Elden Ring is considerably more newcomer-friendly than previous From Software games, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be without questions about how best to build your character. In this guide, we’ll cover all of the basics you need to know: where and how you’ll be leveling up, and most importantly, what stats you’ll want to focus on for your preferred playstyle.
Where to level up
In order to level up, you first need to reach your third Site of Grace in the open world, which happens quite early on in your adventure. This is very easy to do thanks to the rays of guiding light that you can follow from one of these points of respite to the next. When you’ve rested at that third Site of Grace, you’re greeted by a maiden named Melina. She offers her services to you, which now allows you to level up at any Site of Grace in the game.
How leveling works
Unlike many traditional role-playing titles, Elden Ring requires you to manually apply every level to your character, which can be done at any Site of Grace throughout your adventure. Killing enemies nets you runes (the equivalent of souls from Dark Souls) that you then use to invest in a selection of stats that increase things like your health pool, stamina bar size, and damage with specific weapons or spells.
Do be aware, however, that dying in Elden Ring causes you to lose any runes you’ve accumulated but not yet used. You’ll be granted one opportunity to return to the site where you died to recover the runes, but if you fail, they’ll be lost forever. Because of this, it’s typically a good idea to find a Site of Grace and use your runes to level up before taking on bosses or dangerous new areas.
All stats and what they do
Each point you put in Vigor increases your total HP, which in turn increases your survivability against enemy attacks, fall damage, and environmental hazards.
Mind boosts your maximum FP, which grants you more sorcery and incantation casts. This is also a useful stat to level if you intend to regularly use your melee weapons’ special abilities.
Leveling up Endurance increases your overall stamina, which allows you to attack, defend, and dodge more frequently. It also increases equip load, allowing you to wear heavier armor.
Putting points into Strength allows you to wield heavier weapons while also increasing the damage done by any weapons that scale with the stat.
Dexterity is a versatile stat that provides an increase to the damage of weapons that scale with the stat, reduces the cast time of your spells, makes it harder to be knocked off your horse, and decreases fall damage.
Intelligence is necessary for improving the damage of sorcery spells and Intelligence-scaling weapons, and it must be increased to learn more powerful sorceries, too.
Faith-scaling weapons and incantations require points being placed in Faith, as does learning the most powerful incantations.
Leveling up Arcane brings increases to your discovery, which means that you’ll have better luck finding items from the enemies you defeat. Certain sorceries and incantations also benefit from this stat.
What to level up and why
Your level increases with each point you place into one of the game’s eight primary stats. Depending on what starting class you chose at the beginning of the game, or what long-term build you’re hoping to accomplish, your stat spread will differ. Melee users and magic users will have entirely different priorities, for instance, as well as main and secondary stats to account for while working towards an optimal build.
Melee-focused characters will typically want to focus on Vigor, Endurance, and either Strength or Dexterity to ensure they’ve got enough health, stamina, and damage output. You can also opt to equally level Strength and Dexterity to create what is known as a Quality build. This build allows you to be fairly proficient in melee weapons that scale with either or both of the stats, though doing so will admittedly limit you from ever being perfectly optimized for either. Even so, it’s widely considered the best option for players looking to wield a variety of weapon types in From Software games.
Meanwhile, sorcery-focused characters will be best served by investing in Mind and Intelligence for huge bursts of magical damage and a large FP (Elden Ring’s mana) pool. And incantation-focused characters will want to go big on Mind and Faith so that they can deal solid damage and pull off huge heals, also making use of that larger FP bar.
It’s worth noting, however, that even magic-based builds benefit from limited investment in Vigor to provide a larger health bar. Some magic weapons have Strength or Dexterity requirements, too, meaning you may need to meet a certain requirement in those stats to wield them. As long as you simply aim to meet those base requirements and don’t dump additional unnecessary points into Strength or Dexterity, though, you should always be able to maintain your general focus on sorcery or incantation use.
Of course, you’re free to experiment with hybrid builds that incorporate various playstyles. Just be aware that doing so puts you at a disadvantage in some scenarios and will almost certainly keep you from ever reaching the full potential in any one category unless you intend to increase your level extremely high through multiple New Game+ cycles.
GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.