One of the best things about Elden Ring is that it doesn’t hold your hand. From the jump you can go in any direction on the map and just see where it takes you. Elden Ring’s leveling system works the same way: you can cash in runes on any stat, and the game has no opinion on which ones you should focus on.
The only advice he offers is your choice of an Elden Ring class at the start, which nudges you slightly in one direction by awarding your first 10-15 levels in strength, dexterity, or magic specialties.
You might be playing a buff hammer smasher with an emphasis on strength or an agile wizard all about intelligence, but each class has one stat in common: Vigor. This single stat can pretty much determine whether you have a good time in Elden Ring or not, as increasing it is the primary way to get more HP. Think of the Vigor stat as a de facto difficulty slider in Elden Ring. The more you have, the easier it will be for you to defeat its many bosses.
But did you know that you can have too much Vigor in Elden Ring? Let’s talk about soft caps.
Elden Ring: What is the Vigor soft cap?
While it’s true that you can drain levels in any stat up to 99, every stat in Elden Ring has a few “soft caps” where you’ll start to notice diminishing returns on upgrades. For example, increasing Stamina by one level from the start will get you between 26 and 40 HP max. Once you reach a certain level, this bonus drops to around 13, then again later to around 6.
Here’s a full breakdown courtesy of Reddit user AshuraRC.
Vigor Soft Plugs
- Level 40 (From ~26 to ~13 per level)
- Level 60 (From ~13 to ~6 per level)
- Level 90 (From ~6 to ~3 per level)
These decreasing gains sound a bit scary, but the good news is that the HP gains in effect before level 40 are definitely worth it. Instead of values decreasing between your starting level and level 40, you actually gain more HP per level as you progress to the first soft cap. You can build up a huge pool of HP before you start seeing diminishing returns.
Your mileage may vary, but if you already have the stat requirements to hold the weapon you prefer, I recommend putting almost all of your points into Vigor until you reach level 40. If you use magic or attack with light weapons that favor long combos, you’ll need to balance increasing your Stamina with enough points in Spirit and Stamina to avoid running out of FP or Stamina.
At 40 Vigor, it’s much harder for normal open-world enemies to kill you outright without a fight. More importantly, 40 gives you a good base to take on some of the toughest bosses in Elden Ring without getting killed in one shot.
Above: Before long, Limgrave’s starting enemies can’t even kill you while you’re standing still.
A good step is to have between 30 and 40 Vigor before fighting Starscourge Radahn, one of the first major bosses in Elden Ring who can hit incredibly hard. You might still find yourself getting hit by his strongest moves depending on your armor, but hitting the first soft cap should protect you against his pesky arrows and sword slams.
Climbing to the next soft cap of 60 is mostly a matter of playstyle. If you’re trotting around with a shield and heavy armor, those 20 levels are probably better spent on extra stamina or stats that scale with your weapon. If you’re a mid-sized samurai with high balance like me, then you probably want every bit of HP you can get so you can fire shots while charging slower attacks. I’m happily sitting at 60 Stamina about 60 hours into the game and I don’t think I’ll bother going up to 90.
We’ll see if I still sing the same tune when I reach the mega difficult Elden Ring endgame areas I keep hearing about.