Third time’s the charm, as we have another iteration of analyzing weapons across Soulsborne which have flown under the radar. Without further ado, let’s get into one weapon to use, and one to avoid using, across all of Soulsborne.
Wield: Lava Bow
This is kind of reaching if we’re talking about ‘under the radar weapons’ as the Lava Bow is clearly the best bow in the game. For one, though, that isn’t saying much, and for another, bows are niche as things are. Like last week, it should again be noted that Demon’s Souls’ overall catalogue is sparse as is.
The Lava Bow is a great, easy, cheap option if the player wants a strong ranged weapon. The bow uniquely buffs all arrows fired with Fire, so the player can get more mileage out of basic arrows, reducing the upkeep cost of needing to buy ammunition. The Lava Bow single handedly makes fights against Leechmonger and Maiden Astrea even more of a total joke than they already are, as now the player will not have to even approach either boss up close in order to effortlessly win.
Do Not Wield: Reaper Scythe
This scythe is such a sad, sad mess. It is extremely aesthetically pleasing, and because it was the centerpiece of the game’s Digital Deluxe Edition, it seemed as if it would be a fairly solid pick. Unfortunately, the Reaper Scythe would have to actually be one of the worst weapons in the game as a whole, probably only being clearly superior to the Broken Sword, a weapon that deals 2 damage a hit and cannot be upgraded.
The Reaper Scythe sucks for one clear reason: it can’t be upgraded. Why make a weapon the player has to spend extra real life money on utterly horrible? Why not just hide it behind some obscure parkour or exploration like all other Soulsborne games do? Bluepoint Games really dropped the ball on this one.
Dark Souls 1
Wield: Golem Axe
This modest axe has quite a bit of interesting utility. It is a boss weapon created using the Core of an Iron Golem, meaning it is acquired just before the player hits mid game. The numbers on this axe won’t blow you away, but perhaps it’s unique skill will — just like the Iron Golem, if the player hits the right-handed heavy attack (R2), they’ll use the axe to fire a large sonic wave that travels a decent distance and does acceptably solid damage. It does cost 30 Durability to use, but the axe’s 390 Durability means the player doesn’t need to walk on eggshells using it.
The axe is fairly short, so having a readily accessible projectile sure is nice. It’s the only axe in the game to do this as well. Having fast, hard hitting range is super useful, primarily for the fight coming up right after the Iron Golem in Ornstein and Smough. Given that there are many great Strength weapons in the game, it’s easy to see why this axe would get overlooked. However, given that it can do one thing any of its competition would be drooling over, the Golem Axe is worth taking a look at.
Do Not Wield: Greatsword of Artorias (uncursed)
Note: the difference between the ‘cursed’ and ‘uncursed’ is that the player needs a +10 Greatsword or straight sword to make the cursed version, while a broken straight sword or sword hilt makes the uncursed version. Both are made by turning in the respective prerequisites to the Giant Blacksmith, who will then ascend these resources into the weapon of choice.
The uncursed Greatsword of Artorias is such a weird concept. It’s so plainly inferior to the cursed version that From Software really should’ve just made an entirely new weapon as an alternate reward for the Soul of Sif instead of copying and pasting the other weapon and calling it a day. Simply put, it bizarrely has higher stat requirements than the cursed version, can’t be used to kill ghosts like the cursed version can, and simply does less damage on the whole. It is 100% outclassed in every single way. What’s the point?
Dark Souls 2
Wield: Fume Sword
It shouldn’t take Einstein to figure out why this thing gets overlooked. After all, when finally toughing out a brutal fight with Fume Knight, players are naturally going to be gushing over the opportunity to use his massive Fume Ultra Greatsword. As such, his off hand weapon will fly under the radar when it really shouldn’t.
The Fume Sword is unique for having the longest range of any straight sword while also being the only one of its class to attain an S scaling, doing so in Dexterity. It has a very reasonable requirement of 25 in Dexterity, and it can be infused or buffed with anything. This is an amazing option for if the player wants something fast that isn’t going to break on them in two minutes like a katana might. The Fume Sword does scale better in Dexterity than most katanas and even has competitive range with much less weight and higher Durability. This weapon is great for Dexterity builds, builds which won’t even be able to use the Ultra Greatsword anyway. Have a look at this weapon, and you won’t regret it.
Do Not Wield: Lost Sinner’s Sword
To be fair, this sword isn’t even that bad, and can actually become quite good. It’s worth remembering that there aren’t any truly terrible weapons in Dark Souls 2, so today’s piece will look at a weapon that, for the most part, isn’t worth trying to exact its full potential from.
The niche to this sword is that its base damage is naturally higher than other weapons, but this comes with a catch — the sword secretly scales off of the player’s “sin” level, the only weapon in the game to do this. As well, each time the sword hits something, the player will take a small amount of chip damage. The player’s “sin” count increases every time they kill an innocent NPC. As the sin count goes up, the power on this sword declines steeply. While, sure, the player could simply choose to not kill any NPCs, there is at least one, possibly more who the player is encouraged to kill, meaning the power of this sword will naturally be greatly weakened. It would be better to not shift an entire playthrough around this weapon when plenty of other usable ones exist, and none of them are going to guilt trip you like this one will.
Wield: Threaded Cane
What’s that, you say? How could one of the game’s three starting weapon options possibly be under the radar? Simply because one of the alternatives shows up on the game’s cover art, while the other alternative is wielded by two iconic characters and has the highest base stats of the three. Meanwhile, the cane itself has been given no love and has the lowest base stats of the three. For a clever player, however, the cane can end up actually potentially being the best option of the three.
The cane has one major advantage over the Saw Cleaver and Hunter’s Axe: range. The transformed version of this weapon is a large serrated whip that is swung in a horizontal motion, getting fantastic range that covers a wide area. This is great in PvP and PvE for spacing. When the mid or late game comes, the player may find the damage output on the Hunter’s Axe and Saw Cleaver may have fallen off. This will be the case for the Threaded Cane as well, but it will still be able to offer the utility of range and width. Staggering multiple enemies at once is very useful, and the cane can achieve this more consistently than the other two. Give it a shot as your starter weapon, and you won’t be disappointed.
Do Not Wield: Kos Parasite
A drop off of the game’s masterful final boss, it’s a bit unfortunate the Kos Parasite is so lacking in flexibility. It completely demands the player warp their entire build around it in order to generate results similar to casually wielding a different one. It is powerful, but unless you really want the aesthetic of using the weapon, you should keep looking.
The biggest issue here is that optimal, effective use of the Kos Parasite demands the player use the Milkweed Rune as their Caryll Rune, rather than one of the many vastly better runes in the game. Given how important runes are, this is already a major negative. This will transform your character into a Lumenwood, which is at least really cool aesthetically. It’s a shame that the Kos Parasite can’t be effectively used unless paired with this Caryll Rune.
Dark Souls 3
Wield: Fume Ultra Greatsword
Funny how coveted this weapon can be in one game, just to be totally ignored in another. The problem with this weapon has never been that it’s particularly lacking. The problems are that it’s a little tricky to find and it heavily competes with weapons which are much easier to get ahold of. It also has a steep Strength requirement.
One weapon worth comparing this one to is the fan favorite Black Knight Greatsword. When comparing the two side by side, the Fume wins out in base damage, but falls short in poise damage. If this was Elden Ring, the Black Knight Greatsword would have it beat, but because poise damage isn’t quite as prevalent here, it’s much more debatable. Beyond this, the Fume Ultra Greatsword does exactly what you’d think a weapon of its class does, it does it well, and it has the very same amazing moveset which accompanies all Ultra Greatswords. It’s worth the annoying trek required to eventually get it from the Demon Ruins.
As a concluding note, this weapon has indeed been nerfed twice over Dark Souls 3’s lifetime. Even in spite of this, it’s performance is still very competitive with other colossal weapons, and it doesn’t come with any real baggage that could hold the player back. As a result, it’s absolutely worth using to the fullest extent.
Wield: One-Eyed Shield
From Software got really creative with some shields here, and it truly paid off. The One-Eyed Shield does the typical duties of a greatshield, with excellent absorption stats and stability. However, it doubles as a cannon, so it does more than just deflect blows- it dishes them out too. The Flame Spit Ash of War does tons of damage, has a large effective range and travels fast, making it harder for enemies to dodge. It’s reload speed is somehow faster than the Jar Cannon, though it is still on the sluggish side.
Though it might not seem it, this weapon even has utility in PvP. It can become the centerpiece of a turtle/shield-poke build. These builds tend to prefer the Fingerprint Stone Shield, but the One-Eyed Shield boasts the ability to snipe players who may be retreating to try and heal or wind up a spell of some kind, something the Fingerprint Stone Shield cannot claim. This isn’t super consistent, but it can be a situational game changer.
Do Not Wield: Serpentbone Blade
Man, this katana sucks. This might be the worst katana in all of Soulsborne, but it is definitely the worst one in all of Elden Ring. This is a quest reward obtained by completing Volcano Manor requests. Someone asking you to do something in exchange for this blade is akin to offering a babysitter $2 and a small pizza to watch your kids for a few days.
Uniquely, this katana is the only one among its class to innately inflict Poison build up. This isn’t just any Poison build up, though, this is ‘deadly’ Poison. The difference between regular and deadly Poison is that the latter deals damage more quickly, but causes the Poison to last for a shorter duration. This is generally an advantage, but it isn’t enough to make this katana appealing due to how low it’s Poison build up is. You’d need to hit a boss or enemy close to around 20 times quickly to actually proc the effect on them, making such a strategy needlessly more difficult than just employing a more standardized plan. A standardized plan with an actually viable weapon at that.