Dark Souls 3 Class Guide
This guide is written in three parts:
- Starting classes
- Basic build guidelines
If you are familiar with the starting classes and how stats affect your character's build, you can skip to the third section.
Even though Dark Souls offers 10 different starting classes, your starting class realistlcally only matters for the tutorial and first area of the game. After that, you'll have enough souls to adjust your build and buy different weapons if necessary.
Don't freak out if you don't like your starting class and only people who want to min/max their character for PvP will care about which starting class is best.
Note: You need 10 INT to recruit Orbeck of Vinheim (the sorcerer vendor). Even if you don't plan on using sorceries, you may want to 10 INT because he has a minor storyline with Yuria of Londore.
The knight starts with the following equipment:
- Knight Armor Set
- Knight Shield
- Long Sword
The knight is the best class in the game for a few reasons: (1) the knight armor set is the best starting armor, (2) the knight shield has 100% physical block, (3) the knight has the lowest combined INT/FAI/LCK stats, (4) the long sword is one of the best starting weapons and scales well through out the entire game.
Although extremely unlikely, high starting VIT is the only potential drawback to the knight since most medium armors can be worn with light weapons and still stay around 50% equipment load.
The mercenary starts with the following equipment:
- Sellsword Armor Set
- Wooden Shield
- Sellsword Twinblades
There's very little positives to the mercenary. It's strictly worse than the knight in just about every way, with the exception of making an DEX/INT hybrid with 10-12 STR.
Althought sellsword twinblades look cool, they aren't functional in combat and roll over to enemies with shields (you'll suffer a mini stun every time you attack into a shield).
The warrior starts with the following equipment:
- Northern Armor Set
- Round Shield
- Battle Axe
The warrior has the lowest ATT in the game, making it appealing for people who don't plan on using any magic. The battle axe provides good physical damage, but the round shield isn't very notable (thankfully, you'll find better shields rather quickly).
The herald starts with the following equipment:
- Herald Armor Set
- Kite Shield
- Heal Aid (Miracle)
The herald is one of the safer choices for beginners to Dark Souls. The kite shield is a 100% block shield and the spear allows you to attack while blocking. Heal Aid is pretty bad and you'll want to upgrade to a stronger spell once you get to Firelink Shrine, but it's still better than nothing.
The thief starts with the following equipment:
- Deserter Armor/Pants
- Thief Mask
- Iron Round Shield
- Bandit's Knife
- Short Bow
A high dex, bleed based class, the thief has some of the highest starting damage in the game at the cost of survivability. Due to the attack speed and bleed aux, the bandit's knife has the highest possible damage in the game (but it's not the strongest starting weapon).
The assassin starts with the following equipment:
- Assassin Armor Set
- Target Shield
- Sorcerer's Staff
- Spook (Sorcery)
If min/maxing stats isn't a concern for you, the assassin is a better starting class than the knight. It has some of the most balanced stats in the game, allowing you to build in pretty much any direction. Spook is great for avoiding fall damage (something other classes won't be able to until much later in the game), the target shield is one of the best shields in the game for parrying, and the estoc is the best starting weapons in Dark Souls 3.
Starting stats (higher ATT, INT, and LCK than the knight) is the assassin's only drawback.
The sorcerer starts with the following equipment:
- Sorcerer Armor Set
- Leather Shield
- Mail Breaker
- Sorcerer's Staff
- Young Dragon Ring
- Soul Arrow (Sorcery)
- Heavy Soul Arrow (Sorcery)
The sorcerer is another class that sacrifices armor for high damage. Soul Arrow and Heavy Soul Arrow allows the sorcerer to end a lot of fights before the enemy even has a chance to attack, but can die rather easily if mobs overwhlem or sneak up on it.
Stat allocation is extreme for the sorcerer and that makes it possible to have some extremely refined end game builds (full INT or INT hybrid builds).
A quick warning: The mail breaker is awful at the beginning of the game. You'll want to replace it with a better weapon as quickly as possible; a rapier can be found in the first area of the game (after the tutorial) and pumping STR to 10 allows you to equip most straight swords (again, the long sword and estoc are very good).
The pyromancer starts with the following equipment:
- Pyromancer Armor Set
- Caduceus Round Shield
- Hand Axe
- Great Swamp Ring
- Pyromancy Flame
- Fire Ball (Pyromancy)
The pyromancer, like the knight, is great for min/maxing but is restricted to being a INT/FAI caster. The nice part about this is that both pyromancy and dark magic scale well by pumping both of those stats and a 40 INT/40 FAI will let you cast most spell in the game (and just about all of the relevant ones).
Later in the game, dark and chaos infused weapons become available and both scale off INT and FAI. This allows the pyromancer to split damage types between physical, dark, and physical. There will be a point in the game that pyromancers will naturally make a switch to casting dark magic due to the high fire resistances of late game enemies.
The cleric starts with the following equipment:
- Cleric Armor Set
- Blue Wooden Shield
- Cleric's Sacred Chime
- Heal (Miracle)
- Force (Miracle)
The cleric is the FAI equivalent starting class to the sorcerer. Unlike the sorcerer, the cleric is forced into melee range at the start of the game and that can be a problem.
On the plus side, the mace is a great starting weapon that virtually ignores shields. The biggest drawback is that FAI is a wasted stat at the beginning of the game until you find stronger miracles (and that takes a lot of time).
The depricved starts with the following equipment:
- Loin Cloth
- Plank Shield
The deprived is all about style points. Starting out at level 1 is pretty nice and allows you to allocate your stats however you want. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to find decent armor quickly in the game so you'll only notice being deprived during the tutorial.
Only start out as the deprived if you are familiar with Dark Souls.
What class is the best?
The short answer: Knight with the Life Ring (or Fire Gem).
The knight starts out with a 100% block shield, a really nice set of armor, and the second best starting weapon (the Assassin's Estoc barely edges out the Knight's Long Sword).
The fire gem loses some of it's value as a starting gift if you know how to get the Deep Battle Axe from the mimic in the High Wall of Lothric or get the Fire Gem from killing the fire demon in the Undead Settlement.
The next best: Assassin with Fire Gem (or Life Ring)
If the knight isn't your thing, the assassin is probably the next best class. The Assassin's Estoc can get you through the entire game (and infusing it with fire makes short work of a lot of the game's early enemies).
Min/Maxing Stats with Classes
The knight for most builds is going to be the best. The only potential drawback is 15 VIT, but that should rarely, if ever be an issue since heavier armor is generally a good thing. If the VIT thing is a concern, the pyromancer can be good if you are planning on doing a dark magic build (30+ FAI, 30+ INT) and not going higher than 12 STR and 11 DEX or 14 VIT (otherwise it's a wash with the knight).
For quality or pure strength builds (no attunement slots), the warrior will be the best. The warrior only edges out the knight by one point though and basically comes down to extra FP from ATT for the knight vs AUX effects from LCK for the warrior.
Otherwise, go with Deprived. 10 accross the board makes it easy. The only exception to this is a 10 STR, 14 DEX character that focuses on LCK favors the Thief (or INT/LCK hybrid for the sorcerer).
Other extremely niche builds have various best classes. A 10 STR, 14 INT, 40 LCK build is best when starting as a thief. A 10-12 STR, DEX/INT hyrbid is best when starting as a mercenary. Like starting as a warrior, these class decisions only save one or two stats and isn't worth sacrificing flexibility if you decide to respec your character.
Your character receive one stat point each time it levels. Each stat point increasees all defenses by 0.4 and all resistances by 0.2.
- Increases HP
- Increases frost resistances
VGR soft caps at 17/27/50 (638/1,000/1,400). While not techincally a soft cap, 39 VGR gets you an even 1,200 HP.
- Increases FP
- Increases attunement slots at certain levels.
FP gains are most efficient between 28-35 where you'll see 9-10 FP per point.
- Increases stamina
- Increases resistances to lightning and bleed
Softcap at 40 (1-3 stamina). Don't put points into END after 40, you'll only receive 10 extra stamina points by going to 99 END.
- Increases equipment load (+1.0 per level, no soft cap)
- Increases physical defense
- Increases poison resistance
Physical defense has a soft cap at 40 VIT.
Equipment load impact roll speed:
- For fast rolling, keep your equipment load under 25%.
- For medium rolling, keep your equipment load under 50%.
- Slow rolling occurs between 50-100% and have almost no invincibility frames.
Note: Both fast and medium rolls have roughly the same number of invicibility frames.
- Increases attack damage
- Increases physical defense
- Increases resistances to fire
STR has soft caps at 40 and 60. Most builds will want to stop 40, but some weapons that require 50ish STR to wield may want to go to 60 STR. Damage gains are significantly reduced after 60.
- Increases attack damage
- Reduces cast speed
- Reduces fall damage
DEX soft caps are at 40 and 60. Most (probably all builds) will stop at 40 DEX anyways. Like STR, damage gains are significantly reduced after 60.
- Increases sorcery, pyromancy, and dark spell damage (not miracle spell damage)
- Increases the damage of crystal and simple infused weapons.
- Increases magic defense
INT soft caps at 40 and 60 for intelligence builds and 30 for pyromancy and dark builds (but many of these builds go to 40 to cast all spells).
INT currently has strange damage scaling actually improves between 50-60. Most INT builds should go to 60 INT and stop there.
- Increases miracle, pyromancy, and dark spell damage (not sorcery spell damage)
- Increases the damage of lightning and blessed infused weapons.
- Increases dark defense
Soft caps at 40 and 60 for FAI builds, 30 for dark builds. Again, many dark and pyromancy builds are going to invest 40 points into FAI anyways.
Note: 45 FAI allows you to cast every miracle in the game.
- Increase bleed/poison capabilities
- Increases item discovery
- Increases curse resistances
- Increases the damage of hollow infused weapons (including Anri's Straight Sword and Man-grub's Staff)
LCK soft caps are at 40 and 60. Most builds benefit very little after 40 LCK and really, only level luck if you plan on using Anri's Straight Sword and/or Man-grub's Staff.
Item discovery can be increased with certain equipment more efficiently (e.g. Crystal Sage's Rapier, Symbol of Avarice, and Covetous Gold Serpent Ring).
Basic Build Guidelines
Regardless of your starting class, the basis of most builds should be the following:
- 27 VIG for first soft cap in HP.
- Builds your offensive stats (STR, DEX, INT, FAI, LCK) in one of the following ways:
- Max one (1) offensive stat to 60.
- Max two (2) offensive stats to 40 each (i.e. 40/40).
- Max one (1) offensive stat to 40 and spend the extra 20 points in other stats (VIG, END, VIT, ATT)
- Decide on how many attunement slots you want (or) level ATT to 35 for max FP efficiency:
- 0 attunement slots below 10 ATT (recommened for STR/DEX quality builds)
- 1 attunement slot at 10 ATT.
- 2 attunement slots at 14 ATT.
- 3 attunement slots at 18 ATT (recommended for buff builds).
- 4 attunement slots at 24 ATT.
- 5 attunement slots at 30 ATT (recommended for most caster builds).
- If necessary, raise STR and DEX to wield your preferred weapon(s).
- Equip your preferred armor, then put points into VIT to hit 49.9% equipment load for medium roll or 24.9% equipment load for fast roll.
- Fill in the rest with the following stats (with your preference):
- END (maximum of 40) for additional stamina (4 attacks + 1 roll is a good choice).
- VIG (maximum of 50) for additional health.
- VIT (slow down at 40, but can go to whatever) for increased physical defense and higher equipment load (i.e. better armor).
Note: Dark magic (INT/FAI) has a softcap at 30/FAI, but going to 40/40 allows you to cast all dark and pyromancy spells.
If you are just starting out in Dark Souls 3, look at making a quality build (40 STR/40 DEX).
If you have any interest in PvP, you should plan leveling your character to around SL 125; you can go up to SL 150, but you should expect to be scaled down a little bit when invading other players. Most builds on Hypercarry will focus on SL 125 then fill in END/VIG/VIT to get to SL 150.
Note: Regarding VIT, roll speed always improves as equipment load decreases and Flynn's Ring has maximum value at 5% equipment load.
Minimum STR/DEX requirements
The bare minimum 7/12 breakdown that the sorcerer starts out with allows you to use a rapier and a short bow. 10/10 is doable if you have access to a Long Sword, Astora Straight Sword, or Anri's Straight Sword and don't care about using bows. Realistically, you should look at 10/14 as a bare minumum, since that gets you most straight swords and the long bow (that can be found early in the game).
Otherwise 16/15 or 16/18 is a good general start. 16/15 gets you a Dark Sword, 16/18 gets you the Astora Greatsword. For example, INT builds with 16/18 have access to Moonlight Greatsword (16/11), Darkmoon Bow (7/16), Sage's Crystal Rapier (13/18), Dark Sword (16/15), and Astora Greatsword (16/18); both the Dark Sword and Astora Greatsword scale S when crystal infused.
- Extremely narrow builds can get by with 7 STR and 12 DEX or 10 STR/DEX.
- Reasonable base stats are 10 STR and 14 DEX
- Realistic base stats start at 16 STR and 15-18 DEX.
Best-in-slot (BiS) Caster Equipment
Intelligence builds should use Court Sorcerer's Staff for general game play. Sage's Crystal Staff deals slightly more damage than the Court Sorcerer's Staff when buffed with the weapon art ability.
Faith builds that have less than 50 FAI should use Cleric's Sacred Charm, while builds with more than 50 FAI should use Yorksha's Chime.
Pyromancy and dark pyromancy builds should use Pyromancer Flame.
Dark magic builds should use Izalith Staff for casting sorceries and either Caitha's Chime or Sunless Talisman for casting miracles. Caitha's Chime has a small heal over time for weapon art (better for PvE); Sunless Talisman has a poise buff while casting miracles (better for PvP).