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How to Level Up in Elden Ring While Avoiding Boss Fights

There's no shame in running away here.

Promotional image of my best friends the Warrior Jars in Elden Ring

So, you’re playing Elden Ring. Questions about whether it’s difficult or not be damned! Still, for many types of players, avoiding boss fights at the outset is quite desirable. If you’re like me, you avoid confronting Margit the Fell Omen for ages, until you’re level 27 and relatively sure you can just plow through that jerk. And then after you beat Margit, there’s a whole world of even scarier bosses of even more mysterious strength. I’m here to tell you that you can absolutely level up your Tarnished while avoiding those big scary dummies.

The thing you need to level up in Elden Ring are runes, which you get from beating any kind of foe, as well as form Golden Runes or from selling items. Every Elden Ring player has had the heartbreaking experience of dying, losing all their runes, and then dying again before you can reclaim them. It’s a bummer. The higher your level, the more runes you need to level up. And it starts getting truly ridiculous around level 40, which means you have to really start planning out your situational trajectory.

In my playing experience, the best way to level up is to attempt to control where you die, especially when your runes are approaching level-up amounts. For the love of the Erdtree, do not put yourself in a pickle when you’re at 8,000 runes. Don’t trap yourself in a tunnel or the far corner of a tricky area when you’re not sure you can get back to all those runes if you die. When you’ve got a ton of runes on your person, and you’re uncertain about whether or not you can strong-arm a mini-dungeon, seek the open air.

The biggest asset in Elden Ring is the gargantuan size of its map. If you opt to prioritize discovery over boss fights, you’ll naturally level up a bunch. Simply wandering around the map and beating the foes you chance upon will net you plenty of runes. Perhaps a little slower, but then you’ll have the luxury of coming back for whatever boss fights you want to try out later. There is always something else to do. If you’re hitting a difficulty wall, just leave and go explore somewhere else!

Plus, during your wandering, you can run over glowing skulls to find runes. You’ll also find runes in the corpses of rats, those tricky fellows. Note that discovering runes – or any items – on a corpse is more likely when you have higher Arcane.

Tunnels and catacombs are still good places to seek out runes, though – especially catacombs, where the doorway to the boss fights is towards the beginning. You can work through a catacomb, push the lever to open the door to the boss fight, and come back for that fight much later – if ever. Tunnels end up at a boss fight, so keep that in mind if you decide to venture in.

If you do want to try a boss, the least risky bosses will be the open-air bosses. This is because, in the vast majority of cases, you can hop on Torrent, grab your death-runes, and run away if things go poorly. There are also a number of surprise battles in Elden Ring. If you stumble on one and you want to be cautious, you have two options. One is to run away. The other is to lure your opponent to an area you know is outside the fight’s “trigger zone.” That way, if you die, you can collect your runes without starting the fight again. Even if you want to try the fight again, it’s a huge stress-saver.

Another good practice for cautious players is creeping into a new area while already shielded and immediately R-targeting while slowly moving the camera around. If there’s a hidden foe, you’ll find it! Make sure to read the messages from other players, too. Sure, many of them are BS. But a lot of them have told me to expect an imp to jump out at me from the left or warned me of an ambush. Which is… you know … very good to know.

Basically, just follow where your curiosity leads you. There’s no one way to play Elden Ring, which is precisely why it’s such a fantastic game. You can put off bosses indefinitely and still have an excellent time. Praise the Elden Ring!

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.