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Soulsborne: To Cast Or Not To Cast? | Column from the Editor

Until recently, we’d done a series on melee weapons across Soulsborne. Simply put, let’s take a look at some under the radar magic or some picks which should stay beneath the light of day across the franchise.

Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne have been excluded due to the lack of variety in terms of magic options.

Dark Souls 1

Cast: White Dragon Breath

A pretty awful pick in Dark Souls 3, White Dragon Breath is much more flexible in a much slower paced game, making it out to be much better. It can wipe out a group of enemies in front of the user and dish out solid damage in a boss fight. The key here is being usable 20 times, as this makes it a lot less awkward to use than Dark Souls 3.

Do Not Cast: Seek Guidance

Probably the most ignored spell in Soulsborne, and for good reason. If you really, truly must see every single instance of some idiot trying to trick you into hitting a pretend illusory wall for their five seconds of kicks, by all means, use this spell. Otherwise, the only value you could hope to get out of this spell comes from those moments when your cellphone is just barely out of arm’s reach and you’re too lazy to go and get it. Otherwise, just use Google if you’re stuck on something.

Dark Souls 2

Cast: Lingering Flame

What’s that, there are more than just Hexes worth casting in Dark Souls 2? Believe it or not, this one’s not too bad. This is another instance of a future spiritual successor, Elden Ring’s Flame of the Fell God, being horrible in every way, with the predecessor in a much slower game working out. Dark Souls 2 is well known for being infested with gank fights around every corner. Many of these enemies have large aggro range, so the player can easily preemptively cast this spell, aggro a mob of enemies, and lead them right into it for a huge explosion. Given that it’s a non-Hex with some semblance of a unique niche, it had to be mentioned here.

Do Not Cast: Dark Hail

There are a few bad Hexes, but at least they’re interesting and can be fun to use. Why does this spell do the same thing as Dark Orb, but less, and take up a second spell slot? The second spell slot is the real backbreaker here, meshed with the fact that it has about 2/3rds the uses of Dark Orb. If it wasn’t clear, just use Dark Orb instead — this spell and Dark Orb are bought from the same three merchants.

Dark Souls 3

Cast: Vow of Silence

This spell is well known for completely shutting down two bosses in Aldrich, Devourer of Gods and Soul of Cinder. However, it has significant application outside of just these two instances that can make it worth using. It can greatly disrupt bosses who lean a lot on elemental attacks, such as phase three Sister Friede, the Twin Princes at times and it will briefly remove the fire from second phase Abyss Watchers’ attacks. While not game breaking and requiring a lot of skill to use, the edge is that this spell can also potentially completely shut down other players in PvP, those who rely on magic for their builds to work. It is random, but when the stars align, this spell can make a huge difference.

Do Not Cast: Soul Stream

In Elden Ring, people can do some pretty absurd stuff with Comet Azur, such as killing the final boss, Elden Beast, in under half a minute amongst other ludicrous feats. Soul Stream is basically a prototype version of Comet Azur, so surely it must not be that far behind? Think again. Soul Stream is a horrible spell with bad stats that isn’t worth it’s enormous Intelligence requirement or the large FP it consumes. Though it does deal decent damage when it finally gets cast, it’s windup is so cumbersome that it gets outDPSed by mundane, simpler alternatives such as Crystal Soul Spear. From Software clearly shipped this one with ‘safe’ numbers, and upon seeing what Comet Azur can do in Elden Ring, it’s easy to see why they were nervous here. Pity that it never got the buffs it needed before Dark Souls 3 stopped getting patches.

Elden Ring

Cast: Agheel’s Flame

This is a criminally overlooked pick, buried in the shadow of Rotten Breath, Dragonice and their mature, named counterparts. Agheel’s Flame is still a strong pick for a few reasons. First, this covers by far the most ground out of any Fire based incantation, making it very consistent. Second, being a fire incantation means this can be uniquely buffed by Flame, Grant Me Strength! as well as the Shrouded Flaming Tear, which can elevate its damage output into sky high territory. As a lasting note, many important enemies across Elden Ring are weak or susceptible to Fire. Some notable examples would be Malenia, Blade of Miquella, Radagon of the Golden Order and the Beast Clergyman. If you get yourself some spare Dragon Hearts, don’t be afraid to take a chance with the Agheel’s Flame. As a concluding note, Dragonfire, the lesser variant of Agheel’s Flame, is much, much weaker and costs similar FP, making it significantly less valuable overall, albeit still worth using to an extent.

Do Not Cast: Thops’ Barrier

This one is particularly funny, because the lore behind it suggests that the scholars of Raya Lucaria laugh and mock this spell, while Thops himself rationalizes its existence with a “you’ll all see someday!” type redemption/comeuppance dynamic. Well, those scholars can go ahead and keep laughing because this spell is pitifully outclassed. Both Carian Retaliation and the Erdtree Retaliation Ash of War on the Erdtree Greatshield perform the idea of parrying magic much better. Carian Retaliation also works on melee attacks, while the Erdtree Greatshield is simply more punishing against foes when you do properly parry their spells. There is no reason to use Thops’ Barrier apart from a cosplay or a meme run of some kind. Amusingly enough, it doesn’t even properly work against Gravity Magic. While you’re struggling to get this thing to work against, say, Starscourge Radahn, your friend with the Erdtree Greatshield is having the time of their life with their vastly superior parrying tool that also doubles as a greatshield for greatshield typical duties. Or, they’ll enjoy using Carian Retaliation to parry an invader and get a kill later in your playthrough while you twiddle your thumbs with this spell.

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