The Best Starting Classes in Elden Ring
- S Tier: Samurai
- A Tier: Prisoner, Confessor
- B Tier: Astrologer, Vagabond, Prophet
- C Tier: Bandit, Wretch
- D Tier: Warrior, Hero
The Best Overall Class -- Samurai
Runner Up: Prisoner
The Best Class for Beginners -- Vagabond
Runner Up: Confessor
The Best "No Level" Class -- Bandit
Techincally speaking, the best "no level" class should be the wretch since it's the only level 1 starting class in the game.
The primary reason for choosing the bandit for this category is that it allows you to use the Reduvia without any special trinkets.
Runner Up: Vagabond
The vagabond is the only class that can easily use Bloodhound's Fang without leveling up (using Radagon's Soreseal for +5 VIG/END/STR/DEX).
The Best Min/Max Classes
For Melee Builds -- Vagaband
For Faith Builds -- Prophet
For Intelligence Builds -- Astrologer
I think we're splitting hairs by saying the Astrologer is the best pure caster. While it's true if you never want to venture into melee combat, the Prisoner is still probably a better choice for most playthroughs.
Bonus: The Worst Class -- Hero
In just about every situation, I'd rather play a Vagabond, Confessor, or Prophet. The Hero is the most optimized class for a STR/ARC build and that's a pretty bad stat combination for Elden Ring. On top of that, the Battle Axe has an awkward moveset -- it's great against immobile enemies but once enemies start moving around, the slashing attack is easily avoidable and I've been in situations where an enemy sat in a deadspace where I couldn't hit them without completely reseting.
On top of that, the Hero's two lowest stats, Mind and Dexterity, are probably the two least forgiving stats to minimize in Elden Ring. You're almost always going to want at least 12-15 MND for better access to Spirit Ashes and Ashes of War. Typically speaking, you're going to want at least 12 DEX on most builds but you could get away with base dexterity and use Prelate's Inferno Crozier or Giant Crusher.
Most Arcane casters will want at least 15 FAI and 12 ARC (one could argue 12/10 for Bloodflame Blade) and a Prophet is better positioned for this type of build.
Runner Up: Warrior
The Warrior is pretty much a worse Samurai. In a pure min/max scenario, a DEX/INT character can be better as a Warrior if you manage to maintain 10 STR. Two Scimitars is a nice introduction to power stancing but I'd rather power stance two Uchigatana and the missing starting bow is noticable here.