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Appreciating and Mastering Elden Ring: 5 Tips for Beginnersby@adrianmorales
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Appreciating and Mastering Elden Ring: 5 Tips for Beginners

by Adrian MoralesMarch 7th, 2022
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Adrian Tarnished is a Souls game veteran. He has played every FromSoftware game, completed every boss, and have taken on every Souls-like game I could get my hands on. He says that just about anyone could pick up Elden Ring and not just succeed but also thrive, as long as they possess the universal skill of a great Souls player, patience. As long as you’re patient and willing to learn, you can complete this whole game along with any other Souls game.

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Hello there, my name is Adrian, and I’m a Souls game veteran. I have played every FromSoftware game, completed every boss, and have taken on every Souls-like game I could get my hands on. I even had the privilege of reviewing Elden Ring, stating, “Elden Ring feels like a culmination of everything that FromSoftware has created in the past 13 years…Elden Ring is a triumph.” 

I love this game, and I am excited to see so many new players giving my favorite series of games a shot. However, Souls games can be daunting for newcomers, doubly so with a game as massive as Elden Ring. So follow me, newly Tarnished, as I put my years of experience to work with some helpful tips for tackling the world of Elden Ring.

I would like to preface by saying that these tips are hardly about the mechanics or gameplay of Elden Ring. No, for there is a lot more to these games than that. I’m not only here to help you master the game, but I’m also here to teach you how to appreciate the game and stick with it, long after you have mastered the foundational mechanics.

1. Getting Good is About Being Patient

Souls games are challenging, it’s true. But they’re not the impenetrable behemoths of great gamer lore that some make them out to be. I would say that just about anyone could pick up Elden Ring and not just succeed but also thrive, as long as they possess the universal skill of a great Souls player, patience. Patience is the key element to success. Being okay with dying, trying again, and learning what Elden Ring expects from you all starts there.

Being greedy and getting cocky is how you lose in these games. You win by taking your time, paying attention to environmental hazards, learning enemy telegraphs, and respecting your opponent. As long as you’re patient and willing to learn, you can complete this whole game along with any other Souls game. Elden Ring and the Souls series aren’t about being some crazy good gamer whose fingers dance across a controller; they’re about mastering mechanics and fundamentals. You don’t even need to use a traditional controller as long as you get these concepts down.

2. Elden Ring Wants You to Die and it’s Part of the Fun

Souls-like games are all about death. This is by design. And not just as a baseline fail state as every other game does. No, death is integral to the gameplay and story. Without it, they would be boring games. Getting destroyed over and over again by the same group of enemies or the same boss can really get you down. I was once there too, ready to throw in the towel. I still find myself getting frustrated from time to time. But, what I love about these games is that you will make it, and the experience of overcoming a once Herculean task is something only Souls games can deliver. 

In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Miyazaki himself states, “I do feel apologetic toward anyone who feels there’s just too much to overcome in my games…I just want as many players as possible to experience the joy that comes from overcoming hardship.” 

If you find yourself dying a lot, just remember that each death is a new opportunity to analyze what you did wrong and learn how to do better. Far too often, I have seen new players ready to get a refund on these games as they deemed them too demanding, yelling at the screen upon their every death. In time these frustrated hollers evolved into chuckles and self-reassurance in the form of “I’ll get 'em next time.” Death is as central to Elden Ring as attacking is, and it will all be okay.

3. Plan Your Build Ahead Of Time

This is one of the biggest tips I could give to new players of Elden Ring. Plan what kind of character you want to play as very early on. Us Souls fanatics go to bed thinking about where we will allocate points and which weapons to find that will be the cornerstone of our build. While beating the game with a scattered, disjointed build is possible, it won’t be an easy journey. Don’t make a challenging game harder than it needs to be.

A quick, easy tip is that there are three general builds in Elden Ring. The sword and shield build which scales with strength and dexterity and is excellent for newcomers. Next is the pure magic build that utilizes sorcery and incantations but is more of a glass cannon. And lastly, there are hybrid builds like clerics and spellswords, which are enormously powerful. However, skill point distribution becomes a little more involved with these classes and requires lots of thought about special weapons to optimize your build.

Pick one of those and go all in. It’s hard to be a jack of all trades in these games because you quickly become a master of none. Luckily there is a respec option at some point in case you dislike your character. Alternatively, you can save some builds for when you want to start a new save and tackle previous bosses in whole new ways. Given the number of options in Elden Ring, I’m sure you could replay this game until the heat death of the universe.

4. If You Feel Lost, You’re on The Right Track

Souls games are very cryptic. Nothing is ever laid out for you, and there are no waypoints or quest markers. Most of the time, these games unfold as a series of happy accidents that gradually unravel the world around you. Due to its massive scale, Elden Ring can feel incredibly confusing, and knowing what to do next can be a challenge.

Take a minute and remember that if you ever feel lost, it's because FromSoftware wants you to be lost. Progression in this game is unconventional and predicated solely on your own curiosity and sense of exploration.

Everything in Elden Ring is purposefully designed to make your character stronger or progress through the various quests in the world. Pick a direction and go do something over there. If that area is too hard, choose a different direction and find something else. Come back to it when you’re ready. This is an actual open-world game where everything in The Lands Between matters and serves the player in some way. I already have a combined total of 80 hours in Elden Ring (yikes!), and I still haven’t seen this game’s borders or come close to the ending. However, I look back at my progress with every cave and dungeon I have conquered and feel proud. It all came from simply being lost.

However, there are times when you will need help, and getting help is part of the Souls experience.

5. Using a Guide is Totally Valid

Alright, I’ll be honest, I have used a guide before, and I have no regrets about it. While we’re in the process of telling truths, I actually wrote off the first Dark Souls for a while, deeming it too complicated and too cryptic for me. That is, until I used a walkthrough. Guides have been instrumental in my love for this genre, and I recommend one if you’re struggling.

New players, here is a hidden tip for Elden Ring, don’t let anyone tell you that getting help is wrong. Elden Ring and Souls games are structured in a very traditional RPG way. Harking back to when games were purposefully obtuse and demanding as a way to sell accompanying strategy guides. Well, hey, we used guides then, why not use them now? The best part is that they’re free online now.

Moreover, FromSoftware actually wants us to help each other out. Elden Ring features co-op multiplayer for bosses, and you can leave various messages around the world to help struggling players to find their bearings. While the worlds that FromSoftware creates are lonely and decrepit, the games themselves are shared community experiences. We’re all in this together, so any strategy to finish the game is valid. Whether you’re using a guide made by the community or taking advantage of co-op multiplayer. It doesn’t matter how you do it; the only thing that matters is that you did it.

Final Thoughts On Elden Ring Tips

As a Souls vet, I’m overjoyed to see so many new players giving this genre a shot. I believe everyone should take a crack at these games as they have so much to offer and are quite a unique experience in terms of gaming. There is a reason why that one guy you know never stops talking about them, and soon many people will be able to relate. Hopefully, these tips for Elden Ring gave you some guidance and reassurance about what to expect from these games. They’re tough games for sure, but once you’ve cracked their code, they quickly become some of the most rewarding games you can get your hands on.

Now rise, Tarnished, and take on the challenge of becoming the Elden Lord. See you at the boss room!