elden ring character base

Elden Ring best starting class – which class to pick?

There are ten different choices for your Elden Ring starting class, each with their own list of positives and negatives. This is a difficult decision in any RPG with class options, and Elden Ring is no exception. Your Elden Ring starting class will have some short-term consequences as well as some permanent ones, so it’s important to get this one right.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Elden Ring best starting class, with a guide to help you make the right decision.

What does each stat mean?

There are eight main stats relevant to the Elden Ring starting class decision. If you’ve jumped in at the deep end, you’ll need to translate these into the practical use to pick the best class for your desired build. Here is a breakdown of each stat and what they mean:

Vigor: Determines how many Health Points you have (the red bar)

Mind: Determines how many Focus Points you have (the blue bar; essentially the magic gauge)

Endurance: Determines how much stamina you have (the green bar) and your maximum equip load, which is also crucial

Strength: Determines the power of physical attacks from heavier weapons

Dexterity: Determines the power of physical attacks from lighter weapons and can have a smaller impact on heavier weapons as well. Also affects speed of spell-casting

Intelligence: Determines the power of sorcery magic (generally offensive spells) with a smaller impact on incantations power (generally defensive spells)

Faith: Determines the power of incantations (generally defensive spells) with a smaller impact on sorcery power (generally offensive spells)

Arcane: Determines power of a mixture of incantations and sorcery. Also increases Discovery, which affects drop rates and likelihood of scavenging items.

Misc considerations that you also need to know:

Equip Load: Do NOT forget about this. If you are beginner, you may wonder what is meant by ‘Heavy Load’ ‘Medium Load’ or ‘Light Load’ at the bottom of your stats. This determines the speed you run and dodge, which massively affects gameplay. Essentially, the weight of your equipped weapons and equipment will dictate which load you are. Aim for a medium load at the most, because a heavy load results in painfully slow movement which likely counteracts any offensive or defensive gains. If you’re a heavy load, start unequipping some things and streamline the amount you carry.

Equip Requirements: Finally, it’s worth noting that most weapons and spells will have certain stat requirements in order to wield them properly. For instance, a powerful heavy sword will likely require a large Strength stat and a powerful magic staff will require high Intelligence. Meanwhile, your spells may require certain thresholds of Faith, Arcane or both. Therefore it is important to prioritise the correct stats to suit your playstyle along with the equipment type you wish to use.

elden ring best melee class

Does your starting class actually matter in Elden Ring?

With each level up comes a choice of which attribute to increase, meaning regardless of the class you can contribute to the stats you want and ultimately fit any playstyle into any class.

You can also respec your character later in the game, and reset all stats back to square one and pursue a different build altogether if you wish.

However, this doesn’t tell the whole story and the starting class does make a long-term different to your character that cannot be respecced or undone.

Basically, every class has a starting level and base stats that permanently act as minimum thresholds, even if you respec and start from scratch. This means if you choose a class with high stats in an area that isn’t relevant to your playstyle, these points are effectively wasted and you should have picked something else.

For example, if you start with the Astrologer but pursue a pure melee build, then the Astrologer’s high starting Intelligence is useless to you. Likewise, the high Strength of a Vagabond or Warrior won’t be much good to a mage.

As such, it’s best to have a general idea of which sort of build you want for your character and choose an appropriate Elden Ring starting class. It’s not the end of the world if you go wrong, but any edge you can attain will be worth it by the end of the game.

Elden Ring best starting class – all classes considered

Here, we’ll take you through each class and briefly cover off their strengths and weaknesses.

Elden Ring starting class stats

Firstly, here’s a look at the raw stats for each class:

elden ring best starting class stats

Now it’s time to delve into the individual class choices.

Vagabond

A knight exiled from their homeland to wander. A solid, armor-clad origin.

Equipment: Longsword, Halberd, Heater Shield, Vagabond Knight Armor, Vagabond Knight Helm, Vagabond Knight Gauntlets, Vagabond Knight Greaves

The Vagabond is one of the best choices, and a firm favourite of melee fighters. Vigor and Strength are crucial in any melee build, and the Vagabond packs plenty of points into both areas.

Unlike some of the other melee-centric starting classes, the Vagabond doesn’t waste many of its points in Intelligence, Faith and Arcane, making it a superb option if you already know you are likely to neglect magic-based attacks, and definitely a leading Elden Ring starting class.

Warrior

A twinblade wielding warrior from a nomadic tribe. An origin of exceptional technique.

Equipment: Scimitar x 2, Buckler, Blue Cloth Cowl, Blue Cloth Vest, Warrior Gaunlets, Warrior Greaves

The Warrior lacks some Vigor and Strength compared to the Vagabond, but has the highest starting Dexterity stat.

Dexterity is the crucial stat for lighter weapons, including some of the best bleed-based weapons in the game, so the warrior isn’t a terrible choice. However, its inferior Vigor is something that will have to be made up, and Warrior also wastes a few more points on the magic-based stats. As such it’s caught in-between and doesn’t make the best starting class for any playstyle.

Hero

A stalwart Hero, at home with a battleaxe, descended from a badlands chieftain.

Equipment: Battle Axe, Large Leather Shield, Champion Headband, Champion Pauldron, Champion Bracers, Champion Gaiters

Along with a lofty title, Hero is another excellent option for melee playstyles. It starts two levels below Vagabond and is only 1 Vigor point lower, trumping it on Endurance and Strength. This means you can catch up the Vigor with your first level up and have a solid headstart in the other important stats.

The downside is the low Dexterity, which comes in at only 9 points. This isn’t necessarily fatal – if you aren’t going to use lighter weapons like katanas, then you don’t really need a lot of Dexterity. Hero is therefore a great choice for tankier, stronger builds though you still have the option of quick weapons that base their power on the Strength stat.

Bandit

A dangerous bandit who strikes for weak points. Excels at ranged combat with bows.

Equipment: Great Knife, Shortbow, Buckler, Bone Arrow (Fletched), Bandit Mask, Bandit Garb, Bandit Manchettes, Bandit Boots

The Bandit has the highest Arcane stat by far, which will affect your item discovery. Elsewhere, it doesn’t excel much and is otherwise saved by the Great Knife, which is excellent starting weapon that can inflict blood loss.

Though the Bandit is supposed to be a stealthy assassin, this will only get you so far – you can’t sneak up on bosses, meaning you’ll have to boost your Vigor and Endurance in the end. As such I wouldn’t recommend the Bandit to many players because Arcane is not as important as these.

bandit astrologer prophet

Astrologer

A scholar who reads fate in the stars. Heir to the school of glintstone sorcery.

Equipment: Astrologer’s Staff, Short Sword, Scripture Wooden Shield, Astrologer Hood, Astrologer Robe, Astrologer Gloves, Astrologer Trousers

The Astrologer is the best mage Elden Ring starting class, boasting the highest Mind and Intelligence stats. An Astrologer can easily become a glass cannon with its low Vigor and Endurance, but the low-ish starting level gives you a bit of leeway to claw back some of these disadvantages in the opening hours of the game.

Once you’ve build up a little more Vigor, you’re left with an impressively powerful magic-user who doesn’t need to worry about Strength. Arguably it wastes a point or two too many on Dexterity, but so does the other high-Intelligence starting class. If you’re looking for a mage build, look no further than the Astrologer.

Prophet

A seer ostracized for inauspicious prophecies. Well versed in healing incantations.

Equipment: Short Spear, Finger Seal, Rickety Shield, Prophet Blindfold, Prophet Robe, Prophet Trousers, Heal, Beast Claw

The Prophet is another solid choice for a mage build, with excellent Mind and Faith to start off. It may have slightly more Vigor than the Astrologer, but starts one level higher up so this can be made up quickly by the latter class.

Elsewhere, solid scores in Strength, Dexterity and Arcane make it a good option, capable of capitalising on the Faith points to favour defensive and supportive incantations. Therefore, Astrologer is a stronger offensive mage but Prophet favours a more conservative magical playstyle. It’s not a bad choice at all if that sounds appealing.

Samurai

A capable fighter from the distant land of reeds. Handy with Katana and Longbows.

Equipment: Uchigatana, Long Bow, Red Thorn Roundshield, Bone Arrow (Fletched), Firebone Arrow (Fletched), Land of Reeds Helm, Land of Reeds Armour (Altered), Land of Reeds Gauntlets, Land of Reeds Greaves

The Samurai is the second-best Dexterity build, and is the strongest melee choice if you intend to focus on a faster weapon arsenal. A case in point comes in the starting equipment, with the Uchigatana arguably the best weapon for Elden Ring’s early stages.

Once you’ve benefited from its blood loss infliction (effectively a bonus wedge of damage dealt after landing multiple hits), it’ll be hard to go back. Like the Vagabond, Samurai doesn’t waste too many points on the magic-based stats and may lack a little Vigor but comes with the leading Endurance stat. This is ultimately the best melee class for quicker weapons like katanas, including some of the best blood loss weapons.

elden ring best starting class

Prisoner

A prisoner bound in an iron mask. Studied in glintstone sorcery, having lived among the elite prior to sentencing.

Equipment: Estoc, Glintstone Staff, Rift Shield, Prisoner Iron Mask, Prisoner Clothing, Prisoner Trousers

The Prisoner doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, and is probably another rounded class that doesn’t have enough specialisation. With strong Intelligence and decent Mind comes high Dexterity and otherwise solid stats in the other melee stakes.

Its starting equipment supports this notion – an Estoc and Glintstone Staff give you the option of trying out some varying playstyles, but whichever you prefer would be better served elsewhere. A mage build has too many points wasted on Strength whereas a melee build has too many points wasted on magical stats. I’d not recommend the Prisoner.

Confessor

A church spy adept at covert operations. Equally adept with a sword as they are with incantations.

Equipment: Broadsword, Blue Crest Heater Shield, Finger Seal, Confessor Hood, Confessor Armour, Confessor Gloves, Confessor Boots

Don’t be fooled by the highest starting level of 10, this is actually a double-edged sword. This means a re-spec will be less effective and that more points may be wasted with little discretion to change them.

In fact, that’s exactly what is likely to occur with a Confessor. It has too many points allocated to magic-based stats to be an efficient melee build, but also has some solid Strength and Dexterity which is less than ideal for magic. As such, the Confessor is a bit of an all-rounder, which sounds fine but isn’t a recommended way to approach Elden Ring where you are far better off specialising in your preferred areas.

Wretch

As poor, purposeless and naked as the day they were born. A nice club is all they have.

Equipment: Spiked Club

The Wretch may look like a truly terrible choice, starting at level 1 and with no notable strengths, but this is actually the most flexible class and can look appealing with its ability to allocate more points elsewhere upon gaining levels.

That is, until a bit of a closer inspection. If you wish to be a mage, then Astrologer has still ‘wasted’ the same number of points on Strength and Dexterity by level 6. If melee is your preferred style, then the Wretch has already expended far more points on the likes of Intelligence, Faith and Arcane.

Strangely, despite its versatility it still ends up being a bad choice for both main playstyles. I therefore wouldn’t go for the Wretch unless you are a challenge-junkie.

elden ring stealth

Best Elden Ring class for melee build

There are four main contenders for melee builds: the Hero, Samurai, Warrior and Vagabond. I’d rule out the Warrior, who is probably a better all-rounder but wastes too many points on magic-based attributes to be the melee pick. All remaining classes have solid Vigor for HP and either pack some Strength for heavier attack power or Dexterity to assist with lighter weapons.

In the short-term, the best melee class is the Samurai and the wonderful starting weapon, the Uchigatana will serve you extremely well in the early game. This weapon causes blood loss buildup, which is a weakness for many bosses and deals a bonus chunk of damage after landing enough hits.

However, in the long-term, you could easily justify the Vagabond. Though the starting equipment isn’t quite as good, there is a stronger Strength stat which will serve you well with heavier weapons.

Looking at the ‘wasted’ points, both have spent 16 points on Arcane/Faith, have an equal Intelligence and otherwise share out their points on the important melee stats like Vigor, Endurance and Strength. Granted, Vagabond has spent one fewer point on Mind, but Mind is actually something you’ll probably need to boost a few times anyway (most summons will require Mind and nothing else).

Overall, it’s a tie between the Samurai and the Vagabond. Go with Samurai if you are likely to go with a quicker, more agile weapon type and Vagabond if you want to use stronger but slower weapons.

elden ring best mage build

Best Elden Ring class for mage build

Mage builds tend to range between strengthening the Mind/Intelligence stats and the Faith/Arcane attributes.

Mind boosts your FP gauge and Intelligence increases your offensive attack power, so these are the best short-term benefits for a mage. However, eventually your best spells and incantations will also require Faith or Arcane to be sufficiently levelled, meaning you can’t ignore these stats forever.

Confessor has strong Mind and Faith but loses out on Intelligence, plus wastes a few needless points on Strength and Dexterity. Prophet is similar, but sacrifices even more Intelligence in favour of a strong Faith increase.

All thing’s considered, there’s no competition here. Based on the starting stats, the best class for a mage build is the Astrologer. Granted, it doesn’t come with much Faith or Arcane but the fact it comes at a slightly lower starting level actually works in your favour as you have a bit more leeway to allocate the points as you level up.

Is the Wretch a good all-rounder class?

Don’t be fooled by its low level, the Wretch is a legitimate choice, and arguably the most versatile of the lot. Starting at a lower level is actually a double-edged sword. It may take a little while to beef yourself up to the strength of the other classes, you also have more versatility. Since all stats begin on 10, the levels you gain mean you can potentially waste fewer stat boosts on attributes that aren’t relevant to your build.

However, most starting classes are clearly tailored towards certain playstyles and are actually quite economical with stats that don’t fit the build. As such, I actually wouldn’t recommend Wretch. Whatever your chosen specialisation, the chances are Wretch has got more wasted points than the alternatives. For melee builds, Hero, Vagabond and Samurai waste a lower total number of points on Mind, Faith, Arcane and Intelligence.

With a mage build, Astrologer and Confessor don’t waste too many points elsewhere and the gains you can make with a Wretch are negligible at best. It would make more sense if the level differential was greater and a Wretch started with even lower attributes. As I’ve covered elsewhere, specialisation trumps versatility in Elden Ring so the result is a class that isn’t worth using.

keepsakes golden seed stonesword keys

What is the best Elden Ring starting keepsake?

Just when you think the difficult decisions are made, another is sprung upon you. Namely, a choice between 10 starting keepsakes (which includes the choice of none at all). These range between Spirit Ashes to summon, consumable items or a rune to gain some quick levels.

However, of all the options there are two that are head and shoulders above the rest. These are the Golden Seed and the Stonesword Keys.

The Golden Seed will grant you an extra flask, which will come in handy immediately. There are plenty of Golden Seeds in Elden Ring, and you can maximise your flask tally with plenty to spare, but this will give you a starting boost that will be felt for a while. When you rest at a Site of Grace, add a charge to your flask.

Meanwhile, Stonesword Keys are used to open sealed passages throughout the game, which tend to lead to some neat treasure. One of these passages is available almost instantly, leading you into the Fringefolk Hero’s Grave which can earn you the Banished Knight Oleg Spirit Ashes, a superb early-game summon option that will last you a long time. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly easy to obtain it so you might want to backtrack after gaining a few levels.

My preference is the Golden Seed. I’ve seen it contended that you can quickly obtain a Golden Seed out in the world, rendering the one here pointless. This is a flawed argument. By getting a bonus Golden Seed here, you are always one Golden Seed better off than you otherwise would be. It’s only when you have maxed out your flasks towards the end of the game that your bonus Golden Seed becomes superfluous.

Hopefully this Elden Ring best starting class guide will help you pick out the perfect starting class to explore the Lands Between.

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