Elden Ring - Feature Image

10 Things You Need To Know Before Playing Elden Ring

Elden Ring is a vast open-world soulslike game that is very overwhelming for new players to the genre, but there are a few things you should know before entering the Lands Between.

After garnering information almost entirely from dying hundreds of times, here are 10 things you need to know before playing Elden Ring.

1. Elden Ring Is Unbelievably Hard

While this shouldn’t surprise soulslike veterans, Elden Ring is incredibly difficult, at least for most people. However, it is not in a way that could be considered bad or unresponsive. Rather, it is that the game punishes you heavily for mistakes.

Roll the wrong way? Dead. Mistime an attack? Dead. Parry the wrong way? Dead. You’ll quickly learn that Elden Ring does not take kindly to those who have failed to practice.

That being said, after several rage-induced fits, there is an important and crucial lesson to be learned at the end of it. Your mistakes are your fault and yours alone. Essentially, anything that goes wrong in Elden Ring is because you messed up. While that may sound a little hopeless, there is a silver lining. Ostensibly, this means that you can – and will – get better. You just need to put in the hours to get there.

Elden Ring - Boss Fights
Image Credit – FromSoftware

2. Co-op Makes The Experience More Fun

Now, I know most hardcore fans of the series will probably argue against me on this one, as the Souls-like genre is typically a single-player-focused experience. However, exploring Elden Ring’s large open sandbox world is made that much more enjoyable while exploring with a partner.

Not only does it make the content a lot easier but it also helps against invaders in your world. Luckily for me, Elden Ring’s multiplayer functionality is quite simple, only requiring the use of a basic item, and then being able to summon until either you die or rest. Suffice to say, if you’re finding the Elden Ring life a little difficult, then consider playing with a friend. There’s a reason the old adage goes, “everything is better with friends”.

Elden Ring - Co-op
Image Credit – FromSoftware

3. Bosses Are An Incredibly Intimidating Yet Enjoyable Experience

I remember entering my first fight against Margit. As intimidating of an experience as it was, after the fortieth “Put these foolish ambitions to rest”, I started to see a rhythm within the madness. And each time I’d walk through that mist, I would be less scared each time. Through the Margit fight, I learned that Elden Ring’s difficulty is having the patience to learn the encounter and account for your mistakes. 

It is fair to say that these games are built almost entirely around the cathartic release you get from defeating a boss. The seemingly never-ending dance you’ll go through with each one, incessantly dodging and parrying in the hopes of getting in a jab or two, is exhilarating. Perhaps my best piece of advice when it comes to bosses in Elden Ring is don’t be afraid to lose. It is all part of the fun, and by dying once, twice, or forty times, you’ll pick up a thing or two you can use against the boss the next time around.

In-game Screenshot

4. You Are Absurdly Squishy

I’m used to games being somewhat easy, as most games are these days. I’m used to I-frames and certain mechanics that give me an advantage over my AI opponents. This is not the case in Elden Ring. There have been countless times when I expected to evade an attack, only to be brutally hit by my opponent and swung into a wall.

It is fair to say that your character will be absurdly squishy even with putting points into Vigor. Half the time, I’m not surprised when I get half-hit by a random non-boss enemy and forced to use an Estus. However, once again, not only is this part of the fun, but it also encourages safer plays.

Knowing that you will be relatively weak before heading in will give you an idea of how cautiously you should be playing. Survey your surroundings, learn your opponents’ attack patterns and dodge when the time strikes. Only then will you avoid being squished to death like me.

Elden Ring - Combat
Image Credit – FromSoftware

5. Play Offline To Avoid Hellish Invasions

From what I’ve seen and read on social media, Elden Ring is susceptible to soulslike purists. You’re bound to experience pointless “you’re not playing the game right” comments over things like using summons, multiplayer, and certain builds. Not only that, but you’re also likely to be invaded by PvP pros. This is undoubtedly one of the most hellish experiences in video gaming history. It is even worse now that Elden Ring has added crouching to the genre, allowing for some devilish teabagging shenanigans.

However, I must say that the messages left on the floor by Elden Ring players are absolutely fantastic. By far, the best messages identify every animal in the game as a dog, whether it be any animal as long as it isn’t a dog. Regardless, you can always opt to play offline. While this will take away a fundamental part of the game – akin to Death Strandings’ online features – you will still have an enjoyable experience. There’s absolutely no shame in it.

Elden Ring - Offline Gameplay
Image Credit – FromSoftware

6. Exploration Is The Key To Having Fun In Elden Ring

Elden Ring is an open-world game, and exploration is key. Especially in a game as punishing as Elden Ring, it’s important to explore and find whatever you can use to your advantage. This may be in the form of a new weapon, armour, or a new Spirit Ash or flask upgrade. Whatever it may be, you definitely want anything and everything available to you. 

Fun Fact: if you explore enough before fighting Margit, you can actually gain an item called Margit’s Shackle, which binds Margit twice throughout the fight. This is a huge bonus to the fight, hopefully alleviating some of the players’ difficulty. 

In-game Screenshot

7. Elemental Weapons/Attributes Will Help You A Lot

You can apply various elements to weapons to gain an advantage. While I initially brushed this off as a fairly minor system in Elden Ring, like with most combat-related mechanics, it turned out to be far more important. Recently, I finally discovered that an enemy I was fighting was weak to fire and could be stun-locked by hitting them with a flame attack.

Making sure to utilise elemental weapons or attributes to your advantage is greatly advised. Not only will it give newcomers a huge advantage in combat, but it may alleviate a significant portion of the difficulty, all while adding a slick layer of strategy to the proceedings.

Image Credit – FromSoftware

8. Bleed/Bloodloss In Elden Ring Can Be Both Your Friend And Your Enemy

Bleeding can be a great tool in combat as it is not only effective against regular enemies but also against those pesky bosses. Not only that, but it’s incredibly satisfying to see a huge burst of damage on any enemy’s health bar. 

That being said, while it can be a huge boon for you, you’ll quickly find that it can also be used against you. Any enemy that applies bleeding to you will likely become your arch-nemesis, as the moment that bleed bar reaches full, you’ll experience a practically instantaneous death.

This makes fighting bleed enemies so much harder, as you must manage a bleed bar and your own health bar simultaneously. Making sure to either initially avoid these enemies or at least prepare before fighting them is a really great idea.

Elden Ring - Bleed Damage
Image Credit – FromSoftware

9. Elden Ring’s Difficulty Fluctuates A Lot

Since Elden Ring is an open-world game, it means that you can basically adventure anywhere from the moment you step foot in its glorious world. That includes the tough-as-nails endgame areas.

A special shout-out goes to Caelid for being an absolute nightmare to traverse while being so close to Limgrave. I was easily clearing enemies in Limgrave only to move ever so slightly into the red hellscape that is Caelid to be one-shot by anything that even looks at me. 

That being said, the same goes for the other way around. Overlevelling for an area or boss makes the game so ridiculously trivial. This is obviously just a result of the game being open-world but it definitely can feel good/ bad depending on how you view it. 

As a result, you need to consider how you approach Elden Ring carefully. You can either play the game like any other open-world title or tackle each area whenever you reach the correct level. There isn’t a right or wrong answer; it depends on how strict you wish to be. I’d honestly recommend playing it at your own pace however you see fit and then, perhaps in a second playthrough, adopting a stricter stance.

In-game Screenshot

10. Short Breaks Help Make Elden Ring More Digestible

Elden Ring is a huge, huge game. There’s a lot to do and see. That’s why short breaks help break it into a far more manageable experience. Completing the entirety of the game in a short period of time would be nearly impossible for anyone who isn’t a speedrunner.

On top of that, it’s easy to burn out if you get stuck on a certain boss or area. Trying to chip away at a problem can make Elden Ring seem like a dull experience, and it’s frankly rather easy to lose the initial spark if you do. So, take your time to slowly work your way through the game. Don’t worry; it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’ll still be waiting for you when you get back.

In-game Screenshot