This is especially important in Soulsborne games, where the choice between being a quick nimble or a lummox with a great club is identity-defining. Many other games break down into these two archetypal choices, however, STR and DEX are still the first stats in basically every RPG that has them. What’s your preference, fast and cunning, possibly good at ranged weapons, or slow and heavy, capable of hitting like a truck?
Strength or agility?
Here are our answers, and some of our answers forum.
Robin Valentine, print editor: I’ve always liked the idea of dexterity-based in RPGs. I like dodging rather than blocking, and the image of being a nimble duelist rather than a clumsy beast is kind of cool. Plus light armor is always cooler than heavy armor.
But in practice, Dex builds tend to be the more awkward and difficult approach, requiring clever min-maxing to work and penalize mistakes more. Halfway through, you’ll most likely find that ranged damage isn’t cutting it late in the game. If you base yourself on melee combat, you end up having to use some lame-looking weapon like a dagger or rapier.
So I often take the path of least resistance and build a tall, strong, tough guy with a sword and shield. This is definitely the easiest way to do it in the Dark Souls game. As a walking tank, I kind of passed the first tank with a bit of a breeze, and he could take the time to learn the enemy’s attack patterns.
But really, the cool guy’s answer is to screw them both up and do the magic.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Wait, Robin, what? DEX weapons are trendy and awesome. All the way to DEX.I like to move around with a whip or whip iron From Irithyll Dungeon or any rapier.Oh, or paw. Also, I’m pretty good at solving all my problems by dodging scrolling.
Fraser Brown, online editor: i like to slow down and weak. Keep your DEX and STR, I’m an INT boy.
Chris Livingston, Featured Producer: Can I vote for the constitution? No matter how strong or dexterous I am in the game, my biggest concern is always health, because my enemies are likely to hit me more often and harder than I do them. Fill my health pool first because I need every hit point. (I’ve never played Souls, but I think they have something like CON, right?)
But if I can’t choose CON, I’ll choose DEX because I like stealth (if they can’t see you, they can’t hit you) and I like ranged weapons (if you can’t see you, they can’t see you ) on a hill fifty feet away), I think dexterity is more useful when you need to get out of a fight quickly and heal on a hill fifty feet away.
Taylor Wilde, Executive Editor: I’ve always chosen Rogue and Ranger in the past, but like Robin, I never found them fulfilling in the end. In a combat system dedicated to it, fast could be great. In Sifu (a brawler with no stats like strength and agility), slipping and scrolling in combat is excellent, but I feel like I’m disappointed with most dex-based RPG classes. Of course, I am not a soul man. I’m thinking of more MMOs. It always seems cool to be a sneaky rogue, until you face an enemy you can’t backstab, or you only lose one health per rapier stab. I’m getting bored and balanced these days.
Andy Chalk, North America News Director: My usual goal is to balance builds in RPGs – min maximization is so tedious – but unless it’s completely infeasible, I always prioritize agility over strength. I love the rogue/assassin style gameplay, ranged weapons, dual wielding and gank guys who don’t even know I’m there. Tricks are more fun and interesting than sheer power.
from our forum
Brian Bolu: Fast, cunning, unquestionably ranged, I don’t get pleasure from melee, it’s just a passage through before getting back to the fun stuff.
This stems from my preference for role-playing games – if this were true, what would I do? If there’s a dozen or so enemy troops or one massive big man, then it doesn’t make sense to engage in close quarters in the short term, let alone as an ongoing strategy. For me, the fun is finding ways to eliminate these enemies without repeating suicide missions.
There are warlocks: dexterity. I’d rather dodge a hit completely than mitigate a hit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll always dodge them.
Having said that, in Lord of the Fallen there is a build where you can use the healing cooldown to heal more damage than the enemy can, thus making you invulnerable in heavy armor (if you don’t find cover, except for a boss ..Anyone who’s played LotF knows who this is.) So power definitely helps out there, especially when the dexterous game gets harder because of the limited time window to attack tank bosses.
In CRPGs, I mostly play the dexterous role, as it dictates stealth skills, including lockpicking, pickpocketing, trap finding, and disarming. Strength is rarely used for skill checks and is mostly limited to combat… something that every class can do, and is generally fine in today’s game.
DXCHASE: For Elden Ring/Dark Souls games? Smart all the way. Learn the pattern of bosses, add, dodge and hit many times than suck dmg from hits and hope that when it’s your turn to hit them you do enough to kill them or risk getting attacked because you’re a bit standing There is no stamina there.
Now for other RPGs like Diablo, Grim Dawn, Lost Ark, I would go for Power because it’s a different ball game when it comes to dealing with monsters/bosses in these types of RPGs.
main: Ambidextrous, at least 90-95% of the time in any RPG game I play. I love ranged combat, whether it’s a bow, crossbow or gun. I like to kill from a distance. Dexterity also (usually) allows for greater stealth, better sneaking, detecting and disarming traps, and unlocking. Occasionally I build a highly ambidextrous character focused on dual wielding small arms as well as backstabbing and dodging in combat. I also like to sneak and scout ahead, checking for potential battlefields or enemy positions.
How you build really depends on the game, as many RPGs these days have different approaches, not just the standard attributes we grew up with (STR-DEX-CON-INT-WIS-CHR). Using Skyrim as an example, I can craft a high dexterity archer or rogue, but I craft him by improving skills rather than stats, although it amounts to the same thing.
For older CRPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Pillars of Eternity, I always build a high dexterity archer, usually a ranger class. ARPGs like Diablo 2 and Grim Dawn, I still prioritize agility, D2’s Amazon and GD’s Inquisitor (dual wielding pistols are too sweet). It’s important to note that the attributes in Dead by Daylight are called Constitution, Cunning, Spirit, which are basically Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence; just the terminology is different.
Many games have many different ways to build characters, but I’d pick a character with high dexterity any day, no matter how I got there.
Zlos: I tend to play the Witcher type, so I’ll probably be pathetic in both cases. Usually, though, I’d choose agility over strength. Maybe I’ll get lucky and dodge an attack or two. Power is great for carrying things, but we’ll let the mules…I mean the fighters grab all this stuff.
Kaamos_Flame: In Souls games, there is nothing more satisfying than smashing things to the ground with a great sword in PVE. Ultra is too big and slow, but feels too choppy and lags too much. With the GS, you can more easily time your hits after clockwork and still get the satisfaction of shooting a lot after dodging. One’s shield against GS is also more flexible as it also gives you the option to parry.
At the same time fat rolls and even medium rolls suck, so my default approach is to swing in the strongest armor possible, allowing me to still roll fast with my great sword. I think it’s leather armor or hard leather in the DS, can’t remember exactly, and if things get difficult, it also varies depending on the type of damage you face.
In non-action RPGs, I default to using power on the first playthrough, because usually the main character of the heavy armored warrior is the easiest to survive. Possibly a game like Baldurs Gate, where low-level wizards (my second favorite class) are pretty much useless and get shot by rats.
Pifanjr: Absolutely dexterous. I really like the Ranger prototype, and I like to be sneaky, so I’ll always make an ambidextrous build if it works.
Wooden plate: Not sure what to say here as I’m giving up between stealth and running the gun.
I keep bringing up Skyrim, but I can’t help it because it’s my favorite game. Every time I play it, I think I’ll try something different, but I always do the same thing. I started with the rogue quest and maxed out all my sneaking, pickpocketing and archery stuff. But after I get to max, I’ll build up my one-handed and forge until I can make myself some dragon weapons and armor, and build enchantments so I can enchant the weapons I make. Then I can just walk into a place and bring everyone down. Dragons were nothing at that time.
For those who are Skyrim fans, the first time I played, I tried to do the Missing in Action quest, where you rescue the guy from the Northwatch Keep, which is heavily guarded by Thalmor. I tried to do this early in the game but got hit. Then I went back after maxing things out and having the dragon gear and I walked through there like nothing. It’s kind of funny.
So I don’t really know what to choose because I really like both ways of playing.
Strong power: Depends on the RPG. For fantasy RPGs, I prefer intensity. My MC is the leader and cornerstone of most, if not all, attacks. Also, if I want to weld the best weapons and armor, it’s usually for strength. There are exceptions; magic users and rogues are number one targets, but for the main fight, I choose power. Regarding dex, it’s not appealing because archery is boring and thieves/rogues are more supporting roles that others can fill.
For modern/sci-fi RPGs, I prefer dexterity/agility, especially when it affects accuracy, since game intensity means just charging and hoping for the best. In general, in these RPGs, I’d choose to be a generalist if possible, or go back to a warrior mentality, and in modern/sci-fi RPGs, that means guns.
But for ARPGs, I choose dex (or smart) builds for ranged attacks. Frequent close contact with thugs or bosses is punishable by death, as they are usually more powerful than you. With dex, I can at least fly a kite. Bored, but I have breathing room to live longer.