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Elden Ring has a hidden pause button — here’s how to access it

Elden Ring screenshot
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Elden Ring is a pretty intense experience. Overcoming the game’s brutal challenge requires serious concentration and determination, but there’s no shame in occasionally needing a moments breather to compose yourself or attend to real-life distractions. 

Unfortunately, just like developer FromSoftware’s previous games in the Soulsborne genre, Elden Ring doesn’t have a traditional pause button. Or at least, it didn’t appear to at first. While PC players already had access to a Pause the Game mod, YouTuber IronPineapple has discovered a way of temporarily suspending Elden Ring that doesn’t require mods and can be performed on console as well. 

Bringing up your inventory will not pause the game, but once there if you press the help button and then select the “menu explanation” option from the submenu the Lands Between will freeze in place until you exit. Hooray, you’ve just discovered how to pause in Elden Ring. That’s a challenge arguably as difficult as overcoming the game’s tough-as-nails first boss, Margit the Fell Omen

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Now for the bad news, this pause function requires six button presses and involves quickly navigating three menus. Once you’ve done it a few times it can be performed in seconds, but it’s far from an instant process. If you’re in the middle of an intense fight and looking for respite, it’s likely you’ll take serious damage while fiddling about trying to pause proceedings. 

Of course, if you just want to pause the game while exploring the overworld without needing to trek back to a respawn point, or have no other option because the real-world is calling, then this slightly cumbersome pause function will get the job done in a pinch. It’s just not quite as convenient as the traditional single button pause we all take for granted in most other games. 

We’d also advise not getting too used to pausing Elden Ring this way. The game world freezing when you enter the “menu explanation” screen definitely seems unintentional. Elden Ring doesn’t pause when navigating any other menu. It’s highly likely that once FromSoftware gets wind of this hidden pause button they will look to remove it with a patch.

Rory Mellon

Rory is a Deals Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on deals, gaming and streaming. When he’s not scouring retailers for PS5 restock or writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found attending music festivals and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.