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A player jumping out and over the Lands Between on Torrent in Elden Ring.
Image via FromSoftware

Best starting classes to use in Elden Ring

A massive journey begins with one choice.

First-time Tarnished characters are faced with an immediate question when beginning Elden Ring: what is the best starting class? In simple terms, it largely depends on how you want to fight, but there’s plenty more to your choice.

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Classes like the Warrior, Vagabond, and Hero, emphasize melee combat, while ranged combat is more of a focus for the Astrologer, Prisoner, and, to some extent, the Samurai. But which is best for you?

Best starting class for Elden Ring beginners

An unarmed warrior in Elden Ring.
Just use a flying kick against them, it’s that simple. Image via FromSoftware

The best starting class for new Elden Ring players is the Vagabond. Its high starting health, fantastic shield, and long-ranged melee weapon let you get used to the most popular playstyle of the game. We recommend this playstyle and class if Elden Ring is one of your first Soulslike games. That said, there are several other combat options that other classes handle better if you’re looking for something more specific.

Here’s a soft ranking list of the starting classes. The decision varies from player to player but, based on in-house testing and asking the community, all playstyles are viable in Elden Ring and classes merely provide a framework for early playthroughs. This list ranks the classes based on starting stats and equipment for the first few areas—like Limgrave and Liurnia of the Lakes.

Tip:

If you’re making your way through the game and decide that you want to completely change how your character is shaping up, you don’t need to restart from the beginning. Once you’ve defeated Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon at the Academy of Raya Lucaria, you’ll be able to completely respec all of your allotted stats in exchange for a Larval Tear.

Vagabond

The vagabond class standing front and center wilding a halberd and shield in Elden Ring
This halberd is perfect for early fights. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: Up and close combat or long reach combat
  • Strengths: Vigor, Heater shield
  • Weaknesses: Arcane
  • Best Weapons: Greatswords and Colossal Weapons

The Vagabond provides a great starting framework for players looking to get up in the enemy’s face with melee combat. With the highest starting Vigor of any starting class at 15 and the lowest Arcane stat at seven, this class is one of the most optimal classes for melee players. This is because the lowest attributes are ones melee users don’t use (Intelligence, Faith, and Arcane)—though, these stats aren’t low enough that you can’t pivot to a caster or hybrid build over time.

Boasting its large melee-based stat investment with 14 Strength and 13 Dexterity, the Vagabond comes equipped with a longsword and halberd to use at the start. This gives you the option to use a short or long-reach weapon. It also has the heater shield, a fantastic starting shield to use at the beginning and even the end of the game due to its 100-percent physical guard.

Best starting melee classes to use in Elden Ring

Melee is the most popular playstyle in Elden Ring, with plenty of weapons to support you. If you find the Vagabond too slow and doesn’t deal much damage, the Hero, Samurai, and Warrior offer stronger base stats for dealing higher melee damage during the early areas—with many of them sporting higher Dexterity. The Confessor provides a unique mixture of Strength, Dexterity, and Faith, giving you a decent start for a Strength/Faith build.

Hero

The Hero class taking on a Tree Sentinel in Elden Ring
Perfect for mauling that Tree Sentinel early on. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: High damage
  • Strengths: Strength, beginning health and stamina
  • Weaknesses: One dimensional
  • Best Weapon: Colossal Weapons

The Hero has the highest strength stat of all other classes at 16. Equipped with the battle-axe as a starting weapon and wild strikes weapon art, melee users have a high damage output class capable of taking on a lot of different enemies and areas.

This class starts with the champion’s armor set and leather shield. In combination with its starting Vigor and Endurance, Warriors provides a great starting health pool and stamina bar. However, it’s not exactly flexible, so you’ll rely on early-game dungeons—like the Tombsward Catacombs—for early-game armor and weapon options.

Samurai

The Samurai class withering down the health of the Soldier of Godrick in Elden Ring
This eastern warrior is a well-rounded Dexterity start. Screenshot by Dots Esports
  • Best if you like: Agility and parrying
  • Strengths: Dexterity and Endurance, Physical Defense
  • Weaknesses: Overly offensive, not defensive
  • Best Weapon: Rivers of Blood

The Samurai comes in with the highest Endurance stat across all starting classes. This is one of the most versatile kits to start with. Equipped with the Land of Reeds armor set and Red Thorn Roundshield, Samurais have a high physical defense. This makes it a great option for melee players looking to absorb hits while in the enemy’s face.

For offense, the class has a Longbow and Uchigatana. Being able to start with a strong weapon like this katana is a great choice due to the usable move set and blood loss secondary effect. The Longbow gives an additional ranged option for sniping enemies at a distance and only adds to the Samurai’s great starting kit.

Confessor

The Confessor class leaping to attacks a Grafted Scion Elden Ring
For builds ready to make your foes confess. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: Assassin-like combat
  • Strengths: Balanced stats, Heater Shield
  • Weaknesses: Low Health
  • Best Weapon: Rogier’s Rapier

The Confessor is another assassin-type class similar to the Bandit. It doesn’t have any of the highest or lowest stats, but it does have the highest starting total level at 10. The class’ highest stat is Faith, with equal Strength and Dexterity just below—great for scaling into the Blasphemous Blade or other Faith weapons in midgame. It starts with the full Confessor’s armor set as well as the Blue Crest Heater Shield, which blocks 100 percent of incoming physical damage.

You’ll also start with the Finger Seal for incantations and the Broadsword for a melee weapon. Assassin’s Approach, which makes the user move silently, and Urgent Heal, a quick low heal, are the starting incantations. Whether you take a stealth approach or an in-your-face assault with heals to fall back on, you get to fight how you want with this starting class.

Warrior

The Warrior class dual wielding in Elden Ring
This traveler is ready for the Lands Between. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: Speedy attacks
  • Strengths: Dexterity, Dual-wielding immediately
  • Weaknesses: No ranged, lower health
  • Best Weapon: Magma Blade

Starting with two scimitars, this Dexterity-based class is a good starting option for those looking to strike quickly with their weapon. The Warrior is the only starting class that can use the dual-wielding weapon system new to Elden Ring immediately. Equipped with the warrior and blue cloth armor along with the riveted wooden round shield, the Warrior offers medium physical stats.

If you’re looking to specialize in Dexterity weaponry, the Warrior is a perfect start—that 16 is huge for a stat with such high minimums for endgame weapons.

Tip: Melee Builds are suggested early

Melee builds are centered around either Strength or Dexterity and feature starting weapons that will be strong up close. You can eventually re-spec all of your stats later in the game, so this is just a suggestion for the very early stages of Elden Ring.

Best starting ranged classes to use in Elden Ring

There are quite a few ranged options in Elden Ring, with several weapons and Sorceries that allow you to deal damage from a distance without having to get up too close. You’ll likely have to sacrifice some HP or Strength, but you can also build hybrid setups later on. The Astrologer and Prisoner make great use of Sorceries, the Bandit is a fantastic Bow start, and the Prophet offers Faith-users a large bump to their main stat.

Astrologer

The astrologer class wielding a scythe and taking on a Grafted Scion in Elden Ring
You’ll get very used to being at this health total. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: Magic
  • Strengths: Intelligence
  • Weaknesses: Durability
  • Best Weapon: Carian Regal Scepter

The Astrologer is an Intelligence-based class that offers you early access to magic-based combat. It starts with the highest base Intelligence stat over all other classes at 16. Equipped with a Shortsword, Astrologer’s Staff, Scripture Wooden Shield, and Astrologer robe set, this is the frailest starting class with the lowest physical stats.

You should be careful—the Astrologer starts with very low health and physical durability. However, using the Glintstone Pebble and Arc from range as the main damage output lets you get away with murder from afar, keeping your health safe. Those looking to specialize in sorceries should start with the Astrologer and continue to level up Intelligence.

Prophet

The Prophet class holding a torch in a cave in Elden Ring
The fires of revelation are coming. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: Healing Capabilities
  • Strengths: Faith, Offensive & Defensive
  • Weaknesses: Low physical defense
  • Best Weapon: Winged Scythe

The Prophet is a Faith-based class that looks to specialize in offensive and defensive incantations. This class has the lowest Endurance, Intelligence, and Dexterity, but it offers 16 Faith and 14 Mind, so you can rely on the Catch Flame and Heal incantations to start with. Catch Flame is a decent starting incantation. With a short casting time, this can be used quickly and in a pinch to stagger enemies and create distance to use the Shorts Spear.

Equipped with the Prophet set, Rickety Shield, Short Spear, and Finger Seal, this class has low physical defenses but is versatile on the ground and horseback. It’s the starting class of choice for players looking to use the game’s best Incantations, including the Frenzied Flame ones.

Prisoner

The prisoner class using magic against a Grafted Scion in Elden Ring
Surely, it’s kinda hard to see out of that helmet, right? Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: Magic but not dying
  • Strengths: Balanced Stats, Defensive capabilities
  • Weaknesses: Weak starting armor
  • Best Weapon: Glintstone Kris

The Prisoner is a unique starting class since it’s a hybrid between a melee and caster with a good spread of starting stats. It does not have the highest in any stat but, with a blend of Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence, the Prisoner is a more defensive Astrologer. This class starts with the Prisoner’s armor set and iron mask, which don’t do much to protect you. It comes equipped with an Estoc, a great stab weapon, and a Glintstone Staff used for casting sorceries.

Magic Glintstone Blade is the starting sorcery for the Prisoner. This conjures a magic sword above you that hones in on the target after a set amount of time. The delay makes it a great spell to combo with the main hand weapon.

Bandit

The bandit class jumping and aiming their bow at an enemy in Elden Ring
Choose your fights with ease. Screenshot by Dot Esports
  • Best if you like: Both up close melee and ranged
  • Strengths: Finding items
  • Weaknesses: Good luck spellcasting
  • Best Weapon: Horn Bow

The Bandit offers you a more assassin-like class to start off your adventure with. Equipped with the Bandit armor set, Buckler, and Great Knife, this class offers mediocre physical stats outside of Dexterity. While the Great Knife may not appear to be the most desirable of the starting weapons, it has the blood loss secondary effect to help you take on a variety of different foes. 

Where this class shines is with its Arcane stat of 14, the highest of any starting class. Arcane is not only involved in boosting your item discovery but also the rate at which secondary effects build up. With a higher Arcane stat on the Bandit, you can use the blood loss mechanic on the Great Knife for massive damage as you take on bosses and other enemies.

The class also comes with a short bow that offers you an alternative option and a break from the close-quarters combat normally required by the Great Knife.

Worst starting class in Elden Ring

The Wretch takes the spot as the worst Elden Ring class with ease. No other class makes your early game so awkward in return for such a meager reward.

Wretch

Wretch class with no armor attacking an enemy with their club in Elden Ring
It’s certainly a creative class, we’ll give it that. Screenshot by Dots Esports
  • Best if you like: A challenge
  • Strengths: Malleable, club
  • Weaknesses: Difficult for newcomers
  • Best Weapons: Club

While pretty much all starting classes in Elden Ring are viable, and the starting bonuses won’t have any serious consequences in the long run, we advise new players not to start with the Wretch.

A recurring class from previous FromSoftware titles, the Wretch is a blank-slate class that doesn’t give you any starting options other than a club to wield. While the club is actually a decent weapon to start the game with due to its ability to stagger enemies quickly and effectively, you may find the class difficult because of its low physical defenses, starting health pool, and overall equipment.

However, with a 10 in all stats, it’s easy to pivot from a Wretch into any build you want. An experienced player—or someone looking for an early challenge—can make a Wretch capable of using just about anything with enough levels.


This is a soft ranking list of the starting classes in Elden Ring. It is important to remember every starting class in the game is viable based on playtesting and community feedback. Experimenting with different starting classes is also going to be useful for DLC runs or if the game gets a sequel.


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Scott Duwe
Staff Writer & Call of Duty lead. Professional writer for over 10 years. Lover of all things Marvel, Destiny 2, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, and more. Previous bylines include PC Gamer, Red Bull Esports, Fanbyte, and Esports Nation. DogDad to Yogi the Corgi, sports fan (NY Yankees, NY Jets, NY Rangers, NY Knicks), Paramore fanatic, cardio enthusiast.
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Jason Toro-McCue
Contributing writer and member of the RPG beat. Professional writer of five years for sites and apps, including Nerds + Scoundrels and BigBrain. D&D and TTRPG fanatic, perpetual Fighter main in every game he plays.