One of the often-overlooked reasons games in the Souls genre are so tough, especially for brand new players, is because of how many important decisions the games ask you to make before you ever even gain control of your character. Classes are the obvious example here, with Elden Ring throwing 10 options at you to pick from with hardly any explanation about what the differences between them are, let alone which you will personally end up liking the playstyle of. Second to your class, every Souls game also gives you one more decision to make that isn’t quite as defining to your time as your class but is just as obscure and can certainly change how your first few hours of the game go.
Keepsakes are the new starting gifts in Elden Ring, and after picking your class and customizing your character, you will be given a list of seven to pick from, not counting the option to reject taking any of the Keepsakes, of course. These all have strange, unfamiliar names, even for Souls veterans, and their short descriptions aren’t always very helpful in deciding which is going to be most beneficial. All give you a little advantage in some way, but there are clear standouts among the bunch. Here’s what every starting Keepsake is in Elden Ring and which one is best.
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Let’s run down all of the Keepsakes you have to pick from, and most importantly what they really do, so we can make the most informed decision as to which is the best.
Crimson Amber Medallion
This will use one of your Talisman slots, which take the place of rings from past games. You start off with just one slot, and if you equip the Crimson Amber Medallion, you will get a small increase to your character’s maximum HP. This can be good early on for classes that naturally start with a lower HP stat but isn’t useful for your entire run since you will level up your HP and eventually want to use better Talismans you find.
Lands Between Rune
This is the Elden Ring equivalent of Soul items from the Souls game, where using the item will instantly grant you some amount of runes — this game’s form of XP and currency. Because it’s an item, you can’t lose those runes when you die (unless you use the item and carry the runes around without spending them), and this particular one is worth 3,000 runes. That’s easily enough to gain a level or two right off the bat, but after it’s done, that’s it. Also, if you wait to use it, eventually 3,000 won’t be worth much at all, and you will even find equal or better rune items in the game, eventually.
This one is way better than its description lets on. Your healing drink in Elden Ring is the Flask of Crimson Tears and can be upgraded in two ways: More healing per drink and the ability to hold more charges. Both are great but also require unique and limited items to upgrade. Golden Seeds just so happen to be the ingredient you need to increase the number of times you can drink from your flask before needing to refill it at a Site of Grace. Getting just one more sip early is very powerful and will scale with the rest of the game, too.
Fanged Imp Ashes
Ashes are a new item that function kind of like summoning NPCs in prior games, only it will cost you magic and can be done in most places instead of just against bosses (but can still be used on bosses, of course). You will find these ashes as items, rewards, and from merchants around the map. The Fanged Imp Ashes summon a small troupe of imp creatures to aid you in battle. While useful, they’re not terribly powerful or even unique compared to other ashes you will find even early on. You will also have to wait until you get the required item to even utilize ashes.
Technically, this name is misleading since you actually get two Cracked Pot items if you pick this Keepsake, but even if you got 10, you still shouldn’t pick it. These are only used for crafting but don’t get used up like materials. If you have the recipe and other consumables to make things like firebombs, the number of Cracked Pots you have limits how many total items you can make that require a pot to use. Consumables are more viable than ever in Elden Ring but still not something you should rely heavily on. Plus, you can get Cracked Pots other ways, so unless you’re really into making some gimmick build, forget these.
This is an interesting one that may or may not tempt you enough to pick. If you played Dark Souls 2, this is basically Elden Ring‘s version of the Pharros Lockstones. If you haven’t played that game, they’re special one-time-use keys that unlock special areas. There are typically fewer keys in the world than locks, so you will need to pick and choose where to use them, and you never know if what they reveal will benefit you much or at all. They always hide something, so it’s never a complete waste, but it is still a gamble. Picking this Keepsake grants you two right off the bat.
Here’s a strong competitor for worst Keepsake in Elden Ring: The Bewitching Branch. This item is a bundle of five consumables that can be used once each. When used, all they do is create a small area of effect that turns any hostile enemy back to its normal state. They’ll basically forget they saw you and go back to their normal routine or standing spots. This technically could get you out of a bad situation a couple of times but is really a waste compared to most other choices.
Slightly better than the Bewitching Branch, Boiled Prawn is another set of five consumables, only this time, they’re buffs rather than weird effects. When you use (eat?) one of these prawns, your character will get a buff to their physical resistance stat, meaning any physical damage will do a little less for a short time. Odds are, the damage reduction won’t make or break any boss runs, and once you’re used to them all, that’s it. Leave these shrimp on the barbie.
Last up on the list is Shabriri’s Woe, which might as well be a second way to pick “none” as a starting Keepsake. What this item does is make enemies aggressive towards you. Yes, in Elden Ring, where any enemy that spots you will attack on sight anyway, there’s an item to do the same thing. The only situation in which it can even be remotely useful is if you’re playing co-op and want to draw attention away from your pal so they can recover and heal up. Otherwise, this item serves basically no purpose.
No doubt, the best Keepsake in Elden Ring for anyone has to be the Golden Seed. It can’t be overstated how valuable every single sip you have in your flask is. So often you will find yourself facing a boss, have them down to just a couple hits, but also be out of flasks and low on HP yourself. You might get those last couple hits in, but if you get tagged just once, it’s over. One more precious top off of health is never, ever a bad thing.
For an alternative or two, the Crimson Amber Medallion is a good choice for certain classes that have low HP to start. And while you will eventually find new, better Talismans, they’re not all that common in the beginning hours, letting you make up for your low HP or get comfortable enough with the gameplay to feel better about having a little less — it will serve you well for the beginning of the game.
Finally, Stonseword Keys may or may not be up your alley. This all depends on how risky you want to be (unless you look up where to use them, of course) and what you hope to get from using them. These will probably be the best pick for second runs through the game and beyond once you don’t need other early-game crutches and instead want to head straight for those high-value treasures that can only be reached using these keys.
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