Trying to figure out what to do first in Elden Ring? The Soulsborne series has an intimidating reputation, and the lack of early guidance in Elden Ring plays into that image. Elden Ring’s openness is a double-edged sword for new players. There is tons of content you can take on right from the start, but if you walk into the wrong part of the map you’ll find yourself getting crushed before even leveling up. If you’re looking for a little guidance through the game’s early hours, we’ve got you covered.
The First Steps: don’t miss the combat tutorial!
Elden Ring’s wide-open design philosophy is present right from the very start. After the scripted death following the intro cutscene, you’ll be greeted with another short cutscene before waking up in a cave. In front of you is a door that leads up into the open world. On your right is a dark, scary pit that hosts the game’s combat tutorial.
Have a chat with the ghostly NPC, then jump down the hole. You’ll find some messages on the floor that explain the basics of Elden Ring’s combat, as well as a few useful items. If you’re brand new to the series, this is a low-stress way to get a feel for the controls, movement, and combat.
The first four Graces: how to meet Melina and get your horse, Torrent
When you’re finished with the tutorial area, head through the doors to find your first site of Grace. These are analogous to the bonfires in Souls games and serve as checkpoints and fast-travel spots across the Elden Ring map. Continue up the stairs, ride the elevator, and open up the doors to Limgrave, the first region of Elden Ring’s massive world.
Here you will find another Grace, as well as Varre, an NPC who will rudely remind you that you are maidenless. Varre also explains the guidance of Grace. You’ll notice golden trails coming off of some sites of Grace in Elden Ring. These point you towards major objectives, for both the main story and various side quests. For now, we’re going to follow them.
Follow the trail, ignoring the mounted Tree Sentinel boss in front of you for now, and head towards the church-like ruins ahead. Here you will find the Church of Elleh Grace and your first NPC merchant. Have a chat with him, and he’ll recommend you purchase a Crafting Kit. You can buy it now or wait a bit, but you should eventually pick this up. Then, continue north around the base of the mountain on your left until you find another Grace between a pack of enemies and a gate.
If you've rested at all the sites of grace we've mentioned so far, then resting here should let you see see a cutscene that introduces Melina, the Finger Maiden. That's because Melina will only appear once you've discovered three overland Sites Of Grace. Melina will help you use Runes dropped by enemies to level up, and give you the Spectral Steed Whistle, which you can use to summon the spirit horse Torrent. I recommend adding it to your pouch, in the top right corner of the pause screen.
How to meet Renna and acquire the Spirit Summoning Bell
One feature Elden Ring introduces to help take some pressure off the player during boss fights is the Spirit Summoning Bell. This extremely important item lets you summon Spirit Ashes to aid you in boss fights and certain other areas, but is surprisingly easy to miss. If you’re following along though, you can pick it up now.
Once you’ve got Torrent, fast travel back to the Church of Elleh, where you should be greeted by a witch who introduces herself as Renna. If Renna isn’t there, use the “pass time” function at the Grace to wait until nightfall and she should appear. Speak to her, and say yes when she asks if you are able to summon Torrent. She’ll then hand you the Spirit Summoning Bell.
However, at some point (it’s currently unclear when exactly), Renna will stop appearing. If you’ve been playing for a bit already and can’t get Renna to appear at the Church of Elleh, you can still get the Spirit Summoning Bell from the Husk Twins vendor in Roundtable Hold, Elden Ring’s hub area. Continue exploring, and Melina will eventually appear at a Grace and teleport you here.
There are some conflicting reports on what exactly triggers the invitation to Roundtable Hold, including claims that you must defeat the first major boss or navigate around Stormveil Castle. I’ve received the invitation to Roundtable Hold both of these ways, but also triggered the invitation in Weeping Peninsula in another playthrough. Other members on the RPS team have received it simply by exploring and resting at lots of Sites Of Grace. As best as I can tell in my testing, just exploring will eventually get you there.
How to find map fragments: Limgrave West
You will have noticed by now that your map lacks detail, and is really just a brown sheet dotted with Graces. However, you can find area maps that reveal regions in all their glorious detail, making it much easier to navigate and find things to do. The first is right by the Gatefront site of Grace, where we met Melina.
Map fragments are marked by an icon on the incomplete map, circled in the image above. You’ll find each fragment on identical stone monoliths, with a small pedastal at their base. You can try to take on the group of enemies surrounding the fragment, or just ride by on Torrent and grab it. Whenever you visit a new part of the map, keep an eye out for the fragment icon to help your exploration.
How to prepare for Margit and Stormveil Castle: suggested places to explore
At this point in Elden Ring, your options really open up, so we’ll be getting into more general guidance rather than step-by-step walkthroughs. Once you’ve acquired Torrent, the Spirit Bell, and a map, you’re ready to explore. It may involve some trial and error, but that’s the beauty of Elden Ring.
If you follow the guidance of Grace from the Gatefront, you’ll find yourself riding straight into Stormveil Castle. Here you’ll meet Margit, the Fell Omen, Elden Ring’s first major boss. If you’re brand new to the series, you’re likely to get your butt kicked. This is Elden Ring’s way of telling you, “Hey, go do something else for a bit and come back when you’re stronger.” I recommend you listen.
Explore around Stormhill and Limgrave, and you’ll find dozens of ruins, caves, and catacombs full of enemies and items. Level up, try out some new weapons, and upgrade a favorite. We recommend checking out the Murkwater Cave in the river east of Stormhill, the Waypoint Ruins across the lake, and the Third Church of Marika in Eastern Limgrave. Or, head south to explore a new area.
Visit the Weeping Peninsula
In southern Limgrave you’ll find a fortified bridge to the Weeping Peninsula. This is a fantastic place to explore while you level up and prepare to take on Margit. You’ll find three churches containing Sacred Tears to upgrade your flasks, a couple of NPC sidequests, and several useful spells, weapons, and talismans.
Castle Morne on the southern tip of the Peninsula is a nice trial run for Stormveil, too, where you can test your skills against some tougher enemies and a vicious Leonine Misbegotten boss. Think of the Weeping Peninsula like an extended warm-up zone for the rest of the game. There may not be any required bosses or items here, but it is a great place to get into the rhythm of Elden Ring’s exploration and combat. Journey through the Peninsula and Limgrave at your own pace until you feel ready to give Margit a shot.
Follow these steps, and you’ll be taking on Elden Ring’s toughest challenges in no time! This is a game of options, but those options really open up once you’ve covered these essentials. If you need a hand with the lords of Stormveil Castle, we’ve boss fight guides for both Margit and Godrick. For some weapon tips at all stages of the game, visit our guide to the best weapons in Elden Ring.