At the heart of FromSoftware games is the combat system you need to master. This is an important part of the experience, and you need to make sure you make the most of everything at your disposal in order to defeat your enemies. You’ll get your ass a lot of times, don’t get me wrong, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?
Depending on the Elden Ring class you choose, your gaming experience will be very different. For example, I chose the samurai class, which immediately gives you a katana sword and bow. And if you choose Astrologer, you’ll have more stats for spellcasting. It all depends on your style.
This Elden Ring combat guide will break down the various forms of combat the game will offer and how to use them effectively.
Elden Ring Combat Guide: Should You Use a Controller or a Mouse and Keyboard?
I’ll join people in telling you that controllers are the way to play FromSoftware games. I’ve been a mouse and keyboard player from start to finish, but even I have to admit that the keyboard’s controls are far less intuitive than using the controller of choice. You’ll master combat faster on a controller if you have a choice, but it’s definitely possible to excel at keyboard gaming if you choose.
After hours of struggling with Dark Souls, I found that locking is FromSoftware’s specialty. Lock down almost everything you attack, although there are exceptions to this rule. Press Q or R3 on the controller to lock. You can also flick between targets using the mouse or flicking the right stick on the controller. Q will also stop your lock. Trust me when I say this is important. The only time you shouldn’t be locked is if you run away, or If you’re battling something so big that you need to see more enemies than what’s shown on the screen.
sneaking and backstabbing
Stealth is an added bonus to Elden Ring’s combat system. While you’ll have plenty of time to fight your enemies, sometimes you’ll prefer to sneak past them, especially if you’ve fought them before. Sneak can also be used to backstab enemies, potentially killing them in one fell swoop, or at least taking their considerable health. The amount of damage you deal in these animations is partially affected by your weapon’s crit stat, and the same goes for those bloodborne visceral attacks, which we’ll explain further below.
dodge and roll
Unless you have the demeanor of an elephant in a gold suit, you will need to learn to dodge attacks. This is essential when facing enemies that do more damage than your shield and stamina can handle, or if you didn’t use a shield in the first place.
The best way to dodge is to experiment first. While playing Elden Ring, you’ll encounter a lot of different enemies, and they’ll all fight differently. Be sure to pay attention to the timing of the attack, the pattern, and what can lure the enemy into it. For example, I learned that with Margit Omen of the Fall, you can roll towards him as he attacks, avoiding other devastating attacks.
Timing is everything, if you don’t get it right the first time, try and try again. Your gear load also affects your dodging speed, light is the fastest, heavy makes you roll very slowly.
While Elden Ring allows backstabs, it also encourages Bloodborne’s visceral attack style. Enemies can be staggered by using charged and jump attacks on them. It may not work right away, but a combination of light and heavy hits that successfully land on your target may stagger them. There will be a drum-like sound effect in which they become vulnerable for a short period of time. Run to their glowing part and use a tap to activate the visceral attack animation, which looks a bit like a backstab.
ashes of war
Ashes of War is an additional ability for your weapon, similar to the weapon art in Dark Souls 3, that can be performed using the left trigger This is like adding a little magic to your sword or staff, or gaining the ability to set your axe on fire . Ashes of War are important because they not only add skills and damage types to your weapons, but also affect their scaling (your stats will contribute to the amount of damage your weapons do). If you want a list of dependencies and how they affect scaling, as well as a list of known Ashes of War and their locations, check out our Ashes of War guide.
This will become the fighting style of choice for many players, especially newcomers to the series. It’s fast, efficient, and doesn’t require much stamina. Honestly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the game’s systems and combat mechanics, being comfortable with a one-handed sword and shield is the way to go. Tapping can be accessed via left-click or right-triggered. Charge attacks can be performed by right-clicking or right-triggering. Be sure to time your charged attacks though, because as you might guess, they are usually slow to charge and you can hold them for longer to increase the damage.
To use a weapon with two hands in Elden Ring, you need to hold E and left click. On the controller it’s (X on Xbox, Y on Switch Pro) and the right trigger. Two hands will have its advantages, especially in some boss fights. It will give you the ability to hit heavier balls fairly quickly.
The downside, of course, is sacrificing your shield. This means you can’t afford hits in some other situations, so you have to dodge perfectly to avoid damage. It would also help to find some more effective armor here, but not too heavy or you’ll be rolling slowly everywhere. In bosses that deal fire, lightning, magic, or any damage that can partially penetrate your shield, two-handed engagement is also a good option, as dodging will instead allow you to avoid the damage entirely.
If you’re playing a profession like astrologer or prophet, you’ll have a staff and a holy seal on your regular weapon. Often used in your off-hand, these spellcasting weapons can cast any spell you find and then memorize them in the Land of Grace. You can get more spell memory stones, such as those rewarded by the Radagon Red Wolf Boss.
Press the left button while using the mouse or the right bumper on the controller to cast the spell. Make sure to lock down your target too. Spells will drain your FP, so be sure to have the azure tear bottle ready.
Depending on the spell, there are different tactics available. Sometimes AoE spells require you to get close to the target, while others require better sniping abilities. Continue to experiment and keep an eye on your FP throughout the battle. It may also be useful to equip a sword or other weapon next to your crew. It’s also worth considering the type of spell you’re using and what staff or holy seal you’re using. Some sacred seals, such as the Claw Seal, can enhance certain types of spells, so it’s best to use them to cast those spells for power buffs.
Shield and parry
Shields are great for blocking attacks and parrying.
During your adventure between lands, you may want to have two shields. One has the Ashes of War ability, then the other doesn’t. Ashes of War can be applied to weapons and shields to give them additional functionality. However, if you’re holding something in your right hand, like the dagger Reduvia, you’ll need a shield without Ash to use Reduvia’s blood blade attack. To do this you need to press shift and right click.
bow and crossbow
Bows and crossbows are cheeky and fun. They won’t be a regular on the battlefield, especially when most of the enemies you’ll be fighting in the Elden Ring are able to get close to them very quickly. It’s best to use bows and crossbows to get a few shots from a distance, eliminating some of the enemies that can be found in the camp. Even if you can’t kill a soldier from that distance, they might run towards you, pulling them away from the crowd, at which point you can swap into something like a greatsword and kill them.
There are other enemies later in the game that make more sense for bows and crossbows, but I’ll let you discover the horrors of seeing the Fierce Eagle in person. Even so, shoot from a distance before finishing with a blade or club.
Having said that, using various arrows and bolts may help to deal certain types of damage to enemies. Fire or poison may be effective against specific enemies, don’t hesitate to try.
You can use only one set of weapons throughout the Elden Ring if you wish. If you just want to use a sword and a shield, so be it. But weapon switching is useful for switching between weapons with different damage types, ranges, and Ashes of War. Going into your gear menu, you can assign up to three weapons to each hand. In the mouse and keyboard settings, you can switch weapons by pressing shift and scrolling up or down. On the controller, use the left and right arrow buttons. Note, however, that these weapons will also count towards your gear load.
Or should it be a “giant goat”? Regardless, a torrent will be an essential part of your travel kit, not only as a medium of exploration, but as a trusted steed in battle. You can slice and dice, though unfortunately you can’t catch anything with an old skull on a mount. You can hit the ball on either side using the left and right shoulder buttons. You can also use the usual scroll button to sprint to avoid attacks, and even jump, which is great for avoiding the AoE attacks used by mounted enemies and dragons you’ll face. Remember, torrents also have health. If he dies, you’ll be knocked to the ground and it will take a while to recover, so make sure to feed me some Rova raisins to keep him healthy.
Trust us, get Elden Ring’s Soul Summoning Bell. Once you get the hang of it, it will be invaluable for distracting enemies. In “The End of the World”, you can feel a little lonely when walking through the wilderness alone, but when facing a large number of enemies or a large boss, you will need help.
Assign Elden Ring Spirit Ashes to a pouch slot in the menu. You can summon when you can see a glowing tombstone on the left side of the screen. This will allow you to call backup. The first Soul Ashes you’ll find in the game are Lone Wolf Ashes or Fanged Imp Ashes, which spawn mobs to harass enemies. They’re great for distracting NPCs, especially if you come across something like Margit the Fell Omen.
You should take into account that these summons do require FP, and even if you’re not magic, you’ll probably need at least a bottle of Cerulean Tears as a backup.
You’ll be collecting more of these ashes along the way, so check your inventory often.