How To Level Up in 'Elden Ring' and When You Can Start Spending Runes

Elden Ring is not a game that goes out of its way to explain itself. In fact, it doesn't offer clear instructions on fundamentals such as how to summon friends, what any of your individual stats do or how to level up your character in the first place.

This is typical of FromSoftware's output. The developer's titles don't even allow you to pause the action when you need to go to the toilet or answer the front door. Plus, they are punishingly difficult and unforgiving of the tiniest player mistakes.

The likes of Dark Souls, Bloodborne and now Elden Ring demand that you invest a significant amount of time to figure out their esoteric systems. It can be a steep learning curve, but that challenge is what attracts many fans.

Yet because Elden Ring is so cryptic (and fans haven't had enough time to discover all its secrets yet), it's easy to find yourself at a loss for what to do. It can be particularly frustrating if you don't know how to spend the Runes you've amassed and therefore can't even level up your character.

With that in mind, Newsweek has compiled the following guide to help you get started.

How To Level Up in 'Elden Ring'

Although the specifics may change from game to game, the leveling-up process in FromSoftware titles is always basically the same.

By defeating enemies (whether they are insignificant grunts or major bosses), you will accrue some kind of resource. In Dark Souls you get Souls, in Bloodborne you get Blood Echoes and in Elden Ring you get Runes.

In each case, these items serve as both experience points (XP) and a form of currency. You can use them to level up your strength and dexterity, or to buy an axe from a blacksmith, for example.

The catch is that you are unable to deposit this resource into any kind of permanent inventory and, when you die, you lose your entire horde. As such, you are incentivised to spend your Souls, Blood Echoes or Runes before you inevitably get killed, rather than stockpiling them.

You do this by resting at whatever the title in question uses for checkpoints. In Dark Souls you need to light a bonfire, in Bloodborne you use lanterns, and in Elden Ring you search for "Sites of Grace."

To find a Site of Grace, you need to be on the lookout for little bundles of sticks that are illuminated by glowing wisps. Interact with one of these spots and you can replenish all your health and navigate to a "Level Up" menu option.

Here, you can channel your Runes into different stats such as Vigor (which influences your max HP), Strength (how much damage you inflict with certain weapons) and Endurance (how much overall stamina you have).

Leveling up becomes more expensive each time you do it in Elden Ring, so you will need to start tackling bigger and badder foes that drop more Runes.

Site of Grace in "Elden Ring"
A character rests at a Site of Grace in "Elden Ring." You need to interact with these spots to level up in the game. FromSoftware

When Can You Start Spending Runes in 'Elden Ring'?

If you rest at a Site of Grace and do not see the option for leveling up, that's because you haven't unlocked it yet.

To start spending your hard-earned Runes, you will need to activate at least three different Sites of Grace around the map (for most players the third one will be a checkpoint next to the Gatefront Ruins leading up to Stormveil Castle). Once you have done that, you will be visited by a mysterious NPC called Melina.

She will sit beside you and offer a trade. It is imperative that you accept this, otherwise you will be turning down the ability to level up.

After you've accepted Melina's aid, you can level up at any Site of Grace. She will also give you a special ring that allows you to summon Torrent, your very own horse, so you don't want to give this character the cold shoulder.

One of the biggest games of the year, Elden Ring is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5 and PC.

Melina in Elden Ring
Melina in "Elden Ring." This mysterious stranger will offer you the ability to level up your character. FromSoftware