Can't decide which Elden Ring class to pick? Here's a look at your best and worst options in terms of difficulty.
Elden Ring defies many open-world and RPG conventions, but, at its heart, it is still very much a Soulsborne game. That means that your choice of which class to play as can have a significant impact on the early part of your journey and how hard certain sections of the game really are.
Just as it was in Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls, and Bloodborne, choosing a class in Elden Ring doesn’t necessarily lock you into a particular playstyle. You’ll still be able to level your character pretty much however you like to once you actually start playing the game. Instead, choosing a class in Elden Ring is more like making a declaration of intent. You’re basically laying the groundwork for what kind of character you may eventually want to build. By picking a class that starts a bit closer to your preferred endgame playstyle, you’re giving yourself a slight starting advantage.
That being the case, it’s difficult to talk about Elden Ring‘s starting classes in terms of “worst” and “best.” Some classes and builds will perform better than others in the late game (which is a topic for another day), but when you’re just starting out, the relative strength of your class will be based more on your preferences, style, mechanical skills, and how you choose to level your character.
However, it is a little easier to talk about Elden Ring‘s starting classes in terms of “hardest” and “easiest.” If you’re coming into this game cold (meaning you have little to no experience with previous Soulsborne games), you should know that there are certain classes in the game that are harder to play due to the nature of the game, that classes’ optimal playstyle, and how they’re equipped to handle some of the earliest challenges this game will throw at you before you’re able to properly build your character and make them your own.
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So if you don’t know which Elden Ring class to pick but are interested in making things at least slightly easier on yourself, here’s a rough look at how every class in the game stacks up in terms of overall difficulty.
The Wretch is Elden Ring’s version of the Deprived class from Dark Souls, which is really just another way of saying that this is the class that starts at the lowest overall level with no real statistical advantages to speak of. Even worse, their lone piece of starting equipment is a somewhat pathetic club that will likely need to be replaced fairly early on.
While this is objectively the hardest starting class in the game, the design of the Wretch really highlights why it’s so difficult to simply use the word “worst” when describing any Elden Ring class. For a certain kind of player, the Wretch will be an ideal starting class simply because they’re something of a blank slate. They have no real strengths in the same way that other classes do, but their even stat distribution means that you’re able to grow them in whatever way you see fit (so long as you’re willing to view them as a project).
It’s almost impossible to recommend the Wretch to new players or anyone looking to make things slightly easier on themselves, but this class is much more than the joke it is sometimes made out to be.
The Bandit is a somewhat odd Elden Ring class. They’re obviously meant to be the game’s premiere stealth class (which essentially means that they’ll eventually rely on bows, daggers, light shields, and, yes, sneaking), but they also start with the highest base Arcane rating of all the Elden Ring classes (14), which means that they’re more likely to find loot on fallen foes and resist certain effects.
On the one hand, Elden Ring’s new sneaking abilities make “stealth builds” more viable than they’ve necessarily been in some other Soulsborne games. Indeed, the open-world sections of the game offer plenty of opportunities to sneak up on enemies or even just pick them off from a distance with a little help from your bow. Their higher Discovery rate also means that they’re better able to utilize the game’s crafting and upgrade systems.
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On the other hand, Bandit players may struggle in the early game until they’ve acquired a better ranged weapon and specialized projectiles. They will also almost certainly struggle against early bosses who are able to fairly effectively counter their primary strategies. This class “scales” well into the late game, but you’re definitely going to be dealing with a fairly steep learning curve.
On the surface, Warriors offer one of the most appealing initial stat packages in the game. Their high Dexterity allows them to access a variety of unique weaponry (as well as the dual-wield swords they start with), while their respectable Mind and Intelligence stats mean that they will be able to utilize basic magic abilities relatively early on.
The biggest problem with learning to effectively play a Warrior is dealing with the fact that their initial build means that they’re designed to stay on the offense as much as possible while rolling out of the way of incoming attacks. Learning to manage your stamina in a way that allows you to consistently do both those things can be difficult. Furthermore, getting the most out of Elden Ring’s dual-wield system will take quite some time due to both the unique nature of that playstyle and how long it will take you to acquire the proper equipment/upgrades.
If you’re comfortable with dodge rolling and more aggressive melee playstyles, though, then you will probably learn to love this class fairly quickly. It’s also nice that they’re able to fairly easily “scale” into ranged and magic abilities (even if there are similar classes that arguably outstrip them in both respects).
I could easily entertain any arguments that suggest the Prisoner class should be a couple of spots higher on this list, but I ultimately went with a slightly more modest placement that best represents their unique nature.
Simply put, Prisoners are your basic “Spellsword” class. That means that they’re able to effectively utilize a basic melee strategy that is often bolstered by a small collection of key spells as well as weapon enhancement abilities. They’re often slightly more of a spellcaster than a melee fighter at the end of the day, but effectively using a Prisoner (at least at first) means learning to balance your use of both strategies.
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The two things that prevent a Prisoner from being a true “jack of all trades” are their low initial Faith stat (which makes it very difficult for them to learn powerful Incantations) and the uphill battle they’ll face when trying to learn advanced melee tactics and acquire better melee gear. While I’ve found that a healthy mix of melee and spells may just be one of the best ways to survive some of Elden Ring’s toughest challenges, this is still a bit of a project class that will likely appeal most to veteran players.
On the surface, the Prophet bumps up against some of the same stat problems that make other magic-based classes tricky to learn (low defenses/health and their reliance on spells that come later in the game). They’re not the class you want to choose if you want to maximize your chances of surviving the occasional early mistake.
What separates Prophets from similar classes is the fact that they are noticeably more durable than other “mage” classes at the start of the game, but can effectively utilize melee attacks when needed. Furthermore, they bost a jaw-dropping base Faith stat (16) that grants them early access to some of the most powerful spells in the game.
I’m a little hesitant to rank this class so high given their relative lack of survivability compared to other class options, but you will start to get a lot out of this class very early on and will be able to carry that momentum into the late game.
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They say that a hero can save us, so I’m not going to wait to tell you about their absurd starting Strength (16), high starting Vigor (14), and the fact that they are essentially Elden Ring’s resident Barbarians.
You can pretty much forget about using all but a few spells if you choose to play as a Hero, which is certainly a bit of a downside given how useful spells in this game can be. You may also struggle to find an effective ranged attack option for this class at first, which is also obviously a notable downside (though it is one you can work around early on with a little leveling).
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Ultimately, though, the Hero’s relatively high placement on this list can be attributed to their survivability and the fact that they’re able to effectively use one of the most useful defensive options in the game for new players (a strong shield) very early on. They’re a limited class in a lot of ways, but there is something to be said for how easy they are to “figure out.”
Speaking of learning curves, we come to the Astrologer class: quite possibly the trickiest class to rank in terms of how difficult they are to play.
Unless you’re familiar with “mage classes” in other Soulsborne games (specifically the Dark Souls series), you will struggle at least somewhat with the Astrologer class in Elden Ring. Their relatively weak initial spells and almost non-existent defenses mean that they die quickly and deal damage somewhat slowly and in a limited way. That’s not good.
However, once you start to unlock a few more spells and get a feel for how this class operates, you will likely soon find that there are few obstacles in the game that can possibly stand in your way for long. Magic is incredibly powerful (and generally “safer”) in Elden Ring, so I can still easily recommend this class to newer players despite some of the scars they will acquire along the way.
Samurais are actually surprisingly similar to another class we’ll be talking about a little later on this list, but the big difference between them and the next most comparable class option is the fact that they trade a little survivability and strength in for a higher Dexterity rating that makes them immediately proficient with the longbow they come equipped with (and all future bow upgrades).
The result is a class that feels capable of handling most of the situations that this game will throw at you. They can keep Elden Ring’s most dangerous enemies at a distance with their longbow while still being able to use most major melee weapons just in case anything gets too cute and decides to try to rush you.
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You might want to choose the Warrior or Prisoner (or the other two classes we’ll soon talk about) over a Samurai if you’re interested in learning to use more forms of magic and don’t care about starting the game with a ranged weapon, but other players will likely find that the Samurai’s enhanced survivability and immediate access to effective ranged attack options make them the “easier” choice.
Much like the Prisoner, Confessors are essentially a “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of class that is capable of being built in a variety of viable ways but don’t really excel at any one playstyle.
What elevates the Confessor is their far more generous Faith/Intelligence stat distribution (14 to 9 compared to the Prisoner’s 6 to 14 distribution in those same categories). They’re fairly durable and surprisingly well-equipped at the start of the game, and they’re in an ideal position to access some of the most powerful Faith-based abilities relatively early on.
Unless you want to prioritize a specific kind of playstyle at the start of Elden Ring (or if you want the absolute biggest health pool and most defenses possible), I highly recommend giving this versatile and capable class a shot.
There’s no such thing as an “easy mode” in Elden Ring, but if you’re interested in making things as easy as possible on yourself at the start of the game, then the Vagabond is probably the class for you.
The biggest downside to playing a Vagabond is learning to love the fact that they’re petty much terrible at dodge rolling and probably won’t be able to utilize some of the best (and coolest) spells in the game. Even then, Vagabonds can eventually overcome their high initial equipment loads, and you don’t have to spend too many points on their Faith and Mind stats to eventually help them learn some of the best basic spells in the game (such as healing and magical weapon enhancements).
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Those slight drawbacks aside, Vagabonds offer some of the best initial defensive and offensive options in the game and scale surprisingly well into a variety of builds that will allow anyone who picks one to effectively utilize the widest array of abilities and equipment available. This is a simply exceptional class that will likely be the ideal option for all but a select few new players.
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Tags: Elden RingFantasy
Matthew Byrd is Games Editor at Den of Geek and an entertainment enthusiast living in Brooklyn. When he's not exploring the culture of video games, he's…
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