If you find yourself playing Elden Ring and not using your hotbar (also called the pouch), you’d be forgiven. The game mentions it briefly very early on, but even the tooltip about it is vague. It took me repeatedly hunting around the menus to figure out how to assign stuff to it.
What is Elden Ring’s hotbar (aka the quick pouch)?
To be clear, it’s not the four icons that live on the lower left corner of the screen, showing your equipped items, spells, and gear. It’s behind that. If you hold Triangle/Y during normal gameplay, you’ll see those four icons change to four new icons. That’s the hotbar we’re talking about. (In-game it’s technically called the pouch, but you’d be forgiven for not knowing that.)
By default, one of those icons is a mostly-useless item that teleports you back to the last site of grace while removing all your carried runes. We can do a lot better than that. Specifically, we’re going to assign your two flasks, your physick, and your horse to the hotbar and make your life much, much better.
How to assign your items to the Elden Ring hotbar/quick pouch
Hit pause to bring up the main menu. On the left you’ll see familiar menu options, like your inventory and equipment. But if you hit right on the d-pad, it’ll pop you over to an easy-to-miss series of boxes that represent your hotbar/quick pouch. Here you can assign each of the D-pad directions to your potions and your horse. You could put other items in there, but those are the ones I found to be the most useful.
Here’s how I have mine set up:
With this arrangement, if I need to heal up, I just hold Y + up. For more FP/mana, it’s Y + down. My horse is Y + left, and my Physick is Y + Right. Consider how much easier that is in a fight than having to scrub through multiple items to get to the thing you desperately need in short order.
And poof, I just made Elden Ring much easier for you.