Elden Ring: Combat Basics, Tips, And Tricks

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  • Combat Basics
  • Mastering The Dodge Roll
  • Parrying And Counterattacks
  • Power Stancing Weapons
  • Ashes Of War
  • Tips

Elden Ring is one of the largest RPGs to release this year, blending the classic Soulsborne formula with a massive open world. Exploring the Lands Between will be crucial to your success, but understanding how to fight is equally important.

If you're a newcomer to From Software titles, you might feel intimidated by how punishing Elden Ring can be. Fortunately, overcoming this learning curve has never been easier. This guide will give newcomers some important combat tips, showcase how to effectively parry and counterattack, how to power stance, how to use Ashes of War, and provide some general tips to make your playthrough much less difficult.

Combat Basics

Soulsborne veterans can skip to the next section.

Player Resources

Your character has three major stats in Elden Ring:

  • HP: Your character's health. If this reaches zero, you die and respawn at the nearest Shrine of Grace or Stake of Marika.
  • FP: Your mana. This is used to cast spells, use weapon arts, and summon spirits.
  • Stamina: How many times you can dodge, attack, jump, or sprint before you need to rest. This regenerates quickly.

Soulsborne games are all about resource management, and Elden Ring is no different. Mastering Elden Ring's combat will require you to make intelligent use of your Stamina while avoiding enemy attacks. Healing is scarce in these games, so avoiding or mitigating damage is required. If you play this game like any other RPG, you're going to have a bad time.

Your HP and FP don't passively regenerate by default, hence why the game gives you Crimson Tear and Cerulean Tear flasks. These are consumable items that refill your HP and FP respectively, and they both replenish upon resting at a Site of Grace. Sites of Grace are glowing bonfires you can find scattered across the world.

Attacking And Defense

We're going to assume that you're playing on a controller. If you're a keyboard and mouse user, we highly recommend you get a controller for Elden Ring. M&K isn't an ideal input device for Soulsborne titles.

In Elden Ring, you control each of your character's hands with your bumper and trigger inputs. This can take some getting used to, but it becomes second nature after a few hours of play. Here are the most important keybinds you need to memorize. You can change these keybinds at any time in the options menu.

  • Bumpers (LB and RB): Light attack for weapons, block for shields.
  • Triggers (LT and RT): Heavy attack for weapons, weapon art for your right-handed weapon.
  • Y / Triangle: Hold then use the bumpers to switch to a two-handed stance, granting a new moveset and more powerful attacks.
  • A / X: Jump into the air, allowing you to produce a light or heavy jump attack.
  • B / Circle: Dodge in the direction that you're currently moving, becoming temporarily invulnerable.

You'll spend your entire playthrough using your bumpers, triggers, and dodge button. The general gameplay loop of the Soulsborne genre is to dodge or block incoming attacks before punishing the target with a few swings of your equipped weapon, juggling your Stamina in the process. You never want your Stamina to drop to zero, so be sure that you aren't spamming the dodge button and attack inputs. Elden Ring's combat is a dance between you and your opponent. Missing your queue will lead to a quick demise.

All characters in Elden Ring, both you and enemies, also have a mechanic called poise. This is effectively an invisible posture meter that causes the target to become staggered when this meter breaks. You can lower a target's poise by continuously damaging them, harder-hitting weapons typically dealing more poise damage. You can increase your poise by wearing heavy armor. Swinging large weapons like greatswords will also grant you hyperarmor, allowing you to absorb enemy attacks without getting staggered. Hyperarmor and poise do not reduce incoming damage; they only affect incoming stagger.

Death

When you die in Elden Ring, you don't revert to a previous save file. Players instead respawn at the nearest Shrine of Grace or Stake of Makira with none of their Runes—Elden Ring's currency. To reclaim your Runes, you must reach the spot that you died and reclaim them. Should you die before reaching your previous location, your Runes will be lost forever. This is why it's so important to ration your healing flasks and avoid taking damage whenever possible. Elden Ring's enemies strike fast, hit hard, and will not relent until you're nothing but a corpse. Do not get frustrated when you die. Death is a core part of the Soulsborne genre.

Resting at a Shrine of Grace will restore all of your resource and flask charges, although this will also respawn all enemies in your vicinity (excluding slain bosses and other critical enemies).

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Mastering The Dodge Roll

Your most powerful tool isn't a weapon or a spell. It's your dodge. Dodge rolls contain an invulnerability period known by the community as "iFrames." About halfway through your roll animation, you'll have a very brief period of invulnerability where all incoming attacks will phase right through you. Learning this iFrame window will require trial-and-error if you're new to this subgenre, but there are hundreds of enemies in the Lands Between you can test your dodge against.

Mastering this input is key to playing aggressively and surviving dangerous attacks from Elden Ring's multitude of bosses. Don't be afraid of how large or scary the enemy is. Sticking near enemies and dodging their attacks is the best strategy for staying alive in Soulsborne titles.

Bear in mind that your dodge is affected by your equip load. Keep your equip load under 70 percent to have a fast rolling animation. Having an equip load over 70 percent will cause you to "fat roll," providing less iFrames and a longer animation. Should your equip load exceed 100 percent, you won't be able to roll at all. Unless you're playing a build with an incredibly good shield, this is a horrible idea that will get you killed. Dodges are far more valuable than your equipped armor.

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Parrying And Counterattacks

If you're tired of flopping on the ground and want to dish out some serious damage, you can attempt to parry or counterattack your enemy by using a shield. Shields in Elden Ring can absorb damage through blocking, yet they can also serve as an offensive tool.

Blocking an attack and immediately attacking will cause a counterattack, a swift strike that deals a solid chunk of damage. If that isn't enough, you can also use a small or medium shield to parry incoming attacks. If you parry an attack right before it hits you, the enemy will become temporarily staggered and open to a critical hit, dealing massive damage. Just like dodging, learning the parry windows of your enemies will boil down to practice. Keep in mind that not every attack can be parried, but most humanoid enemies have attacks you can parry. We recommend practicing your parrying skills against the Crucible Knight boss in Limgrave.

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Power Stancing Weapons

Power standing is back from Dark Souls 2, this time simplified and without the 1.5x stat requirement. Wielding two weapons of the same type in each hand will unlock a new moveset called a power stance. You'll swing both weapons together, deal two hits of damage with most swings, plus it looks cool.

Unlike Dark Souls 2, you cannot power stance two different weapon types together; the weapons must be of the same family (sword, katana, claw, et cetera). Using the power stance mechanic also means you'll lack a shield for blocking attacks, so get comfortable dodging attacks if you wish to play this way.

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Ashes Of War

Ashes of War are items you can infuse into your weapons, granting them a powerful weapon art (activated by pressing the left trigger) and the ability to change your weapon's damage scaling. While these attacks cost a small chunk of FP, they provide a great deal of utility or damage. We have an Ashes of War guide that goes more in-depth on how this mechanic works, but be sure you're using your Ashes of War whenever possible.

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Tips

  • Heavy jump attacks annihilate enemy poise, stunning them temporarily. Two-hand your weapon before using a heavy jump attack to stagger most targets.
  • Big enemies can't do much if you attack their ankles. While unintuitive, staying near large-scale enemies is the best way to avoid their attacks.
  • For most boss fights and enemy encampments, you can call upon your Spirit Ashes to turn the tide of combat.
  • Do not stress out about dying. You're going to die a lot on your first playthrough. Memorize enemy attack patterns, get comfortable dodging, and spend your Runes whenever possible.
  • For open world engagements, you can crouch to hide from your enemy. Sneaking up behind a target allows you to backstab them, dealing massive damage.
    • This tip does not work against bosses.
  • Use your mount, Torrent, whenever possible. His mobility makes it far easier to avoid incoming attacks.
  • You can summon other players for help against certain bosses. Our multiplayer guide has more information on how co-op works in Elden Ring.
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