There are so many secret areas and hidden mechanics in Elden Ring, it should practically be the game's subtitle. This has always been true of FromSoftware’s games, of course, but the sheer scale and scope of Elden Ring simply means there are more of those to go around than ever before.
We’ve been playing quite a bit of the game here at VG247, and have come across several key, undocumented mechanics, and little-known quirks. We’ve even made a few illuminating findings - some of which by complete accident - and we’re here to tell you about everything we found.
Of course, you might already know a couple of these, but we guarantee that most will at least surprise you. You can also expect this list to be updated over time. Now, without further ado, let’s get to it.
The No Skill is an essential Ash of War for your shield
The best skill you could have for your shield is No Skill! As counterintuitive as this might sound, the No Skill Ash of War is low-key the most useful one you can stick to your shield.
No Skill simply allows your weapon’s Ash of War skill to take priority. As you know, you need to either two-hand your weapon or take off the shield for the weapon's Ash of War skill to be available for use. By having a shield with No Skill, you can keeping the shield equipped and not lose access to your weapon’s ultra-cool move.
The Warmaster has the No Skill Ash of War for sale. He’s also got his own Site of Grace: Warmaster’s Shack, which is north of Stormgate in Stormhill. Just maybe don’t go there at night.
You can use Spirit Springs (wind gusts) to also land safely
Elden Ring tells you pretty early own that you can use the Spirit Springs found in many parts of the world to reach greater heights while on horseback, but what it doesn’t tell you is that you can also use them to safely land without taking any fall damage.
You don’t even have to line up your horse perfectly, because Spirit Springs negate fall damage in a small area around them.
There's a kick that demolishes shields
If you’re a Soulsborne veteran, you might have been trying to figure out how to kick enemies since you got your hands on the game, only to come away disappointed. While Elden Ring does not have a dedicated kick button (or button combination), the ability to kick actually exists.
To perform a kick, simply attack an enemy with an empty hand. The kick is your bare fist’s skill, and it will knock shield-wielding enemies into a brief stagger, breaking their defence, as you’d expect.
You’ll know it’s available when you see it above your item block, where active Ash of War skills show up. As a bonus, the kick also doesn’t use FP like other weapon skills.
To more effectively make use of the kick, consider having a single weapon equipped onto your main hand, because then you can quickly switch back to it and perform that sweet critical hit.
Rainbow Stones tell you if a fall will kill you
Because of its open-world nature, Elden Ring’s topography varies greatly from one location to another. Often times, you’ll be on a cliffside looking down trying to see whether or not this fall will kill you. Perhaps you’re even wondering if the message that reads ‘try jumping’ is a prank.
A good, shockingly useful way of determining that is using a Rainbow Stone. Simply throw a couple of these down a chasm you’re worried about. If they break, you’re going to die, and the opposite is true if they don’t.
It’s worth keeping in mind that you may still take some damage from falls, even if the stone doesn’t break – you just won’t die.
You’ll find Rainbow Stones as you explore the world as loot, but you can also craft them using just Ruin Fragments – which are everywhere in Elden Ring.
Soft Cotton will lower your fall damage
Following on from the previous tip, it sometimes feels like you just can’t find where to safely drop down onto a lower level. In those cases, and knowing how Rainbow Stones work, there’s another item in Elden Ring that will make your landing softer: Soft Cotton.
Soft Cotton will not save you from fatal falls. In other words, if the game says you can’t jump here, you’re going to die no matter what, but it’s nonetheless useful to keep on hand for situations where you'd want to lower the damage.
Soft Cotton can be crafted using Rowa Fruit and Smoldering Butterfly, but you’ll need to acquire the Nomadic Warrior’s Cookbook  first to unlock the ability. Soft Cotton also makes your movement quieter, enhancing your stealth.
The Skeletal Militiamen summon is ace
Elden Ring’s Spirit Summons range from the pathetic, to the overpowering. But one unassuming Spirit Ash you might have come across is actually more powerful than you think.
The Skeletal Militiamen Spirit Ash lets you summon two sekletal warriors. If you’ve fought any of those before, you’ll know that they don’t die – unless your weapon deals Holy damage, or you simply smack them again before they reanimate.
This exact quality is carried over to their Spirit Summon, meaning they can effectively stay alive forever – so long as your enemies don’t deal Holy damage or kill them before they reanimate. This is ultimately why you’d want this summon, because their damage is otherwise low.
The Skeletal Militiamen Spirit Ash is a reward for defeating the Tibia Mariner boss in Summonwater Village east of Limgrave. The village sits south of the Divine Tower of Limgrave, and north of Third Church of Marika.
Start farming enemies when it rains gold
Occasionally in Elden Ring, night time also comes with a hidden, but important modifier. When you see your screen covered in falling golden leaves, you’ve been granted a buff to your Rune acquisition and item discovery.
It’s not really clear how big of a boost this is, but you should absolutely take advantage of it and farm enemies for items and Runes while it lasts. You'll know it’s active when you see the four finger icon with an upward arrow under your meter, and when your character glows slightly golden.
Two-handing a weapon lowers its Strength requirement
As you might already know, two-handing your weapon in Elden Ring is a great way to get a free damage boost. Of course, you’d have to set aside your shield for that, but the tradeoff can be well worth it.
What you might not know, however, is that two-handing a weapon will also lower its required Strength stat. Or, more accurately, upping your own effective Strength by 50%.
This is incredibly handy when you get a greatsword or greataxe with a ridiculous STR requirement. If it’s 50% higher than your current STR, equip the weapon and two-hand it and you’re going to use it to its full benefit.
Selling Rune consumables reveals their worth
I don’t know why FromSoftware didn’t bring back the ability to see how many Runes contained in the bundles you find. Somehow, though, Elden Ring does not have an easy way of showing the worth of Rune bundles.
Unless, of course, you go to sell them at a merchant or blacksmith. When you do, you’ll see how much you’re going to get for each, which is their content of Runes.
You don’t actually have to sell them to find out, just click the ‘sell’ menu and see the prices listed for each Rune bundle you might have. If you do this often enough, you’ll come to quickly intuit the worth of each one.
Solving painting puzzles is easier than you think
One more mystery to add to Elden Ring’s long list is what we’ll refer to as a painting puzzle. As you explore the world, you’ll come across these beautiful recreations of scenes in the game’s vast landscape.
When you interact with the painting, you’ll pick it up and it’ll sit under the Info tab in your inventory. You can go back and look at the scene and try to figure out what location is being depicted, and from what angle.
But what you may not realise is that your goal is to find where it was painted from, not the actual location being depicted. In other words, you’re trying to recreate, well, the scene in the painting – which is a lot simpler than trying to surmise what the damn thing is.
Solving each of those painting puzzles grants you unique items, and you’ll know you're at the right spot when you see a phantom of the painter sitting in their chair in the wild pointing to the scene they painted.
You can easily find map pieces for every new area
Depending on how you tend to explore in Elden Ring, it may take you hours, if not days, to find the specific map piece for the region you’re currently in. I’ve almost exhausted entire areas of all landmarks and events, but have yet to find the damn map to just get the full picture.
Elden Ring actually subtly tells you where you can find those, however. If you bring up your map, you’ll see icons of these faint shadows of monolith-like structures, which are the same ones where map pieces can be found. If you head straight there, you can start your adventure with the area map in hand.
This doesn’t always happen immediately as you get into a new zone, however, so keep consulting your map to see if the void has been filled by a lone monolith calling your name.
Enemies with golden eyes grant more Runes
Another neat farming boon in Elden Ring is the fact that certain enemies will sometimes drop more Runes when defeated – four to five-times to be exact. This can be any random enemy, and there’s no way – that we know of – to specifically go after them.
As you play, however, you’ll notice that one or two enemies in a group will have glowy golden eyes. Prioritise that enemy, because they’re going to drop a bounty of Runes when killed.
Mash buttons to get out of grab attacks
Contrary to common belief, Elden Ring does actually encourage you to mash buttons on your controller. At least, it does in this one instance.
Certain enemies have unblockable grab attacks, which is standard for FromSoft games. Some of those last several seconds, and do multiple ticks of damage for each hit. You might think you’re defenceless there, but you’re not.
If you mash the left and right triggers on your controller, as well as the face buttons, you’re going to escape the grapple attack sooner. You’ll obviously still take damage, just not as much of it.
You can attack on ladders, and so can enemies
Elden Ring, like other Soulsborne games, lets you defend yourself when climbing up or down ladders. Once again, the game doesn’t tell you this, but you can punch up and kick down by using R1/RB (light attack), and R2/RT (heavy attack) respectively.
Enemies will also do the same if they catch you mid-climb, so don’t think you’re completely untouchable on ladders. Many smaller enemies also have no problem climbing up and down to get you, which is something we all tend to forget.
This is not the end of the Elden Ring knowledge we can impart on you. We also have a very helpful Elden Ring guide that’ll help right from picking your class, to finding key missable items, upgrading your weapons and defeating bosses.