Elden Ring is a tough game. Would-be Tarnished discover this right after creating their characters when the game asks what Keepsake you'd like to take into the Lands Between. First-time players have absolutely no idea, but now that Elden Ring has celebrated its first anniversary, veterans are debating just which Keepsake is the right one for a new player's journey.
Just as a recap, your options for Keepsake are the Crimson Amber Medallion, a Lands Between Rune, a Golden Seed, the Fanged Imp Ashes, a Cracked Pot, a Stonesword Key, one Bewitching Branch, a Boiled Prawn, Shabiri's Woe, or nothing. Besides selecting nothing, a few of these we can immediately discount as poor choices.
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The Fanged Imp Ashes aren't that much better than the trio of wolves you get as your first summon and you can just buy them from the merchant very early on. Cracked Pots have very little use until you unlock recipes, and you get plenty of them besides. Boiled Prawns and Bewitching Branches are single-use items that don't give you much value, and Shabriri's Woe does nothing unless you’re playing in co-op, at which point it becomes actively detrimental to the user.
Over on the Elden Ring subreddit, veteran Tarnished have largely come to the consensus that the Golden Seed is the top pick. As explained by Rigel311, "It's the most universally used item on the list." They caution, however, "None of the starting gifts are going to make or break a build though."
One Redditor suggested the Stonesword Key in order to access the Fringefolk Hero's Grave. This will let the player loot the Erdtree's Favor, a powerful talisman that can be quite beneficial early in a playthrough. That said, you could get much of the same benefit by simply selecting the Crimson Amber Medallion, though you can also purchase that medallion from the merchant on the eastern side of the Weeping Peninsula.
There is one good reason to take Shabriri's Woe, though. As explained by user Hellhult, "Gotta keep those hosts alive."
If you're an Elden Ring vet, you might be surprised to find out that the toughest enemy in the game is actually just a crab. You can read more about this secret and others by checking out our previous coverage here.