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Elden Ring: best progression route for each area

The best order to tackle each area in Elden Ring for the smoothest progression

To put it lightly, Elden Ring is a huge game. Where the Dark Souls games are just linear enough to give you a clear idea of which area to tackle in what order, Elden Ring is much more open-ended. The upside is that experienced players can tackle the game’s toughest challenges right away, but it means newer players can easily get lost, or end up in a high-level area before they’re ready.

If you need a hand, we’ve put together this list for the best progression route in Elden Ring. We’ll tell you what order to tackle each area so that your strength aligns with that of each new location as you reach it, as well as a few extra tips that will make your route through the game as smooth as possible.

We’ve also put together an Elden Ring best boss order guide at that link for the best way to take down each big bad.

How to progress the Elden Ring campaign

Elden Ring Great Rune

Unlike the games that came before, Elden Ring’s progression is quite loose. To beat the game you’ll need to defeat major bosses to activate their Great Runes. There are seven in total, but you only actually need two to beat the game – though we recommend getting as many as you can if it’s your first playthrough.


Elden Ring Limgrave

Limgrave is the starting area of Elden Ring and where you’ll find the game’s weakest enemies – although they’re still no pushovers. If you follow the old man’s ghost from the start you’ll be taken through a tutorial area before heading to the Site of Grace at Gatefront. Here you’ll get your mount from Melina and the ability to level up.

From there, head back to the Church of Elleh (you can fast travel there) to get the Spirit Calling Bell from Renna, which allows you to summon specters to fight alongside you.

In Limgrave you can get your first Great Rune from Godrick the Grafted if you’re up to the challenge, but there are plenty of ways to strengthen up first. Castle Morne in the Weeping Peninsula lies to the south, or the Murkwater Cave mini-dungeon also lies in Limgrave.

Liurnia of the Lakes

Elden Ring Liurnia of the Lakes

Once you’re done with Limgrave, or just fancy a challenge, Liurnia of the Lakes is the second region you should head to. Your main objective here is to track down the Glintstone Key, which grants you entrance to the Academy of Raya Lucaria.

In the depths of this dungeon, you’ll find Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon who holds your second Great Rune. Beating her will also unlock the ability to reset your stats by using Larval Tears.

Should you go to Leyndell Royal Capital?

Elden Ring Leyndell Royal Capital

Now you have two Great Runes, you’ll be told that you can head to the Royal Capital if you want. Heading there will kick off the endgame though, which means enemies in that area are extremely strong, and you’re unlikely to be ready for that challenge yet. Instead, you should head elsewhere.

Altus Plateau

Elden Ring Altus Plataeu Cropped

This is one the most sprawling areas in the game, giving you loads of places to go for dungeons, bosses, and enemy camps so you can continue growing stronger. Plus, it connects to several major regions in the game. It doesn’t hold any major bosses, but you should still spend a fair bit of time exploring this area.

Siofra River Well and Caelid

Elden Ring Caelid Cropped

Once you’ve seen all you need to see, we recommend heading back to the Minor Erdtree, which can be found in the Mistwood area of Limgrave if you haven’t already found it. There you can take the lift down into Sifora River Well that hides and optional boss.

Then travel east of Limgrave and you can take on the red-sky region of Caelid, which is full of Scarlet Rot – imagine poison but even worse. Fight your way through to Castle Redmane where you can get your next Great Rune by beating Starscourge Radahn in the Divine Tower of Caelid.

Nokron Eternal City and Deeproot Depths

Elden Ring Deeproot Depths

Defeating Radahn will bring a meteor down on the Land Between, and you can find the crater where it landed by Fort Haight in Mistwood. Head down and you’ll find Nokron Eternal City, a place full of mimic enemies – although it hides a Spirit Ash summon that you’ll find especially useful.

Continue down even further and you’ll encounter the Deeproot Depths. This is a tough area, so it might not be the right time to go down, but if you decide to skip it for now, make sure you remember to come back later.

Meeting Ranni, Nokstella Eternal City, and the Lake of Rot

Elden Ring Lake of Rot

Now go back to Liurnia of the Lakes where you can head inside Caria Manor. Defeat Royal Knight Loretta there and you’ll reach Three Sisters, where Ranni the witch awaits – an integral character to the game’s lore.

Ranni will have a variety of quests for you, all of which go towards unlocking secret endings for the game. Go through the Carian Study Hall, Nokstella Eternal City, and the Lake of Rot as she directs you. Following this is a good opportunity to return to the Deeproot Depths if you skipped it earlier.

Mount Gelmir and Volcano Manor

Elden Ring Volcano Manor

Following the northern road from the Altus Plateau you can now enter Mount Gelmir. Climb up as high as you can go – one of the cliffs hides a ladder near the Corpse-Stench Shack – and you’ll eventually be overlooking Volcano Manor.

This manor is home to a lot of NPC invasion missions, but there you can also find the anguished spirit that points you to Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy.

Leyndell Royal Capital

Elden Ring Leyndell Royal Capital

You’ve put it off long enough. Ready or not, it’s time to head to the capital. The route there is fairly obvious from the Altus Plateau to the east.

It’s a tough but straightforward section of the game, and your goal is to reach the castle at the top, where you’ll fight and eventually defeat Morgott, the Omen King. You’re not done with the game yet though, as you first need to find a way to reach the Erdtree.

Mountaintops of the Giants and Miquella’s Haligtree

Elden Ring Mountatops of the Giants

Follow Melina’s directions into the Forbidden Lands and eventually, you’ll get to head up the Grand Lift of Rold to the Mountaintops of the Giants.

This area hides a major secret and one of Elden Ring’s most infamous bosses. If you have the two halves of the Haligtree Secret Medallion, you can instead go to the Consecrated Snowfield. Solving a puzzle there will grant you entry to the Haligtree where you can do battle with Malenia, Blade of Miquella – one of, if not the hardest boss in the game (though thankfully an optional one).

Whether you decide to take on that challenge or not, you can continue up to the mountains and defeat the Fire Giant, which blocks the way to the cauldron below – and it’s time to decide Melina’s fate.

Crumbling Farum Azula and Leyndell Ashen Capital

Elden Ring Crumbling Farum Azeula

Regardless of your decision, you will awaken in the Crumbling Farum Azula. This is a small area, but one with hazards galore in the form of both strong enemies and a giant tornado laying waste to the world around you.

Eventually, you’ll fight and defeat Maliketh, the Black Blade, and then you’ll be transported back to Leyndell, now known as the Ashen Capital. All that’s left to do is face Godfrey, First Elden Lord and the path to Elden Ring’s final boss will be open to you.

And as one final tip: Make sure you save in the small area after defeating the final boss. What you do here will determine what ending you get, so dropping a tactical save on this spot will let you come back and view multiple endings.