Elden Ring’s reinvigorated combat system relies on keeping your stance low while breaking your opponent’s stance meter, a feature inspired by Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

If you’re used to games developed by FromSoftware, you may find it a bit harder to incorporate the traditional Soulsborne gameplay of dodging and spamming light attacks in Elden Ring.

The bosses are much more relentless and harder to compensate for your loot and experience gained in the open world. It isn’t enough to power through bosses anymore; you need to understand them.

Of course, your options in combat stem from the many ways you can customize your character. However, for players who want to engage in close quarters, it’s essential to understand how the stance system works for your advantage of the reworked combat.

It’s a natural first instinct to run and dodge away from a scary boss when you first get to them. But, to truly master the game, you have to face them head-on while mixing defense and offense.

This brief guide will teach you how to stagger enemies in Elden Ring, as well as the different ways to do so.

Critical Hits

Borrowing from Sekiro’s posture bar, stance is an important hidden mechanic to stagger enemies in Elden Ring. FromSoftware wrote that after breaking an enemy’s stance, it leaves them open to a critical hit.

It is similar to the Riposte present in previous Souls games, where an enemy dropping their guard leaves them vulnerable for a devasting blow. Though most attacks deal a minor amount of stance damage, heavier blows will stagger enemies in Elden Ring much faster.

Charged attacks and the new jump attacks are great ways to break an enemy’s stance.

The jump attack is particularly terrific against shielded enemies, though you should be wary of the fast counter-attack as you’re vulnerable whilst in the air.

Weaving in charged attacks is a welcome change to Soulsborne combat. Where before you’d barely use it unless you’re safe, now you’d take a riskier approach in battle in order to stagger enemies in Elden Ring.

Aside from those two, sneak attacks and plunge attacks also significantly reduce the enemy’s stance. Therefore, if you could surprise your enemies with a bang, you’d have a marginal advantage against them.

Deflecting & Countering

Breaking stances is not just about endlessly attacking; it’s also about deflecting and countering their advances.

The old reliable parry is present in Elden Ring; however, it’s a skill tied to specific shields. Bucklers and most shields can parry an enemy’s melee, but you have to check your equipped shield first to be sure.

If you have a shield with parry equipped, you can use the shield’s skill when an enemy’s melee attack hits you, instantly breaking their stance. From this state, you can land a well-deserved riposte for maximum damage. However, take note for more challenging enemies like bosses, it may take a few successful tries to break their guard.

Guard Counters is a new and exciting defensive mechanic to Elden Ring. After successfully guarding against an enemy’s attack, you can quickly press the heavy attack button to deliver a massive blow to their health and invisible stagger bar.

Clearly, it has a lot of benefits, but you shouldn’t be using it recklessly. It takes a big chunk of your stamina to activate the guard counter for one reason. And, you can be interrupted by other attacks during the long animation.

In a one-on-one encounter, only use your guard counter if you’re sure that’s the end of the enemy’s attack string. Or, if the delay on their attack is long enough for you to attack first.

Remember that enemies can also break your stance, and you’ll be left vulnerable too. Your poise stat determines how many blows you can withstand from your enemy without breaking your stance and attack animation. You’ll mainly gain more poise from wearing heavier armor.

While leveling up in Elden Ring, make sure to always put points into Vigor no matter your character playstyle. Having more health lets you have more leeway to take more chip damage when guarding.

To stagger enemies in Elden Ring, it’s mainly a combination of relentless heavy attacks and smart counter-attacks to break their stance.

But, of course, if your character plays from afar, slinging spells and arrows from the edge of the arena, you might not have to deal with this mechanic.

However, if a particular enemy is formidable and sticks to you like glue, consider breaking their stance for a guaranteed critical hit and some breathing room to heal. And if you really can’t crack then, get the horse in Elden Ring then run away.