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Elden Ring best builds: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and more

Elden Ring Academy
Elden Ring Academy (Image credit: Windows Central)

Elden Ring is finally here, and while it's different than the Dark Souls games in some respects, one of the gameplay systems that is near identical is its character progression. Just like in Dark Souls, players strengthen their characters by leveling up stats with the experience (runes) that they earn from defeating enemies. The process of optimizing these stats and targeting one or two of them to create a specific type of character is called making a build, and in FromSoftware games, having a good build is important for success in both PvE areas and boss fights and PvP encounters with other players.

There are several different kinds of viable builds you can create in Elden Ring. And whether you want to be a tanky and heavy-hitting melee character, a ranged glass cannon mage, or something between, there's a build for you. Here's a list of the best builds in Elden Ring, including ones for Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and more.

Note that these builds assume your character's end level will be 120, which is the standard level for cooperative play and PvP in endgame.

Elden Ring best Strength build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Hero, Vagabond
  • Important stats: 44 Vigor, 40 Endurance, 66 Strength
  • Weapons: Strength-scaling weapons (use two hands for extra damage), medium or greatshield

If you want to make a pure Strength character, this build is your best option. The three main stats you need to level are Vigor, Endurance, and Strength. You'll need plenty of health and stamina to wear heavy armor and tank hits, and since two-handing your weapons increases your effective Strength by 50%, having 66 Strength effectively gives you 99 Strength whenever you use your weapons this way. This gives you incredible damage output that will flatten any enemy or player you encounter, especially if they're lightly armored and don't have a lot of health.

Alternatively, you can Power Stance two weapons of the same weapon class to deal maximum damage, though you won't be able to block any attacks while doing this. This method of attack is excellent in many boss fights since Power Stanced jump attacks are quick and deal heavy damage, though they do drain stamina very quickly.

Note that using your weapons with one hand and a good shield is also an effective option. Your high Endurance paired with an upgraded medium or greatshield will allow you to block tons of physical attacks with ease, and you can boost your damage even further with critical ripostes after parries if you're good at it (you'll need a small or medium shield for this). Guard counters (heavy attacking after blocking an attack) are also particularly devastating with Strength weapons since their high stagger damage stacks with the stagger damage of the guard counter itself. It's possible to stagger tough enemies and many bosses in just a few attacks while guard countering with Strength weapons, and against less dangerous foes, this move will typically stagger them in a single hit.

Elden Ring best Dexterity build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Samurai, Vagabond
  • Important stats: 44 Vigor, 40 Endurance, 65 Dexterity
  • Weapons: Dexterity-scaling weapons, bows, parry shield

The best way to create a Dexterity character is to select either the Samurai or Vagabond class since they start with great Dexterity compared to other Elden Ring classes. Then, you'll want to level your health and stamina alongside your Dexterity for maximum durability, sustainability, and damage output in melee combat.

Something important to keep in mind is that as a Dexterity character, you're one of the few non-magic classes that can fight at range effectively. This is because most bows and crossbows scale with Dexterity. Weapons that deal tons of critical damage always have high Dexterity scaling as well, so we recommend using a parry shield like the Buckler and getting comfortable with the parrying mechanic. Try to stealth around for backstab opportunities as well — the Black Knife Set, which is one of the best Elden Ring armor sets, makes this easy as it silences your footsteps.

Elden Ring best Quality build

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  • Starting class: Vagabond
  • Important stats: 44 Vigor, 20 Endurance, 50 Strength, 50 Dexterity
  • Weapons: Str/Dex-scaling weapons, medium shields

A Strength/Dex hybrid build, more commonly referred to as a Quality build, can be very powerful in the right hands since the character gets the benefits of both stats. Additionally, since many Elden Ring weapons have equal scaling between Strength and Dexterity inherently, there are more viable weapons for Quality build users than for other types of builds. The ideal Quality build has the same Vigor stat distribution as a Strength or Dexterity build, but instead of putting a ton of levels into either Strength or Dexterity, you should evenly split them between the two.

We recommend using a medium shield with a Quality build, which often offer 100% physical damage protection while also still being able to parry (albeit with more difficulty than small parrying shields). You could opt for a small shield, but we think having the ability to fully block damage is worth having if you don't have a full Dexterity build to maximize damage with weapons that have high crit multipliers like daggers and katanas.

Something to keep in mind is that Quality builds don't deal (roughly) equal damage to pure Strength or Dexterity builds until you level both Strength and Dexterity to 50, so unlike most other hybrid builds, you'll need to go above a 40/40 spread in order to be as effective as possible. This means you'll need to sacrifice some Endurance unless you want to level over the standardized endgame level of 120 (we don't recommend leveling Vigor less), so you'll need to manage your stamina more carefully. The Green Turtle Talisman is one of the best talismans that will help you do this, as it improves your stamina regeneration rate significantly.

Elden Ring best Intelligence build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Astrologer
  • Important stats: 39 Vigor, 35 Mind, 20 Endurance, 60 Intelligence
  • Weapons: Staves, Intelligence-scaling weapons

Folks who want to make a pure mage type of build with sorcery magic should invest heavily into Intelligence, as it boosts sorcery damage and allows you to use more powerful spells. Additionally, you'll also want to level Mind quite a bit so that you have lots of Focus Points (mana) to cast your spells. Lots of Vigor is good as well, as you'll need a high health pool to offset the fact that you can't wear very heavy armor as a pure Intelligence caster. Alternatively, you can put some of the levels you would normally put into Vigor into Dexterity for faster spell casting.

In addition to your spells, using weapons that scale with Intelligence is also a good idea if you need to engage in melee combat. There are many Intelligence weapons in Elden Ring's open world, and you can also use Ashes of War to change the scaling of weapons you already have to Intelligence. Make sure you have the minimum Strength and Dexterity requirements to use these weapons.

Elden Ring best Faith build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Prophet
  • Important stats: 39 Vigor, 35 Mind, 20 Endurance, 60 Faith
  • Weapons: Sacred Seal catalyst, Faith-scaling weapons

If you'd prefer to use incantations instead of sorceries, go with a Faith build. It's essentially the same build as the Intelligence build above, but with Faith instead of Intelligence and Faith-scaling weapons instead of ones that scale with Intelligence. Like with the Intelligence build, it may be a good idea to put a few levels into Dexterity to raise your casting speed. However, having 39 Vigor does help you survive more, so there are pros and cons to both upgrade paths.

Note that while sorcery is purely offensive, incantations can be both supportive and offensive in nature. Leveling Faith up to 60 will make your healing spells more effective, while it will make your offensive ones deal a lot more damage.

Elden Ring best Int/Faith build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Astrologer
  • Important stats: 30 Vigor, 35 Mind, 40 Intelligence, 40 Faith
  • Weapons: Sword of Night and Flame, Prince of Death's Staff, Golden Order Seal

While Intelligence and Faith builds have traditionally been very difficult to use in FromSoftware games, this hybrid magic build is very viable in Elden Ring due to the power of the Sword of Night and Flame. This magical sword is one of the best Elden Ring weapons since it allows you to either create a large arc of flame in front of you or fire a massive beam of sorcery magic. Even after this weapon was nerfed, these magical attacks do excellent damage and are more than powerful enough to take on even the toughest of Elden Ring's enemies and bosses.

Note that since you'll have a large number of points invested into both Intelligence and Faith, you can make use of various sorceries and incantations that require both of these stats. Some of these spells include Rancorcall, Ancient Death of Rancor, and Triple Rings of Light. When you cast these sorceries or incantations, you should use an upgraded Prince of Death's Staff or Golden Order Seal since these both scale off of Intelligence as well as Faith.

Elden Ring best Strength/Int build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Prisoner
  • Important stats: 39 Vigor, 25 Mind, 40 Strength, 40 Intelligence
  • Weapons: Staves, Strength/Int-scaling weapons, medium shields

A hybrid build with Strength and Intelligence can be quite powerful when used well, as it gives you a wide range of ranged and close-quarters options with both magic and melee. You'll want 40 Strength and 40 Intelligence for good physical and sorcery damage. Then you should upgrade your Vigor and Mind so that you have a good amount of health and mana.

Finding weapons that naturally scale with Strength and Intelligence is difficult, but you will come across some good options if you explore thoroughly. You can also manipulate Strength weapons to give them some Intelligence scaling with Ashes of War. It's also not a bad idea to use a medium shield with this type of character since you have the Strength to do so, and it will help you block damage when necessary.

Elden Ring best Strength/Faith build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Confessor, Prophet
  • Important stats: 39 Vigor, 25 Mind, 40 Strength, 40 Faith
  • Weapons: Sacred Seal catalyst, Str/Faith-scaling weapons, medium shields

The humble Strength and Faith hybrid build is a FromSoftware classic, giving you much of the power of a pure Strength build and many of the useful buffs and damage options that come with incantations. It works just like the above Strength/Int build, but with Faith instead of Intelligence. Weapons that naturally scale with Strength and Faith are easier to find than ones that scale with Strength and Intelligence, making this build ideal for people who want to put less effort into finding a quality weapon for a hybrid melee and magic character.

Note that unlike a pure Strength build, you won't be able to wear very heavy armor since you need to invest most of your stat points into Strength and Faith, as well as Vigor and Mind for HP and mana. Therefore, you'll need to play this build more carefully with smart positioning and an emphasis on dodge rolling over blocking attacks with shields. A medium shield is still a useful tool to keep on hand, though.

Elden Ring best Dex/Int build

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)
  • Starting class: Prisoner
  • Important stats: 39 Vigor, 25 Mind, 40 Dexterity, 40 Intelligence
  • Weapons: Staves, Dex/Int-scaling weapons, parry shields

A hybrid Dexterity and Intelligence build is arguably one of the strongest builds in all of Elden Ring since you get the power of sorcery and the physical damage of Dexterity, as well as the benefit of having a very fast casting speed as well. You'll be limited to smaller melee weapons since you won't have much Strength, but that's not a huge deal, especially if you get good at parrying and dish out some big crit damage.

Like other melee and magic hybrid builds, you'll also want a good amount of Vigor and Mind for HP and mana. You'll also want to find yourself a strong weapon that scales with both Dexterity and Intelligence. These aren't super common, but you'll find plenty of them by exploring.

Elden Ring best Dex/Faith build

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)
  • Starting class: Confessor, Samurai
  • Important stats: 39 Vigor, 25 Mind, 40 Dexterity, 40 Faith
  • Weapons: Sacred Seal catalyst, Dex/Faith-scaling weapons, parry shields

If you like the sound of a Dexterity-based hybrid class but you want to use incantations instead of sorcery, give this Dex/Faith build a try. The healing and buff spells available to Faith users are incredibly useful, and since you're also leveling Dexterity, you'll get good physical melee damage, extra crit damage, and a faster casting speed as well. With this build, you can buff yourself before combat with incantations and then devastate foes with parries and ripostes. You can also use offensive incantations in situations where melee combat isn't ideal.

The downside of this build is that weapons that scale with both Dexterity and Faith are rare in Elden Ring's open world, though you can get around this by using Ashes of War that give Dexterity-scaling weapons extra Faith scaling as well.

Elden Ring best Dex/Arcane build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Bandit
  • Important stats: 44 Vigor, 40 Mind, 40 Dexterity, 40 Arcane
  • Weapons: Dex/Arcane-scaling weapons

Many players haven't realized it yet, but a good Dex/Arcane build centered around Bleeding enemies, bosses, and players is one of the strongest you can put together in Elden Ring. With 40 Dexterity, 40 Arcane, a Dexterity weapon that comes with innate Bleed buildup like the Uchigatana, and an Ash of War that makes it a Blood weapon with Arcane scaling, you can deal crazy amounts of burst damage very quickly. This is because the innate Bleed buildup of many Dexterity weapons stacks with the Bleed buildup that gets added when you give a weapon Arcane scaling.

This build gets even stronger when you Power Stance two Blood Dexterity weapons, as it doubles the rate at which you build up Bleed. Using the Mimic Tear spirit summon makes Bleed build up even faster, raising this build to overpowered levels.

Elden Ring best Arcane build

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Starting class: Bandit
  • Important stats: 44 Vigor, 30 Endurance, 30 Dexterity, 50 Arcane
  • Weapons: Rivers of Blood, Mohgwyns Sacred Spear, Eleonora's Poleblade

If you want to inflict Bleed as much as you possibly can and don't care about your weapon's individual strikes doing a lot of damage, opting for a hardcore Arcane build will be your best option. Arcane weapon scaling caps out at 50, so you shouldn't level it up to 60 or higher like you would with other pure stat builds. That will leave you with additional points to put into Vigor, Endurance, and Dexterity, all of which will make you more capable in melee combat or allow you to use some of Elden Ring's best weapons with Arcane scaling, such as the Rivers of Blood katana.

The drawback of a pure Arcane build is that whenever you come up against enemies or bosses that are immune to Bleed, your damage output will fall off significantly. In these situations, summoning other players for co-op will probably be a good idea. Note that there aren't many enemies or bosses immune to Bleed, so this situation will only come up very rarely.

Elden Ring best Faith/Arcane build

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)
  • Starting class: Bandit
  • Important stats: 34 Vigor, 40 Mind, 40 Faith, 40 Arcane
  • Weapons: Dragon Communion Seal, Faith or Arcane-scaling weapons

You can make a viable Faith/Arcane hybrid build with Elden Ring's dragon powers, which are very powerful and unique spells. These incantations are difficult to obtain since you can only get them by killing dragons and trading their heart for one at the Church of Dragon Communion, but they're also incredibly powerful. Unlike most incantations, they require both Faith and Arcane to use.

In situations where you can't use your magic effectively, you'll want a Faith or Arcane-scaling weapon as a backup option. These are fairly common in Elden Ring's open world, but if you're struggling to find weapons you like that scale with Faith or Arcane intrinsically, you can opt to use Ashes of War to make any weapon effectively scale with Faith or Arcane.

Elden Ring is finally here, and it's available for $60 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC. It's one of the best Xbox games you can play right now if you're a fan of challenging RPGs, and we strongly recommend it.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.