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5 Early Elden Ring Tips and Tricks for Surviving The Lands Between

Lowly Tarnished, thy journey begins here…



Elden Rings Tips to Get You Started…

With FromSoftware’s long-anticipated Elden Ring finally in the hands of players, the promise of enough open-world content to last a hundred hours has arrived. In Elden Ring, it is easy to become slightly overwhelmed by the level of freedom the beginning of the game provides. Despite the difficult battles ahead, there are a wide variety of ways that the player can become stronger within the opening hours by exploring the immediate area to make the challenges ahead a little less intimidating. These are five vital tips for new players heading into The Lands Between for the first time in Elden Ring!

The Cave of Knowledge Lies Below

grace site in the cave of knowledge map

The very first location in Elden Ring is a dark, eerie cave with seemingly two paths: a door at the far side of the room that leads outside, and a drop-down to a cave signposted by a developer-written message and ghostly NPC indicating that players are in “The Cave of Knowledge”. This being written in typical cryptic FromSoftware fashion naturally leads to some suspicion, but in reality, the Cave of Knowledge is the game’s tutorial area and is entirely skippable! Despite it looking like a potential death sentence, the jump down to the cave is survivable regardless of the player’s character build, and there is even a site of Grace to rest which heals any HP lost during the fall.

Upon reaching the Cave of Knowledge, there are a wide variety of useful tutorial pop-ups with easy enemies to practice on, ranging from backstabs to stealth and stance breaking with heavy attacks. At the end of the tutorial is a boss battle against a Soldier of Godrick, which is designed to be the final test of skill before being let out into the open world proper. Being essentially the same as many soldiers roaming around the world, Soldier of Godrick doesn’t present any kind of challenge, swiftly allowing players to move on having internalized many of the lessons learned in the tutorial.

Melina and Torrent

sites of grace on map

Given the nature of Elden Ring’s open world, encounters that are seemingly designed to be discovered by most players can even still be somewhat easily missed. The first encounter with Melina, arguably one of the most important NPC encounters in the game, occurs by finding any three sites of Grace on the overworld map and resting at them. The easiest way to do this is to follow the path outlined by the First Step site of Grace right outside the tutorial building, which leads firstly to a church and then to a ruin surrounded by soldiers, both of which have nearby sites of Grace.

Upon meeting Melina at the third site of Grace, she offers the player an accord which when accepted rewards both the ability to level up using Runes and the ability to summon the spectral steed Torrent. These abilities are absolutely essential for progress in Elden Ring. Leveling up grants the obvious benefit of making the player stronger and therefore reducing the difficulty of upcoming bosses, but Torrent is the real star of the show.

Not only can Torrent be summoned at will for instant faster traversal, but the trusty horse companion can also aid in combat situations, especially against enemies who are also on horseback. Additionally, Torrent’s double jump allows for enhanced climbing capabilities given the lack of a dedicated climbing mechanic. There are numerous areas in The Lands Between that are far easier to reach by horse, indicated with towering columns of wind which when approached on horseback can catapult the player high in the sky without receiving any fall damage.

Marked Map Locations

Elden Ring tips and tricks guide marked map locations grace
Mine (left) and map fragment obelisk (right)

The map in Elden Ring can seem vague at first, owing to its authentic medieval fantasy design, but there are still a number of locations which are marked on the map that aren’t explicitly pointed out but can be deduced through gameplay. The most important of these are the locations of the map fragments themselves, which when gathered will fill out the overworld map and allow for much easier discovery of other points of interest. These are indicated by small obelisk icons in regions where the map has not yet been found. If the icon isn’t appearing, it likely means more exploration should be done to unveil some of the fog obscuring the map first!

The second, slightly more obscure map icon worth pointing out is the icon for mines, often sources of extremely valuable weapon upgrade materials and therefore quite painful to miss on a first playthrough. Each mine in The Lands Between is indicated on the map once the local map fragment has been found, and appears as a scorched hole in the ground. There is one very close to the starting location, requiring a quick detour down to the cliffs of Agheel Lake (preferably avoiding the massive dragon in the process). Without the knowledge of these map markers, it can be extremely easy to miss important locations such as these, and there are many more locations on the map which aren’t signposted quite as deliberately

Insurmountable Odds and the Roundtable Hold

Elden Ring tips and tricks guide roundtable holds

For a game that is renowned for providing minimal player direction, the direction in which Elden Ring does give can seem highly intimidating at first. In the opening area of Limgrave, following the intended path of Grace leads to a dangerous and destructive boss named Margit, the Fell Omen. Margit guards Stormveil Castle, home of the first major demigod boss, but his purpose is mostly to teach a valuable lesson about the importance of exploration. In short, Margit is not supposed to be defeated the first time you reach him, instead, he serves as a reminder to level up and gain better equipment.

This then leads to a different issue. Having gained many Smithing Stones from the nearby mine, how can weapons be upgraded in the first place when the hub area, a staple tradition of Souls-like games that usually contains a blacksmith, hasn’t been unlocked? The answer lies north of Stormveil Castle, which can be skipped entirely by following a path to the east of the castle. Upon reaching the site of Grace directly north of the castle, the player is introduced to the Roundtable Hold, serving as a meeting point for numerous NPCs and vendors including the blacksmith Hewg. This is a location that will be revisited time and time again and is perhaps the single most important location in the game in terms of aiding player progression.

Stats — The Importance of Vigor

Elden Ring tips and tricks guide - Vigor

Undoubtedly one of the most punishing elements of the first few hours of Elden Ring is the pitiful size of the protagonist’s health bar. Most enemies can kill players in a small number of attacks, and given the sheer size and scope of the world, this can become a major issue that can lead to losing a great many Runes upon death without exercising a great deal of caution. Compared to the Souls franchise that came before it, Elden Ring appears to place a much bigger emphasis on leveling the Vigor stat to raise the player’s health throughout the course of the game. While in Dark Souls 3, for example, it was rarely necessary to have more than 27 points in the Vigor stat due to the soft cap, Elden Ring removes this entirely and routinely punishes players for not continuing to level Vigor to 30 in the early game and then to 40 and beyond later.

The same can be said for some of the other stats in the game as well. Soft caps for Strength and Dexterity are now higher, and the same can be said for Intelligence and Faith. Some weapons require upwards of 40 Strength to wield properly, while certain staffs and sorceries can require over 50 Intelligence, an amount that seems almost absurd compared to the other Souls games. The reason for this is that Elden Ring pushes players to level up more than ever before in order to counteract the difficult challenges of the bosses and enemies throughout the world.

James is a university graduate based in England whose main hobbies are history, languages, and of course video games. His favourite games are Hollow Knight, Horizon Zero Dawn, and anything made by Atlus or FromSoftware, and you can usually find him on Twitter @sacGOONER63 drooling over these games and many more. You can also read his weekly ramblings about games at if you so wish.