Soulsborne games are known for their extreme difficulty and constant death. If you’re new to the genre or are dying a lot in Elden Ring you might want this guide to help you out. In this article, we run through the most common mistakes that most people run into, as well as how to not die (as much) in battle.
Soulsborne Isn’t Hack and Slash
We’ll start off with an easy tip but an important one to note for those new to the Soulsborne genre. The reason that these games are their own genre means that you should be approaching them differently than other RPG games such as hack and slash ones. Going in this way is likely to get you killed more often than not.
In Soulsborne games, most of the enemies either can dodge/attack quickly or strongly resist your attempts to break their stance. By attack button mashing, you run the risk of being counterattacked or being hit at the same time by an opponent with high endurance.
What you’ll want to do instead (enemy variant depending) is to look for an opening to perform one strong or several fast attacks, depending on the enemy you are facing and the weapon you’re wielding. We’ll go into more combat techniques such as parrying next.
Parrying, i.e. deflecting enemy attacks, is a high risk, high reward mechanic in Soulsborne games, and not entirely necessary all the time. You are risking a lot by using this technique but if you manage to pull it off correctly, the payoff is big.
In order to learn how to parry correctly, you should practice this mechanic on an enemy that won’t deal too much damage to you and whose attacks are easy to read. Take the time to block first so that you can observe their attack animation.
You should parry when the enemy’s weapon is right in front of you, not at the very start of the attack.
If you do this correctly, you will hear the iconic sound of a parried attack. In addition, the enemy will be thrown off balance for a short while, giving you the opportunity to approach them and then counterattack to deal tons of damage.
If you fail to parry, you will get hit, usually for a great deal of damage as enemies will usually chain their attacks. So it’s not worth trying to deflect the hit again after the first unsuccessful parry.
Timing is critical, as it determines whether you have performed the parry successfully. Most people are guilty of doing them too early or too slow, so you won’t block the attack. The easiest thing to do is when an enemy starts swinging their weapon, wait a beat and then parry once you see that the weapon is nearly touching you.
You Won’t Be Able To Parry All The Time
Some opponents in Elden Ring or other Soulsborne games are not always able to be parried. Some attacks can’t be countered, other attacks can be so fast or hard to predict that even though they can be parried, it’s not really worth doing. The reward for parrying such an attack will be much lower than the risk of taking significant damage.
Secondly, parrying will also not be necessary, or sometimes even available, depending on what build you choose. If you decide to play as a mage or a ranged character, you are unlikely to carry a shield in your inventory. It’s true that certain one- or two-handed weapons sometimes give you the option to parry, but there aren’t many weapons like this. Also, the parrying animation is slightly different compared to the shields, and sometimes confusing.
To sum up, parrying is still a very useful mechanic that’s worth learning, assuming that your build is centred around it. Knowing how to parry is useful in many situations, but it isn’t required to complete the game.
If Not Parry Then Dodge Or Sprint
After about 20 minutes of full concentration fighting an enemy, it’s likely that you’re going to want to get in some greedy hits. Don’t. Stick with the plan of parrying and attacking. If however parrying isn’t working out for you or there’s an enemy that resists parrying then you can always sprint or dodge.
Dodge should be used for a boss’s quick attacks, while the linear, or longer attacks should be avoided by sprinting. Haul ass out of there and try and get behind them for the best chance to get in some hits.
Big note – Carrying capacity above 70% will make your character dodge slowly. So try not to carry too much if your playstyle requires dodging more than armour. If you’ve reached 100% load capacity, your character will be unable to dodge, and your stamina will deplete very quickly.
Keep your shield drawn in unfamiliar locations
This tip is very common, especially when it comes to the Dark Souls series. By drawing your shield and constantly blocking, you are able to block and negate the damage of unexpected attacks. This advice is especially useful in stages with unfamiliar locations, such as tight rooms. There may be an enemy behind the corridor, and by walking forward with your shield raised, you can block an attack without even expecting it.
But you don’t need to go overboard with this tip. If you don’t see any threat, stop blocking – your stamina regeneration is much slower when blocking.
Watch Out For Camera Locking
Using the camera to lock on to an enemy can both help you or make it easier for you to die. It’s best to just use the camera for one-on-one encounters or against small groups of enemies. On the other hand, when you’re dealing with a huge enemy or multiple enemies at once, it’s not a good idea to lock the camera on the enemy and instead it’s better to focus on using the free camera.
This allows you to keep up with what is happening behind you or at the side. When it comes to giant enemies, the camera won’t always show everything, making it difficult to read the opponent’s attacks.
Don’t Attack Everything In Sight
Elden Ring is the first Soulsborne open-world game and as such, you may feel the need to want to attack everything in sight. I’d recommend you hold on to that enthusiasm until you observe your enemy a little better. In Soulsborne games literally, anything can kill you. You may have comically over levelled yourself to the point that a small creature won’t phase you. But it’s best to always approach a new enemy from a distance if you don’t want to die a silly death.
It’s hard to tell how strong an enemy is without observing them first. Additionally, they could be part of an ambush, or just prove too difficult to kill for the reward. Remember you can always ignore enemies instead of attacking them and potentially wasting your health and mana flasks.
Help other players For Souls And Loot
If you find yourself having trouble collecting Souls you can use the surprisingly helpful multiplayer feature. Having a buddy to watch your back is one thing but learning more about new terrain and bosses is another great thing. You can do this pretty easily without worrying too much about dying, as dying in another player’s world will not have you losing your Souls.
Note that defeating bosses in other players’ worlds will also reward you with items. Multiplayer friendly items as well as souls/runes/blood echoes for helping to defeat the boss.
Level Up Your Equipment
If you aren’t doing great in a given location, and you don’t deal enough damage to opponents, then your character is probably not levelled up enough for this place. Get out and go grind but also keep an eye out to see if you’ve levelled up your equipment as well. Many players forget about it, and unfortunately, in order to deal damage, you also need to focus on constantly improving your weapons. It is worth farming the game currency to spend it on character or weapon upgrades.
Listen to what the NPCs have to say
Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t mean that all advice from NPCs should be taken for granted. Some NPCs may lie (for example, Patches is quite infamous for doing so), but regardless of whether the character is telling the truth or not, you should keep in mind what they said. Whether it turns out to be true or false depends on the given situation or area. Most importantly, it will make you much more careful when you reach the mentioned stage, which will help you in avoiding death.
Run through all the dialogue lines from NPCs to not only get information and advice on how to defeat some enemies or where to go, but they’ll sometimes give you a special item as well.
Sometimes running away is the best solution
Last but not least the best piece of advice is to run away to live and fight another day. Remember that you don’t have to fight every opponent you encounter. Moreover, you can still simply run away if you feel like you’re losing to a group of opponents. Simply retreat to a safe place and after a while, the enemies will lose aggro.
If however, you’re unlucky… well these are Soulsborne games after all and dying is going to be a part of it.
If you enjoyed our game guide be sure to check out more over here. As well as more Elden Ring content over here as well.