Admit it: You need help beating the first boss in Elden Ring.
It’s okay. We won’t judge you. To be honest, the Knight With the Big Spear at the Gatefront Ruins is one of the most fearsome opponents we have ever faced. It took us more than 35 tries. There were moments when we thought it was impossible. We rage quit several times. We screamed. We cried. But we persevered—and in the end, we won. With these essential tips on how to beat the first boss in Elden Ring, you can win, too.
1. Don’t get stabbed.
First off, don’t let the Knight With the Big Spear stab you through the heart with his big spear too much. That’s one of the things that makes this boss so difficult: You can only let him stab you through the heart with his spear a few times before you die. It’s ridiculous and basically unfair. But luckily, we found an exploit in the code that can help even the playing field: dodging. After dying about 15 times, we discovered a hidden mechanic that allows you to move out of the way of—or “dodge”—the attacks from the Knight. Unfortunately, there is only a short window of time that you can dodge successfully, right before he swings at you. If you don’t time it right, the Knight will still stab you with his spear, even though you definitely pushed the “dodge” button. It’s unclear whether FromSoftware is aware of this glitch.
FOR ADVANCED PLAYERS ONLY: There is also a secret “block” button. This button will prevent an attack from hitting you by stopping it with a weapon or shield. This “blocking” method—also known as “guarding”—is much more advanced and is not recommended for new players. You will never beat the Knight this way unless you are really good at video games, and even then, we don’t like your chances. Stick to dodging for now, and look for our in-depth guide on the “blocking” method once we have figured out how it works.
2. Make sure to hit him with your weapon.
The other tip for beating this boss is that you need to strike the Knight with your weapon. We thought we were familiar with this tactic, having used it to beat such titles as Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. In those games, it requires a delicate balance of pushing the “attack” button as fast as you can and tapping “roll” sometimes randomly as well. But when we tried that approach against the Knight in Elden Ring, he blocked the attack with his shield! We resorted to something more experimental—holding down “attack” to see if it does anything different—but he stabbed us through the heart when we were still winding up, so we didn’t even get to see what it did. Dead end.
So, how did we hit him, you ask? We tried what we’re calling the “one dodge, one hit” method. That’s where you dodge at the moment he tries to attack you, and then—only then—do you hit him. You might ask, Why don’t I just hit him right away? It’s counterintuitive, we know, and we don’t want to confuse you with the technical stuff. Basically, when you swing at him from the front, he has various ways to stop you. If you dodge out of the way, you can hit him from the side, where he is more vulnerable. Does that make sense? If not, don’t worry—the main thing is just to practice the “one dodge, one hit” method. Don’t be discouraged if it takes another 20 tries before you get the hang of it. And don’t be afraid to call in a co-op partner to do some of the heavy lifting—full disclosure, that’s what we ended up doing.
FOR ADVANCED PLAYERS: I know what you’re thinking: Did you try tapping the “dodge” button nonstop so he can never hit you? That’s a great instinct, but unfortunately Elden Ring has not introduced that feature. Your character will stop dodging after you dodge too many times in a row. We thought it was input lag on our Xbox at first, but the same thing happened on our friend’s PS4 as well, so it might just be a shortcoming of the game.
So, that’s how you beat the incredibly difficult first boss in Elden Ring. It’s hard to say why FromSoftware would put such a tough enemy so close to the very beginning. Maybe it’s to scare off the casuals. Regardless, it’s a bold move, and it pays off when you finally defeat him and move on with your adventure, confident that you can handle anything the game throws at you. That’s what brings us back to challenging games like this one, time and time again.
UPDATE: Wait, that was just a normal guard? It gets worse? Is there a difficulty setting?
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