Classes and builds are the core gameplay element in Dark Souls 3. As you start the game, you will be given the option to pick a class, and even though your selection may greatly depend on your play style, having many choices at the plate may get overwhelming. Our Dark Souls 3 best starting class guide entails everything you should know about all classes in the game. We have also included our recommendations for the best starting class in the game according to the playstyle you may want from a character in Dark Souls 3.
Dark Souls 3 Classes Character Attributes
Before we start comparing the best Dark Souls 3 classes, let us first have a quick rundown of the different character attributes you should understand in the game. There are a total of nine character attributes in Dark Souls 3, which include Vigor, Attunement, Vitality, Endurance, Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Faith, and Luck. At the start of the game, each of the starting classes is assigned specific character attributes that incline towards their personality and shape the gameplay playstyle experience for the players. Here is the breakdown of character attributes to understand how each of these elements shapes the gameplay experience in Dark Souls 3.
Attunement: Controls FP bar and attunement slots availability.
Endurance: Controls stamina, lightning defenses, and bleed resistance.
Vitality: Controls Equip load, Physical Defenses, and Poison Resistance.
Strength: Allows equipping high STR weapons, increases weapon damage, physical and fire defenses.
Dexterity: Allows equipping of demanding DEX weapons, increases weapon damage, arcane casting speed, and reduces falling damage.
Intelligence: Increase magic spell damage and magic defense and allow equipping of demanding magic staffs.
Faith: Increases faith spells damage and dark defense. Determines which weapons and spells can be equipped.
Luck: Controls weapon damage, item discovery, and curse resistance. Increases ailment build-up for certain bleed and Poison weaponry.
Best Starting Classes In Dark Souls 3
There are a total of ten starting classes in Dark Souls 3. Players have the complete freedom to pick a class ranging from strength-based Knight, Mercenary, Warrior characters to arcane ones such as Sorcerer, Pyromancer, Cleric. Players can also pick unconventional characters such as Herald, Thief, Assassin, and Deprived. We have discussed the potential, learning curve, and usability of each class in Dark Souls 3 so that you can have a bigger picture while deciding which starting class to pick in the game.
Knight character’s attributes are more inclined towards high vitality, decent strength, and sturdy armor. This starting class comes with a longsword, knight shield, knight helmet, knight gauntlet, knight body armor, and knight leggings – a complete knight armor set.
Attribute-wise, Knight starting class comes with high STR (Strength), DEX (Dexterity), average Endurance, and Vigour. This is also one of the few starting classes in Dark Souls 3 that offers 100% physical defense via its shield, blocking all physical attack damage only at the cost of stamina. However, the knight shield does not block an arcane or magic attack.
Knight starting class is suitable for players who never played Dark Souls games. The Knight offers balanced attack, defense, and blocking characteristics that other starting classes do not offer equally. So, if you learn the early Dark Souls 3 game mechanics of rolling, dodging, blocking, and parrying, the Knight is not an easy starting class to die frequently.
Overall, this class has a well-rounded distribution of stats which is also the reason Knight is a popular pick for both new and experienced Dark Souls series of players. Arguably, it is one of Dark Souls 3 best starting class to pick.
A mercenary and veteran of the battlefield. This starting class in Dark Souls 3 comes with high dexterity that allows the masterful wielding of dual scimitars. Unlike the knight class, the Mercenary has light armor and a shield that is not well suited for blocking 100% physical damage. The Mercenary has the highest DEX stat attribute out of all classes in the game. This is very useful if you are using weapons that scale with dexterity, and most of them are dual-wielded ones.
The Sellsword Twin-blades is a good weapon overall, and it suits well with a Mercenary class that has high dexterity and strength as the second-highest attribute. This weapon scales nicely with DEX, so if you increase your Dexterity stat, the power of the Sellsword Twin-blades increases significantly, allowing your character to deal an excellent amount of damage in a short time.
Due to the increased dexterity stat of Mercenary, the dual-wielded weapons or Sellsword Twin-blades, for that matter, deal an enormous amount of damage and offer high DPS in the mid-to-late game.
While picking up the Mercenary class in Dark Souls 3, players get Sellsword Twin-blades, Wooden Shield, Sellsword Helm, Sellsword Armor, Sellsword Trouser, and Sellsword Gauntlet as a default weapon and armor from the get-go.
Warrior is also one of Dark Souls 3 best starting class if you want to have a strength-focused build early on in the game. This starting class has the highest STR (Strength) stat of all the other starting classes. However, on the flip side, the Warrior class also comes with the lowest Attunement, Intelligence, and Faith. This attribute distribution by default and from the very start of the game makes Warrior the perfect fit for a pure strength-based build.
The starting equipment for Warrior is a Battle Axe, Round Shield, Northern Helm, Northern Armor, Northern Trouser, and Northern Gloves. The Battle Axe is the best early game weapon for strength-based classes as it scales up with STR. The attack resistance on the Northern armor set is average, and the round shield is better than the wooden shield that the Mercenary class gets as a default shield from the very beginning of the Dark Souls 3.
We highly recommend picking up Warrior class besides Knight as it has the brute strength that can destroy early game bosses and enemies pretty easily. Besides, the battle axe weapon art significantly increases the weapon’s overall damage, which is a plus point if you have it equipped on a Warrior starting class.
Herald is a balanced combination of close-to-mid ranges melee attack class who can also cast basic health replenishing miracles. This starting class wields a spear and employs a gentle restorative miracle. Besides having higher faith and luck attributes stat, the rest of the Herald’s starting stats are similar with the Knight.
Herald comes with a Spear, Kite shield, Talisman, Heal Aid (Spell), and Herald armor set as a default starting weapon and armor combination. Unlike Knight and Warrior, Herald comes with the advantage of high health. Moreover, the attack resistance on the Herald armor set is almost similar to the Knight armor set. Even Herald’s Kite shield absorbs 100% physical damage; similar to Knight’s shield.
The Herald’s ability to cast basic spells very early in the Dark Souls 3 is a generous move, especially the Heal Aid, which allows the character to replenish a sizable amount of health back by consuming mana. This puts Herald in an advantage over Mercenary, Knight, and Warrior because this starting class can deal decent physical damage and, on top of that, can replenish health by saving Estus Flask for a later time. Overall, this is an excellent class for beginners and veterans alike in Dark Souls 3. You should go for this class if you want to try healing miracles and have a similar build to the knight class.
Thief starting class offers limited build variety in the early game; however, this can change in the mid-to-late game after you have equipped decent armor and weapons that scale well with this stating class’s stats. This starting class wields a dagger that is intended for backstabs alongside a military-issue bow. The thief class comes with Bandit’s Knife, Iron Round Shield, Short Bow, Thief Mask, Deserter Armour, and Deserter Trousers as a starting weapon and armor.
Thief starting class has the highest Luck stat of all the classes from the very start of Dark Souls 3. This determines the equipment drop rate from enemies and scales with Bleed/Poison status effect in the game. The armor on this starting class is very weak from the get-go, and it offers low resistance to physical attacks of the enemies.
Though it is the only starting class that offers a bow, the weapon art also has a rapid-fire rate, which is good for finishing off low health enemies from a medium-long range of distance. Bandit’s Knife has the quick-step weapon art, and it allows Thief s your character dash at the cost of some FP. This weapon can cause bleeding, dealing serious damage once the bleed bar reaches full.
The Small Shield in this class offers a low physical damage block, so it is only suited for parrying incoming attacks, not blocking them straight away. Parrying requires skill, and it will come to you eventually; however, if you are a souls game veteran, then you probably would have mastered parrying already.
Thief is one of Dark Souls 3 best starting class if you want the challenges early on in the game and are fixated on going for Bleed/Poison builds. However, if you don’t want the set of elements we mentioned, then we highly recommend steering clear from selecting Thief as a starting class in Dark Souls 3.
An assassin stalks their prey from the shadows and is the master of moving past from the enemies without them noticing the presence of Ashen One. This starting class favors sorceries and thrusting swords in Dark Souls 3 based on its attributes stat distribution from the get-go. The starting equipment for an Assassin is an Estoc, Target Shield, Sorcerer’s Staff, Spook (Spell), and Assassin armor set. Similar to the Herald starting class, Assassin also has relatively high points in Intelligence if you wish to try INT builds, but low enough so you can decide whether to combine magic in your arsenal.
The Assassin set is light, and it is not as good as the Knight or Herald armor set for tanking incoming damage. This starting class has the Estoc, which is a long poking-slashing sword. The sword deals average damage with its poking attack. You can hide behind your Target Shield and attack with your sword like the herald attacks with the spear.
The Assassin is also equipped with the Sorcerer’s Staff and can cast early or basic spells like Spook, which does not require a tremendous amount of Intelligence stats in the early game. Spook could be considered one of the most useful starting spells in the early game because it negates fall damage and conceals foot noise to a greater degree, allowing the Ashen One to move past enemies without them noticing you.
Assassin is the only class that is level 10 from the very start of Dark Souls 3 as it has equal distributions in all attribute stats. This starting class offers much more than others, as mentioned above. The versatility in gameplay style and build while using an Assassin makes it one of Dark Souls 3 best starting class.
Sorcerer is a starting class in Dark Souls 3 that favors magic or spell casting the most in the game. If you want to experience fighting enemies and bosses by heavily relying on magic spells, then this is the class you should pick in Dark Souls 3. A sorcerer starts with Mail Breaker, Sorcerer’s Staff, Leather Shield, Young Dragon Ring, Soul Arrow (Spell), Heavy Soul Arrow (Spell), and Sorcerer armor Set as a default weapon and armor in Dark Souls 3.
Compared to other starting classes we mentioned above, Sorcerer comes with low health points from the get-go. However, if you’re good at rolling and dodging enemy attacks while keeping your distance, you can fire high damaging spells and easily win combat encounters. The Young Dragon Ring increases the damage of sorcery, so it also favors magic damage usage over the melee starting weapon Mail Breaker. The Sorcerer Staff can buff itself using its weapon art, dealing more physical and magic damage to enemies and bosses.
The Mail Breaker is a weapon with a dagger move-set, it deals average damage, and its damage dealing is pretty bad. If you are picking up Sorcerer as a starting class, then you must rely less on this weapon and use it for riposting after a parry using the Leather Shield. The armor set of Sorcerer is very light, and it allows you to roll faster but leaves you vulnerable to incoming enemy attacks. Since this class has a high intelligence attribute stat, players can create a wide variety of sorcery builds very early in Dark Souls 3.
Pyromancer uses various flame or fire-based spells to deal damage or infuse fire on weapons. The starting equipment for this class comes with Hand Axe, Caduceus Round Shield, Pyromancy Flame, Great Swamp Ring, Fireball (Spell), and Pyromancer Armor Set.
Pyromancer is effective damage dealing class and probably one of Dark Souls 3 best starting class in the game if you fancy the fire-based attacks on enemies and bosses. The Pyromancy Flame casts the Fireball Spell and has a Combustion weapon art that deals heavy damage when an enemy is in close-range. The Hand Axe is for melee attacks, and it can later be infused with fire using a special spell. The Caduceus Round Shield is not good enough to block physical damage, so it can be used to parry incoming attacks. The Pyromancer armor Set has underwhelming resistance against physical attacks but average-high resistance against magic-based attacks.
Overall, Pyromancer is an excellent class to pick if you wish to use fire and deal high damage. This class works best if you invest points in both INT (Intelligence) and FTH (faith). Alternatively, having high FTH means you can also use miracles and spells to your advantage and create a versatile build by picking by Pyromancer starting class in the game. This is one of the many reasons why Pyromancers are an ideal pick for players that want a “Jack of All Trades” build in Dark Souls 3.
Cleric starting class comes with high faith so as to cast miracles in Dark Souls 3. When it comes to casting spells and using faith scaling weapons, this is one of Dark Souls 3 best starting class you can ask for. This class has a decent STR and the highest FTH attributes stats of all the starting classes in the game. The default weapon, armor, and other equipment for Cleric are Mace, Cleric’s Sacred Chime, Blue Wooden Shield, Heal (Spell), Force (Spell), and Cleric armor Set (without the headpiece).
The Cleric comes equipped with the Mace, a good mid-game STR Weapon, and the Cleric Sacred Chime, which comes with an HP Regeneration Weapon Art. The Mace is an effective weapon that works especially well against armored enemies. The Blue Wooden Shield can mainly be used for blocking instead of parrying.
This is the only class other than Herald that has a healing spell from the very beginning of the game. The healing of the Cleric class is much better than what players can get from Herald. The Cleric set is light, and like the other light sets in this list, it is not well suited to tank physical blows from enemies and bosses.
Deprived class is like a blank slate in Dark Souls 3, and it gives players complete freedom to distribute the character attributes stats according to their liking. This class does not start with much equipment other than a Club, Plank Shield, and Loincloth.
The Club deals underwhelming damage but has the same weapon art as the Battle Axe, which means you can buff and deal more damage after triggering the WA. The Plank Shield is pretty bad, and Deprived starting class does not even come with an armor set but only has a Loincloth.
Unlike every other class in Dark Souls 3 that starts with a higher level, Deprived starts at level one, having ten points equally distributed across all attribute stats. Playing with this starting class will make the early hours of Dark Souls 3 challenging, and you will die a lot. However, you can always create a quality build from scratch while selecting the Deprived as starting class.
Our Dark Souls 3 Starting Class Recommendations
For the players that are new to Dark Souls 3, we recommend that you choose the Knight as starting class. It has an excellent starting armor with a great weapon and shield that has 100% physical damage absorption. This starting class is by far the balanced one you can ask for in the game. Other than that, if you want to steer clear of brute melee playstyle and want to switch towards an arcane experience, then Sorcerer would be a better fit.
That is pretty much everything you need to know about the Dark Souls 3 best starting class. Which was your favorite starting class in the game? Have you ever played with Deprived starting class? Share your thoughts and experience with us in the comments section below.