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Playing Elden Ring? Bring a notebook

And that’s why you always leave a note!

A flail-wielding man wearing a prisoner mask approaches a knight begging on its knees in Elden Ring Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

FromSoftware’s newest game, Elden Ring, brings the Dark Souls game formula into an open world, giving players a vast map to explore and dozens of characters to interact with. What the game doesn’t provide is a standard open-world video game quest log, nor does it fill up your in-game map with icons pointing to quests and side missions, the way an Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry game might. That means if you want to remember which NPC told you to go to which location to deliver some item to another NPC, you better pay very close attention to their request.

My advice? Keep a journal. More specifically, write down the important details you need, because Elden Ring may not tell you a second time.

Whether you keep notes in a random notebook, a digital notes app, or in a dedicated Elden Ring diary, I promise it will help to write them down. I spent too much of my time with Elden Ring not writing things down, and I regret it now. Here are some situations where I would have found that beneficial.

  • At one point in the game, a relatively important character asked me to meet up with her three followers, one of which told me to meet him at a certain destination in the southern area of the Lands Between so we could tackle some mission. Unfortunately, I had not discovered that place on the map, and in the frenzy of attempting to finish Elden Ring under embargo, I quickly forgot where we were supposed to rendezvous. I never saw him again, so I’m pretty sure I missed out on whatever happened there. Oops!
  • Between the giant castles and fortresses, the Lands Between has many distractions and diversions, like underground mines where you can harvest materials. Those mines culminate in smaller, less daunting boss battles that offer helpful rewards (e.g., spells, weapons, talismans). One boss battle I immediately noped out on, thinking I’ll come back to this one later. Well, it’s later, and now I don’t remember which mine that was, so now I’m obligated to revisit all of them again until I find the encounter I haven’t completed yet.
  • There are merchants scattered around the Lands Between, and I mark them on the in-game map using one of a handful of marker icons. But I don’t remember which items are for sale at each merchant. I know which one sells me arrows, and which one sells curative boluses, but the rest? I wish I’d written that down a long time ago.

Sure, online wikis and guides for Elden Ring will eventually help alleviate the need for a journal, but it’s helpful to know which encounters and areas you choose to walk away from and plan to revisit when you’ve grown more powerful. Or you may just want to doodle drawings of those cute pot people to calm yourself after a particularly grueling boss fight. So don’t forget one of the most important items in your inventory: a blank piece of paper.