Dark Souls is a pretty hard series. It’s not as difficult as most newcomers seem to think, nor is it as easy as some elitists insist, but it’s a relatively challenging series that understands how to balance difficulty in a predominantly single player game. As ideal as the series’ challenge is, that doesn’t mean FromSoftware perfected every aspect of the franchise. When it comes to weapons there are some great ones, but there are also some that’ll leave you asking yourself “why?”
As balanced as the level design and bosses are, the weapons can end up leaving a lot to be desired. Most players won’t even notice unless they find themselves attached to a particularly abysmal weapon, but if you look deep enough into Dark Souls’ bowels, you’ll find dozens of weapons that simply have no reason to exist.
That’s good in a way, right? Weapon variety is always fun and sometimes you want to handicap yourself by using a weak weapon. The problem lies in more than just how strong a weapon is or isn’t, when and where you get the weapon matters. Plenty of weak weapons can be found late in the game but, since they’re found late game, they end up being useless. Conversely, some decent weapons can be found early but the method of getting them barely justifies the reward.
There’s a lot of great things to admire about Dark Souls and there are plenty of great weapons to handle, but some weapons are so bad, so lame, and so pointless that you just can’t ignore them.
15 Any Raw Weapon
Raw weapons are kind of like Dark Souls’ Jeigan. For those unfamiliar with Fire Emblem, a Jeigan is an incredibly powerful unit who joins you at the very beginning of the game who very quickly becomes outclassed and serves as a crutch for players getting accustomed to the gameplay. Raw weapons are no different. Upgrading a weapon with a raw gem will make that weapon’s base damage higher, but it’ll stop taking your stats into consideration entirely.
Really, any raw weapon is a temporary solution to a bigger problem. It’s better to play around with different weapons and try to find a playstyle that matches you and build your stats from there. Since raw weapons don’t scale with your stats, they end up being early-game crutches that can’t keep up by mid-game. Lose the raw weapons and try to find something that actually has some pay off.
14 Any Broken Weapon
When it comes to games where you can choose from a horde of weapons, it comes to no surprise that some will be useless. Perhaps the most disappointing of the bunch, however, are those weapons that come off so useless that you think there’s no way they can be useless until you use them and realize that they are, in fact, completely unusable.
You’d think that there’d be some major payoff to sporting yourself with a broken straight sword, but it’s only real purpose is acting as a base. In that sense, it isn’t entirely useless but it’s not like you need to use it to make use of it. You’ll never need to mow down enemies with a broken sword, there’s just no point. FromSoftware really should have done something a bit more fun with the broken weapons. Give them a fun moveset at the cost of strength, make them absurdly fast if impractical. It’s better to be fun and useless than boring and useless.
13 Ghost Blade
Ghosts in Dark Souls are some of the toughest enemies you’ll encounter because of one simple thing: they can’t be hurt. Unless you’re cursed or using a Transient Curse, your best chance of getting through New Londo Ruins is just rushing through and hoping you won’t die. If you’re dying a lot, it can be annoying facing the ghosts time and time again. Thankfully, there’s a weapon that’ll actually do damage to them without you needing to get cursed! Too bad that weapon only drops from killing ghosts.
The Ghost Blade kind of defeats its own purpose, doesn’t it? Keeping yourself cursed is more trouble than it's worth and it’s easier than it looks to die in New Londo. The Ghost Blade should make things easier, but getting it really comes down to luck and circumstance. If you could get it someway other than from killing the one enemy it was designed to kill, it might have been remembered as one of the most useful and practical weapons in the game. Instead, it’s a victim of poor design.
12 Morning Star
Unlike raw weapons, broken weapons, and the Ghost Blade, the Morning Star is designed with the expectation that it will actually be useful and worthwhile to hold onto. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it’s not. You can find the Morning Star tucked away in Firelink Shrine pretty soon into the game but even then you’re better off finding something else to use.
Its base stats are pathetic, its moveset is horrifically slow, and upgrading it down any path isn’t going to make it useful. Its best set bonus is B and the highest base damage you’ll get out of the thing is a pitiful 224. For all the trouble it would take you to fully upgrade the Morning Star, you’d really just be wasting your precious materials. Its only real use would be bashing in some skeletons but, even then, it’s not difficult to find a club or a divine weapon that would do the job ten times better.
11 Short Bow
Ah, the Short Bow. It really shouldn’t be as terrible of a weapon as it is. I mean, how do you mess up a bow? Well Dark Souls figured it out. At first glance, there’s really not much wrong with the bow. It does its job at shooting things from afar but you’ll slowly realize, it’s not doing that great. So you look for a new bow and you find one! And then you never have a reason to use the short bow again. That’s a problem.
Weapon growth is a natural thing for games to have, but at what cost? Should a weapon lose its relevance entirely just because another weapon is right around the corner? The long bow completely trivializes the short bow’s existence. Everything the short bow does, the long bow does better. In a game with so many weapons, it would have been amazing to have a reason to go back to seemingly weaker weapons, but the Short Bow just ends up feeling like the Long Bow lite.
10 Bare Fists
Many RPGs make using your bare hands a viable option. Some games even give you perks for ditching your weapons in favor of the ol’ one-two. Dark Souls does let you use your fists if you want, but it doesn’t let you forget you won’t be making it far without a weapon. And that’s alright, the game is designed with weapons in mind, it’s just disappointing that your fists cannot be used reliably whatsoever.
Miraculously, fists scale with strength, but not by much. You won’t be parrying and you aren’t going to be doing much damage. Your range is also piss poor, so don’t expect to be anywhere, but up and close. It’s a shame because while Dark Souls does focus on weapons, martial arts could have been added in fairly ease. Just tweak how fists work and you’ve got something unique and fun to play with. Alas, Dark Souls isn’t that kind of game and bare fists exist only for those that crave an incredibly tedious and pointless challenge.
9 Straight Sword Hilt
Imagine you’re looking at the Broken Straight Sword. It’s weak, clunky, and barely dealing any damage. Now imagine it’s ten times worse. That’s the Straight Sword Hilt for you. Somehow, for some reason, FromSoftware decided to give you two of the exact same weapon, but made one completely unusable while the other was only slightly less unusable.
The games have reused weapon types before, but for something as obscure as a broken sword? Come on. Players don’t need two versions of what are effectively the same weapon bogging down their inventory. The Straight Sword Hilt shares all the problems the broken weapons do in general, but it’s made worse because this one is the single worst weapon in the game by design. It just barely outdamages your bare fists and that’s downright criminal.
8 Painting Guardian’s Curved Sword
The Painting Guardian’s Curved Sword is a weapon that, by all accounts, should be good. You can get by the halfway point, it can inflict blood rather reliably, and you can even use it for parrying. On paper, it’s an awesome weapon with a cool look that begs to be used. In practice, however, it’s little more than a toothpick that’ll get you killed before you can even take advantage of the weapon’s high bleeding factor.
The sword’s biggest downfall is its range. With a weapon like the Painting Guardian’s Curved Sword, you need to be up really close to actually make contact with whatever you’re fighting. It’s pretty easy to die in Dark Souls and one small misstep can cost you your life, so sporting a weapon that requires you to be in the line of fire isn’t always in your best interest. If you’re intent on keeping the sword on your person, just make sure you know you’re going to be dodging more than you’re going to be fighting.
There’s nothing more exciting than the thrill of killing an enemy and having them drop their weapon. Some of the coolest weapons in the Souls series are drops. The only thing that makes an enemy dropping their weapon more satisfying is when the drop rate is abysmally small. You spend hours grinding and, finally, you get that weapon you’ve had your eyes on. It’s a great feeling. Unless said weapon is the Harpe.
Featuring a drop rate so low most people question its existence, the Harpe isn’t worth any of the trouble it takes to get your hands on one. It’s a sickle that plays exactly like a dagger, it can’t even parry, and its base damage is shockingly low. And this is a list with plenty of weak weapons, already. The Harpe is just all around baffling. Nobody wants to spend hours grinding a sickle, so they can stab enemies without even killing them.
In an ideal world, the whip would not be on this list. FromSoftware would have realized how innovative and engaging a whip could be and beefed up its damage while giving it some decent combos. This is not an ideal world, though. This is a very dark and upsetting world where you won’t be able to make your own 3D Castlevania via Dark Souls.
The main problem with the whip is that it’s just not viable in any realistic way. That’s a recurring problem with a lot of these weapons, as FromSoftware shoves them into the game without consideration of how well they’re going to work. The whip is a great idea, genuinely, but nothing about it is practical. From its damage output to its reach, it makes you wish FromSoftware would put more effort into these unique weapons. It’s cool and all to have access to some amazing swords, but it’d also be nice to have access to an amazing whip.
5 Hammer Of Vamos
You’d think a blacksmith’s hammer would be a lot stronger wouldn’t you? The highest base damage you’ll get out of the Hammer of Vamos is an almost laughably low 172. A fully upgraded Morning Star does more damage than that and you can get the Morning Star super early. The Hammer of Vamos is only reliably available past the halfway point. There’s just no excuse for it to be so weak.
The worst part of it all is that you have to kill one of the game’s two blacksmiths to get your hands on it. That’s right, you need to deprive yourself of a major resource just so you can use a mediocre hammer. To add insult to injury, the weapon description reads, “Can be used as a strike weapon, but better left in the hands of its talented owner.” So tell me, was it worth killing Vamos?
4 Great Wooden Hammer
If, for some reason, you want to use a hammer in Dark Souls, then look elsewhere because the Great Wooden Hammer is not designed to be your friend. It is, objectively, the worst weapon of its type in Dark Souls III. The only advantage it has over other Great Hammers is that it’s light, but why would you be running a lightweight build if you want to use a hammer? Its one perk flies in the face of all common sense.
This is a problem the series has had since its first entry. The weapon variety is great, but not every weapon is great. This means certain weapons are outclassed as soon as they arrive. As it stands, the Great Wooden Hammer has no point whatsoever. It is a meaningless, boring, simple to get weapon that serves no purpose other than to clutter your inventory until you get a better hammer.
3 Heysel Pick
From a lore standpoint, the Heysel Pick is actually pretty cool. It’s a pickaxe that also doubles as a staff for sorcery. Almost amazingly, you can actually use it as a staff to cast spells in-game, even though it’s considered a melee weapon. It’s an interesting weapon with a unique feature so it should be awesome, right?
Wrong. So horribly wrong.
It doesn’t hit hard enough, it doesn’t buff your spells well enough, it doesn’t move fast enough, and it’s on the heavier side when it comes to staffs. The Heysel Pick’s incredible premise simply cannot save it from its poor design. It’s obvious FromSoftware wanted it to be a jack of all trades weapon, but it does nothing right. A lot of these weapons are on this lift because FromSoftware just didn’t care about making them good, but they cared here. And that makes their failure all the more saddening.
For all intents and purposes, the Caestus should be the weapon that makes bare fists totally viable. It’s a weapon that takes the fist moveset and adds some actual damage. It even has multiple upgrade paths and proper scaling! Once again, however, FromSoftware has chosen to torment its player base. Yes, it’s true, the Caestus is complete, utter garbage.
The weapon is so cool, but it’s so weak. You can buy it before the halfway point but, even then, it’s lacking. The only thing worse than a weapon that doesn’t keep up with a game’s difficulty is a weapon that starts far behind. By the time you get all the upgrade materials needed to make something remotely competent, your inventory will be flooded with weapons that outdamage a fully upgraded Caestus without a single upgrade. It’s an incredible concept that ends up feeling poorly designed and poorly placed.
1 Drake Sword
Imagine every raw weapon in existence and replace them with a Drake Sword. You know what you’d get? A weapon so boring, so lame, and so counterintuitive to Dark Souls’ design philosophy that it’s really no surprise FromSoftware never tried replicating its existence after the original Dark Souls.
The Drake Sword is an incredibly strong, simple to get sword that you can get your hands off before you even fight the second boss. It’s slow, heavy, and has a poor moveset, but its high damage is too alluring to pass up for many players. Really, all the Drake Sword does is make sure players don’t get to use more interesting weapons and try out new playstyles.
Like raw weapons, the Drake Sword won’t get any stronger based on how you level up. It’s a crutch like no other, going so far to replace the game’s previous crutch. Dark Souls is about conquering challenges based on your own merit and the Drake Sword makes sure your successes won’t be nearly as satisfying.