Elden Ring is not part of the mainline Souls games, but in almost every way it is a spiritual successor to those titles. The combat is a more polished, expanded, and satisfying version of the formula FromSoftware has been iterating on ever since Demon's Souls, only now set in a new setting with a fully open-world environment to explore. Another element that Souls fans will immediately recognize is the way the game presents — or more accurately obfuscates — certain information. Story and lore are the primary examples of this, and it remains true in Elden Ring, but there are still mechanics and items that go with almost no explanation. Great Runes are the primary culprit every player will eventually encounter.
Great Runes are key items that you will come across as you follow the main path of Elden Ring, and are required for doing certain things, as well as have other uses for your character. However, the game itself never tells you any of the different ways you can use them, let alone what you need to do in order to even have the option to use them. Even then, the process is, in typical FromSoftware fashion, nearly impossible to figure out on your own. If you managed to get your hands on a Great Rune and don't know how to use it, here's a full guide on what you need to do in Elden Ring.
Without spoiling too much, Great Runes are one of the two new prizes you get for beating the final bosses of Elden Ring's main dungeons. In lore, they're the pieces of the titular
In gameplay, they serve two purposes: one is to simply access the final area of the game (you will need at least two), and they also provide very strong buffs for your character. However, you won't be able to do either of these unless you do some very specific actions first.
Before a Great Rune can do anything for you, you need to first Awaken it. However, as we mentioned before, the game itself won't give you any help in figuring out how to do this. Here are all the steps you need to take.
Step 1: Get a Great Rune. Obviously, you will need at least your first Great Rune in your possession before you can Awaken any of them. If you just follow the main path in Elden Ring, you will eventually get your first after conquering Stormveil Castle.
Step 2: Find the Divine Tower. You'd never know it, but there's a very specific location you need to visit in order to Awaken your Great Rune. This Divine Tower is actually not terribly far from Stormveil Castle. Looking at the map, follow the long broken bridge that runs from the castle to the northeast. At the very end of that path is the Divine Tower.
Step 3: Open Stormveil Castle's front gate. If you didn't do so your first time through, you will need to do so in order to access the bridge.
Step 4: Survive crossing the bridge. You can choose to run or fight your way across this bridge, but either way you're in for a rough time. You'll be faced with three Guardian Golems (not at once thankfully), with the last one wielding a massive bow that can easily kill you, even at full health.
Step 5: Reach the teleporter. You may have noticed on the map that the bridge doesn't actually fully connect to the Divine Tower anymore. Fear not, because at the edge of the passable portion of the bridge, someone was considerate enough to leave a teleporter that will shoot you to the other side where a Site of Grace allows you to take a much needed rest.
Step 6: Take the lift up the tower. At the top, you will find a series of shrine-looking altars and statues surrounding a massive bone in the middle. Use the Great Rune with the statue to finally Activate it.
Once Activated, Great Runes are also an item you can equip for very powerful buffs, but again the way to do so isn't as simple as it would be in another game. Here's how to take advantage of these powerful items.
Step 1: After Activating the Great Rune, visit a Site of Grace.
Step 2: Select the Great Runes option and equip your Great Rune of choice into your slot.
Step 3: Use a Rune Arc. Slotting in a Great Rune alone won't give you any of the benefits of the Great Rune. To evoke whatever power that Great Rune will give you, you need to use a rare and valuable item called a Rune Arc. You can reliably purchase them from a certain merchant in the Roundtable Hold for 4,000 runes, or you can find them in the world, and even occasionally as very rare drops from enemies.
Step 4: Enjoy your buff while it lasts. Once you use your Rune Arc, the buff of your equipped Great Rune will stay active for as long as you can manage to go without dying. Once you do die — because it will happen — you will have to spend another Rune Arc if you want to regain those bonuses. These are best saved for challenging bosses where you know you can win if you just had a bit more of an edge.
Step 5: Secondarily, without spoiling again, all you need to do is reach the final area with at least two Awakened Great Runes for the door to open. Otherwise, it will just stay shut with little clue as to why.
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