Elden Ring Poise Explained

Poise is an ever-present and ill-understood mechanic in Souls games, and Elden Ring is no exception. Find out what we know of it here.

Poise in Elden Ring is as nebulous as ever. The mechanic is one of the Souls community's sources of greatest suffering and consternation. It never works the same, nor is it easy to explain, no matter which From game it's in. If you're here, you're wondering how the mechanic works in The Lands Between.

While details remain spotty without wider community testing, we'll try to cover the basics of Poise in this Elden Ring guide so you can do a little build planning before you start your first or third or fifth playthrough. Be sure to check out our best starting classes guide if you're just jumping in, which will help a bit in your decision.

What is Poise in Elden Ring?

Poise is essentially the value at which you will be staggered by enemy attacks. There's a lot more to it, sure, but the general idea is that the higher your Poise, the less likely you are to be stunned. 

How to Find Your Poise Stat

You'll find the Poise stat value in the bottom right corner of your Status screen, and it increases the more armor you're wearing and the heavier that armor is. The higher your Poise value, the more effective it becomes. However, the effects of Poise itself are a little hard to parse, especially this close to release.

Like the rest of the game, Elden Ring's version of Poise seems to mix all previous Souls iterations on the system. Below, we'll go over the two different types and how they work together.

Types of Poise in Elden Ring

There are two different types of Poise in Elden Ring: Passive and Active. We'll explain them a bit below based on what we know so far. Again and as with some of our other Elden Ring guides, we'll update this article as we find out more about the intricacies of the mechanic.

Passive Poise

Like Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 (kind of), there is the community-named "Passive Poise," where at a specific value, you can shrug off at least one attack of particular strength: a single hit from a straight sword or a weaker attack from a human-sized enemy, for instance.

The passive mechanic tends to have specific "breakpoints" based on the Poise damage inflicted by an attack. Once you take enough Poise damage to reach the breakpoint, you'll stagger. Until then, you'll still take damage, but you'll stay standing as if otherwise unaffected.

Active Poise

Dark Souls 3 took what was, until that point, a Demon's Souls system, nicknamed "hyper armor," and applied a stat to it. In Demon's Souls, you couldn't be staggered out of certain attacks with specific weapons. Think ultra greatswords and other large implements.

Dark Souls 3 applied the concept to Poise — and now Elden Ring seems to, as well. So while you can stagger when hit sufficiently hard, swing the right kind of weapon around, and your attack will keep going as though you weren't hit. You'll still take damage, of course, but you'll lose no momentum.

As noted, you gain value from wearing armor. Unlike previous FromSoftware titles all armor grants at least some Poise. Cloth and other light materials don't grant much, as you'd expect from flimsy material, but it seems like even light armor grants some protection.

The sturdiest, and therefore heaviest, armor sets grant the most Poise, but you'll need to level Endurance and equip certain Talismans to increase your equipment load if you want to stay mobile while rolling and survive many boss fights, including Erdtree Burial Watchdog and Stonedigger Troll.

The wider Souls community will undoubtedly be diving headfirst into discovering all the limits of the mechanic in Elden Ring. It will take significant testing to tease out all the little details, discover the breakpoints, and learn the exact function of the mechanic at large. Until then, wear heavy armor. Or don't, and learn to dodge.

You'll have an easier time finding good armor if you can ride Torrent. Find out how to unlock the mount in our guide on the matter. If you don't get hit, you don't need Poise, so summon some spirits with the info in our spirit calling guide. For other guidance, head over to our Elden Ring hub.

Contributor

John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.

Published Feb. 25th 2022

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