Elden Ring sorcery isn’t nearly as good as its Dark Souls counterparts, but it still has plenty of niche uses.
FromSoftware has a complicated history with magic. In the Dark Souls series, intelligence builds were stereotyped as an easy mode for their incredible damage output and strength against bosses. Arcane builds in Bloodborne only hit their stride in the latter stages of the game. Sekiro removed the concept of a magic build entirely, but it’s now back as an option in the Lands Between. Now that players have had time to tinker with Elden Ring, is sorcery good?
The biggest problem with sorcery is its incredibly diverse scaling. Intelligence, mind, and dexterity all affect spellcasting in different ways. Neglecting intelligence results in weak spells and a very limited pool of sorcery spells in Elden Ring. Dismissing dexterity has a considerable impact on cast speed, which matters for bosses and PvP.
Skipping out on mind leads to very few casts, though the game is actually somewhat lenient when it comes to using up the last bit of FP. It’s actually possible to cast a 24 FP spell with 20 FP remaining, though the hidden mechanic isn’t enough to rely on. A handful of sorceries even have faith and arcane requirements which necessitates even more diverse investment.
Add in the necessary points in vigor and endurance, and mage becomes the strictest Elden Ring playstyle from a leveling perspective. Pure melee builds only need stats in strength or dexterity. Even quality or status effect-focused builds only have two combat stats to juggle.
Sorcery is good in Elden Ring’s open world, but tough to use against bosses
There is one area where Elden Ring sorcery, and to a lesser extent faith, are indisputably overpowered. Most of the open-world and dungeon combat becomes a complete joke with sorcery. While melee builds risk life and limb to close in on enemies, sorcerers can just blast foes with ranged attacks. The majority of Elden Ring enemies are melee, so picking off enemies one-by-one becomes much easier.
That advantage quickly dissipates against bosses. Bosses as early as Margit will read player cast inputs and respond with ranged weapons or spells or their own. Alternatively, certain bosses like Maliketh, Godfrey, and Radahn are too fast for most spells. This anti-magic boss design is part of why Elden Ring is on-balance harder than Dark Souls.
The exceptions to this rule are the handful of one-shot sorcery builds floating around. By using a combination of highly-specialized gear, stats, and sorceries, players can burst down even later bosses with just a few casts. Most Elden Ring one-shot sorcery builds use a combination of Terra Magicus and Comet Azur, which are both very good even outside of this build. While powerful against field beasts and slow bosses, even this combination is useless against many of the biggest challenges.
All in all, sorcery is not good in Elden Ring except for the situations where it’s completely overpowered. This results in a very jagged difficulty curve compared to the more powerful and straightforward melee builds.