Dark Souls has influenced pretty much all FromSoftware games since it came out. Although they have perfected the formula, the games are very reminiscent of one another.
You can dual-wield weapons in Elden Ring, but this was a feature in Dark Souls 2. The combat is faster than the first Dark Souls, but things have been that way since Bloodborne, and that game came out before Dark Souls 3, which was also fast.
Still, Elden Ring managed to bring something entirely new to the table, Ashes of War. Before this mechanic, spell casters had all FromSoftwares love with many different variations of attacks and abilities.
Now, weapon users got some love too. Ashes of War make it more fun to play with weapons and incentivize you to toy around. There are many fun combinations that change how you use a weapon. It also results in more creative builds that make unusual melee builds relevant.
So, if you are wondering how to use Ashes of War in Elden Ring, here’s how.
How to Use Ashes of War
An Ash of War substitutes a weapon’s innate ability, which means that Weapon’s Arts and Ashes of War use the same button.
- Playstation: L2
- Xbox: Left Trigger
- PC: Shift+Left Click
As you can see, there is no secret to it. You just press a button and use it, but it will cost you nome Focus Points — the blue bar under your health.
There are Ashes of War that might need more than FP. For instance, some might cost you both FP and HP to use.
If you have a shield on your left arm, pressing the Ash of War button will make you use the shield’s Ash of War or innate ability.
In order to use your weapon’s ability, you must either hold it with both hands or with a shield that doesn’t have a special ability or Ash of War equipped.
This is what you have to do to hold a weapon with both hands:
- Playstation: Triangle + R1 or R2
- Xbox: Y + Right Bumper or Right Trigger
- PC: E + Left or Right Click
How Ashes of War Work
Ashes of War basically change the skill of a weapon. Sometimes you get an impressive new move, like a rapid succession of thrusting attacks, and sometimes you get a simple attack like a kick.
There are Ashes of War that add passive abilities to your weapon, while others can add impressive skills. For instance, an Ash of War might add a passive Blood Loss buildup while another might grant you a charge attack that straight up looks like a spell.
It will depend on the Ashes of War you have and which you added to your weapon or shield. They can significantly change how you build your character since Ashes of War usually offer an alternative to how your weapon scales.
For instance, you might be able to make a Strength weapon also scale with Faith or a different attribute.
How to Equip Ashes of War
Now you know how to use them and what they do. However, do you know how to add an Ash of War to your weapon?
It’s pretty simple as long as you have a Whetstone Knife. Just rest at a site of grace and wait for the options to pop up. You should see one that is about Ashes of War. Go there, select the weapon and then the Ash of War you want to add to it. You most likely will also have to choose if you want a different affinity, which will change the scaling of the selected weapon.
Where to Get the Whetstone Knife
This one can be found right at the beginning of the game. Once you reach the Gatefront site of grace, where you get the horse, rest, and get ready to fight the soldiers in the Gatefront Ruin that is right in front of where you just rested.
You might want to get the Spirit Calling Bell before doing so. The Wolf Ashes might help you tremendously here. There are some standard Goldrick soldiers, a few wolves, and a strong knight wielding a heavy shield and a spear that might be a bit harder to deal with on your own.
Your objective here is not defeating the soldiers but finding an area under the ruins where the Whetstone Knife is.
You might be able to do it without fighting everyone, but I do think it might be easier to just do it, get a few runes to level up, and then get the item.
Once you find the stairs that lead to under the ruins, just open the chest to find the Whetstone Knife. Now, when you rest at a site of grace, you will see the option to add your Ashes of War to your weapons.
Note that Ashes of War aren’t compatible with all weapons. Some work with swords, others with any thrusting weapon, and others might work with heavy swords and hammers, but not small blades.
Where to Find Ashes of War
Ashes of War can be found in a few different ways.
You might get some by looting corpses that you find around the world, so make sure to always check the items near the dead. Some Ashes of War might drop from enemies or bosses.
Sometimes, what seems like a regular enemy, such as the mounted knight near the Stormhill Coliseum, might drop an Ash of War when defeated. For instance, the mentioned mounted knight drops the Golden Vow Ash of War once you beat it.
You can also get some from Scarabs. The invisible Teardrop Scarabs are the creatures responsible for the lights on the beach that you see in West Limgrave and other locations. Once you manage to hit the scarab, you will be granted an Ash of War.
You can also buy Ashes of War from an NPC in Stormhill. Look for the Warmaster’s Shack in Stormhill. There’s a site of grace right next to it. Once you find it, go inside and meet the warmaster, Knight Bernahl. He is tarnished, like you, and is longing to teach others how to fight well. You can trade some runes for his ashes of war.
Finally, you can deliver Lost Ashes of War to the smith once you get to Roundtable Hold so he can duplicate the ones you have. This is quite useful to change a weapon’s affinity.
Having two weapons of the same kind with the same affinity is especially good for power stance players with unusual builds.
Where to Find Lost Ashes of War
It seems that there is a limited amount of Lost Ashes of War in Elden Ring, so use them carefully. As mentioned above, Lost Ashes of War can be delivered to the Smithing Master Hewg at the Roundtable Hold to duplicate your current Ashes of War.
- There is one in Leyndell, by the locked northeastern gate.
- You can buy two from the Merchant in Dragonbarrow, where you also find the Giant Dragon, for five thousand runes each.
- The Merchant who resides on the west side of Weeping Pennisula will sell you one for three thousand runes.
- The Merchant in Ainsel River also has one that he’ll let you have for three thousand runes.
- At the Mountaintops of The Giants, look for a corpse on the narrow ridge for another. It should be a little after you find an enemy with a whip.
- Finally, there is one on a corpse in the sewer in Leydell Royal Capital.
Ashes of War are basically an expansion of the old Weapon Arts system. Hopefully, this is something that came to stay.
This new mechanic makes so many more builds possible with all different kinds of scaling due to affinities and passives that you can add to weapons.
In addition, if you like a special move and dislike the one a weapon comes with, now you have a chance of changing that. This makes characters way more customizable than in any other soulsborne game that came before it.
In my honest opinion, Ashes of War are the coolest thing since the trick weapons from Bloodborne. Add that to the power stances that returned from Dark Souls 2, and you have a very robust combat system with countless options for you to play with.
If you have a hybrid build that combines weapon wielding and spell casting, like my Strength and Faith build, you might have even more things to play with.
It is pretty difficult for me to get bored of combat in Elden Ring due to the countless options I have to deal with combat situations. My character uses Ashes of War on his shield, weapons, and he has spells on top of all that.
Now you know where to find Ashes of War, what they do, and where to find them. Now you know that if you want to deal more damage with a sword but you have an intelligence build, you just need the right kind of affinity.
You have no excuses now; go get that Elden Ring.