This article contains spoilers for Elden Ring.
Elden Ring is certainly FromSoftware’s biggest game yet, but like other Soulsborne titles, the story doesn’t hold players’ hands. Gamers have to keep track of their quests and progression without the aid of a checklist, which can leave many scratching their heads when it comes time to actually finish the main story.
Like many open-world games, it’s generally a bad idea to rush through Elden Ring and only tackle the “main story.” You’re supposed to explore the world, smell the roses, and uncover hidden areas and items. You might only plan to take a quick pitstop in an optional dungeon before continuing the main story, but fifteen levels and two weapons later, you’ve completely forgotten where you were originally headed.
That being the case, here’s a guide that should help you get back on the game’s main story path whenever you stray too far away from it.
*Note: This guide will lead you through Elden Ring‘s main story with the fewest detours possible. However, this guide will not tell you how to get every possible ending, acquire every Great Rune, or fight every boss. We’ll be covering some of those topics in separate articles.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Stranded Graveyard
After players create their Elden Ring character, their fresh-faced protagonist wakes up in the Chapel of Anticipation with only the clothes on their backs (assuming they didn’t pick the Wretch class, that is). After wandering a bit, they encounter the Grafted Scion, which will more often than not demolish players.
Win or lose, you’ll be teleported to the Stranded Graveyard, which acts as the game’s tutorial area. Audiences can always skip the area by leaving through a door, but it’s usually a good idea to jump down the graveyard’s hole to learn the game’s mechanics. Although, anyone who does has to fight the Soldier of Godrick (who at least teaches them how to use the Guard Counter).
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Limgrave
After leaving the Stranded Graveyard, players are free to wander the Lands Between, but it is highly recommended they don’t exit the starting area of Limgrave, at least for a while. Moreover, players should walk down the nearby path. preferably while avoiding the Tree Sentinel. You’ll eventually run into the Grace at Gatefront, which is honestly kind of your starting point for the rest of the adventure.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Stormhill
Players are guided towards Stormveil Castle, but before they can enter, they must pass through Stormhill. This area gives players their first true mandatory boss: Margit, the Fell Omen. Players need to defeat him to progress, and if they do, they will find themselves 9,000 runes richer, and with a new Talisman Pouch that lets them equip an additional Talisman.
If gamers can’t seem to defeat Margit, they should visit Murkwater Cave. While this location is an optional dungeon, its end boss, Patches, turns into a merchant if spared. While he peddles many overpriced items, he also sells Margit’s Shackle, which temporarily binds Margit to the ground so players can get in a few extra shots on the boss.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Stormveil Castle
Stormveil Castle is Elden Ring’s first Legacy Dungeon. As the name suggests, the area is a gigantic castle filled to the brim with enemy soldiers and traps. Two bosses, the Grafted Scion and Lion Guardian, are optional, but its final boss, Godrick the Grafted, is not. Once defeated, Godrick the Grafted drops 15,000 runes, a Great Rune, and his Remembrance.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Liurna of the Lakes
After Stormveil Castle, players are free to (and should) visit Liurna of the Lakes. This new section of the Lands Between is just as big as Limgrave and will offer some much-needed Runes, gear, and other valuable items to those who are looking to overcome some of the game’s next challenges.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Caria Manor
As players venture through Liurna of the Lakes, they will visit numerous locations. However, a lot of the roads in this area do lead to Caria Manor. This dungeon’s end boss is Royal Knight Loretta, who uses devastating sorceries and a polearm. Players need to put Loretta to rest to progress, which will also grant them 10,000 runes, the sorcery Loretta’s Greatbow, and the Loretta’s Slash Ash of War.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Academy of Raya Lucaria
Since the Academy of Raya Lucaria is Liurna of the Lakes’ Legacy Dungeon, players should tackle this evil school after they have strengthened their weapons and stats. While the Academy is no fortified castle, it is no less dangerous than Stormveil Castle. The Academy of Raya Lucaria is guarded by numerous enemies, the most powerful of which are the bosses the Red Wolf of Radagon and Renalla, Queen of the Full Moon. Unlike Stormveil Castle’s Grafted Scion and Lion Guardian, the Red Wolf of Radagon isn’t optional; players need to defeat both the monster and Renalla to beat the dungeon.
After players inevitably defeat the Red Wolf Radagon, the boss drops 14,000 runes and a Memory Stone, which lets characters memorize an additional spell. Rennala, meanwhile, hands over 40,000 runes, her Remembrance, and the Great Rune of the Unborn. She’ll also allow you to respec your character after you’ve beaten her.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Caelid
While Caelid doesn’t feature a Legacy Dungeon and is technically optional outside of a couple of key areas, many players should probably visit this region next and take a trip to Redmane Castle: home of the Radahn Festival and its namesake, Starscourge Radahn. In order to trigger the actual fight against Radahn, you’ll need to complete a complicated and lengthy questline that begins at Caria Manor. This guide will help you figure out where to go if you’re interested.
When you’ve reached the appropriate part of that quest, you’ll be directed to Redmane Castle where you’ll be able to participate in an epic fight against Radahn with help from some (optional) NPC assistants. This fight is incredibly difficult, but the rewards are 70,000 runes, Radahn’s Remembrance, and Radahn’s Great Rune.
Again, you don’t technically need to fight Radahn to progress through the game, though being able to beat him is a good sign that you’re ready to move on, and the rewards you get for winning this fight are…substantial.
Elden Ring: Grand Lift of Dectus and Altus Plateau
You’ll eventually need to go to Atlus Plateau to reach the next part of your Elden Ring adventure, though the paths to that area are a bit complicated.
Most players will want to take the Grand Lift of Dectus, which brings you to Atlus Plateau in a (mostly) painless way. To access that lift, you’ll need to locate the two halves of the Dectus Medallion: one in Fort Haight and the other in Fort Faroth. The latter is definitely going to be tougher to acquire if you’re still at a relatively low level, while the former can be picked up very early into the game.
With the medallion pieces in hand, head back to the main gate of Raya Lucaria Academy and interact with the magical seal you encountered there. The path ahead will lead you to the lift.
You can reach Atlus Plateau without using the Great Lift, but that path is definitely a little more difficult if you’re not “overleveled” by this point in the game. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, though, then interact with the magic seal mentioned above and follow the river path in the area it leads you to (you’ll basically head to the northwest of the area you’re transported to). That path is filled with tough enemies and a confusing ladder system, but it will eventually lead you to a mine. When you defeat the boss of the mine and finally leave that cursed area, you’ll find yourself in Atlus Plateau.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Volcano Manor
Where you go once you reach Atlus Plateau is kind of up to you, but your best bet may be to head to Volcano Manor and battle Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy.
Rykard is supposed to be holed up in Volcano Manor, which is located in Mt. Gelmir. However, when players enter the boss room, they only find the God-Devouring Serpent. Just know that you might need help from a Spirit Ash or the nearby Serpent Hunter weapon at this point, as this boss is pretty tough. Once you’ve “killed” the snake, it will reveal its true face as Rykard.
Once Rykard rears his ugly head, phase two begins, complete with a new boss health bar. If players die to Rykard, they will have to start the fight all over again from the God-Devouring Serpent segment. Welcome to Elden Ring.
If players can finally slay Rykard, he’ll drop 130,000 runes, his Remembrance, and Rykard’s Great Rune.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Capital Outskirts
Once players have at least two Great Runes, their next step should be the royal capital of Leyndell. However, much like Stormveil Castle, the path is blocked, this time by the Draconic Tree Sentinel, who patrols the Capital Outskirts. You can actually sneak around these bosses if you use one of the paths found to the side of the great stairwell they sit atop, but if you want to battle them, you might want to do so on horseback.
After players beat the Draconic Tree Sentinel, they will open the path to Leyndell and earn 50,000 runes, the Dragonclaw Shield, and the Dragon Greatclaw weapon.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Leyndell, Royal Capital
Leyndell is sort of Elden Ring’s Anor Londo and is home to some truly powerful enemies and bosses. The first mandatory boss players have to worry about is Godfrey, First Elden Lord. You might think such an enemy would be reserved for the final battle, but no, he’s in Leyndell in all his golden spirit glory, and he also drops 80,000 runes and a Talisman Pouch upon “death.”
At the heart of Leyndell, players will face the dungeon’s final boss: Morgott, the Omen King. If he looks and sounds familiar, that’s because this battle is basically a rematch against Margit, the Fell Omen. However, this time he’s going all out. If players can fell Morgott one final time, he’ll drop 120,000 runes, his Remembrance, and Morgott’s Great Rune.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Mountaintops of the Giants
After all the major bosses are dead, it’s finally time to start Elden Ring’s endgame. To do so, players need to visit the Forge of the Giants, but like many areas before it, a boss blocks the path.
In order to progress to the Forge, you’ll have to venture through the Mountaintops of the Giants (which becomes accessible through Leyndell after you’ve beaten that city’s bosses). This region houses only one necessary boss: the Fire Giant. Once players have killed this boss (and thus killed the last of the giants), they are awarded 180,000 runes, the Fire Giant’s Remembrance, and a clear path to the Forge of the Giants.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Forge of the Giants
Unlike most regions in Elden Ring, the Forge of the Giants only serves to progress the story via cutscene. 99% of the area is instant death, so ignore all gamer instincts and do not explore the Forge of the Giants. Get in, talk to Melina or a sentient flame (depending on the choices made in a playthrough), and that’s it.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Crumbling Farum Azula
After the cutscene that plays out in Forge of the Giants, Elden Ring teleports players to Crumbling Farum Azula. Gamers should level up their characters and equipment as much as possible at this point, as this is where things get truly harrowing.
The first mandatory boss fight in Crumbling Farum Azula is the Godskin Duo, which is a tag team match against a Godskin Apostle and Godskin Noble. During this fight, each enemy has their own health bar separate from the main bar at the bottom of the screen. That’s because, when killed, Godskin Apostle and Godskin Noble resurrect after a few seconds. However, this ability comes at a cost. It doesn’t matter how much health the individual bosses have, because once the boss bar HP reaches zero, they both die permanently. Players who complete this challenge receive 170,000 runes, four Smith-Stone Minder’s Bell Bearings, and the Black Flame Tornado Ash of War.
If players visit the Beastial Sanctum in Caelid during normal gameplay, they can meet Gurranq, Beast Clergyman and trade Deathroot for various rewards. In a surprise twist, Gurranq serves as a boss in Crumbling Farum Azula, and in yet another twist, he transforms into his final form, Maliketh, The Black Blade, halfway through the fight. If players can defeat him, they are awarded with 220,000 runes, a new Remembrance, and another cutscene that teleports them to Elden Ring’s penultimate location: Leyndell, Ashen Capital.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Leyndell, Ashen Capital
As the name suggests, Leyndell, Ashen Capital is a remixed version of Leyndell, Royal Capital. This location tests players like never before and essentially serves as a point of no return. Gamers are free to venture out into the Lands Between once they reach Leyndell, Ashen Capital, but the original version of Leyndell is buried under a mountain of ash and inaccessible.
The first mandatory boss players face in the ash-strewn version of Leyndell is Sir Gideon Ofnir, The All-Knowing, who drops 180,000 runes and his armor/weapon set upon death. As challenging as Ofnir may be, he is nothing compared to the area’s final boss: Godfrey, First Elden Lord. Yep, it’s a rematch again, except this time Godfrey’s more powerful flesh and blood. This version of Godfrey fights somewhat similar to his first rendition, but at half health, he adopts a more animalistic fighting style and a new name: Hoarah Loux, Warrior.
In this form, Hoarah Loux is faster and adds in some grapples that look like they were borrowed from a fighting game. Still, he’s not invincible. Once players kill Hoarah Loux, they are given 300,000 runes and another Remembrance. Most importantly, the way to the Erdtree is finally open.
Elden Ring Main Story Path: Elden Throne
Upon entering the Erdtree, players are thrust into Elden Ring’s final area, which consists of a single boss arena and an enemy to go with it: Radagon of the Golden Order. Like so many other bosses, Radagon adopts new attacks halfway through the battle, but even when killed, the fight’s not over yet. Radagon was only the opening act.
The second Radagon is killed, Elden Ring spawns in the game’s true final boss, the Elden Beast. With any luck, players didn’t waste all their flasks fighting Radagon, and if they can topple this spectral dragon, they will receive 500,000 runes, the games’ final Remembrance, and the ending credits.
And that’s it. With the Elden Beast vanquished, Elden Ring’s story is complete. Players can visit all the locations they missed or start New Game +, or they can hope FromSoftware develops DLC for more story content. Still, anyone who gets this far deserves a round of applause, because they have completed a crushingly difficult (and brilliant) game. Well done.