How To Dominate Elden Ring PvP, According To The Experts Shaping The Scene

Are you not getting enough of NPCs killing you? Try getting killed by other players!

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Fight clubs are 1v1 PvP matches initiated through invasions. Strictly speaking, fight clubs in Soulsborne games have a set etiquette--like not using health potions--and are presided over by a host who summons players to face off against each other.

Elden Ring, no doubt, will also get its fair share of organized tourneys. But since the game just released, the PvP scene is still in its infancy with much to be discovered. Several Elden Ring PvP Discord members and other knowledgeable players shared their take on this burgeoning PvP landscape with me, and they gave advice for those who are new to Soulsborne-style PvP. They talked about how to think about putting together a viable PvP build and what builds they're currently using.

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Now Playing: Elden Ring Where To Go First | Beginners Guide

Elsewise, stick around for more in-depth PvP details such as what individual players are doing in the name of fun--rather than wins--in PvP, as well as opinions on the overall state of the PvP scene.

The below info does take into account the major Elden Ring patch that oh-so-conveniently dropped while this piece was in progress. Some quotes were obtained before the patch and we've labeled them as such.

Where To Start a PvP Fight

Currently, the most-active PvP scene is at the First Step's Site of Grace, but the Elden Ring PvP Discord admins are trying to move the hub away to a different location. You can't have a fight club without fight club aesthetics, after all. The admins want to move PvP fights to other more "arena-like" places such as Carian Manor's upper level, Forest Spanning Great Bridge, and The Main Gate Academy.

How To Build Your PvP Character

The meta level is still being evaluated, but currently, Elden Ring PvP admin members recommend level 125.

Whatever the build, the Elden Ring PvP Discord really suggests you get at least 60 Vigor points. Generally, making sure to dump enough points into health, rather than focusing only on damage stats, is important in PvP. "You are going to have a hard time against all enemies and players if you are built like a glass cannon," said Elden Ring PvP player Mimic. "Sure there are some very experienced players who can pull it off, but there is zero room for error."

Where you dump your other stats will depend on what type of build you want. For instance, is there a weapon you really want to create your build around? What does this weapon scale on? What's your preferred play-style--ranged or melee? The answers to these questions will guide you in how you should allocate your attribute points and which weapons and equipment you need.

For an example build, one of the Elden Ring PvP Discord admins, Gabri, walked me through the thought process behind a strength build he uses for PvP:

Attributes:

  • 60 Vigor: As mentioned previously, builds should aim for health around 60.
  • 54 Strength: "Soft cap is 80 for all damage stats. Two-handing a weapon increases 1.5x Strength stat…This ends up giving me so many free points compared to other stats that need 80 to get maximum damage," Gabri states.
  • 30 Endurance: Extra points gained by two-handing a weapon allows Gabri to put a decent amount of points into Endurance, allowing him to carry big strength weapons.
  • 16 Dexterity: Gabri also put just enough points into Dexterity and Faith to wield certain weapons, increasing the versatility of his build.
  • 15 Faith

Armor:

  • All from the Scaled set except for the helmet. The helmet Gabri uses is the Elden Lord Crown and it's more for fashion than stats. Scaled armor set is well-rounded and balances defense, weight, and poise stats.

Talismans:

  • Bull-Goat Talisman: Provides 65 poise, which is "enough to let me tank many of the smaller weapon attacks with a claymore as long as I am swinging to reset the poise,” Gabri says.
  • Erdtree Talisman +2: Recommended for any PvP build. Gives HP, stamina, and Equip Load.
  • Crimson Medallion: For more HP
  • 4th Talisman slot: Gabri uses anything here.

Weapons:

  • Claymore with Storm Stomp, Double Slash, or Sword Dance
  • Nightrider's Glaive with Storm Stomp, Double Slash, or Sword Dance
  • Gargoyle's Twinblade with Spin Slash for speedier combat since its strength scaling is decent
  • Dismounter
  • Grave Scythe
  • Greatsword

Elden Ring PvP Discord member RedLight also showed me a shield-poke build, one of the more popular and stronger builds they've been seeing around. Using the Fingerprint Shield with the Greatshield Talisman makes the player's stability above 100," which means you take zero stamina damage blocking anything and a lot of attacks bounce off your shield," RedLight says. Below is a rough sample build RedLight put together:

Attributes

  • 59 Vigor: As explained above, the ideal health.
  • 49 Endurance: Minimum endurance to get a midroll while having the below equipment
  • 48 Strength: Necessary to wield the Fingerprint Stone Shield

Weapon

  • Greatshield Fingerprint Stone Shield
  • Thrusting Sword Estoc Fire

Armor

  • Banished Knight Helm (Altered)
  • Banished Knight Armor (Altered)
  • Tree Sentinel Gauntlets
  • Crucible Greaves

Talismans

  • Erdtree's Favor +2
  • Greatshield Talisman
  • Red-Feathered Branchsword
  • Blue-Feathered Branchsword

The above two builds are just cases of what could work in PvP and are working examples of the thought process behind putting together a viable PvP build. The shield-poke with Fingerprint Stone Shield build is untouched in the latest Elden Ring patch update, and it's just as powerful (perhaps even a little too powerful, considering the nerfs some other weapons got). Decent strength-scaling weapons like the Nightrider's Glaive are not affected by the update either, and Gabri’s Strength build example should still hold up as well.

However, armors are affected by the new patch update and that's something the PvP community is still trying to evaluate. That means the armor in the examples above may not be the most optimal post-patch, but we'll have to wait and see what is.

When embarking on making your own individual build, this build calculator made by Elden Ring PvP Discord member Cryptid Tracker (with research contributed by other members) is extremely useful for planning. If you're completely new and looking for a general PvP build, a good tip is to first figure out what your equipment loadout is by inputting what weapons, talismans, and armor you want to try into the spreadsheet. Then dump enough points into endurance to reduce equipment load for midrolling--this will ensure you can dodge without getting bogged down. The remaining attribute points can go into damage stats and be tweaked to your individual playstyle.

I also recommend reading this in-progress compilation of different PvP research by various Elden Ring discord members. It's currently under construction due to the amount of changes in the latest Elden Ring update, but keep an eye on it as a future resource.

The State Of The PvP Scene

To no surprise, Moonveil is everywhere, even in PvP. At level 134, Mimic comments, "I am seeing a few builds that are fairly common. The classic Int/Dex build with Moonveil, which personally I don't think is very strong. It's easy to dodge. A lot of these guys will use Stars of Ruin, which is a heavy hitter but easy to dodge as long as you have the stamina and is very expensive so they can't use it much."

Mimic also sees Bleed builds, specifically with Hoslow's Petal Whip. "This can be a little rough to play against. The people I fought who did this Bleed build were causing full bleed after just two to three hits, and the reach of whips is notoriously difficult to judge, same as in DS3," Mimic says. "It's a fun way to play and catch your opponent off guard. They won't expect the reach unless they are really experienced and the quick bleed build up makes it devastating. There's very little room for error."

Colossal weapon builds that can one-shot enemies are also surprisingly hard to deal with, even if they're not the most meta-popular. "Experienced Souls players will have an easy time dodging these guys, but they have so much stamina it's relentless. Eventually, they will hit you. [They're] usually wearing heavy armor at this level as well which means whittling them down as best you can while trying not to get hit even once." Other less common, but prevalent builds Mimic encounters are Dragon builds and Faith builds with the Halo Scythe.

These comments were obtained pre-patch, but I suspect we're still going to see the builds Mimic mentioned fairly often going forward. The popular Moonveil didn't get a devastating nerf (it was not mentioned in the patch notes, but some players are saying that Moonveil's stagger has decreased) and bleed builds didn't get affected by the patch either. We might see more Arcane going forward since it will now scale correctly. Some late-game magic like Glintstone Cometshard / Comet / Night Comet, Crystal Barrage / Gravity Well / Collapsing Stars were buffed, so we could see those spells more often than the popular Glintstone Pebble.

As for the general attitudes players have towards PvP, it varies quite a bit. Some think PvP is extremely fun and versatile, while others think certain weapons and builds currently have too much of an advantage--which is a valid point. There are certain weapons meant for use against extremely hard bosses and, as a result, are absolutely broken when used against other players who aren't even close to matching Malenia's talent for destruction.

RedLight is one of the players who think the current PvP scene in Elden is unbalanced. "Only the strongest setups can compete against each other, and other setups lose even if the person using the worse setup is objectively a better player," RedLight says. "This has been the case in Dark Souls 3 as well, but to a much lesser degree. Some weapons then were clearly stronger than all others, but a good player using a much worse weapon could easily have a win streak against a [less-skilled] player using a significantly better weapon."

Gabri takes a more optimistic viewpoint, but acknowledges that there are shortcomings in Elden Ring's PvP scene. "[Elden Ring's] PvP [has the potential] to be the best PvP in all of FromSoft games and the closest to an actual fighting game in terms of mechanical depth than any other Souls game by far." He cites the versatility of weapon movesets, Ashes of War, and spells that can "keep us creating new ideas for builds for many years to come."

In the latest patch, FromSoftware did take care to nerf certain weapons like the Sword of Night and Flame and Ashes of War like the Hoarfrost Stomp, which bodes well for future balances. Troublesome exploits and cheats like the infamous Deathblight that put a damper on PvP were also addressed. Deathblight is no more, and it's good to see such a game-breaking PvP bug patched out so quickly.

But a crucial bug in Elden Ring PvP's feature still remains: It's cumbersome to organize fight clubs and tournaments in-game right now. There are only four players allowed in a world--down from the six allowed in DS3--and only two of the four can be invaders. It's also difficult to make sure the two invaders are people who want to 1v1 PvP instead of those who just want to ambush players going along their merry way in PvE.

Tracking down who you've played with in Elden Ring on PC is also difficult right now. In other Soulsborne games, players could check who they played with under Steam's Recent Players tab, but such a feature doesn't exist for Elden Ring currently. This makes it hard to build community, especially since there's no chat function within the game. The only way to talk to other PvP enthusiasts met in-game is to find identifying info like a Steam username in order to look them up on external messaging apps like Discord. Without that, it's hard to connect with other PvP players encountered in the wild.

But regardless of logistical issues, the Elden Ring PvP Discord mods are ready to take on the duty of organizing tournaments. According to Gabri, the Elden Ring PvP Discord will soon open Leaderboards and arrange fight clubs and world tournaments. So keep an eye for that if you're interested in testing your abilities against other players.

People's Favorite Builds—It May Not Be Meta, But It’s A Good Time

Putting together an optimal build is fun, but you know what's even more fun? Builds for fun's sake.

Level 125 is where a lot of players are entering into the PvP scene, but to be honest, even fighting at low levels is such a good time. I have a completely unoptimized PvP Int build that goes against all reasonable advice (no points in Vigor at all!), and it's still really fun to run at underpowered levels. Being a glass cannon teaches you how to dodge effectively and quickly, which improves your basic PvP fundamentals in a trial-by-fire way.

And I'm not alone. An Elden Ring player who asked to be known by DonateToUNHCR invades people with a level 5 character. "I mostly play PvP… with powerstanced whips," he says. "I started doing this due to my love of Castlevania and finding the whip moveset to be a really fun way to play. This character is called V.K. Belmont and is basically a shirtless Richter Belmont cosplay."

Mimic's favorite build is an Int-centric one (that is undoubtedly better than the one I'm running). "I'm wearing Carian Knight Armor with either the Twinsage Glintstone Crown or the Preceptor's Big Hat. Radagon icon to shorten spell cast time and then any other talismans that boost sorceries or intellect," Mimic says. "The staff I'm using is Lusat's Glintstone Staff, and the weapon I'm using is Bastard's Stars…I love this weapon both in PvE and PvP. It has great Int scaling and decent Dex scaling though I only have the minimum required Dex to wield it"

Elden Ring player Toxicmonkey000 likes using Colossal weapons, even if they're not always the most effective. "You kind of have to play some serious mind games with people to get colossal weapons to work, if at all," he says. Colossal weapons with a ranged spell are a bonus as well, since they can catch players off-guard.

Elden Ring player Ziggie’s favorite build is a madness/frenzy one, and he's a fellow enjoyer of the no-Vigor lifestyle. "I absolutely love the whole aesthetic of driving your enemies insane. I'm set up as a glass cannon. I've never put anything into Vigor so that means one good smack and I'm dead. Then again I also deal big damage," he says. "Currently I run with Vyke's spear at +10 (only weapon in the game that deals madness) and a +9 frenzied flame seal that increases the potency of madness spells. My favorite spell is the Howl of Shabiri. It's very situational but when it hits it's almost guaranteed madness on any within it."

PvP Tips For Beginners

Making sure your fundamental fighting game skills are solid is essential to improving in PvP. Gabri recommends spacing as the most important basic skill to understand. Spacing refers to controlling the distance between you and the opponent. This is knowing how far your abilities reach and where you should position yourself to be out of your opponent's attacks.

RedLight adds, "As for players trying to improve themselves, I would heavily recommend them to practice having good movement, roll timing directions, and spacing weapons. It is easy to ignore these fundamentals when there are so many setups that simply overpower everything else, but those fundamentals will make a difference when you give it time to build up."

Controlling spacing also relates to knowing how to read your enemy, something that Elden Ring player Toxicmonkey000 thinks is really important for getting good. "I usually strafe around my opponents a bit before engaging to see how they react to various attacks I throw at them, study how they respond, and apply mix ups to catch them off guard," he said. "You need to be keenly aware of range and potential super armored attacks from your foe. If you get hit by a player, be careful about panic rolling. Any player worth their salt will attempt to roll-catch you after a hit. If you see them trying to do this, make sure to mix up your escape dodge timing and don’t spam roll in a predictable pattern."

Another stellar tip is knowing your enemy as a way to defeat them. "If you are struggling against certain builds, play those builds," Mimic suggested. "If you know how to play as a Int/Dex Moonveil player then you will know how to play against them as well. That goes for all builds. The best way to learn to counter a build is to try it yourself and see how other people counter you."

That said, bravely charging headfirst into PvP and experiencing it firsthand is important. Don't overthink it if you're new. Player DonateToUNHCR shares my sentiment. "Firstly, I recommend everyone give invading a shot just so you can see what your opponents are working with. See what behaviors are easy to defeat and which are really hard. See how the UI works," he said. "For instance, an invader gets a compass marker showing where the host is, but it goes away when within a certain range and you just have to find them based on the previous directional indication.

"You'll see a lot of different personalities too. The most difficult people to invade are the ones that rush you and never let up, never give you a chance to heal. But at the same time some people are too hungry and will follow you into a group of mobs that will make things difficult for them."

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