any ingredients permanently. No, you can’t upgrade it. And yes, it can be a game-changing accessory, if you’re willing to get a little creative with it.

In Elden Ring, you’ll often come across Minor Erdtrees, where you’ll discover Crystal Tears: components for the Flask of Wondrous Physick. Mix these tears, and you can confer a variety of beneficial effects, from upping your maximum HP to preventing Rune loss when you die (yes, really). Just be aware that difficult bosses guard most Minor Erdtrees, so be prepared to work for your upgrades.

Break enemies’ stances

Elden Ring screen shot

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Let’s face it: Parrying isn’t for everyone. While parrying lets you block enemy blows and deliver devastating counterattacks, it requires pitch-perfect precision, and doesn’t even work on most nonhuman foes. However, if you want to deliver critical attacks, there’s a much easier way to do so: break enemies’ stances. You can do this relatively easily with heavy attacks, and you can make the process even easier by delivering heavy attacks in mid-air. Simply jump, and hit the heavy attack button before you land. After a few blows like this, most enemies — even some bosses — will collapse to their knees, leaving them vulnerable.

Don’t neglect your Vigor stat

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Vigor is the attribute that dictates your HP in Elden Ring, and it’s easy to neglect it. Early on, having a lot of HP can boost your survival odds considerably. By about mid-game, though, most bosses and plenty of rank-and-file foes can down you in two or three hits anyway. While having extra health may seem superfluous, Vigor can actually be a fantastic investment, especially if you sink five or 10 points into it.

It may seem as though bosses can obliterate any health bar in a single hit, but that’s not true. High Vigor will let you just barely survive devastating attacks, and you’ll often have just enough time to quaff a healing flask or to afterward.

Equip weapons with status effects

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Changing up your weapons in Elden Ring may seem like a huge risk. After all, the game requires absolute precision, and the best way to develop that sense of timing is to spend dozens of hours with a single weapon. However, while upgraded standard weapons will take you most of the way through the game, eventually, you’re going to want to look into alternatives that inflict status effects.

Whether it’s blood loss, poison, fire or ice, unique weapons can devastate standard enemies and even stop bosses in their tracks, if you deal enough successive hits. These weapons take some practice to master, but it’s worth the investment.

Find the Mimic Tear

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Players who absolutely, positively don’t want to use Spirit Ash summons can skip this tip. For the rest of you, however, it’s worth tracking down the Mimic Tear summon. Without going into tremendous detail, if you follow Ranni the witch’s questline and explore Nokron, the Eternal City, you can find the Mimic Tear ashes in a chest behind a Stonesword Key gate. The Mimic Tear will copy your equipment, abilities and consumable items, which means that most of Elden Ring’s bosses will find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. The Mimic Tear makes easy bosses feel trivial, difficult bosses feel manageable and impossible bosses feel possible.

Learn where to farm Runes

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As you progress through Elden Ring, Runes become easier to earn — but they become easier to lose as well. If you’ve died twice in quick succession and find yourself Rune-less, you should find a place where you can recover them and get yourself an attribute increase or two before you fight the next boss. Luckily, there are plenty of places to earn Runes easily in the game. When you find one, make a note of it, and return there any time you need a boost. I’ve compiled a guide on how to farm Runes in Elden Ring: for early, mid and late game spots, but this isn’t a definitive list, and you may discover spots you like better.

Consider which ending you want

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Elden Ring has a handful of different endings, depending on the actions you take in-game. It’s difficult to describe exactly how to activate each one without spoiling anything, but the game will drop some hints that you’re on the right (or wrong) track. To get the default ending, just beat the game normally.

To get the second ending, follow a major questline through to completion. To get the third ending, track down a well-hidden area and ignore Melina’s advice when she tells you to stop. You can get only one ending per playthrough, so choose wisely, and be prepared to play again.

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.