In this entry of the Dark Souls Rundown, we’ll be taking a look at the game’s starting classes in an attempt to help new players decide which one will match their desired playstyle best. To do this, we’ll take a quick look at the equipment and attributes each class has and even recommend an “early goal” that compliments the various playstyles. Before we can tackle our main topic however, let’s clear up what all the other character creation options mean.
The eight required fields on the character creation screen are as follows: Name, Sex, Class, Gift, Physique, Face, Hair, and Color. All except Class and Gift are entirely cosmetic, meaning you can make a petite girl that easily wields greathammers or a hairy man with neon pink pigtails that prefers to be naked at all times. I will admit, these examples come from personal experience. Either way, the cosmetic entries are all self-explanatory and simply decide how your character will look while they make their way through Lordran.
Here is a short list of the available starting Gifts and a description for each.
- None - no starting gift
- Goddess’s Blessing - Divine Blessing, a rare healing item that fully restores HP and removes any negative status effects
- Black Firebomb - 10 Black Firebombs that explode on impact, dealing more damage than normal Firebombs (Usually used for defeating first boss early)
- Twin Humanities - consumable item used to acquire two Humanity and heal HP
- Binoculars - used to see faraway sights
- Pendant - no obvious use
- Master Key - used to open several locks across Lordran
- Tiny Being’s Ring - gives player a small increase to HP when worn
- Old Witch’s Ring - allows communication with a certain NPC
As for the usefulness of each of these gifts, I can easily say that Goddess’s Blessing, Twin Humanities, the Binoculars, the Pendant and the Tiny Being’s Ring are all completely ignorable. This is because the first three can be found within the game quite easily, the Pendant literally has no use and the Tiny Being’s Ring gives a negligible benefit (usually only a few HP). The Old Witch’s Ring offers up some insightful dialogue from an NPC that is mute otherwise, making it an interesting pick at the very least. The Black Firebombs can net the player a rather powerful Strength weapon early on but the Master Key is king among the starting Gifts as it opens up so many areas early on.
This may seem like a bad choice for new players because it could destroy pacing or spoil later sections of the game, but I would simply like to point to the fact that the graveyard, not a stone’s throw from the Firelink bonfire, is literally meant to teach the player not to tread in areas they’re not ready for. And if you’re concerned with anything being spoiled, bear in mind that Dark Souls uses a very flexible order of events and the only way to truly ‘spoil’ this would require prior knowledge.
So there it is, the top recommended Gifts are the Master Key, Black Firebombs and the Old Witch’s Ring if only for the uniqueness of the thing. With those out of the way, it’s time to cover the classes. These appear in the order they are shown in the game rather than any kind of ranking."
With fairly balanced values in Vitality, Endurance, Strength and Dexterity, the Warrior is a clear cut choice for beginner players who are unsure of what they’ll want in the future. To compliment these well-rounded attributes, the Warrior is equipped with a basic Longsword/Heater Shield combo alongside some sturdy yet light armor set. This loadout gives this class the benefit of a medium roll and the ability to block 100% Physical damage with the Heater Shield.
With all this in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Warrior is built for using any one of the various early game melee weapons. Being able to dodge and block effectively while doling out decent damage gives this class a lead on the others. My personal “early goal” with the Warrior would be to find a good “quality weapon”, or a weapon that benefits (more or less) equally from Strength and Dexterity. My first pick would be the Claymore, if you can figure out which bridge it rests on.
If you like the idea of the Warrior but either dislike dodging or simply prefer to be able to take a few more hits, the Knight has you covered. With the highest Vitality value of all the classes and the heaviest armor set to match, this tanky class will surely soak up nearly any early game damage with ease. Although unable to effectively dodge roll, this class can still block 100% Physical damage at the start. Having only slightly lower Strength and Dexterity than the Warrior, the Knight does benefit from a higher starting Faith, allowing snappy access to low level Miracles. While the Broadsword isn’t as widely liked as the Longsword, the Tower Kite Shield makes an excellent replacement for the Warrior’s Heater Shield.
The Knight is meant to be up close and personal, trading blows when others would roll out of the way. While not able to do as much damage as some of the other classes, the crazy amount of defense available makes this class interesting in its own right. Another beginner-friendly class, players that pick the Knight will likely spend a lot of time blocking and carefully picking their time to strike. As for an “early goal”, I would suggest investing a point in Faith before talking to that portly cleric at Firelink Shrine in the hopes of learning the Heal Miracle.
Imagine the Wanderer as the opposite of the Knight. In place of heavy armor and the lack of a dodge roll, this class sports a light armor set and uses the fast roll. Instead of a sword and shield for safe melee, the Wanderer wields an agile Scimitar for fast combos. Even the Knight’s high Faith is mirrored here in the form of the Wanderer’s high Intelligence, giving them access to low level Sorceries early on.
With fairly low Vitality and light armor that’s poor at protecting against incoming damage, players who choose this class are best off evading in combat situations. Being forced to avoid damage also puts this class as a moderate or even advanced level class and should probably not be used by beginners. Without a shield, quick bursts of offense will have to fend off enemies before they can leave any lasting damage. Much like the Knight and his Miracles, I would suggest trying to learn some low level Sorceries early on, possibly from a prisoner far below Firelink.
It is easiest to imagine the Thief as an extreme version of the Wanderer, with even lower Vitality, lighter armor, a smaller weapon and the highest Dexterity of all the classes. Although this class has lower Strength and Endurance, it makes up for it with higher Intelligence and Faith, giving access to all sorts of magical abilities. None of this even mentions the fact that the Bandit’s Knife the Thief wields has an extremely high Critical modifier and a Bleed effect that’s easy to activate due to how fast it swipes. To compliment the high Critical modifier of the Bandit’s Knife, the Thief is also equipped with a small Target Shield that makes parrying easier. On top of all of this, this class always starts with the Master Key, allowing for a second gift to be chosen.
The Thief class does best when used to deftly dip and dive through combat before going for those sweet ripostes and backstabs. When fighting an enemy that can’t be hit with a Critical attack, the Bleed effect should be the next plan before relying on whatever Sorceries and Miracles have been picked up to that point. With the highest Dexterity of all the starting classes and clearly being more for an advanced player, I would actually suggest Thiefs consider trying to find the Great Scythe rumored to be buried deep within the graveyard attached to Firelink Shrine. While not immediately obvious, the Great Scythe makes for a wonderful Dexterity weapon and could, at the very least, make a good extra weapon to play the opposite role of the super fast Bandit’s Knife.
Speaking of Bandits, next up we have the Bandit class. In opposition of the Thief class, the Bandit has higher Vitality, Endurance and Strength, but lower Dexterity, Intelligence and Faith. With some measly armor, a strong Battle Axe and the Spider Shield, the Bandit is a sort of glass cannon. While this class can take a couple hits, it is highly suggested to deal with enemies in as few swings as possible. Luckily, this isn’t usually hard for the Bandit and staying close is made even easier with the Spider Shield’s ability to block 100% Physical damage. Also, this arachnid-adorned-armament has the special property of fully negating poison and toxic buildup when blocking attacks that have these effects.
The Bandit sits nicely as a moderate skill class due to how easy it makes dealing high damage early on while having the downside of low survivability. With a 100% Physical damage block shield and medium roll, it’s easy to see this class is meant to be for risk takers. Although I’ve never personally used the Bandit class, I would recommend finding a blacksmith as early as possible in order to keep that high damage on the up and up as you progress through Lordran.
While the Bandit stays in the face of the enemy, the Hunter keeps back and chips away at them with a Short Bow. With a rather high base Dexterity, the Hunter lends itself to weapons such as thrusting swords and spears as well as bows. As a plus, all of the Hunter’s other attributes are relatively well-rounded. Clearly, the downside to wearing Leather armor is how much damage you’re going to take. The upside is a low equip load giving an agile and fast dodge roll. Also, starting with a bow is a rather big advantage since there aren’t that many available early on. The only issue is replacing arrows as the only sources are merchants and that means finding one. Other than that, the Shortsword is fairly unnoteworthy.
As a natural bowman, the Hunter shines brightest when kept at least a few steps away from any enemy. Between the class’ low survivability and the fact that firing any bow forces the player to stand in place for a short time, I’d place the Hunter as an advanced level class only meant for those who are truly dedicated to the way of the bow. At one point, I attempted a bow-only playthrough and my suggestion for an “early goal” is to make your way to Darkroot and search for the Long Bow that can found there.
Another ranged class, this is the true glass cannon. With low Vitality, Endurance, Strength and Faith, the Sorcerer excels in Attunement, Dexterity and Intelligence. Equipped with virtually useless armor, an underwhelming Small Leather Shield and a pitiful Dagger, this class’ only redeeming equipment is the Sorcerer’s Catalyst. Having so little equipment does give the class a fast roll at the start as well. Luckily, with such high Intelligence, it is already recommended to make use of Sorceries to deal the majority of your damage. Also, if the player chooses to simultaneously level up their Dexterity, they will see an increase in casting speed over time.
Even though the Sorcerer has to stand in place to cast like the Hunter does when shooting, I would place Sorcerer as a beginner to moderate level class purely due to how easy early game is while using just the 30 charges of Soul Arrow the class starts with. As for the playstyle of the Sorcerer, it’s similar to the Hunter in keeping at distance, but differs when you consider that Sorceries are replenished anytime a bonfire is sat at. The early goal for the Sorcerer is one of the simplest: Find Rickert of Vinheim far below Firelink Shrine as he is the earliest merchant that has Sorceries for sale.
While the Sorcerer uses their magic as their primary source of damage, the Pyromancer takes a more balanced approach. Since Pyromancy Flame doesn’t actually scale with any attribute, the class has relatively even stats that can be changed to fit your needs easily. Using a decently strong Hand Axe to deal with lesser enemies and the powerful Fireball Pyromancy for the tougher ones, the Pyromancer has quite a lot of potential damage out of the gate. Even though the tattered robes the class wears look to be of little use, they actually have some of the highest Fire defense and Poison resistance available. Not to mention giving the player a fast roll to keep mobile during combat. The only truly pointless piece of equipment is the Cracked Round Shield as there are far better options very early on.
Pyromancer is possibly the easiest class for anyone to play due to its high versatility and early damage. With several early bosses being weak to fire, this class just walks through the start of the game. Playing as a Pyromancer is extremely simple, too. If it’s your size or smaller, hit it with the axe. If it’s bigger than you, chuck fireballs at it. Since the first Pyromancy teacher is a bit into the game and the Hand Axe is a half decent weapon, my first suggestion would be to find a shield you like to replace the garbage Cracked Round Shield you start with. My personal choice is usually the Grass Crest Shield over in Darkroot. Good luck getting it and staying in one piece though.
Our final magic-based class uses their Miracles mostly for support. With high Strength and Faith, the Cleric will likely make use of maces or hammers early on and Miracles like Heal, which the class starts with. Clothed in some light armor, the Cleric also benefits from a fast roll and can use the alright East-West Shield to block when they have to. Much like the rest of the Cleric’s starting equipment, the Mace isn’t anything to celebrate, but the ability to heal an extra five times from the start more than makes up for all this.
Playing the Cleric is much like using any of the melee-based classes except with the benefit of Miracles. The starting fast roll really helps to keep out of trouble, but the light armor makes getting hit really hurt. The best way to describe the Cleric playstyle is conservative, not defensive and not passive but only swinging when you’re sure it will connect and not wasting the extra help your Miracles allow you. At worst, I’d put the Cleric as a moderate skill class simply due to the poor starting equipment. The way I see it, if you’re going to go with the Cleric, you may as well go full Cleric and make your first goal to buy another Heal from Petrus within Firelink Shrine. Clerics gotta heal, right?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would argue we’ve saved the best for last. Described as an “Unclothed enigma. Only armed with club and old plank shield.”, the Deprived is truly the most tryhard class amongst the 10. No armor. No magic. No specialization. Only a Club and a Plank Shield. With all attributes at a flat 11, this is the class for those who can’t decide what they want and end up with this instead. The benefit of having these attributes all at 11 is that it’s easy to break into any playstyle with a little bit of investment. The downside is that you have to start with really bad equipment and literally no armor.
Obviously, the Deprived is only meant for veteran players that know what they’re getting themselves into. There is really no wrong way to play this class since it isn’t clearly meant to do any one thing. In the beginning, your only option is to smash whatever you see with your blunt club, but beyond that, Lordran becomes a land of possibilities. Personally, the only early goal I’d give a Deprived is to put on some damn clothes.
With that it’s time to wrap this up and quickly talk about our featured Dark Souls YouTuber. This time it’s EpicNameBro, a creator who has videos that range from playthroughs, challenges and even guides. While I’m not as familiar with his work as some of the previously featured YouTubers, I do know that I like what I’ve seen. Plus, his little pig is so cute. Next article is back to lore and will be our final No Spoilers piece.
Until then, Praise the Sun and Vereor Nox.