As you gain souls in Dark Souls 2, you will need to level up your character. There are quite a few stats you can increase, all of which have a different purpose. Your desired class will greatly determine which stats you should focus on when leveling up your character.

Adaptability
Beneficial Classes: Bandit, Cleric, Explorer, Knight, Sorcerer, Swordsman, Warrior

Adaptability is important when it comes to increasing your agility. This has an impact on how quickly you raise your shield, how fast you can use healing items and how effective your roll is (the higher your Adaptability the more invincibility frames you have when rolling). Adaptability also increases poison resistance, which is very helpful during certain parts of the game.

Attunement
Beneficial Classes: Cleric, Sorcerer

This is mainly for casting classes, as it determines the number of spells you can attune and increases casting speed. You have to put a lot of points into Attunement to increase the number of slots for spells. You can't attune any spells until you have an Attunement stat of at least 10. From that point, every three points gives you an additional slot until you hit 16 Attunement. From there, it continues to increase, going from four points per slot all the way up to nearly 20 points per slot. You should get to four slots before you slow down on Attunement, then slow down again when you reach nine slots.

Dexterity
Beneficial Classes: Bandit, Explorer, Knight, Swordsman, Warrior

Dexterity is very similar to Strength in that it governs physical attack and defense. Some weapons and armor require specific Dexterity or Strength stats in order to wear them or use the items to their full potential. You also get a slight boost to your total hit points when you increase Dexterity.

Endurance
Beneficial Classes: Bandit, Cleric, Explorer, Knight, Sorcerer, Swordsman, Warrior

Endurance is extremely important because it increases your total stamina. The first 20 points you put into Endurance increases your stamina by +2. However, after you've put 20 points into Endurance, other stats should take priority because each point only increases your stamina by +1 instead of +2. As secondary functions, Endurance also increases physical defense, Poise and Agility.

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Faith
Beneficial Classes: Cleric, Sorcerer

Faith controls Miracles and other similar spells. It increases your spell casting speed and how much damage dark, lightning and fire-based spells inflict (as well as defense against those elements). When using Miracles and Hexes, a specific amount of Faith is required, so it's important to raise this stat early if you want access to as many of these spells as possible.

Intelligence
Beneficial Classes: Bandit, Cleric, Sorcerer

Intelligence controls Sorceries and other spells of that nature. It serves a similar purpose as Faith, increasing spell-casting speed and damage from dark and fire-based spells. It also provides a defense boost against these elements. Many Sorceries and Hexes require a specific minimum amount of Intelligence before you can properly use the spell.

Strength
Beneficial Classes: Cleric, Explorer, Knight, Warrior

Strength primarily governs physical attack and defense. It is also required to wear some armor and use certain weapons. As a non-magic class, this should be one of your most important stats. Think of it as a damage boost every time you increase your Strength stat. Increasing Strength also gives a slight bump to your total HP.

Vigor
Beneficial Classes: Bandit, Cleric, Explorer, Knight, Sorcerer, Swordsman, Warrior

Vigor controls your total health, so the main reason to increase Vigor is to give yourself more health. This is important, but less important in Dark Souls 2 compared to most other games. In Dark Souls 2, you can die to almost any enemy in three hits or less. It really doesn't matter what your maximum health is. What you gain by increasing your health is battle longevity when taking chip damage while you have a shield in place.

Vitality
Beneficial Classes: Bandit, Cleric, Explorer, Knight, Sorcerer, Swordsman, Warrior

While most would assume Vitality increases your health (like it does in many other games), that is not the case in Dark Souls 2. Instead, Vitality increases your maximum equipment load. The higher your Vitality, the heavier your equipment can be. This is important because it means a higher Vitality stat allows you to wear heavier armor while still maintaining good movement and dodging speed.

For more Dark Souls 2 tips and strategies, be sure to check out our complete walkthrough and boss battle guides.