“Elden Ring” has brought greater visibility and renown to the notoriously difficult Souls genre of action role-playing games. But more than being challenging, role-playing games by FromSoftware are often obtuse, with lots of unexplained elements that are often a big factor in how easily the experience unfolds for players. That may spell trouble for the potentially millions of people flocking to “Elden Ring” who have never touched the original “Dark Souls” or any of its ilk.
“Elden Ring” is a classic role-playing game that centers heavily on the idea of “building” your character with core strengths in mind to allow you to equip better specialized gear and, eventually, have an advantage over enemies. To that end, concepts like “weapon scaling” abound, with letter grades from A to D that factor into how you’re building your character.
It’s also a game with strict rules about the timing of attacks. Pressing a button in “Elden Ring” isn’t like a fighting game or first-person shooter, where the action is almost instant. Attacking in “Elden Ring,” as in every Souls game, is about commitment. It’s a fast-moving chess game where you’re trying to second-guess your opponent’s next move with your own.
“Elden Ring” is so large that any beginner’s guide will likely fall short of your specific questions. But there are some core principles every player must understand, and there are already a number of valuable online resources to help you grasp the game’s many obtuse but important rules. Consuming just a few of these sources will arm you with all you need to make significant progress through “Elden Ring.”
VaatiVidya’s ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Elden Ring’
YouTuber VaatiVidya needs no introduction for longtime fans of the Dark Souls series: He has chronicled the stories of many of FromSoftware games, which are famously opaque and short on detail. He’s a talented creator of easy-to-understand videos, and that expertise shines through in his beginner’s guide for “Elden Ring.”
His latest guide goes over the basics of the Souls genre — rules that “Elden Ring” does not impress the importance of or even fails to teach. VaatiVidya covers lessons so important, they bear highlighting in this article:
- Fighting is all about managing the green stamina bar. Learn what depletes it, and manage it well.
- Dodging (or “rolls”) includes what’s called invincibility frames (or “i-frames”). This refers to the frames of animation where the player can’t be hurt by attacks. Careful timing of these i-frames can be key to surviving even the most overwhelming, devastating attacks.
- Pay attention to how enemies move. The game’s biggest fights are more akin to a highly technical boxing match, requiring reading and anticipating your opponents movements before you commit your own attacks.
- The starting class you pick at the beginning of the game does not dictate the type of fighter you will become. These are mere suggestions; building up to be a powerful mage or knight warrior all depends on the player’s investments in statistics after every level up.
VaatiVidya’s guide says it’s all you need to succeed at the game, and it’s right. “Elden Ring” publisher Bandai Namco also apparently endorses this message; the company has pushed the video out on its social channels, hoping to ease in the genre’s new audience.
FextraLife’s ‘Attributes’ and build guides
FextraLife is basically the Wikipedia for Dark Souls games.
Understanding the game’s different statistics is key to becoming an effective player, and FextraLife has a one-stop guide for the in-game statistics known as “Attributes,” which explains what “Vigor” means and why increasing “Endurance” means you can wear heavier armor — among other things.
The FextraLife community already has build guides, recommendations on how to level up your statistics to optimize the kind of warrior you want to be.
For example, the Mage guide below will tell you to start leveling up in the Intelligence stat early, as it determines how hard your magic spells hit. But it also reminds you to upgrade Endurance, as casting magic takes up stamina.
Maybe you want to be a hunter armed with a bow. FextraLife’s Archer guide will tell you to focus more on buying arrows and upgrading your bows over investing into Strength and Dexterity Attributes.
This may seem like a lot to take in, but it’s important to remember that “Elden Ring” is a true classic role-playing game in the vein of Dungeons & Dragons sense, as in it’s always a good idea to know what kind of character you want to be before you start. Every single point you invest in your character’s stats is valuable toward creating a character and reaching the full potential of your desired fighting style.
FextraLife’s weapon (and scaling) guides
It’s hard to overstate the value the FextraLife community offers. The site’s weapons guides, for example, already include most of the armaments players can find across a number of weapon categories, just a few days after “Elden Ring’s” release.
If you’re the kind of person to commit to using katanas as your weapon of choice, for example, it won’t hurt to use the guide to find out the Attribute requirements for some of the stronger katanas found later in the game. And if the guides are updated, you’ll also likely be shown where to find them.
This is where it’s important to stress the letter grading of the Attributes for each weapon, also known as weapon scaling. If a weapon has a grade A or S in Strength, for example, the damage output will scale to greater numbers if a player has higher Strength. If the weapon has D or E, it won’t be as effective. A Meteorite Staff with S scaling in Intelligence would be a much-desired, high-damage weapon for any player casting sorceries, for example.
“Elden Ring” is still a few days old, but longtime influencers in the Souls gaming space have already been diligently putting out guides. This game is long and meant to be replayed, so as you continue on this journey, pay special attention to some YouTube creators who will be finding new ways to play and uploading even more exhaustive guides for specific areas and aspects of “Elden Ring.”
The earliest and most productive has been FightinCowboy, who does long, detailed walk-throughs of games that players can follow to complete them. He already has an exhaustive guide to finding one of the game’s legendary greatswords.
Iron Pineapple has a quick guide for easy-to-miss tricks and mechanics that even longtime Souls players might overlook.
If all else fails, using YouTube as a Google search engine for questions about specifics of the game can often yield good results, and leads to creators who are hammering away at the game’s more obtuse secrets.