When I immersed myself in Elden Ring for several weeks back in January / February I invested in strength and tried to build a melee focussed character. Last week on a whim I reinstalled the game and started over as magic using glintstone sorcerer prioritising intelligence. Now I find I am progressing through the game far more quickly and enjoying the experience more. A lot of this is due to my familiarity with the game born from experience but I am enjoying the playstyle more as well.
Before I go much further I must address the elephant in the room. There is a section of the Elden Ring community who look down on magic as easy mode. They consider it an inferior playstyle to the carefully timed parrys, dodges and counters that are a hallmark of Souls games. I would like to think I am above being influenced by this kind of snobbery but that isn't entirely true. I am pretty sure that my decision to initially play as a melee character was influenced by a niggling feeling that that was the "right way" to play. It is also true that one of the reasons I now enjoy playing a mage more is because I am not very good at the precisely timed manoeuvres that melee combat requires. I am finding the game much easier being able to stand out of harms way and fling spells.
One of the oddest things about playing an intelligence focussed magic user is that my character is still very effective in melee. I have a nice uchigatana that I can equip because it has a low strength requirement. I put an ash of war on it that gives it a hefty chunk of magic damage that scales with intelligence so it hits very hard. I can't take hits because I am clad in light armour but dodging blows is more effective than tanking them so I still enjoy the odd melee tussle in between bouts of magic. My heavy armour / heavy weapon wielding melee character feels clunky in comparison.
Another significant difference from my first playthrough is the way I use my replenishment flasks. My armour wearing melee fighter took a lot of hits and had to prioritise health (HP) replenishing flasks of crimson tears at the expense of focus point (FP) restoring flasks of cerulean tears. This meant that I had to be stingy with special abilities that consume FP. My mage takes far fewer hits so I prioritise FP flasks and can use abilities much more freely. In fact I picked up a Blessed Dew talisman early on that slowly replenishes health. The replenishment rate is too slow to be much use during combat but serves to keep my health bar topped up while exploring. As a consequence I only carry one or at most two HP restoring flasks for emergencies when exploring and use the the rest of my flask slots for FP flasks.
The only downside to playing a mage is that it took surprisingly long to find new spells that were better or more interesting than the two spells I started out with as an astrologer. The single target Glintstone Pebble and multi target Glintstone arc are such a powerful combination that I still relied on them till at least level 30. I am almost 60 now, working my way through Caelid and I finally have a greater variety of spells to play with but it took quite a while. My current mainstay spells are magic glintblade (delayed action mana efficient homing spell), Loretta's great bow (high damage long distance sniper spell) and canon of Haima (an area of effect explosive damage spell that is great fun to use on groups of enemies).