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Elden Ring beginner's guide and what to do first

Not sure where to start? Here's what to do in the opening hours.

An armoured character sitting at a Site of Grace in Elden Ring.
Image credit: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

Elden Ring has an open world that is both an exciting and daunting prospect, so it's hard to know what to do first or where to go first as a beginner.

When you first emerge in the starting area of Limgrave - after you have selected your starting class and starting Keepsake item - the entire region of Elden Ring is open for you to explore, from discovering caves hiding short but challenging dungeons, to dragons, trolls and other powerful creatures which roam the lands.

Though there is a destination you must reach as part of the story, you don't have to go there right away. In fact, we would highly recommend against it - and instead, take the time to understand how things work and power up your character.

So, keep reading our Elden Ring beginners guide below for advice on what to do and where to go first.

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What to do first in Elden Ring

First things first, it's best to establish where you have to go on the critical path - and that's Castle Stormveil. You'll discover this when you light the first Site of Grace - think of these resting points as Elden Ring's bonfires - with the light emerging from the top pointing you in the direction you must go next. Varre, the character nearby, will also say the Castle is your first port of call - and if you look to the west, you can see it on the cliffs.

An armoured character holding a sword an shield looking out at the beight Limgrave landscape in Elden Ring.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

However, resist the temptation to go straight to Castle Stormveil. Though that direction offers some essential upgrades we'll want to pick up, you'll want to put off reaching the Castle itself for a few hours yet.

Here is what you should do first in Elden Ring:

  1. Visit the Church of Elleh just north of where you begin (be sure to avoid the powerful Tree Sentinel on the way!) to find a merchant, Kale, who can sell you a Crafting Kit and Cookbooks, and if you want to explore some nearby cave dungeons, a torch.
  2. An armoured character wearing a cloak speaking with the merchant Kale in Limgrave in Elden Ring.
    Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware/Bandai Namco
  3. Ideally, your first port of call should be Gatefront Ruins. This is along the critical path, next to a gate where you can approach Castle Stormveil, but has two useful items - the Map Fragment for the area, and a Whetstone Knife to equip Ash of War weapon abilities.
  4. At this point, you'll be wondering how to level up. Visit the Grace just east or west of Gatefront Ruins, and you'll be visited by Melina. This is where you'll also get the horse, Torrent, helping you explore the region faster and easier.
  5. An armoured character wearing a cloak in grass crouching outside of a castle's entrance in the Limgrave area in Elden Ring.
    The Elden Ring map with Stormveil Castle's Gate Front Site of Grace selected.
    Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware/Bandai Namco
  6. If you want some bitesize dungeons next, then it's worth exploring some local caves. Again, you'll need a torch before setting off, and the bosses inside - Demi Human Chief, Beastman of Farum Azula and Erdtree Burial Watchdog among them - offer a healthy challenge and some decent rewards.
  7. Though you are warned against visiting Agheel Lake to the east from several characters, it's worth skirting around the outside and heading along the river to the north. After an invasion, you'll want to visit Patches, who has an item which can help you with a critical path story boss very soon. It's also where you can purchase a Stonesword Key - allowing you to access specific locked areas.
  8. The lake is also where you can find our recommendation for the best weapon in the opening hours, the Twinblade. Chances are you'll need to increase your stats to equip it, however - our Rune farming methods might help here. If you want to cast magic in particular, then it's worth finding a staff location.
  9. Cover image for YouTube videoWhere to find the Twinblade in Elden Ring
    Where to find the Twinblade in Elden Ring.
  10. Whichever weapon you choose, it's worth finding some Smithing Stones to upgrade. There are two locations in Limgrave we'd recommend to visit - a mine-like dungeon north-west of the lake, or a troll-covered field in nearby Stormhill, not far from Castle Stormveil.
  11. Finally, there are some Flask upgrades within reach to help you heal better - and if you are happy to get some help in battle, searching for some summoning spirits won't hurt either.

At this point, you should have access to a good weapon, a levelled up character, and a greater understanding of how things work.

The above points just scratch the surface of what Limgrave has in store - let alone the rest of the game, most of which is technically accessible from the off if you know where to go. Feel free to roam and take it all in at your own pace - there's something new and surprising around just about every corner - and when you're ready, make a proper start on the critical path.

Where to go next in Elden Ring and how to reach Castle Stormveil

When you are ready, reaching Castle Stormveil is as straightforward as going west through the gate by Gatefront Ruins and following the winding path up the hill until you reach the gates.

Map of Limgrave in Elden Ring with the Gate Front Site of Grace at Stormveil Castle selected.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

Of course, we say 'straightforward', but there are a lot of enemies, both at the gate point and just as you approach the castle itself.

Thankfully, with Torrent, you can simply ride past them, up until the castle walls that path takes you towards. (One tip - there is no shame in running past enemies - especially when they are in groups!).

An armoured and cloaked character riding a horse under a makeshift bridge, with a troll standing on top of the bridge.
Yes, that's a troll about to leap down. And yes, you should just sprint straight past! | Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

There is, however, a major barrier before you get to Castle Stormveil proper - an encounter with the first critical path boss, Margit the Fell Omen.

A cloaked character holding a shield up while fighting Margit, The Felled Omen boss in Elden Ring.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

This is a very challenging encounter, and requires not only a reasonably levelled character - we were about level 20 - but ideally a good set of offensive options and some summons to help aid you.

If you're stuck here - and we were for a while - then exploring more of Limgrave (and beyond) is recommended, not only to better build out your character, but to save you from getting too frustrated. Unlike other FromSoftware games, though bosses like this can block the 'main' path forward, there's still so much you can see and do. So take your time and explore - Margit can wait!

If you need more advice from there, we have an Elden Ring walkthrough for the critical path, and a list of the main bosses in order to help you see one of the many endings.

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Matthew Reynolds avatar

Matthew Reynolds

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Matthew Reynolds edited guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer from 2010 - 2023. When he wasn't doing that, he was out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.

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