Gameplay Tips and Tricks
My general advice (and I’m by no means a Souls regular, I’m coming from Nioh 1 and Nioh 2) is to try out all your tools available to you. See what you like. Try out different tactics against enemies. Whether that’s seeing how effective or ineffective blocking is with different armor or shield types. Or seeing what happens when you dodge toward the enemy versus away from them or to the side. Or if you can simply sprint around.
Or seeing if an enemy can be baited into an attack or action that you can better predict, then seeing if you have tools to take advantage of the openings they create. What happens when you approach them from the side? If you’re standing too far? In their face? On their back? (e.g. a monster with a tail may swipe their tail at you if you’re behind them. But if you know that, you might be able to bait the tail, move to their side, and attack with reduced risk).
And then most of all, reading tool tips to see different things do and internalize it.
Rolling has iframes. This is your primary way to mitigate damage by dodging attacks. As said above, don’t “fat roll”. This makes recovery from a roll much slower. You’ll fat roll by wearing too much equipment, or too heavy of equipment. Watch your equip load.
Blocking with a 100 physical block shield is another way to mitigate damage. Just remember that blocking drains your stamina, and if your stamina drains completely then you get guard broke opening you to attacks. Manage your stamina carefully. Stability will measure how much stamina is drained. The higher the stability, the less stamina is drained. Greatshields have high strength requirements, but have the highest stability and block stats in the game. Additionally, after you block an attack, you may follow up with a “guard counter” using the heavy attack of your weapon. This will deal extra “posture” or “poise” damage to an enemy, which will eventually stagger them into a vulnerable position, allowing you to riposte them for critical damage. Time it well.
Don’t be afraid to block with your weapon. You’ll receive chip damage, but if you block at the end of an enemy combo, you’ll be free to guard counter them. Large weapons do this best.
Parrying with a small shield at the same time an enemy is about to hit you with an attack will leave them vulnerable and exposed to a riposte, allowing you to deal critical damage to them. Very, very effective damage mitigation that also acts as an offensive.
Jumping has minimal iframes, and performing a heavy attack in the air deals heavy posture/poise damage, which will very likely open an enemy up to a riposte. Time this well and you’ll be able to counter a lot of attacks.
Use all of the above tools when appropriate, read the enemy attack telegraphs to react appropriately, and learn enemy patterns. This will let you conquer any and all obstacles in your way.
Learn the stats. In Elden Ring, after a certain amount of leveling, each stat will produce diminishing returns, lessening the effect of a level up. If you hit 40-50 in a stat you will start noticing that leveling it up yields less effect. Most stats impact several aspects of your character. For example, Endurance increases your stamina bar, which lets you take more actions, but it also increases your equip load. They changed it for the final game, FYI. The in-game explanations are really good, so you should be okay in this regard.
Pay attention to your equip load. It will be displayed on the character screen. If it says Medium or Light, you are golden. If it says Heavy, you will roll slower because you are wearing too much stuff. Lighten the load.
Don’t spread out too much. This game is going to entice you with hundreds of options. Focus a little bit. For example, if you choose to focus on melee weapons, the three unofficial classes are strength, dex, and quality. Strength builds focus on big, meaty weapons like great clubs or colossal swords. Dexterity builds focus on fast, cutting weapons like scimitars and katanas. Quality builds evenly distribute Strength and Dexterity, and use weapons that increase in effectiveness with both of those stats. Oh, and remember to upgrade your weapons.
If you are constantly dying in one area, save it for later. It’s possible you are not strong enough for it, or need better equipment. Then again, if you persevere, you may gain great rewards.
There are items that let you re-roll your character stats, so don’t be afraid to experiment. You won’t mess up your character.
Grab a good shield and use it. Especially on those fast enemies. Look for what an enemy is bad at and exploit it.
Put stats into whatever stat gives give you health and stamina early, usually the base stats (depending on class for sure) let you do enough damage in the early part of the game so getting extra survivability early on will make things a lot easier for you.
Also as far as classes go I hear Vagabond is a good choice for your first time because it’s geared towards a quality build (this is just a build with roughly equal str/dex) which allows you to use most of the weapons and additionally they start with the most hp out of all the classes. That’s just a suggestion and if you think other classes look more fun, like astrologer for sorceries or samurai bc they start with a bow and just look kinda dope, then go with one of them! Don’t get too hung up on it since it’s just a starting point.
Class doesn’t matter outside of the gear and stats that you start with and only really matters if you’re really trying to min/max. This means if you don’t like how your starting class is built you can level up other stats to completely change your build to play how you like. I still highly advise putting a bunch of points into vigor and endurance early on since they’re good for pretty much any class.
P.S. getting up on a boss and dodging attacks is much easier than keeping a bunch of distance. Sometimes being aggressive pays off and fights in the past games are easier when playing this way
Don’t broke your controller.
Accept that you are supposed to feel lost and overwhelmed. It’s a storytelling mechanic as much as it a game-play mechanic. You are supposed to feel weak, the challenge is supposed to feel impossible… because that is what your character is experiencing. Embrace it. It’s all about doing just a little better each time so that by the end, you’ve gone from being a weakling trash mob, to being the boss. And if you stick with, you will. You don’t have to be good at video games, in fact it’s almost better if you aren’t because you’ll just have to unlearn all of the expectations and biases you bring in from other games. “Git Gud” isn’t mocking you for being bad, it’s actually telling you what you need to do and telling you that you are entirely capable of doing it, and you will if you stick with it. Whether or not you enjoy the process enough to stick with it is up to you. Couple of things are generally true of a Souls game: players often don’t get very far, get frustrated and walk away, sometimes for years before coming back, and sometime do this more than once, before coming back again and finding that it clicks. And second, once a player beats a couple of bosses, it usually clicks and they end up sticking with it and finishing. Third, once they finish, they want more. Fourth, at some point it becomes so easy that they start chasing the difficulty high which is why pushing NG+ levels, PvP, challenge runs, and speed runs are so popular.