I'm glad I leaned into sorcery for my first Elden Ring run


I usually save magic for my second playthrough, but sorcery seemed too fun to resist this time

There are so many directions to explore in Elden Ring, and that goes for not just From’s dark-fantasy landscape — which begins with familiar greenery and fades into some head-turning zones — but your build, too. I honestly put more thought into my character’s class than I did their design, figuring their fashion would do the heavy lifting.

One of the first talking points for friends playing Elden Ring together at launch is character builds, more so than in prior From Software action-RPGs, at least in my experience.

Like, sure, we all want to spout off our cool open-world stories and chat about run-ins we’ve had with whimsy and horror in the Lands Between, but we also want to know how we’re specializing our heroes — if we even are specializing them yet, that is.

While plenty of people will stick to their tried-and-true playstyle inherited from prior Souls games, this time, I’m switching it up with sorcery in Elden Ring. And it’s paying off.

Instead of a standard sword-and-shield combo, I went the magic route on my first playthrough. (Well, I’m a Prisoner hybrid, so I’m not exactly all-in.) The further I get — 50 hours, as of last night — the happier I am with that choice. Sword and board can wait!

**Minor spell and staff spoilers**

A (well-armed) sorcerer in Elden Ring

Without saying too much, there’s a particular spell (Rock Sling) and staff (the Meteorite Staff) that I happened to come across early on, by total accident, in a godforsaken land.

These two go hand-in-hand, and once you get a feel for how much you can (or can’t) commit yourself to the drawn-out spellcasting, they’re absurd together. They bring down beefy threats, reliably setting up opportunities to rush in for a stabby visceral attack.

Rock Sling is quickly becoming an early-game crowd favorite, and it has served me well. If you’re struggling to find spells that hit hard, I’d look it up, and potentially pair it with something snappy. Somehow, I’m still rocking the basic Glintstone Pebble as well.

Elden Ring Rock Sling Sorcery screenshot

With an admittedly pretty random sword that was reworked to scale with my pumped-up INT stat, I’m having a blast with my gray-skinned gal. I can have fun slinging spells on horseback, I can take on the big boys that are just out and about in the open world, and I can get in with some precision hit-and-run melee tactics when the situation calls for it.

I’ve probably put too many points into Mind (MND), so that I have enough FP to summon all of the things… even though I use like 2% of them, if that. But I’m not sweating it.

And this is neither here nor there, but I just learned you can “charge” certain spells by not letting go of whatever input you use to cast them. I feel so out of my element! I’ve dabbled with pyro before in Souls, but I’ve never jumped head-first down this rabbit-hole.

For me, sorcery in Elden Ring is less of a known quantity. That’s the beauty of it, though.

Liurnia of the Lakes

In a glued-in gaming landscape where it’s only natural to wonder what the “best” builds are, I like knowing that I can experiment on my own based on what I personally encounter in Elden Ring, and if I veer too far in the wrong direction, I can always adapt on the fly.

With all of the systems in the mix, including an early(ish) character respec, reasonable smithing upgrade paths, and Ashes of War that can open up care-free weapon and shield alternations to swerve our playstyles, I feel like Elden Ring really wants us to be flexible.

And while I wasn’t necessarily longing for a greater sense of freedom in prior FromSoft RPGs, I adore it here in Elden Ring. It super fits this vibe. This isn’t a totally new sensation, but combined with actual open-world exploration (which lets you go wildly “out of order,” for better and for worse), I’m never really second-guessing my build, imperfect as it is.

I’m glad I rolled with sorcery, especially with fun FP-hogging ghostly summons backing me up; I’m also glad I can pivot in Elden Ring if the time comes. There’s less pressure.

Sorcery combat on horseback in Elden Ring

Were you empowered to try a different first build in Elden Ring compared to your old (potentially series-spanning) go-to, or did you just stick to what you know and love?

It’s early days, to the point where a lot of our ideal character “builds” only truly exist in our heads until we’ve got enough Runes and game time to make them a reality, but I’m curious where your head is at either way, and what direction you’re leaning in.

While Elden Ring is fantastic in a vacuum, it really comes to life when we can share our experiences and hear how vastly different other players’ journeys are shaping up to be.