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The top 11 things you should do first in Elden Ring

You’ve died (of course), finished the tutorial, and finally taken your first steps out into the open world of Elden Ring. …Now what?

While Elden Ring does give you a little trail of light showing you what’s next in the story, it’s usually a good idea to do something else instead — the first bosses of the game will probably crush you unless you spend a bit of time getting ready, leveling up, and finding out how the world works. Here’s what to do once you’ve stepped out into the vast world for the first time!

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Further reading

The Land Between in Elden Ring.

Look for your primary Site of Grace

When in doubt at any point in Elden Ring, it’s a good idea to search around for a Site of Grace. These are the “bonfires” of the game, acting as checkpoints, a way to level up, and a way to restore your health and reusable items (in exchange for respawning most of the monsters in the world). Perhaps most importantly, they also act as waypoints that you can teleport to at any time when in the open-world map.

Sites of Grace are everywhere, so you can’t really go wrong looking for them. The first should be straight ahead of you past the Tree Sentinel (we’d don’t advise fighting this guy anytime soon), in a ruined church called the Church of Elleh. You’ll also find a blacksmithing anvil here for upgrading and your first merchant of the game, so it’s an excellent first stop.

Sites of Grace that you haven’t found yet will typically have trails of gold flowing through the air toward them, which makes them particularly easy to see at night. Once a Site of Grace has been activated, it will be a small flame of light that you can return to at any time.

Find your maiden and your horse

While the first NPC will joke about you being “maidenless” it’s actually a very important prompt for the game. You need to find your maiden — and that’s done by discovering more Sites of Grace in the open-world map. The easiest path to do that is to explore east, where you can find swampy ruins (and a number of unpleasant surprises). Skirt the ruins and look for more Points of Grace: There are several in the area to find. Once you find one, rest at it, and your maiden should appear.

You will gain the ability to level up, and a ring to summon your magic steed, Torrent. We suggest binding the ring to your shortcut menu, which you can customize on the right side of your main menu. Torrent is an excellent companion to explore the world with, and he can make many (not all) open-world fights much easier during your first hours.

Elden Ring's hero rides a horse and attacks a huge enemy.

Get your Spirit Calling Bell

When you receive Torrent, waste no time teleporting back to the Church of Elleh. The Church should now be filled with a strange mist, and you will be able to speak to a witch named Renna there. The witch will give you a Spirit Calling Bell and the Ashes of some wolves. You can use Ashes like these to summon familiars during boss battles (it costs some FP). They are excellent at distracting the boss, and a huge help for tougher boss battles. Look for more spirit Ashes around the world to learn more summons. Eventually, you will be able to level your favorite summons up.

Buy crafting equipment

Stay at the Church of Elleh a bit longer and take a look at the merchant’s inventory. He sells both a Cracked Pot and a Crafting Kit, for 300 runes each. Gathering 600 runes should not be difficult if you don’t already have them, and these items are vital for your playthrough. They give you the ability to craft a wide variety of items from materials you find throughout the game. These items can do everything from cure poison to hurt enemies, and you can craft them at any time now that you’re prepared.

Early map in Elden Ring.

Find a map fragment

Around this time, it’s also a good idea to follow the trail of Grace for a little bit. It should take you to a Site of Grace for the Gatefront Ruins and a camp of soldiers. The camp of soldiers will be tough but a good way to practice sneaking, learning movesets, and different types of combat. There’s also a cellar with a chest hidden in the camp, a common feature of camps throughout the game.

But most importantly, you should find in this area an obelisk with a soft glow, especially noticeable at night. Go to the base and you will be able to pick up a map fragment for West Limgrave. Every region in the game has these map fragments to find. They make navigation much easier and often point out important landmarks where you search for new goodies.

Find key merchants

The early game’s merchants are a vital source of new weapons and spells, so finding them immediately is a good choice. Two great merchant additions are the seaside merchant you can find close to the Coastal Cave site of Grace, and the merchant in the Waypoint Ruins in the eastern part of your now-uncovered map. Northeast you can also find a merchant in Murkwater Cave, as long as you don’t fully kill the boss there. Merchants will also often sell books to upgrade your crafting options and tips that can point you in valuable directions or let you know about enemy weaknesses.

Margit boss in Elden Ring.

Beat a mini-boss

If you haven’t already, now is an excellent time to beat a miniboss. These bosses should be well within your reach (well, some of them), and will help teach you how to read moves, dodge, use your summons, and much more. Plus, it feels great when you do it. A few early locations for minibosses include Groveside Cave, Coastal Cave, Waypoint Ruins, and Limngrave Tunnels.

Almost every boss in the game has a nearby Stake of Marika you can activate. These will automatically save your progress so you can start over here when a boss kills you. They are also gathering places for summoning friendly players to help tackle the boss (this also increases boss health), which you can do with a craftable item called a Tarnished’s Furled Finger.

Reach Margit

It’s time to get serious. If you continue following the trail of Grace and exploring, you will eventually reach Stormveil castle and the Castleward Tunnel Site of Grace. Remember, it’s okay to ride Torrent through blockades and other obstacles that you wouldn’t be able to survive!

At Castleward Tunnel, you will find your first major boss, Margit the Fell Omen. He’s sort of a gatekeeper, and not very happy to see you.

The vast majority of Elden Ring players are going to get stomped by Margit, with his broad moveset, nimbleness, and new capabilities he adds as the fight goes on. That’s fine — the point of this battle is to teach you what to expect from real bosses, and if things feel unfair then it’s working. You now have a choice: You can either stay and start memorizing Margit’s moves as well as using your summons to try and beat the boss, or you can jump back into exploring the world, leveling up, and finding new sources of power.

Roundtable Hold in Elden Ring.

Unlock the Roundtable Hold

Around this time, your next goal should be to unlock your home base, called Roundtable Hold. Rest at enough new Sites of Grace, and eventually, your maiden will appear again and invite you to Roundtable Hold. Afterward, you can teleport back to it at any time.

In Roundtable Hold, you’ll find plenty of NPCs to talk to. Some will help you upgrade weapons, some conversations will start questlines, some will allow you to buy your first new incantations, and so on. It’s a great place to explore, and there’s a lot to find here, including some great items for sale and more than a few secrets. NPCs you meet throughout the game may eventually set up residence in Roundtable Hold and offer new services.

Head south for a while

Is Margit getting you down? Don’t worry — try heading southeast instead! Here you can unlock a whole new area called the Weeping Peninsula. This area is designed for new players looking to level up to fight Margit on their own terms. Enemies are relatively as easy here as they are in West Limgrave, and it’s packed full of new weapons, sorceries/incantations, and merchants to find (as well as additional bosses to practice against). You can spend plenty of time here before getting ready to tackle your next big challenge.

Upgrade your armaments

You need to upgrade your armaments whenever possible in Elden Ring, especially after you’ve found a weapon or other armament that you particularly like. You do this via a blacksmith’s anvil and Smithing Stones, which come in different qualities. You can find a ton of early Smithing Stones in Limgrave Tunnels near the starting area. You can upgrade your shields as well, but generally, weapons should get a higher priority. Additionally, upgrading staffs and seals will increase the power of your sorceries and incantations, so it’s important for magic users, too.

When you start finding Ashes of War and whetstones, you can start enchanting your weapons in all-new ways that add extra capabilities. Either way, you should be feeling pretty confident about beating Margit and finally entering the mazes of Stormveil Castle!

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A player stands next to Ancient Dragon Knight Kristoff in Elden Ring.

In every FromSoftware Souls game, summons have existed in multiple forms. There are helpful human summons that can fight alongside you, but also human invaders that aim to kill you. Alternatively, there are NPC summons that can serve those same two purposes. The situations and requirements for how and when you can access these summons change from game to game, but in Elden Ring there is a third option thrown into the mix. Instead of costing items, humanity, or only being available in specific locations, Spirit Ashes are a new type of NPC summon that calls a ghostly figure -- usually based on an enemy -- to your side. There are dozens of them to be collected in The Lands Between, and all can be upgraded with rare materials. But the power gap between some of them is quite large.

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Margit boss in Elden Ring.

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