Elden Ring: Best Character Builds After Patch 1.03 and 1.04

If Elden Ring's recent updates nerfed your character, consider trying one of these builds that might help ease the pain.

Elden Ring
Photo: Bandai Namco

If you’re one of the many Elden Ring players who watched their previously overpowered build get nerfed by the game’s recent 1.03 and 1.04 updates, please know that I feel your pain. It’s never easy to watch your formerly unbeatable character suddenly become slightly better than worthless.

The good news is that you’re never as far from the most powerful Elden Ring character builds as you might think you are. Indeed, the game’s impressive community has already discovered a few new builds that may not be as broken as the elaborate glitches that were previously capable of carrying you through Elden Ring‘s toughest encounters but are certainly strong enough to help you beat Margit.

So if you’re looking for a new Elden Ring strategy to fall in love with after the latest updates broke your build and your heart, here are some of the best ones I’ve found so far.

Elden Ring’s Best Update 1.03/1.04 Builds: The Rivers of Blood/Corpse Piler Build

Essential Equipment: Rivers of Blood, Offhand Katana of your choice, White Mask, Lord of Blood’s Exultation, Carian Filigreed Crest

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Primary Stats: Dexterity, Arcane

Secondary Stats: Vigor, Endurance/Mind

As you probably gathered from the name, the heart of this build is the recently “buffed” Rivers of Blood Katana. The sword itself is quite powerful, but the thing that makes it so special is its unique Weapon Skill: Corpse Piler. 

Simply put, this build is designed to allow you to use Corpse Piler as often (and as efficiently) as possible. That skill’s impressive range and blend of Bleed/Fire damage allow you to tear through anything that isn’t immune to those effects. In fact, late-game versions of this build trivialize some of the toughest boss fights in the game (including Maliketh, Godfrey, and Malenia).

You can honestly just two-hand Rivers of Blood with this build since you’re ultimately going to be spamming Corpse Piler during the toughest fights, but most players will want to pair Rivers with an offhand Katana. I tend to recommend the Nagakiba for its long range, but the Uchigatana is a more-than-viable alternative. In any case, be sure to slap a Blood affinity Ash of War (like Seppuku) on that offhand weapon to maximize your Bleed damage.

For those enemies that are either immune to Bleed or highly resistant to it, you may want to carry around some backup weapon options. For instance, I ended up using Bloodhound’s Fang and Margott’s Cursed Sword to defeat Elden Ring’s final bosses, but your choice of backups is really up to you. Anything that scales well with your primary build stats will be fine. 

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Speaking of which, you’re ultimately going to want to aim for about 50-80 Arcane points with this build and around 50 Dexterity points. The exact figures depend on how much you want to level up your character. Once you’ve gotten your Vigor and Endurance points to levels you feel comfortable with, you can start to spend more points on Mind to expand your FP pool. 

The rest is pretty simple. White Mask and Lord of Blood’s Exultation are essential for this build as they increase your overall attack power whenever blood loss occurs, while Carian Filigreed Crest basically lowers the per-use cost of Corpse Piler. What you do with the other equipment slots (including armor) is really up to you.

Elden Ring’s Best Update 1.03/1.04 Builds: Moonveil Mage

Essential Equipment: Moonveil, Lusat’s Glinstone Staff, Carian Filigreed Crest, Ancestral Spirit’s Horn, Glinstone Pebble, Carian Greatsword, Loretta’s Greatbow

Primary Stats: Intelligence, Mind

Secondary Stats: Vigor, Endurance

The bad news is that Moonveil was nerfed slightly in Elden Ring’s 1.03 update. Now that Moonveil’s powerful Weapon Skill (Transient Moonlight) doesn’t deal as much damage to an enemy’s Poise, it’s slightly harder to simply spam that ability and laugh your way through the game.

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The good news is that Moonveil is still one of the best overall weapons in Elden Ring and the rare kind of weapon that is worth building your character around. 

Just as before, your main goal with this build is to acquire Moonveil as quickly as possible and use Transient Moonlight as often as possible. Once you’ve leveled up your Intelligence, Vigor, Mind, and Endurance enough, you should find that Transient Moonlight will still be able to carry your through most fights (with only slightly more rolling required). Its base damage, incredible range, and ability to cut through multiple enemies/barriers make it a PvE monster.

On that note, the “modern” versions of this build tend to rely on a few key Sorcery abilities more than previous versions of this concept did. Now that spells like Loretta’s Bow, Carian Greatsword, and Carian Piercer are cheaper than ever (and still just as powerful), you may even find yourself ultimately relying on them in most fights and treating Moonveil as the best backup plan in the game.

As is usually the case, your best choice of armor is “whatever you’re able to equip without venturing into ‘Heavy Load’ territory.” There are a few armor pieces in the game that increase the potency of your sorceries, but if you plan on relying on Moonveil in most situations, you’re really just looking for the most protection for the least amount of weight. 

However, Carian Filigreed Crest and Ancestral Spirit’s Horn are essential for this build as both talismans will allow you to use Transient Moonlight far more often for less FP. Beyond that, feel free to use your remaining talisman slots to address whatever needs may arise. 

Elden Ring’s Best Update 1.03/1.04 Builds: The Lightning Ram (or “Sonic the Hedgehog”) Build

Essential Equipment: Lightning Ram Ash of War, Bull’s Goat-Talisman, Green Turtle Talisman, Dragoncrest Greatshield Talisman, Shard of Alexander, Filigreed’s Crest, Highest Poise armor available

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Primary Stats: Vigor, Endurance

Secondary Stats: Strength, Mind

Look, anyone interested in using Lightning in Elden Ring is honestly probably better off relying on a simpler build that isn’t as dependent on gimmicks. So far as that goes, I highly recommend this basic Prophet build that will allow you to melt through enemies for pretty much the entire game. It’s quite good. 

However, the more daring among you will eventually want to try out this Lightning Ram Build (a.k.a. the “Sonic the Hedgehog build”). 

Before you even think of using the optimized version of this build, you’re going to need to invest a ton of points into Vigor and Endurance. I’d say you’re ultimately looking to have about 50 points in both Vigor and Endurance, though you can certainly make this build work before you hit those numbers. You’ll also need quite a few Strength points to get the most out of this strategy, and I highly recommend eventually boosting your Mind rating up to around 20-25. 

Along those same lines, you’ll need to eventually acquire and equip the heaviest armor set that doesn’t send you into Heavy Load territory. To be more specific, you’re looking for armor that offers the most Poise points you can possibly get your hands on. Without Poise, this entire concept pretty much falls apart. 

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Speaking of which, you’ll definitely want to acquire the Bull’s Goat-Talisman at some point as it greatly increases your overall Poise rating. Beyond that, I recommend some combination of the Green Turtle Talisman, Dragoncrest Greatshield Talisman, Shard of Alexander, Filigreed’s Crest, and Lightning Scorpion Charm. Any talisman that lowers the cost of your Weapon Skills, increases your defenses, or offers some kind of Lightning damage boost is usually a viable option. Oh, and you’ll definitely want to add the Lightning-Shrouding Cracked Tear to your Flask of Wondrous Physick for boss fights. 

Your choice of weapons is kind of up to you, but again, anything that offers natural Lightning damage or includes some kind of “effect on damage” ability (such as life steal) should work well. Heavier weapons tend to work better as a backup option for this build’s ideal stats, but you have a lot of options. 

Finally, you’ll need the Lightning Ram Ash of War itself, which you can acquire from a Teardrop Scarab in Altus Plateau (near Sainted Hero’s Grave). 

With all of those pieces assembled, your main strategy is to simply use the Lightning Ram Ash of War to roll into (or close to) PvE and PvP enemies until they are dead. If that sounds like a “meme build,” that’s because it kind of is. However, this build has quickly proven to be far more effective than it has any right to be in PvE scenarios. As long as you can avoid having your roll interrupted, you should be able to kill most PvE enemies in the game just by getting close to them. If you can get your Mimic Tear to copy that effect (or just distract enemies), so much the better.

As for PvP…well, it’ll definitely take some practice to learn how to land this ability consistently during fights, but it’s possible to use Lightning Ram to force players into a nearly inescapable damage loop. It’s actually pretty frustrating to deal with.

Elden Ring’s Best Update 1.03/1.04 Builds: The Blasphemous Blade “Krakatoa” Build

Essential Equipment: Blasphemous Blade, Fire Scorpion Charm, Shard of Alexander, Flame Grant Me Strength

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Primary Stats: Faith, Vigor

Secondary Stats: Endurance, Mind/Strength

Now that the Sword of Night and Flame has been nerfed, Elden Ring players are looking for weapons with unique skills that are good enough to justify building your character around. With the possible exception of Moonveil and a couple of other high-profile candidates, Blasphemous Blade may just be the best weapon in that particular category.

The worst thing about this build is that you won’t be able to acquire the Blasphemous Blade itself until about midway through Elden Ring. That means that you will need to rely on some other kind of build until that point. Fortunately, that sword’s primary stats (Strength, Dexterity, and Faith) are also used by some of the better early game weapons in Elden Ring. You should be able to use any of them to eventually get you to the battle against Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy. Once he’s defeated, you’ll be able to turn in his Remembrance for this incredible weapon. 

The thing that makes Blasphemous Blade so special is its unique Weapon Skill: Taker’s Flames. That ability produces a devastating ground attack that sends a firey blast barreling towards your enemies across incredible distances. Unless an enemy is straight-up immune to Fire (which is thankfully somewhat rare), you should be able to use Taker’s Flame to melt right through them without ever having to get too close. Think of it as a slower (but potentially more powerful) version of Transient Moonlight. 

In fact, much like the Moonveil build, all of your gear in this build is ultimately designed to enhance the power of that Weapon Skill. That’s why you’ll definitely want the Fire Scorpion Charm and Shard of Alexander talismans (which both increase the attack power of your Weapon Skill in different ways). Beyond that, I’d recommend some kind of combination of Ritual Sword Talisman, Ancestral Spirit’s Horn, Carian Filigreed Crest, and Godrey Icon. Your exact choice of talismans will ultimately depend on your needs, though.

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You’ll also probably want to throw the Flame Grant Me Strength incantation on Blasphemous Blade during boss fights as it greatly enhances the natural attributes that make both the sword and its Weapon Skill so strong in the first place. I’ve heard some Blasephemous Blade players say they also like to run Golden Vow for an extra defensive buff, but it’s not really necessary.

Again, though, the nice thing about this build is that the base ability you’re relying on does so much damage out of the gate that you ultimately don’t need to devote too many resources to it. As long as you keep your Faith high and your weapon upgraded, you’ll be able to do pretty much whatever you want with the rest of your equipment slots/abilities.