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Elden Ring: The best builds in Elden Ring

Discover the best builds in Elden Ring for every class

Looking for the best builds in Elden Ring? If you want to succeed on your journey to become Elden Lord, you'll want to aim for a specific build. By focusing on certain attributes and weapons, you'll find that your favoured weapons become much stronger, and boss fights less troublesome.

Below, we break down the best builds in Elden Ring, so that you can make your character perfectly suit your playstyle.

Best builds in Elden Ring

Below, we have some of the best builds we've come across so far in Elden Ring. The first two focus on melee, with a defensive and aggressive setup; while the third and fourth builds focus on ranged attacks with sorcery spells and archery, respectively. From there we go on to builds for some more unusual but nevertheless popular playstyles, including advice on how to replicate the RPG mainstay roles of tank and healer. Finally, if you want to go against the grain and build your character around stealth, we've got a recommended build for that too.

Each build covers the attributes that you should focus on and some gear that you should obtain. We will also list the best class to start as for each build, but don't worry about this too much as you can easily shape your character as you level up. Classes just determine your starting stats and gear.

Elden Ring player wielding a katana and a tower shield on the erdtree gazing hill

Best defensive melee build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Samurai
  • Key attributes: Strength and Endurance
  • Weapons: Katana, Nagakiba
  • Shield: Tower shields
  • Armor: Twinned Armor

If you want to soak up damage and remain steadfast in face of a tough enemy, you should use a defensive melee build. This build uses a katana for quick attacks with a tall tower shield to bolster your defense, while the main attributes are Strength and Endurance. If you decide to use this build, we suggest choosing the Samurai class to get the ideal weapon straight away.

Strength allows you to use certain shields that will improve your damage negation and enables your character to use stronger melee weapons, while Endurance boosts your stamina and equip load so that you can block more hits and use better armor, like the Twinned Armor Set. We'd also suggest putting some points into Vigor, so that you can boost your max health in case you do take damage.

When it comes to gear, a tall tower shield is essential for your off-hand, as you can use it to block whenever an enemy tries to attack, ensuring that you don't suddenly die from a barrage of hits. You can get a strong tower shield quite early on in Castle Stormveil. When you reach the hall with the Grafted Scion, head to the door on the Western side of that room to find a small outside area with an Imp Seal. Use a Stonesword Key on the Imp Seal to access another room, where you can find the Hawk Crest Wooden Shield among other items.

You should compliment this with a Katana, allowing you to make quick slashes when the enemy opens up between attacks. The Samurai starts with a Katana, but you can also loot the unique Nagakiba katana in the Second Church of Marika in the Altus Plateau, which we cover in our Sacred Tear locations guide.

Elden Ring player using the skill on Eleonora's Poleblade on Erdtree-Gazing Hill

Best aggressive melee build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Warrior
  • Key attributes: Dexterity and Endurance
  • Weapons: Reduvia and Eleonora's Poleblade
  • Armor: Twinned Armor

If you want something that focuses on closing the distance and unleashing a furious barrage of attacks on your enemy, this duel-wielding aggressive melee build is perfect. With this build, you'll want to pair a dagger with a longer weapon, such as a spear or twinblade, while putting points primarily into Dexterity and Endurance. Make sure to also put a few points into Strength and Faith for weapon requirements. If you opt for this build, choose the Warrior class, as it starts with the highest Dexterity stat.

Endurance, as mentioned above, raises stamina and load, which are both crucial for any melee build. With enough points in Endurance, you should be able to wear some of the best armor in Elden Ring, such as the Twinned armor set mentioned above, while maintaining a light load for quick rolls. Dexterity will allow you to use certain unique weapons that are key to this build and increases the damage for your off-hand dagger.

With this build, we recommend pairing two unique weapons that focus on applying the bleed status effect to your enemies. In your main hand, equip Eleonora's Poleblade, which you also find in the Second Church of Marika, just like Nagakiba in the previous build. In your off-hand, use the Reduvia dagger. You can get this by defeating Bloody Finger Nerijus near Murkwater Cave.

Use Eleonora's Poleblade to close the distance, and then quickly slash away at your opponents with Reduvia to rapidly apply the bleed effect. When an enemy hits the maximum bleed level, they will lose a staggering amount of health, leading you to an easy win.

Elden Ring player wearing a Glintstone Crown on the Erdtree-Gazing Hill, wielding a staff

Best magic build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Astrologer
  • Key attributes: Intelligence and Mind
  • Weapons: Astrologer's Staff, Azur's Glintstone Staff
  • Key spells: Swift Glintstone Shard, Glintstone Cometshard, Carian Slicer
  • Armor: Twinned Armor, Glintstone Crown

If you'd prefer to attack from a distance, we recommend using this sorcery build. With Glintstone Sorcery, you can learn a variety of spells that allow you to strike your opponents while keeping at a safe distance, making some boss battles incredibly trivial. For this build, your main stats should be Intelligence, to boost magic damage and meet certain weapon requirements, and Mind, to increase your maximum FP. As always, Vigor is also key if you don't want to become the stereotypical glass-cannon wizard. For this build, choose the Astrologer class as it has a staff and the best Intelligence stat.

For your gear, you'll need a staff to cast your Glintstone spells. If you start as an Astrologer, you'll get the Astrologer's Staff straight away, but you can also buy it at the Liurnia Lake Shore Site of Grace. Otherwise, you might need to wait until you reach the Academy of Raya Lucaria to get your hands on a suitable weapon from one of the sorcerer enemies.

The Azur's Glintstone Staff, which you can get from the top level of the Church of the Cuckoo at the Academy of Raya Lucaria (which Ollie made a useful video guide on), is a brilliant upgrade as you progress through the main questline. It allows you to cast sorcery spells faster so that you can put more pressure on enemies, while only making spells cost a little bit more FP. This is a great trade off, as you can easily negate the effects with a few extra points in the Mind stat.

When you're ready with a staff in hand, equip the Swift Glintstone Shard, Glintstone Cometshard, and Carian Slicer spells. The Swift Shard is a quick, low-damage spell that you can use to fight most enemies, while the Cometshard is ideal for tougher enemies and slow bosses that won't dodge your attacks. Then, as enemies get closer, swap to Carian Slicer to perform a quick slice with a magical melee weapon. You can get all of these from Sellen in the Waypoint Ruins in Limgrave. If you don't have enough spell slots, make sure to take a look at our Memory Stones locations guide.

For your armor, we recommend pairing some sturdy armor, such as the Twinned set mentioned earlier, with one of the Glintstone Crowns (also mentioned in our best armor guide linked above). These increase your Intelligence by a few levels, boosting your magical damage and allowing you to spend Runes on levelling up other important attributes.

Best ranged build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Bandit or Samurai
  • Key attributes: Dexterity, Endurance, and Vigor
  • Weapons: Longbow and Shortbow
  • Armor: Any lightweight pieces that suit you

While a magic-heavy build is decidedly the easiest way to deal damage while keeping your distance in Elden Ring, a more subtle solution for inveterate non-magical players is to tailor your build around archery skills. This is definitely a more difficult build to master than the magic build detailed above and it doesn't inherently convey any advantages, but if you love traditional ranged combat, it's a satisfying alternative to the magic and melee builds that make up the core choices for Elden Ring combat.

Dexterity is the linchpin attribute for a ranged archery build, since it will grant you increased damage and allow you to wield better weapons more effectively. This will only really work in tandem with regularly upgraded weapons and a thoughtful choice of which arrows to use for which situations, however, so don't forget to strike a balance between character and weapon upgrades, and to take a little time to rearrange your inventory before entering a new area. Endurance comes a close second in stat priority, as dodging and sprinting out of melee range will be a vital skill; and of course, the HP boost from higher Vigor never goes amiss, especially for builds who are likely to absorb some damage while you learn the ropes.

Obviously, the weapons of choice here are bows — pairing the Bandit's starting Shortbow with the Samurai's starting Longbow is a solid choice, but the important thing is to upgrade one with the Barrage Ashes of War and the other with the Mighty Shot Ashes of War, giving you access to a combination of single heavy shots on one weapon and a hail of arrows on the other. Choice of arrow ammunition is also arguably a much more important consideration in the short-term than the bows you're firing them from. Elden Ring has many craftable arrow options, with unique attributes ranging from applying status effects to adding fletchings for additional distance and accuracy.

While good armor is never a bad idea, this build doesn't benefit overmuch from equipping the toughest pieces. Your aim is, ultimately, to stay out of melee range as much as possible, and dodging more effectively with a lighter load is a better defence for a ranged build than any heavy armor pieces would be.

An Elden Ring character in a dramatic pose as they strike at a hulking boss with their sword.

Best magical tank build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Prisoner, Vagabond, or Confessor
  • Key attributes: Endurance, Intelligence, and Strength
  • Weapons: Your best Colossal Sword (even the basic Greatsword works)
  • Shield: Tower shields
  • Key spells: Glintstone Pebble and Rock Sling
  • Armor: Banished Knight or Mausoleum Knight sets

People generally tell you that Soulsborne games are all about working smarter, not harder: you need to iterate your attempts at fighting bosses, learning attack patterns, practising your dodging skills while you wait for the perfect moment to strike. The fact that this isn't everyone's cup of tea is probably one of the main reasons some players find themselves put off of FromSoft games, even if they're usually fans of ARPGs. But! It doesn't have to be this way. At the very least, you can put together a tanky build with a combination of heavy-hitting attacks that make Soulsborne combat less of a chore if you're more inclined to hack-and-slash — or just throw rocks at people.

Due to the unusual combination of key stats there's no perfect origin for this build, but any of the three recommended above will give you a good head start. (This can also be a pretty fun build to do with the Wretch, especially if you're on a repeat playthrough, but of course that comes with its own set of challenges.)

A nice big Tower Shield and some heavy armor from the various Knight sets set this build up for solid self-defence, and though it comes at the detriment of your all-important dodge-roll evasion, that's the price of playing a tank build! But since you will want to have the option to keep your distance during combat, you should balance your chunky Greatsword weaponry for that satisfying hack-and-slash combat against groups of minions with a couple of equally hefty spells that you can hold back to throw at bosses. A combo of Glintstone Pebble and Rock Sling can be ridiculously OP in the right hands, allowing you to batter and crush enemies without laying a hand on them. As an added bonus, these spells feel suitably blunt and tanky to wield, in addition to doing the same sort of damage you expect to see from a more physical tank attack.

Best classic tank build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Hero
  • Key attributes: Strength and Endurance
  • Weapons: Greatsword, or any other Colossal Sword with the Stamp skill
  • Armor: Your best heavy armor set (such as either Crucible set)

A more whimsical D&D-style name for this one might be the "barbarian". While I can't particularly recommend the Hero as a starting origin for the previous tank build (hence it's qualification as the "magical tank") — thanks to the class's extremely low starting stats in all mental skills precluding Heroes from becoming skilled magic wielders without some serious effort and dedication on the player's part — they do make for an absolutely fantastic base to a melee-focussed tank build. Ironically, in the world of Elden Ring, it's much easier to become a tank who wields magic than one who doesn't, but a more traditional tank is another build that can be very satisfying to fine-tune as you play through the game.

The Hero class starts with relatively low Dexterity, making it harder for them to wield many of the game's weapons right off the bat, and to build up those tanky defences you'll want to plug your stat points mainly into Strength and Endurance. Fortunately, any Colossal Sword with the Stamp skill is perfect for this build, and that applies to the most basic weapons of that type that you're likely to encounter from very early on in the game. Start with the Greatsword (which only requires an extra 3 points of Dex for the Hero to wield it) and there's no need to rush to find yourself a better model, though you should aim to pick up something sturdier, like the Zweihander, for the late game. The crucial Stamp skill shared by these weapons is a brutal upward cut that's perfect for dealing damage against enemies much bigger than your character. Upgrade it with the War Cry Ashes of War for even more attack power and to inflict Heavy, and your bruiser of a battle tank is off to the races.

Beware of over encumbering this character, since dodge rolling with a medium equip load (max. 70%) will be important for them; though by foregoing carrying a shield, you should buy yourself some weight allowance to equip some quite chunky armor. We might have to leave you to do the exact maths on that one, but the Crucible Tree set is a good idea of what to aim for.

An Elden Ring character hides in some long grass as a carriage train attended by minions goes past.

Best healer build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Confessor or Prophet
  • Key attributes: Faith, Vigor, and Endurance
  • Weapons: Noble's Slender Sword and Sacred Seal
  • Shield: Brass Shield
  • Key spells: Urgent Heal and Heal
  • Armor: As heavy as you can wear without over-encumbering your character

Let's begin by addressing the elephant in the room: why would you play as a healer in Elden Ring? While the game does contain multiplayer elements, it's not exactly an experience where you're likely to head into combat with a full party in tow who can watch your back while you focus on support activities. Well, as a matter of fact there are a couple of good reasons, the most obvious of which being that strong self-healing capacities are a great strength to have in the Lands Between. Healing-focussed builds can also boost the health of their allies and the duration of spirit summons, meaning that you really can choose to hang back a bit while your friends (either other players or NPCs) focus on the offensive. Interestingly, this is one of a couple of builds that does allow you to play Elden Ring with minimal combat if you prefer, since you can focus on assisting your summons while they do the violent bits. Alternatively, you can incorporate bits of this build into a more general combat-oriented build.

Obviously, the Urgent Heal and Heal incantations take on a great importance in this build, which is why it's a great idea to begin with a starting class that gets one of them for free right from the beginning. On a related note, Faith is the most important attribute, in that you'll need at least 12 points in that stat to cast both healing incantations in the first place. As with almost every Elden Ring build, Vigor and Endurance should be priority once build-specific attributes have been taken care of, since increases to your character's HP and stamina are universally useful.

In terms of item loadout, it's a case of finding the right balance between portability and defendability. You'll definitely want a shield, and the Brass Shield is a top choice thanks to its medium size and weight. The Sacred Seal is a must for a build focused primarily on spellcasting, but since you're focussed on equipping healing spells, a lightweight melee weapon like the Noble's Slender Sword means that you can go on the offensive when you need to. Keeping weights down in these areas allows you to go in for some heavier armor pieces, which is a solid choice considering the potential vulnerabilities of a build like this.

Best stealth build in Elden Ring

  • Recommended starting class: Bandit
  • Key attributes: Dexterity, Intelligence, and Mind
  • Weapons: Misericorde and Shortbow
  • Key spells: Glintstone Pebble and Glintstone Arc
  • Armor: Black Knife set

It's entirely possible to play through Elden Ring engaging in minimal combat outside of key boss fights, instead using stealth to sneak in and out of densely populated areas and make off with the loot without engaging the minions you find there. However, while it's possible to avoid a lot of Elden Ring's combat, doing so forces you to miss out on a lot of vital Runes and equipment, which in turn can leave you underlevelled when you encounter a boss you have to defeat to move on. That's not to say that there's no need for a stealth build, though, as a sufficiently sneaky character can effectively get the drop on unsuspecting enemies, chipping away a few vital chunks of health bar before they manage to return the attack.

As with all Elden Ring builds, you can tailor this one from any starting point, but the Bandit stands out as a top choice of origin for a stealth-focussed build. At the very least you should model your choice of weapons around the Bandit's starting loadout, pairing a light bow with a dagger for your physical attacks. Early on in the game the basic Shortbow will take care of your ranged weaponry needs as well as anything, but for your dagger I recommend seeking out the Misericorde, which is the first of this weapon type you're likely to find with the Quickstep skill attached. This will improve your ability to evade your enemies while engaged in close-range combat, and gives you the opportunity to improve your positioning for a better crit rate.

These weapons are less effective when dealing with a group of aggroed minions, though, which is why your stealthy Tarnished should aim for at least a moderate mastery of sorceries. Glintstone Pebble remains a favourite and requires only one extra point of Intelligence for a Bandit-led build to wield, allowing you to fire magical projectiles from range as a back-up to your bow skills. Glintsone Arc requires a little more stat investment but more than pays itself off, as it can be cast against multiple enemies at once for a shockwave of damage that affects a whole crowd.

Since speedy entrances and exits are important to this build, aim to keep your encumbrance down wherever possible. Ideally your stealthy character won't be within range of an angry baddie all that often, so a lightweight but sturdy armor set is the ideal choice to round off this build. As the name implies, the armor of the Black Knife order of assassins is a good choice for a stealthy player with high Dexterity looking for light defensive clothing to facilitate a swift getaway. However, since you might not get the chance to loot this until later on in the game, a decent early-game alternative is the Sage set, which despite its lower resistance to physical attacks, is extremely light and comes with a good boost to magical and elemental damage resistance.

That covers our best builds in Elden Ring. If you want to upgrade your character further, take a look at our guide on how to find Golden Seeds in Elden Ring. If you decide that a certain build isn't for you, check out our Elden Ring respec guide to see how you can redistribute your levels to change things up.

About the Author

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Hayden Hefford

Guides Writer

Zombies. Walkers. Shamblers. Whatever you call them, Hayden is definitely a fan. He can usually be found in front of a screen, playing the latest survival games and trying to hide from the real world. His eyes haven't turned square yet, but the possibility is certainly scary.

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