Elden Ring sorceries vs. incantations: Which spells should you use?

Elden Ring Sorcery
Elden Ring Sorcery (Image credit: Windows Central)

Just like the Dark Souls games before it, Elden Ring features two types of magic spells: sorceries and incantations. Each type of magic has its own benefits and drawbacks, but what are some of them? Which type of magic is better for specific playstyles? How do you use sorceries and incantations, and what stats should you invest in to create an effective sorcery or incantation-based build?

In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about sorceries and incantations, including what they do, their pros and cons, what items you'll need to use each magic type, and which stats you should level up if you're planning to be a sorcery or incantation user.

Elden Ring sorcery: Spells, scaling, and more

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

In Elden Ring, sorceries are types of spells that need Intelligence and Focus Points (FP) to use and also require that you have a staff equipped to cast them. Typically, these spells can be identified by their blue color and projectile nature, though some sorcery spells allow you to shoot energy beams, fire, or mists as well. The vast majority of sorceries deal Magic damage, though some rare ones inflict Fire damage, Frost damage, or the Death status effect instead.

In general, sorcery spells cast relatively quickly and are geared towards damage output and offense, as few support-style spells exist. To get more types of sorcery spells, you'll need to find them in Elden Ring's open world. Alternatively, you may also find magic scrolls that you can bring to an NPC that will then teach the new spells they unlock to you. Two easily accessible NPCs that do this are Sorceress Sellen in the Waypoint Ruins in Limgrave and Miriel, Pastor of Vows at the Church of Vows in Liurnia of the Lakes.

The damage these spells do increases as you level Intelligence and upgrade your staff with Smithing Stones by speaking to Blacksmith Hewg in the Roundtable Hold hub area. Note that you can also improve your damage by finding staves that scale very highly with the Intelligence stat. Some staves also come with unique benefits and drawbacks. For example, the Lusat's Glintstone Staff provides an extra boost to spell damage but also increases spell FP cost by half.

If you want to create a sorcerer character, the best classes to choose at the start of the game are Astrologer or Prisoner. For tips and information on how to get a sorcery build started, check out our Astrologer and Prisoner beginner's guide.

Elden Ring incantations: Spells, scaling, and more

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

Elden Ring's incantations, much like the miracles of Dark Souls, are spells that require Faith and FP to use (dragon incantations also need some Arcane) and require that you have a seal item equipped when casting them. Unlike the blue hue and projectile nature of sorceries, incantations can take on a variety of colors and forms. Some types of incantations include buffing your weapon with Holy, Frost, or Bleed damage, raining down Fire-damaging projectiles, sweeping the area in front of you with a large magical tail, and more.

Whereas sorcery spells are mostly meant for strong damage output and offense, incantations fill more of a support role. Many incantations still do damage, but their purpose in combat is generally to stun enemies, crowd control large groups of them, restrict where they can move with area denial, or build up dangerous status effects like Madness. Many incantations can also be used to heal the caster and their allies. Note that generally, incantations take longer to cast than sorceries do. You can get more incantations by finding them in the open world or by taking Prayerbooks you find to Brother Corhyn in Roundtable Hold or Miriel, Pastor of Vows at the Church of Vows in Liurnia of the Lakes.

To improve the potency of your incantations, you'll need to level up Faith and upgrade your seal with Smithing Stones by speaking with Blacksmith Hewg. Some seals you can find throughout the game will enhance the power of specific types of incantations as well. One such seal is the Clawmark Seal, which improves how effective bestial incantations are. You can view what type of incantation a spell is by inspecting it in your inventory.

If you want to make an incantation-focused character, we recommend picking either the Prophet or Confessor class since they have the highest starting Faith. Review our guide on the best Elden Ring builds for more information on how you can put a powerful Faith build together with these classes.

Elden Ring sorceries vs. incantations: Which is better?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Generally speaking, Intelligence builds and sorcery magic are a bit more viable than Faith builds and incantations are. The offensive power of sorceries makes them more useful overall across both PvE and PvP, and since sorcery spells can be cast faster, sorcery casters don't have to worry about being damaged while using magic as much as incantation users do (note that Dexterity makes you cast both types of magic faster). Sorceries are also usually more FP efficient as well.

With that said, incantations are still incredibly viable and are arguably better than sorceries when it comes to cooperative play. Even though they tend to use up more FP and take longer to cast, incantations that heal your co-op buddies or stun and interrupt large groups of enemies can be extremely useful. The Bleed, Frostbite, and Madness status effects some incantations build up will also deal huge chunks of damage to bosses and PvE enemies, and PvP opponents will be forced to back off.

Elden Ring is finally here, and it's available for $60 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC. It's one of the best Xbox games you can play right now if you're a fan of challenging RPGs, and we strongly recommend it.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.