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Best Elden Ring starting classes

Here are the best Elden Ring builds for all player types, from melee to magic.

Elden Ring's starting classes menu screen.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Choosing the best Elden Ring starting class can feel like a monumental decision you have to make before you've even begun your journey through The Lands Between. While there’s no doubt that picking the best starting class can be important for your first few hours of Elden Ring, it’s not as restrictive as it might seem.

Finding the best Elden Ring starting class isn't so much a case of a single class being objectively better than the rest. Rather, it comes down to how you prefer to play. Some classes favour high strength and vitality for hitting hard and shrugging off blows in close-quarters melee combat, but if your preference is for slinging spells rather than swinging swords, there are several magic-based classes that may be a better choice. What's more, when you can invest your runes to level up any stat you wish (and respec later on), you can ultimately build your character in a way that lets you use whatever weapons, spells, abilities and equipment you like.

In this guide you’ll find our recommendations for the best Elden Ring starting classes for different types of player, and how to play them. Once you’ve chosen your preferred starting class, don’t forget to pick the best Keepsake for your character, too!

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What are the best Elden Ring starting classes?

Here are our recommendations for the best Elden Ring starting classes for different types of player:


The Vagabond class starting screen in Elden Ring
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Vagabond is the best class for beginners

The Vagabond is without a doubt the best Elden Ring starting class overall for complete beginners. If you’ve played Dark Souls game before, you’ll recognise some similarities to the popular Knight class in the Vagabond’s mixture of solid attack, defence and health.

A high Vigor stat of 15, allowing for a healthy HP pool, combines with high stats in both Strength and Dexterity to make the Vagabond able to jump into melee combat with strength- and dex-based weapons without feeling too fragile. It's not a good pick for magic users, though, as it has low Arcane and Intelligence scores.

The Vagabond’s starting equipment includes both a trusty longsword, and slower but more powerful halberd, which can both be paired with the class’ sturdy Heater Shield, which reduces physical damage by 100% when blocking. Altogether, it allows beginners to safely experiment with different melee loadouts to find what works best for them. While the Vagabond’s heavy armour and weapons mean it’s the only Elden Ring starting class that begins the game with a slower roll, it’s an excellent choice for those looking to invest their points in Strength and Dexterity to wield hefty weapons as soon as possible.


Elden Ring's starting class screen for the Samurai.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Samurai is the best class for combat variety

The Samurai is another excellent starting class for Elden Ring beginners, although its mixture of melee and ranged weaponry mean that it’s not quite as focused as our recommendation of the Vagabond. We’d suggest the Samurai as the best Elden Ring class for players who feel confident switching up their strategy during fights, as well as Dark Souls veterans looking for an expanded set of abilities and the chance to parry attacks early on.

Like the Vagabond, the Samurai excels in Dexterity, with strong stats in Strength, Endurance and Vigor for a trusty mix of attack power, stamina and health. As well as the lethal Uchigatana katana, the Samurai starts with a Red Thorn Roundshield that's well suited for countering incoming attacks using its Parry skill, as it can’t prevent all physical damage when blocking.

Another important piece of starting equipment for the Samurai is the Longbow, which comes stocked with both standard arrows and flaming Fire Arrows. The pairing of the katana and bow in the Samurai’s starting arsenal makes it a great class for engaging enemies at any range. You can attract enemies and whittle their health down using arrows from afar, before finishing them close-up using the Uchigatana.


Elden Ring's starting class screen for the Hero.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Hero is the best class for tanks

Hero is among the simplest classes in Elden Ring. If you love tanking through enemy attacks with high HP before landing devastating blows with immense strength, this is the Elden Ring starting class for you.

Hero is equivalent to the classic barbarian archetype, and starts with high Vigor and Strength, with a decent bit of Endurance to boot. The Hero’s starting equipment also reflects its straightforward approach to combat, boasting a Battle Axe and a Large Leather Shield that will mitigate most physical damage when blocking. The shield can also be used to parry, opening up foes to powerful counterattacks from your axe.

While the Hero class is tailor-made for building toward strength-based weapons, it also has a fair amount of Arcane from the off. That means there’s the option to invest in using weapons that inflict additional blood loss, poison and other effects, as the status effect is increased with your Arcane level.


Elden Ring's starting class screen for the Bandit.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Bandit is the best class for rogues

Elden Ring’s Bandit class is the closest the game gets to a classic rogue. Boasting high Dexterity and Arcane stats, and coming equipped with a knife and shortbow, this is the best Elden Ring class for players who prefer to evade attacks rather than blocking them, before responding with a rapid flurry of attacks.

The Bandit is one of Elden Ring’s more fragile classes thanks to its low starting HP and defence, but its strengths lie in its high Arcane and Dexterity stats, boosting the chance of inflicting debilitating status effects using Dexterity weapons. That includes their starting Great Knife dagger, which scales well with dexterity, causes a build-up of blood loss and includes the Quickstep weapon skill to make the Bandit even faster on their feet.

When staying out of range is better, the Bandit also starts with a shortbow and quiver full of fletched Bone Arrows, providing a decent option for bringing down opponents’ health from afar. Their starting Buckler shield also has a unique shield skill, Buckler Parry, which is a variant of the standard Parry ability with a more generous timing window for deflecting an incoming attack. Although the Buckler won’t offer much added protection when blocking normally compared to other shields, its unique skill makes it a must-have for anyone who loves to parry.


Elden Ring's starting class screen for the Astrologer.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Astrologer is the best class for spallcasters

The Astrologer is Elden Ring’s answer to a traditional wizard class. Skilled in slinging spells from afar, it’s a class perfect for players looking to fill their spellbook full of the best sorceries as fast as possible and have little interest in fighting up close.

Helping boost the Astrologer’s magical prowess are higher starting stats in Mind and Intelligence than any other class. That comes at the cost of almost every other stat, which all start below 10 - meaning you’ll want to avoid ending up in any prolonged melee scuffles as your health will quickly run out.

While the class’ Astrologer's Staff and two starting spells - the targeted Glintstone Pebble and wider Glintstone Arc projectiles - are easily its most powerful starting boons, the class does have options if you end up having to finish off an enemy up-close. A short sword and the Scripture Wooden Shield provide some melee attack and defence, although the shield is much more effective when used to parry than block direct damage.


Elden Ring's starting class screen for the Wretch.
Image credit: Eurogamer/FromSoftware

Wretch is the best class for the pros

Unlike the classes above, the Wretch isn’t the class to play if you’re a newcomer. This barebones - and barely-clothed - class is similar to Dark Souls’ Deprived, in that it offers a punishing lack of stats and equipment to start with. With that said, the Wretched is still a worthy contender as one of Elden Ring’s best classes overall, if you know what you’re doing and are up for the challenge.

The Wretch starts with little more than a simple wooden club, so you’ll need to play carefully to survive long enough to find a good set of armour and a better weapon. Where the Wretch excels, however, is its flexibility, as it has the potential for creating the very best Elden Ring builds. All of the Wretch’s stats start at a flat 10 and it is the only class to actually start at Level 1, meaning that once you start to obtain runes and level up, it serves as the perfect foundation to build your perfect character. That’s generally recommended for more advanced and experienced players who already know which stats they plan to invest their runes in.

Of course, that all comes with the caveat that for the first few hours you’ll be at a significant disadvantage compared to the other Elden Ring starting classes. Overcome that challenge, though, and you’ll be ready to take your character in whatever direction you desire - making the Wretch perhaps the best Elden Ring class for any type of player after all.

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