Feature Article

Which Dark Souls 2 Class Is Best For You?

Nervous about which character class and starting gift to pick in Dark Souls II? Here's what you're getting yourself into.

Starting out in Dark Souls II can be agonising if you're a new player, with a sheet of options presented to you and very little information about what you're getting into. Do you actually need a shield? Why would I pick the explorer class? What's the swordsman's high dexterity good for? Here's a guide to the starting classes in Dark Souls II, with some basic information about their skills at the start of the game.

But it's also absolutely vital to remember that the levelling and class system in Dark Souls II is more of a starting block than a predetermined path--you could turn your warrior into a capable sorcerer, or go from a knight who loves two-handed weapons to an armoured tank with a greatshield, for instance. The way you upgrade your character is up to you, and don't be afraid to put points into whatever you like if you're enjoying (and seeing success with) one style of play over another. When you've accrued enough souls, you can level up your character by talking to the Emerald Herald back in the game's hub area of Majula.

What stats do you need to be aware of, then? Vigor determines how much health you have; endurance governs your stamina (never run out of stamina in combat); and vitality decides how much you can equip without being slowed down. Strength makes you deadlier with heavier weapons, whereas dexterity governs faster weapons and bows. On the magic side, intelligence decides how strong you are with sorceries; faith handles the same for miracles; and attunement allows you to carry more spells. Adaptability, lastly, makes you more resistant to negative status effect, like poison, bleed, and curse.

On top of each character class, you'll also have to choose your own starting gift. That's any one of the following: the HP-raising life ring, a humanity-restoring human effigy, a bunch of healing items, a homeward bone to return you to your last bonfire, a seed of a tree of giants (sets enemies in the area on any invading player), a bonfire ascetic (raises the difficulty of the area around a bonfire), and a petrified something, which currently has an unknown use. You can also choose to reject a gift--will this have some kind of effect somewhere, too?

What class will you end up going with? If you're looking for more Dark Souls II information, you can read GameSpot's review, see the locations of 30 valuable early items to pick up, and check back later for our in-depth guide to the game's challenging boss encounters.

Warrior

Starting stats and equipment: Starts the game at level 12, with 7 vigor, 6 endurance, 6 vitality, 5 attunement, 15 strength, 11 dexterity, 5 adaptability, 5 intelligence, and 5 faith. The warrior also has 10 lifegems from the start, and is equipped with the broken straight sword and iron parma shield. It also has a standard helm, along with hard leather armor, gauntlets, and boots.

Why pick them? The warrior starts with the highest amount of strength in the game, and is the only class to pack a shield by default--he's raring for melee combat from the get-go, which many players will likely find a bit more manageable than other fighting styles. Just be careful to keep your stamina up in combat; maybe put a few points into endurance as soon as you can.

The warrior is the only class that starts with a shield.

Knight

Starting stats and equipment: Starts the game at level 13, with 12 vigor, 6 endurance, 7 vitality, 4 attunement, 11 strength, 8 dexterity, 9 adaptability, 3 intelligence, and 6 faith. Comes equipped with a broadsword, along with falconer armor, gloves, and boots. Also has 10 lifegems.

Why pick them? The knight starts out as a relatively lean, nimble fighter that can effectively wield a powerful broadsword in one or two hands. The class demands enough awareness to dodge attacks, but has high health from the beginning. Not relying on a shield is risky, but it can be incredibly satisfying (and powerful) when you get the hang of it.

The knight is the closest thing to a typical tank in Dark Souls II.

Swordsman

Starting stats and equipment: Begins at level 12 with 4 vigor, 8 endurance, 4 vitality, 6 attunement, 9 strength, 16 dexterity, 6 adaptability, 7 intelligence, and 5 faith. Comes with a scimitar in one hand, a shortsword in the other, and the wanderer hood, coat, manchettes, and boots. Like the other classes, the swordsman gets 10 lifegems.

Why pick them? This is when things start to get a bit more interesting: dual-wielding has been made a viable option in Dark Souls II, with new combo options. With only four vigor, however, you're going to want to get in, attack, and get out. Circling behind your opponents and going for the backstab might not be a bad idea, either. Consider it more of an expert class, with a lot of danger but the greatest amount of potential flair.

Rock it with two weapons with the swordsman.

Bandit

Starting stats and equipment: Level 11 with 9 vigor, 7 endurance, 11 vitality, 2 attunement, 9 strength, 14 dexterity, 3 adaptability, 1 intelligence, and 8 faith. In terms of equipment, the bandit attacks with a short bow or hand axe, and wears a spiked bandit helm, along with bandit armour, gauntlets, and boots for protection. The bandit also gets 10 lifegems and 25 wood arrows.

Why pick them? The bandit is designed primarily around the bow, but the hand axe is a powerful melee weapon you'd be foolish to overlook. Fourteen dexterity is, like with the swordsman, gearing you towards a dexterity-focused build, and provides a good platform to look into creating a swift fighter that can go for powerful backstabs and lethal preemptive strikes with the bow. With only a single point in intelligence, you're going to have to put some real work in if you want to use magic.

If you're not a fan of shirts, then the bandit is for you.

Cleric

Starting stats and equipment: Level 14 with 10 vigor, 3 endurance, 8 vitality, 10 attunement, 11 strength, 5 dexterity, 4 adaptability, 4 intelligence, and 12 faith. There's a solid mace for thumping evil, and a sacred chime for casting miracles, along with archdrake robes and 10 lifegems.

Why pick them? Now we're heading into magical territory. The cleric is geared entirely around using miracles, and starts the game with the heal spell. You'll need to find someone selling miracles in order to diversify your arsenal, but the combination of a hefty mace and great health recovery should help you through the opening stages of the game.

The cleric, above all, has an excellent robe.

Sorcerer

Starting stats and equipment: Level 11 with 5 vigor, 6 endurance, 5 vitality, 10 attunement, 3 strength, 7 dexterity, 8 adaptability, 14 intelligence, and 4 faith.

Why pick them? The sorcerer, unsurprisingly, casts sorceries. He starts with a dagger and a staff, and if you're anything like me, you'll want to have the staff in one hand and the dagger in the other. Soul arrow is a great spell, and you'll get 30 charges of it whenever you rest at a bonfire--more than enough to blast through throngs of foes.

Play as a sorcerer if you don't like to get up close to enemies.

Explorer

Starting stats and equipment: Level 10 with 7 vigor, 6 endurance, 9 vitality, 7 attunement, 6 strength, 6 dexterity, 12 adaptability, 5 intelligence, and 5 faith. The explorer also gets a bevy of items: 20 lifegems, 8 witching urns, 4 aromatic oozes, 5 prism stones, 2 rusted coins, 1 repair powder, and a pharros' lockstone. Finally, there's the spell quartz ring, 20 wood bolts, and a trusty dagger.

Why pick them? Certainly the most esoteric starting class of the lot, the explorer basically comes with a tonne of consumable items--these could be incredibly useful, or you could burn through them to see what they do and end up with nothing. The class stats aren't particularly high, other than adaptability, and the spell quartz ring gives added defence against magic. But I don't think the consumable items are good enough to sacrifice the other stats and items, even though it can be really fun to have so many items to play with at the start of the game.

Like monocles? Then you'll probably dig the explorer.

Deprived

Starting stats and equipment: Level 1, with 6 points in all stats.

Why pick them? Maybe you're after more challenge? Maybe you like running around with very few clothes on? But, really, playing as a deprived character gives you the ultimate control over your character--and also a slight advantage in points once you catch up with the starting levels of all the other classes. You'll be making the start of the game incredibly difficult, but a deprived character ends up the most powerful in the long run. Have a go if you're brave enough.

Choose deprived if you like challenges.

Written By

Hi! I'm Martin, for some reason or another I have managed to convince the people who run GameSpot that I am actually wor

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127 comments
Securator
Securator

Rather than taking the knight or sorcerer because they're considered easy.... newbies should just go with the playstyle that suits them best.....i remember struggling through dark souls with the pyromancer and sorcerer on my fiends advise.....then i chose wanderer which is the kinda class i play with in other RPG's,...and ripped through the game casually.....

Now that they've given us Swordsman im having a blast....

People should just chose the playstyle that suits them best instead of taking advises from other gamers....

lucaskasecker
lucaskasecker

I'm just starting DS II right now, and have not played the first one. Should I pick Bandit? I'm into archers, but I'm afraid it might be too difficult. Can anybody help?

AluminumAndroid
AluminumAndroid

I've used the thief in the previous Souls games,disappointed its not a choice, so I'm leaning towards the explorer.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

WARNING TO ALL:

if you're a beginner or have starting issues => do NOT join "covenant of champions" 

it seems to make the game as hard as a NG+...

(it's in Manjula and can be joined by accident very early on.., it's NOT the "blue dude convenant" sitting alone up there, who will ask you to join, if you speek to him for 5 times.., but it's the "covenant of champions" stone engravment, near Heide's Tower of Flames entrance from Manjual..)

dgallo911
dgallo911

I recommend going the deprived and trying to get as far as possible without leveling up. its a pain in the ass but i think you learn the rules of dark souls alot quicker and every battle is exciting because even an unarmed hollow can take you down if ya not careful. Also seeing "your broken sword is broken" is hilarious and depressing at the same time

Allicrombie
Allicrombie moderator moderator

I'm used to blasting stuff from a distance with Soul Ray in Demons Souls, I'm guessing the Sorcerer would be right up my alley.

TheLeftHandDoom
TheLeftHandDoom

playing as cleric is basically hard mode.  the lock on distance is so short, and the miracles take so long to cast it's almost impossible to use miracles offensively.  Also, the miracles pretty much suck.  The only two useful ones are lighting spear and heal.  The rest are too slow and too weak to serve any purpose. 

20years
20years

how exactly you do dual wielding ? I'm 30 - 45 minutes in this game and I can't do it with the Swordsman . I tried pushing LT & RT (or RB & LB) at the same time but that did'nt work .

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

This guy doesnt even mention that you wont find a god damn F'ng staff for a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng long time if you dont start as a sorcerer. I wanted to play deprived and go both faith/int and focus on Dark magic once I get the staff in the lost bastille but its almost impossible since the first sorcerer staff can only be bought after you kill the dragonrider which is a tough boss and far into the game..what a shame. I LOVE the game,but I must say I prefered the world design of the first Dark Soul alot more.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

do not take the Diprived..... the challege/fun at the beginning is acutally not that big, but you end up having a (way) slower start, since you need to level min. 4-5 levels (if not more), till you can venture on much futher than the gardens..(there's no challenge in going much futher that that with Level 1 or 2, since it's plain useless/impossible)

and by level 5 or 6, quite a few enemies will have vanished for ever, due to so much grinding in the same area.. (even if you use every single soul for level uping..)


and the "default" stats are acutally bad, since if dont' want STR or INT or FTH, you still have a base of 6 on each of those....

spenceaj
spenceaj

Melee bandit all the way, magic and summoning allies is for novices ;D

MrBunson
MrBunson

Can anyone tell me if using the Bow is the same as in the first Dark Souls? Cuz I'd think about going that route, but I hated the way aiming was.....

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

 What's the class suitable for people who wussed out from Dark Souls but just grew enough balls to buy this.

Just askin.

evgenporop
evgenporop

@lucaskasecker  I would recommend the warrior as a first play class because he has a standard block and hit kind of melee fighting style. I would also recommend playing the first game because it is a great game

Dark-Exsphere
Dark-Exsphere

@lucaskasecker if its your first time playing maybe try the knight. since they dont die fast. you can still use a bow too its not restricted to one class.

bungledingus
bungledingus

@dgallo911 The deprived is a bad choice, unless you are going for a Jack of all trades, which I don't recommend. If you look at all the classes and factor in their level, they all have the same amount of stat points. The best way to choose a class is to look at which has the most wanted stat points and the least unwanted. In particular, look at intelligence and faith. If you are not going to cast spells, then the knight is the best choice. If you are going for a faith warrior or healer, then the bandit is a good choice with 1 intelligence, or the cleric if you don't want 14 dexterity. Sorcerer is the best choice if you want any intelligence. You will eventually work up your other stats and find any equipment you need for any play style. If you just want the easiest starting class so you can feel out the game, then the warrior is the best choice. The least useful starting classes are the deprived, then the swordsmen, then the explorer. Although, if you are going for a pyromancer, the deprived is a not bad choice, as the soft cap for fire bonus is a combined faith and intelligence of 60, but I would still pick another class instead as you would have to increase you faith and/or intelligence regardless.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@dgallo911  

recommend NOT using the deprived, since if you do not want magic, the deprived already has INT 6 and FTH 6... and if you not want STR (or DEX) he already has 6 of both of those too.....

=> Warrior is better, if you don't want to use INT or FTH but STR and/or DEX... 

=> or a Sorcerer if you want INT & FTH, but don't need STR

if you want a challenge, just join the "covenant of champions" (in Manjula..)


but I agree, if you chose the Deprived (and miss out on the dagger in the training area like me), you end up playing much more cautious and "punching" a lot of foes.., which gives the game a speciall feeling during the frist few hours.., 

but because you'rs so underleved, you start to "empty" whole areas to level  up (enemies vanish for ever after a while, when killing them too often...), meaning you shouldn't "lose" too many Souls, you might have some troubles on the road.. (luckely, the Tower of Flames, has some enemies, that drop a a lot of souls..)

eyehategod420
eyehategod420

@TheLeftHandDoom  Whew, glad I'm not the only one that thinks this. I'm having a hell of a time on my first playthrough as a cleric. I finally just dumped everything into faith and picked up lightning spear, things are looking easier now. 

evgenporop
evgenporop

@20years  Whaaaattt...? Might be a bug? For me it was dual wielding from the start LB and LT swings the left sword and RB and RT the right. 

67890D
67890D

@gameroutlawzz (Spoiler warning) So I am guessing you did not find the hidden staff in Forest of Giants.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@gameroutlawzz  

the word design of DS1 at the beginning was somewhat cooler.. (you could really go totally in the wrong direaction for a while....., and it felt overall more "open" at the beginning..)

but can't say how DS2's world developes over time (in comparson to DS1)... 

but the weapons durablitly are too short... (or at least they enemies should have a bit better weapon drop rate..., it's cool that the drop rate is lower than DS1, but I've been fighting for a while with bare hands -.-'....)

Lykanthropie
Lykanthropie

@ninboxstation there will be a next gen Dark Souls 2 for PC in 5-6 weeks, PS4 port of that wouldn't play or look any better and would take a while to be ready.

Guess more then 80% of PS4 owners only bought it for games like CoD, BF, AC, Fifa.

Buyinbg a PC for DS2 would simply make much more sense then buying any console for the game, PCs are much stronger this gen.

I would more like to see another Demon's Souls exclusive on PS4, while i just prefer the souls games on PC for a lot of reasons.

MagikNesquik
MagikNesquik

@spenceaj  im all with u in this cause im a melle build never uses magic miracles or else....ive defeat DS1 offline with juste melee build an zweihander +15.... by the way where my zweihander in DS2 ?????

blejk2
blejk2

@GregoryBastards The class for those people is "Skyrim" :P

bungledingus
bungledingus

Actually I think I'd pick the knight over the cleric for a faith build because the knight has 1 less intelligence.

nathancookiez
nathancookiez

@eyehategod420 @TheLeftHandDoomI am a Cleric and I went faith/int build and put enough points in dex and str to use heides knight sword.. I made it strong as possible for lighting damage.. and put alot of points into faith.. so now I have a bunch of really strong lighting spears and soul arrows and a sheild and a good sword.. dont see the issues your having.. I found Cleric to make it ezmode for early.. put enough into str for mace and its better than any other melee weapon for starting.. and you start with small amounts of estus flasks so why not love the extra heal? and lighting spear is OP for boss fights

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@eyehategod420

did you by chance join the  covenant of champions? (that makes the game harder..)

imo the Deprived is the worst.. (but the low adptibilty and endurance of the Cleric can probably be a real pain..)

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@gameroutlawzz

neither did I

SPOILER

some else mention to me the same thing, there should be one in the dark room, with the many balistas...

but there was none in the "hole" (pharro's stone).... nor int he room, which opens byself and 3 enemies come out off it , if you make enough noise, 

do some items depend what class you started with, or if you joined the  "covenant of champions"??

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

@ninboxstation @gameroutlawzz  Yeah, in DS1 there were many armor sets/shields (Dragon crest and Grass crest shield mostly) , catalysts you could easily pick up at SL 1 right as you landed into Firelink shrine by going through New londo ruins down to Valley of drake etc without even starting undead burg etc. Sure Im still finding new paths like the Tower of flame with the Dragonrider boss is actually killable at very low level and theres a few things you can pick up in the beginning quite easily but the world does feel less open than the first game until youve cleared a few monsters/opened shortcuts and accessed a few bonfires. Like I said Im still really enjoying the game and its deff a really good sequel to one of my most favorite games ever.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@Lykanthropie

I'd replay it on the PS4 with a new class.. (instead of a NG+..., if I wanted a bigger challenge from the start, I'd just go with the "covenant of champions" )

Willroast
Willroast

@ninboxstation Man, it just won't post my comments. 2x now I've explained it, but both times no luck. Anyway, Deprived is the way to start as long as you are going to use 2 of the 3 mentioned attributes (I use STR and INT). No need to grind anything, just get the shield in Majula (you don't have to buy one, there is one hidden) before doing the training area, then get the Dagger from training area and you are good to go, even at SL1 until halfway through the Fallen Giants. Just because it's hard for you doesn't mean it's impossible. You just have to figure it out is all.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@gameroutlawzz


the fact that the Souls are like "limited" and emenmies (so far) drop less weapons..., you end up to really take care of each souls and weapon you get...


so far, the enemies, battles, traps, enemie constaltios and situations ect. ect... are better than in DS1 (or Demon's S..)..


even if the "limited" Sous and titanites make you really take care of each dessicion,.... but  the limited Souls at the start (when playing the depirved) and the seemingly limted titanite, don't allow to  "experiment" much with diffrent weapons, upgrades.. nor Status level ups..., if you upgraded something usless or just wanted to see, if an upgraded crossbow is worth it, you might have just wasted precious titanites and souls. 

(but for such experimenting, NG and NG+ are porblably needed resp. wanted...)

Willroast
Willroast

@ninboxstation Well that explains a lot ninboxstation! haha. On my 1st try I also unwittingly joined the Champions covenant not knowing what it meant and even the basic guys in the garden were way, way more difficult. 

To answer your other questions- I played a run through as a Warrior and got to the first sliver night (in Champions cov) and then decided to restart as a Deprived. So, I guess technically it was kind of a 2nd playthrough, but really it was more like a 1st. That is how I knew to skip the tutorial until I got the shield (on the way to Heide's if you haven't found it yet). I'm not using a walkthrough but I did check out Giants and Heidi's AFTER I completed them online. I'm not checking any more though. My reason for doing that was to see what KIND of things I could miss so that I wouldn't later in the game. For example, I didn't attack the 1st Silver Knight thinking he was a friend and you most definitely WANT to attack him (resting at the base of the tree). I didn't miss much, but now I know what to keep my eyes open for in the future. 

I took my Deprived to the 2nd bonfire in Giants while still at SL2 simply because I'm not farming and didn't have enough souls to level. Since then, I've gone up to SL20 and just finished Heidi's and No Man's Wharf. I have a self rule that has made the game extra challenging where I don't want to force any enemies to stop respawning, so I have to be VERY cautious about farming in general. I feel like killing off enemies permanently is kind of an exploit since it makes the game so much easie. For example, if you kill off the first 2 Giant dudes in Hiedi's then you basically start with the trio and the challenge is no longer so strong. 

I've only pumped up STR and DEX enough to use the Fire and Lightening Swords and the Shortbow and everything else has gone to Stamina and carry load. The INT has been a waste so far, but I think that it is connected to Pyromancy so I do believe I will eventually utilize it making the Deprived class a decent choice for me. 

Now I just have to figure out where to go next! I tried the alternate path down by the entrance to Heide's but I think I may be underleveled for that so I guess I'll go back to wherever it was that the NO Man's ship took me. How far along have you gone bud?

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@Willroast  

I know why I had such "starting" troubles with the deprived, 

besides not getting the dagger in the training area..., I also joined the covenant of champions by accident..

in the meantime, I'm pushing my deprived into a DEX & character with  magic (INT & ANT)..

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@gameroutlawzz

you're right, the "Bandit's Knife" (dagger) need's 11 dex, while the "normal" dagger needs only 6 dex...

 (besides the normal dagger, the was only one other weapon and an dropped broken blade during the first 5h, that the Deprived could use.., if one those broke, other weapons were hard to get, till you reach the merchant..,)  

I didn't stick around in the training area for long... 

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@Willroast  

and by the way,  you can't use the dagger, till you rose up atleast 4 levels as a  Deprived....  (too low dex...)


right now, because the enemies drop so few weapons, the weapon duribiltiy is worse than in DS1.., and my dex to low to be able to use many weapons(as Deprived.., I should have pushed dex earlier) 

=> I ended up fighting a lot with bare hands... (but often with a shield.)... 


but playing the Deprived, makes you play more toughfull and carfull... and backstabing with bare hads has a cool feeling to it..

(but like mentioned, you're stuck in the beginning for longer with the Deprived and it's challenge/fun isn't that much greater to justify it's class...)

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@Willroast  

halfway through the gardens with Start Lelven 1 Deprived? .. with the first character? (or a 2nd, 3rd start and walthru?)..

and by then the dagger would have broken 5 times over...


in the meantime, I'm a level 10 Derpived, but  whole areas are emty in the gardes, due souls farming and level uping..