Elden Ring: Which class should you choose?

Elden Ring Gameplay Trailer Leap
Elden Ring Gameplay Trailer Leap (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Choosing a class is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make in Elden Ring; not only does your class determine what your character's starting stats will be, but it also dictates what kinds of weapons and armor you'll initially have at your disposal as well. As with previous FromSoftware RPGs, there is no objective "best" class — each one merely has its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses to consider.

It can be daunting to pick a class, especially since it's not a decision that you can go back on without completely starting a new character. That's why in this guide, we've detailed everything you need to know about picking a class in Elden Ring, including what each character stat affects, the starting stats and gear of each class, and the best type of play style to use with each class.

Elden Ring: What does each stat do?

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

In Elden Ring, your character's health, effectiveness in combat, resistances to status effects, and more are all determined by eight different stats. Each class in the game starts out with a set number of each of these eight stats, which is what determines the strengths and weaknesses of each class. Note that each time you level up in Elden Ring, you can increase any one of these eight stats by one point, regardless of which class you're playing as.

Here's a breakdown of how each type of stat in Elden Ring affects your character:

  • Vigor: Governs HP as well as resistance to fire damage and the Poison status effect.
  • Mind: Governs FP (mana) as well as resistances to the Sleep and Madness status effects.
  • Endurance: Governs stamina, resistance to physical damage, and maximum equipment load.
  • Strength: Required to use heavy melee weapons and shields effectively. Improves damage with Strength-scaling weapons.
  • Dexterity: Required to use advanced armaments effectively. Improves damage with Dexterity-scaling weapons, shortens spell casting time, lowers fall damage, and makes it harder to be knocked off your mount.
  • Intelligence: Required to use Glintstone sorcery magic. Improves sorcery damage, improves damage with Intelligence-scaling weapons, and improves your resistance to magic damage.
  • Faith: Required to use incantation spells. Improves the effectiveness of incantations and improves the damage of Faith-scaling weapons.
  • Arcane: Improves your item discovery, boosts your resistance to the Death status effect, and is required to use a select few types of sorceries and incantations.

Elden Ring: Vagabond class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 9
  • Stats: Vigor 15, Mind 10, Endurance 11, Strength 14, Dexterity 13, Intelligence 9, Faith 9, Arcane 7
  • Starting weapons: Longsword, Halberd, Heater Shield
  • Starting armor: Heavy

The Vagabond is arguably the best of Elden Ring's classes to choose if you want to create a tanky Strength or Quality (Strength/Dexterity hybrid) melee character, as it comes with the most Vigor of any class, the second-highest Strength of the lineup, and plenty of Dexterity as well. Additionally, the Vagabond class is the only one to start the game off with heavy armor, making the class more resilient to damage than other options. The Vagabond's Heater Shield provides full protection from physical damage, and both the Longsword and Halberd are effective weapons.

The Vagabond class is designed to be more forgiving than the other classes in the lineup, making them a great choice if you're new to FromSoftware's games or want to have an easier time getting started. With that said, the class can't use any type of magic effectively, doesn't have a ranged weapon at the start of the game, and also has the lowest Arcane stat of any class.

Elden Ring: Warrior class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 8
  • Stats: Vigor 11, Mind 12, Endurance 11, Strength 10, Dexterity 16, Intelligence 10, Faith 8, Arcane 9
  • Starting weapons: Scimitar x2, Small Leather Shield
  • Starting armor: Medium

The Warrior is a class with high Dexterity and a healthy amount of Mind, too, making it ideal for players who want to use advanced Dexterity weapons and FP for powerful Ashes of War weapon arts. The Warrior begins the game with a set of medium armor and dual-wielded Scimitars, which can dish out a lot of damage quickly if players pick the right time to strike with their blades of fury. The class's Small Leather Shield is also great for parrying incoming attacks.

The main weakness of the Warrior class is that it lacks the ability to use magic effectively at the start of the game, and also that it doesn't have any available ranged weapons.

Elden Ring: Hero class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 7
  • Stats: Vigor 14, Mind 9, Endurance 12, Strength 16, Dexterity 9, Intelligence 7, Faith 8, Arcane 11
  • Starting weapons: Battle Axe, Leather Shield
  • Starting armor: Light

The Hero is Elden Ring's pure Strength-focused class, featuring the most Strength out of all the classes and lots of Endurance as well. Compared to the Vagabond, the Hero has slightly less health and less protection from armor and shield at the start of the game, but also dishes out more damage with its Battle Axe and has a much higher Arcane stat.

Like the other aforementioned melee characters, the Hero doesn't begin the game with any ranged weapons and can't use magic effectively.

Elden Ring: Bandit class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 5
  • Stats: Vigor 10, Mind 11, Endurance 10, Strength 9, Dexterity 13, Intelligence 9, Faith 8, Arcane 14
  • Starting gear: Knife, Shortbow, Buckler
  • Starting armor: Light

The Bandit is the best class for parrying enemies, as the Buckler has a larger parry window than most shields and the Bandit's high Dexterity improves the critical damage of ripostes with the Knife significantly. Notably, the Bandit also starts the game with a Shortbow for ranged attack and the highest Arcane stats of any class, making them an excellent pick if you want to farm enemies for their loot drops.

The Bandit's biggest weakness is the class's inability to use magic well, and also its lack of Strength. As a result, you'll mostly be sticking with smaller and quicker weapons like daggers with this class (unless you level Strength a bit as you level up).

Elden Ring: Astrologer class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 6
  • Stats: Vigor 9, Mind 15, Endurance 9, Strength 8, Dexterity 12, Intelligence 16, Faith 7, Arcane 9
  • Starting weapons/spells: Astrologer's Staff, Short Sword, Small Shield, Glintstone Pebble, Glintstone Arc
  • Starting armor: Light

The Astrologer is Elden Ring's sorcery mage class, featuring the highest Intelligence of any class and plenty of Mind and Dexterity for a lot of mana and quick casting, respectively. Though the class does come equipped with a Short Sword and a Small Shield for melee combat, your focus should be on peppering enemies with the Glintstone Pebble and Glintstone Arc spells when starting out with this class (you'll find more spells throughout your journey). Note that for your magic attacks to track foes, you need to lock the camera onto them.

The downside of the Astrologer class is that it has low Vigor and Endurance, meaning that you don't have as much health and stamina as some of Elden Ring's other classes. Try to stay out of melee attack range whenever possible (especially since the Astrologer begins with very light armor).

Elden Ring: Prophet class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 7
  • Stats: Vigor 10, Mind 14, Endurance 8, Strength 11, Dexterity 10, Intelligence 7, Faith 16, Arcane 10
  • Starting weapons/spells: Finger Seal, Spear, Heal, Oh, Flame!
  • Starting armor: Light

The Prophet is the game's dedicated class for incantation spells, which generally have a shorter range than sorceries but can also have a wider variety of effects. Like Astrologers, Prophets have plenty of Mind, though instead of Intelligence, Prophets have a high Faith stat. Heal is a spell that can be used to supplement your healing flask or heal allies, while Oh, Flame! is a fire spell that does reliable damage to opponents. Additional incantation spells can be found or bought throughout the Lands Between, so keep an eye out. The Prophet also starts with a Spear, which is a useful weapon in situations where you can't cast your magic effectively.

The Prophet's main drawbacks include low health and stamina as well as poor armor. Just like with the Astrologer, you should try to stay out of harm's way as much as possible with the Prophet.

Elden Ring: Prisoner class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 9
  • Stats: Vigor 11, Mind 12, Endurance 11, Strength 11, Dexterity 14, Intelligence 14, Faith 6, Arcane 9
  • Starting weapons/spells: Estoc, Catalyst Staff, Iron Roundshield, Magic Glintblade
  • Starting armor: Light

If you're interested in a hybrid character who uses equal amounts of both Intelligence and Dexterity, the Prisoner is the class for you. With a starting Intelligence and Dexterity stat of 14, the Prisoner can dish out solid damage with sorceries and Dexterity-based weapons alike.

The downside of the Prisoner is that they have relatively low health and armor, and also don't do as much damage with sorceries and Dexterity weapons that an Astrologer or Bandit would do, respectively. Hybrid builds, such as the Intelligence/Dexterity build that you should use with the Prisoner, emphasize versatility over maximum damage output.

Elden Ring: Confessor class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 10
  • Stats: Vigor 10, Mind 13, Endurance 10, Strength 12, Dexterity 12, Intelligence 9, Faith 14, Arcane 9
  • Starting weapons/spells: Finger Seal, Broadsword, Kite Shield, Urgent Heal, Assassin's Approach
  • Starting armor: Light

Elden Ring's Confessor class is for players who want to create a hybrid build using Strength/Faith or Dexterity/Faith. Essentially, it's the Faith-based version of the Prisoner class. The Broadsword and Kite Shield are very capable early game items, and the Urgent Heal incantation is great for some quick healing. The Assassin's Approach spell, meanwhile, silences all noises made by your footsteps. This makes it easy to sneak up on enemies and backstab them.

Like other classes with casting abilities, the Confessor has low health and stamina, as well as light armor that doesn't offer much protection.

Elden Ring: Samurai class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 9
  • Stats: Vigor 12, Mind 11, Endurance 13, Strength 12, Dexterity 15, Intelligence 9, Faith 8, Arcane 8
  • Starting weapons: Uchigatana, Long Bow, Red Thorn Roundshield
  • Starting armor: Medium

If you want to create a Dexterity-focused character but don't like the sound of the Bandit's parry-heavy play style, give the Samurai a try. This class has plenty of Dexterity, but also has more health and stamina than the Bandit as well. Due to their higher Endurance, they also get to start off with a medium armor set that offers solid protection. Notably, both the Samurai's Uchigatana and Long Bow are effective Dexterity weapons.

The trade-off of choosing Samurai over Bandit is that the shield you're given is less effective at parrying, and the Uchigatana does less critical damage to opponents than the Knife does after a successful parry as well. Additionally, the Samurai is incapable of using magic effectively in the early game.

Elden Ring: Wretch class, stats, and gear

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  • Level: 1
  • Stats: Vigor 10, Mind 10, Endurance 10, Strength 10, Dexterity 10, Intelligence 10, Faith 10, Arcane 10
  • Starting weapons: Club
  • Starting armor: None

The Wretch is Elden Ring's hardest class to play as, and just like the Deprived class from the Dark Souls games, the Wretch starts with nothing but a loincloth and a crude club. They also start at Level 1 and have a completely flat stat distribution of 10 across the board, making them a great choice if you're looking for a class you can mold into a custom and unique build. They're also the typical choice for players who want to overcome some extra challenge.

The main drawbacks of the Wretch class are that it doesn't start the game being proficient at anything, and also that the Wretch's complete lack of armor makes them extremely vulnerable to all forms of attack. Find some armor as soon as you can when starting the game off as a Wretch.

Elden Ring is expected to launch on Feb. 25, 2022, on Xbox Series X|S systems, Xbox One consoles, PS5, PS4, and PC, and could be one of the best Xbox RPGs. The game costs $60, and Elden Ring preorders are available now.

Brendan Lowry

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.