Elden Ring is an open world game. If something is too hard come back to it after getting stronger or find an alternate route. If afraid you will forget it place a marker on your map.
Guide for Newbies
Level Vigor to 60 ASAP. Doesn’t matter if you are a warrior or magic user. Level vigor. It matters most and not dying equals winning, even if only slightly slower. The only way you lose in this game is by dying, not by the enemy dying slightly slower. The more health you have to buffer mistakes the more mistakes you can make before it is truly a fatal mistake. Further, it also means the more opportunities to recover from failed recovers like being punished trying to heal giving you another chance to try to recover vs simply being dead.
Going with the above offense scales very poorly with direct intentional investment. This means putting points in Str/Dex for physical builds or Int/Faith for magical builds. The core growth comes from your weapon’s upgrade level which ranges from +0 to +25 for common and +0 to +10 for unique weapons (somber stone, blahblah whatever material will let you know the difference). At lower upgrade levels the scaling is poor, so poor in fact its almost worthless to gain further attack from investing in those stats explicitly. This reinforces the level health first then when done with health level your offensive stat approach as by that point your weapon/catalyst (catalyst = magic casting weapon) will start to get better scaling from having been upgraded several times over. Still, it needs to be pointed out that aside from niche situations the typical scaling for both melee and magic is usually around a difference peak of +100% over what you would see with literally 0 stat investment. Thus you will usually see it go from 0~100% extra AR for such investment. In contrast, HP starts around 400 and goes up to 1900 at 60 Vigor meaning a 475% growth over base value and can be achieved even in the first region of the game as there is no scaling bias like with low weapon upgrades thus meaning you get full value asap. Thus, see str, dex, int, faith as “milestones” to “equip / cast” a given weapon or spell rather than for sake of boosting your dmg by some measly 20%.
Don’t focus on heavy armor. Light roll is powerful, but even if you aren’t aiming for a light roll heavier armor isn’t worth the necessary stat investment until you’re all but done with your other stat investments due to how the math works out. This has resulted in the meme “fashion souls” because anything aside from literally naked or the lightest of armors will produce almost identical results with regards to both PvE and PvP survivability. You don’t truly start to see a difference until you stack defenses particularly high like 60%, 75%, 90%, etc. If you want to understand why do a little quick math project. Take someone dealing 100 dmg and someone with 2000 HP receiving that dmg. Compare armor values at 20%, 40%, 60%, etc. and figure out the # of hits to kill that target. You might be surprised at what results below 60% give you and the best armors typically only get to around 45%. Also be aware that almost all defensive talisman are extremely heavily nerfed in PvP damage calculations to avoid super tank abuse. Some spell buffs are nerfed in PvP as well, but some are still decent after while others are not nerfed at all and extremely powerful (like the elemental basic and advanced dmg negation buffs which can cripple casters or flame abusers, etc.).
If you have issues hitting some enemies because they move consider alternatives. Birds, dogs, and imps tend to look for player input and try to evade and punish. You can counter with shield > block > hit or thrust attacks as one option. Thrust attacks are great vs a horse rider, too, as it staggers them and then you can hit briefly before backing off to repeat the loop. This lets you get safe hits in while avoiding being punished when they charge you so you thrust reactively rather than being the aggressor. Alternatively, you can dodge then punish (either dodge in the correct direction or pick a weapon with more range for those encounters). Another option is crossbows or magic for those types of enemies where you are at range and thus safer and can get free hits and easily kill due to their low health values or dodge away (usually through) their attack and then punish while they can’t dodge your bolt/magic.
Jump attacks and charged attacks are really good for poise breaking basic mobs and bosses. Sometimes charged attacks are superior to back attacks when sneaking up on an enemy. For instance, early on if your back attack cannot 1-shot normal soldiers you’ve snuck up on charge your R2 attack. When it hits many weapons will poise break them letting you then finish them with a back attack. A normal initial back attack would have let them get up after and potentially fight you back incurring some slight risks as consequence. Charged attacks also prevent enemies from falling off ledges when they poise break. Great for situations like the Caelid Fort that has the lionmane type enemy at the base so you don’t accidentally knock soldiers down into the boss arena that you will then have to fight in addition to the boss later if they survive the initial hit from a backstab that would have knocked them down.
Night Maiden’s Mist is a very strong low cost low requirement spell even melee can use for groups of trash mobs or for blocking off players routes in PvP. It has virtually no scaling from almost anything thus meaning even a non-magic user can get optimal usage out of it. It also penetrates high defenses like slimes and is a great way to deal dmg to large enemies while also swapping back to your normal pattern and trying to make sure they stay in its range while you fight them normally as it persists for a while such as using melee (hence ideal for large enemies, not so much so for smaller).
Miracles are extremely flask efficient. A blue flask healing with miracles will get you much more health than a red flask. Great for exploring even for a non-magic melee user. HP regen are also incredibly efficient ways of passively healing and mitigating otherwise accumulated dmg during exploration and there are some low stat options available early such as Bestial Vitality. It can also help offset some of the severity of poison/rot.
You can reset your build if you feel like it isn’t working for you after beating Renalla boss at academy. Simply go back to her boss room after with the right item which you get several of per playthrough.
Rolling in rot water causes you to get dirty and thus rot will build up even if you get out for a period of time. Try to not roll in such waters.
If you visit the beast sanctuary via D’s warp early you can find Ragadon’s Soreseal early which just requires running past some mobs south of this sanctuary. Its the building with harpies and ghosts near the giant dragon and a site of graces. If you go west, instead, you can run past the dragons to find a shack with a merchant. This merchant sells beast repellant torch which causes most animal enemies (except bears/crawdead) to be passive unless you hit them. You can then walk past those enemies if you simply don’t want to fight them or hate fighting them (ex. many people seem to hate fighting dogs and find them hard/obnoxious… apparently) or you can charge attack them one at a time and then stagger lock beating them 1vs1 with a headstart.
Roderika at the shack with the red hood unlocks the ability to upgrade spirit ashes. Make sure to revisit her and then talk to her near smith at Roundtable Hold. May have to reload that location a few times to progress her dialogue far enough to use her services when she arrives.
Faith is arguably the next best investment after vigor. Even the lower basic versions of many buffs are comparable to heavily investing in a comparable offensive stat while the defensive buffs range from very strong to honestly overpowered in the right situations (ex. Barrier of Gold). Even for a melee build just having 24 faith gives you access to the majority of great buffs and also decent healing miracles (read back to what I said about miracle efficiency vs crimson flask).
Some enemies like miners resist 1-h attacks so 2-h your weapon. Even better, stab them in the back or use magic/throwables on them and they will take massive dmg and die very easily.
A few points in FP an let you get a lot more mileage out of each blue flask and magic/miracles/ash of war. This is because it doesn’t require much mind investment to get a good FP boost but cerulean naturally heal far more FP than you start with in any build.