By Jim Jones
Picking the best weapons in any game is a daunting test – doubly so for a masterful and beloved title like The Witcher 3. Different steel swords have different strengths for different players – but some of The Witcher 3’s swords go above and beyond when it comes to excelling at particular bonuses and attributes.
We’re bound to ruffle some feathers with our picks, but we scoured the internet for all sorts of steel sword stats, rummaged through player forums, and binged Youtube reviews to bring you the best top 10 list of the best steel swords in The Witcher 3 (in no particular order).*
1. The Best Sword for Critical Hit Damage Bonuses: Hjalmar’s Steel Sword+45-200% Critical hit damage bonus
Not every hit is critical – but when you finally land one, it sure is pretty sweet to have a killer damage bonus to back it up.If you’re looking to up the damage you do on these critical strikes, look no further than this black-handled, powerful steel sword. Like all swords on this list, Hjalmar’s Steel Sword is a relic, however it only offers one rune slot.
You can get this sword during the King’s Gambit quest – but be careful: if you complete the first objective of the quest before you win the fistfight against Hjalmar at the wedding banquet, you’ve gone too far. Don’t worry if you’ve already blown past the opportunity for this guy – we’ve got a treat for you later in the list.
2. The Best Sword for Bonus Experience: Superior Dol Blathanna+2-5% Bonus experience from Humans and Nonhumans
Leveling – especially in the upper echelons – can get time-consuming and exhausting. But you can speed up the process a fair bit if you use a sword with a nice experience bonus. For this nifty perk, your best bet is the Superior Dol Blathanna sword.
Superior Dol Blathanna+2-5% Bonus experience from Humans and Nonhumans Leveling – especially in the upper echelons – can get time-consuming and exhausting. But you can speed up the process a fair bit if you use a sword with a nice experience bonus. For this nifty perk, your best bet is the Superior Dol Blathanna sword.
This relic – offering a whopping 3 rune slots – can offer between a 2 to 5 percent bonus on experience gained. As an extra perk, it also carries a critical hit damage bump, and a 1 to 3 percent bonus on gold looted.
Unlike some swords on this list, which require lengthy quests, chancing a chest, or some other challenging task, this weapon can simply be purchased. Look for Scoia’tael, an elf and merchant, near Lucian’s Windmill.
3. The Best Igni Sign Bonus: Ard’aenye+18%Igni Sign intensity
Igni – a fairly natural shorthand for ignite – is the magical sign used by witchers (and Geralt, as the player) that deals with pyrokinetic energy and ignition. It is the “fire” aspect of the five signs, and is particularly powerful for damage over time and range, especially when lighting fire-weak enemies on fire. Its symbol is the triangle.
The Ard’aenye sword – with its 18 point bonus to the Igni sign intensity – can help bolster this sign’s power in Geralt. Make your “fire” power even more…well, fiery, by focusing in on your Igni bonus. You can loot this sword near the Devil’s Pit, from a “guarded treasure” – according to the Wikia.
4. The Best Quen Sign Bonus: Gwestog+3 – 5% Quen Sign intensity
Quen – focusing on defense – is the magical sign used by the player and other witchers to take and reflect damage aimed towards Quen’s caster. For those who want to bolster their defense, a Quen bonus on your weapon is a great option.
Gwestog, a steel sword with a partially serrated blade and bronze and black handle, is just the ticket. Gwenstog can either be looted in a village near Velen, or can be retrieved as a reward for a fistfight against Olaf the Bear in Skellige (not to be confused with Boris, in Novigrad…yes, The Witcher 3 has two fistfighting bears).
5. The Best Yrden Sign Bonus: Longclaw (Crafted)+30% Yrden Sign intensity
Yrden is trap and barrier-based magic. To get the best bonus for this clever sign, your best bet is a crafted Longclaw sword. Longclaw has the best sign bonus of any relic on this list, and can be made using a monster feather, a dark steel ingot, a monster claw, a monster brain, and an amethyst.
Longclaw allows up to 3 rune to be slotted, so keep that in mind. Don’t confuse this sword with Longclaw (relic) or Longclaw (common) either – they’re each very different swords! You’ll find yourself disappointed if you end up with an imposter.
6. The Best Aard Sign Bonus: Beann’shie (crafted)
+20% Aard Sign intensity
The Aard sign focuses on telekinetic power. It can be used against sentient opponents or barriers, like walls. To get the best Aard sign bonus requires that you craft – not loot – the Beann’shie sword.
Like so many other relic tier weapons, this sword has 3 rune slots. It can be crafted using a monster feather, two dimeritium ingots, a monster bone, a monster brain, and a sapphire. The Beann’shie was on of the more popular player favorites on the forums we surveyed.
7. The Best Axii Sign Bonus: Caroline
+12-15% Axii Sign intensity
The Axii sign is great for making friends rather than just defeating foes. If used successfully, enemies can be turned into allies for a short duration, and will even defend and fight for you. To up your chances of using Axii successfully, your best option for a steel sword is the Caroline, with a 12 to 15 percent Axii sign intensity bonus. Caroline the sword was named after her previous owner, Caroline of Bremervoord, according to game lore.
8. Another Great Critical Hit Damage Bonus: Winter’s Blade
+55% Critical hit damage bonus
Maybe you’re already long past being able to get Hjalmar’s blade, but you don’t want to lose out on some truly excellent critical hits against your opponents. Don’t worry – you’re not out of luck yet! You can still knock their socks off. But to do that, you need the relic with the next best critical hit damage bonus. To up that stat, look no further than Winter’s Blade.
Winter’s Blade has historically belonged to the Clan Craite, and is given to the player by Crach an Craite. This weapon offers 2 rune slots, and offers additional benefits to armor piercing and a 10 percent increased chance to freeze your opponent. It has a gorgeous, engraved blade and simplistic hilt. If you’ve already blown your chance with Hjalmar, this sweet sword may help soothe your sorrows. Plus, every time you take a swing, you get to tell your enemies about Winter’s impeding arrival.
9. The Best Armor-Piercing Sword: Wolf +20-100 Armor piercing
If what you really want is to slice and dice your way through your opponent’s thick armor, a sword with nice armor piercing bonuses might just be your speed. The best relic for this job is Wolf.
Wolf offers an additional 20 to 100 points in armor piercing, and offers 3 rune slots. It has additional benefits for bonus gold, as well as increasing your chances to cause your opponent to bleed by 4 percent.
There are a few different ways to get Wolf – either finish the Following the Thread questline until you can take it from the chest in Lund’s room, find it in a chest on a wrecked ship during the Isle of Mists, or find it in a chest during Fool’s Gold.
10. The Best Sword for Insta-Kill: Mourner
+3% Chance of Instant Kill
There’s maybe nothing more satisfying than gearing up for a big fight, then watching your enemy crumple with one blow. If you’re chasing that very special satisfaction, seek out Mourner – the blade most likely to provide you with an instant kill. As an extra perk, Mourner also comes with an armor piercing bonus, a Yrden sign intensity bonus, a critical hit damage bonus, and an experience bonus.
This relic can only be gotten from the bandits/looters hanging out at the bridge near Lindenvale. It can either be purchased from them, or looted from their dead bodies. In fact, you can do both.
Not every sword will be a match for every player. But if you’re interested in maximizing specific skills and stats, these relics are the best way to go. As always – great swords can’t make great players. If you’re into treasure hunting, give them a go – otherwise, enjoy The Witcher 3’s gorgeous graphics, engrossing story, and playability. The swords will always be there for you tomorrow.
For more information about any individual sword on this list, please visit the The Official Witcher Wikia. There you can find more notes about where to get them, further stats, and pictures of what you can expect each one to look like.