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There are a lot of unique greatswords in Elden Ring, and many of the most popular builds use greatswords as a staple. Today, I will briefly run through greatswords in general if you are unaccustomed to the weapons, lay down my thoughts on the five best greatswords in the game, and walk you through some top-notch greatsword builds.
Greatswords, In General
Greatswords are a class of heavy weapons in Elden Ring capable of dealing significant damage in a single blow. While not as hard-hitting as Colossal Swords, Greatswords excel at clearing space and wiping out large numbers of weaker enemies. Simply wielding a greatsword can vastly increase your character’s poise, making it difficult to stagger you and interrupt your attacks. In fact, when coupled with heavy armor, I’ve found myself able to trade blows with enemies as large as Omens without being knocked back. Additionally, some of the most unique weapons in the game are in the greatsword class.
If you still aren’t sure if greatswords are for you, I’ve listed some quick pros and cons below to help you decide.
- High Damage Per Hit
- This makes them very effective against armor
- Sweeping Attack Pattern
- Effective against groups of enemies
- Typically Offer High Damage Scaling
- Making your stats more impactful on your damage output
- High Poise Value
- Resist Knockback and Stun
- Can be increased further by wielding a greatsword with two hands
- Resist Knockback and Stun
- High Poise Damage
- Makes stunning enemies easier
- Slow Attack Speed
- Can limit your ability to combo quick enemies
- Limited Damage Type
- Mostly limited to dealing slash damage
- This can make it hard to kill enemies like golems only vulnerable to strike damage
- Mostly limited to dealing slash damage
- High Stamina Cost
- Can leave you without a means to dodge if you get too greedy with hits
- Can slow your dodge roll if your weight limit is too low
The 5 Greatest Greatswords
After spending far too much time playing around with these oversized blades, I have distilled my experiences down to produce a list of the five greatswords I have found to be most effective in combat.
5: Sword of Milos
- Pairs Well With: Flamberge, Spiked Pallisade Shield, Blasphemous Blade
- Skill: Shriek of Milos
- Obtained From: Dung Eater
The Sword of Milos is a unique greatsword that scales equally with strength and dexterity. In addition to its wicked appearance, this weapon stands above other greatswords due to its ability to build up blood loss with basic attacks, making it a great pair for other greatswords like the flamberge or spiked shields. Additionally, this weapon restores a small portion of the wielder’s FP with each enemy killed, making it useful for those who rely heavily on spells or skills. But that’s not all, the Sword of Milos is bound with a unique skill that not only decreases all resistances of nearby enemies but alters the player’s heavy attacks to be easier to chain. This greatsword is the blade of choice for those wanting to turn swarms of enemies into quivering piles of chopped liver.
4: Death’s Poker
- Pairs Well With: Helphen’s Steeple, Dark Moon Greatsword, Ice Crest Shield
- Skill: Ghostflame Ignition
- Obtained From: Death Rite Bird, Caelid
While it may not look like much, Death’s Poker is one of the most versatile greatswords in the game. This weapon scales with strength, dexterity, and intelligence, making it useful for intelligence builds looking for a heavy weapon. From the start, Death’s Poker is different in that it deals standard damage instead of slash damage. What’s more, the unique skill Death’s Poker comes with metes out heavy frost damage and has two alternative moves associated with it. The explosive attack is excellent for dealing with a single armored target, while the ability to create a lingering area of ghostflame can help you control crowds or limit an enemy’s movement. Want more? After using Ghostflame Ignition, Death’s Poker gains the same heavy combo alteration as the Sword of Milos. Is it a sword? Maybe not. Is it effective? You bet.
3: Inseparable Sword
- Pairs Well With: Erdtree Greatshield, Golden Order Greatsword, Gargoyle’s Blackblade
- Skill: Sacred Blade
- Obtained From: D’s Brother
The Inseparable Sword is one of those weapons that’s almost too pretty to get covered in blood and monster goo. Almost. This blade scales primarily with faith and secondarily with strength and dexterity. Capable of dishing out holy punishment at close and mid-range, the Inseparable Sword is an absolute bane to the undead and all things that live in death. To be precise, this weapon deals an additional 20% damage to undead foes and prevents skeletons from re-assembling themselves. While it may not be the most unique skill, Sacred Blade gives you a mid-ranged attack that lets you punish enemies for disengaging from you and alters your heavy attack patterns to offer a wider swing. The Inseparable Sword is a must-have for all aspiring paladins and holy damage builds.
2: Dark Moon Greatsword
- Pairs Well With: Death’s Poker, Helphen’s Steeple, Ice Crest Shield
- Skill: Moonlight Greatsword
- Obtained From: Ranni’s Quest
If you’re a FromSoftware fan, you’re likely feeling a bit of deja vu right now. The Dark Moon greatsword is one of Elden Ring’s legendary weapons and scales primarily with intelligence and secondarily with strength and dexterity. This weapon has so much to offer when it comes to combat versatility and raw power. The Dark Moon greatsword’s intelligence scaling and magic damage make it an easy choice for mage builds. Speaking solely about damage, the Dark Moon Greatsword actually deals more magic damage than physical, and its skill allows you to add frost to your strikes. Not only that but after activation, the Moonlight Greatsword skill chains a projectile to every heavy attack, offering range to your arsenal. The ability to rapidly build up frostbite from a distance and dish out devastating magic damage at close range makes the Dark Moon Greatsword a monstrous weapon in the right hands.
1. Blasphemous Blade
- Pairs Well With: Sword of Milos, Icon Shield, Erdtree Greatshield
- Skill: Taker’s Flames
- Obtained From: Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy
This sword looks gross, but its passive effects and skills make it one of the most powerful weapons in Elden Ring. The Blasphemous Blade scales equally with strength, dexterity, and faith. Every enemy killed while wielding the Blasphemous Blade restores a portion of your health. That’s right, even if you don’t kill the enemy with the sword, you heal as long as you’re holding the weapon. This makes the Blasphemous Blade a key part of some of Elden Ring’s most survivable builds. That’s not all though, Taker’s Flames skill sends forth a column of fire that steals health from everything it damages, even if it doesn’t kill it. This allows you to recover health even when you cannot reliably slay enemies. Additionally, this sword deals fire damage with each hit, making it a powerful addition to fire-based and dragon paladin builds. Just speaking in terms of raw damage, the Blasphemous Blade deals around 200 damage with no additional bonuses, making it one of the most damaging swords in the game.
Now that you have a lineup to pick your favorite sword out of, let’s talk about how you can incorporate it into a functional build. Below is a list of three builds using the greatswords above. Each is adjustable and can be altered to suit different playstyles and situations, so don’t see these suggestions as concrete but more as a groundwork to build off.
- Focus: Hp and Fp steal
- Weapons: Blasphemous Blade and Sword of Milos
- Primary Stats: Strength, Vigor, Endurance
- Secondary Stats: Mind, Faith, Dexterity
- Talismans: Taker’s Cameo, Ancestral Spirit’s Horn, Starscourge Heirloom, Bull Goat Talisman
The Soul Eater build utilizes the effects of multiple equipment items to steal HP and FP with every kill. Starting with weapons, the Blasphemous Blade allows recovers a small amount of HP and the Sword of Milos recovers FP with each kill. Equipping the Taker’s Cameo will add another source of HP steal and the Ancestral Spirit’s Horn will do the same for FP. Additionally, Rykard’s Great Rune can add another substantial boost to the amount of health gained with each kill. The other two talismans are less vital and more replaceable. The Starscourge Heirloom I recommend for a simple damage boost to your greatswords, and the Bull Goat Talisman makes it easier to wade through crowds of enemies without getting stun-locked.
The level of recovery you can reach with this build is actually kind of absurd. While using it, I regularly found myself leaving encounters with full health and focus, even while making little effort to avoid damage. The Taker’s Flames ability allows for even more health stealing and works well for healing in the middle of combat with sturdier creatures. The Shriek of Milos is great for taking on large numbers of enemies, reducing their defense, and turning them into fodder for your blades to recycle into health and focus. In dungeons, this build is extremely survivable. The one major caveat is that much of your recovery will go out the window when facing bosses.
- Focus: Holy Damage
- Weapons: Inseparable Sword and Erdtree Greatshield
- Primary Stats: Strength, Faith, Vigor
- Secondary Stats: Endurance, Dexterity, Mind
- Talismans: Sacred Scorpion Charm, Starscourge Heirloom, Two Fingers Heirloom, Viridian Amber Medallion
The Twinned Paladin build employs the abilities of both sword and shield to dish out holy damage while attacking and defending. While the weight and size of the Erdtree Greatshield may slow you down, the Inseperable Sword’s Sacred Blade skill gives you a ranged edge that encourages opponents to stay close to you. Those who do give in and stay within range have to contend with the shield’s impressive counter-skill and the sword’s devastating heavy combo.
The Sacred Scorpion Charm improves overall holy damage, increasing the output of both sword and shield. The other three talismans are more swappable. The Starscourge and Two Fingers heirlooms are recommended for stat boosts but can be swapped out for the Faithful’s Canvas Talisman if you want an emphasis on incantations or the Bull-Goat Talisman if you prefer melee. The Viridian Amber Medallion increases your stamina, allowing you greater use of your shield and permitting follow-up attacks.
Moon Knight (Not the Superhero)
- Focus: Frostbite and Magic Damage
- Weapons: Dark Moon Greatsword and Helphen’s Steeple OR Death’s Poker
- Primary Stats: Strength, Intelligence, Mind
- Secondary Stats: Endurance, Dexterity, Arcane
- Talismans: Shard of Alexander, Godfrey Icon, Magic Scorpion Charm, Cerulean Amber Medallion
While you can’t throw moon-shaped boomerangs, this build will have you launching blasts of magic and freezing enemies solid. The Dark Moon Greatsword’s skill can dish out severe magical punishment and rapidly build up frost. Couple that with the ghostly flames of either Helphen’s Steeple or Death’s Poker and you’ve got yourself a recipe for frozen monsters. Helphen’s Steeple coats itself in icy ghostflame while Death’s Poker creates a burst of it. If you plan to focus more on melee, I recommend Helphen’s Steeple to build frost on each hit. If you want to make more use of mid-range attacks, stick with Death’s Poker for versatility.
As for talismans, the Shard of Alexander is an easy choice to increase the base damage of your weapon skills. Likewise, Godfrey’s Icon improves the damage of Moonlight Greatsword and Ghostflame Ignition since they are both charged attacks. The Magic Scorpion Charm will help you get the most out of your magic damage while the Cerulean Amber Medallion (or other FP-based talisman) will keep you from running dry since each attack from your Moonlight Greatsword will cost FP. This build is an excellent choice for spellcasters and requires little alteration to include spells, especially frost spells.
I hope this little detour into the world of greatswords encouraged you to think about upgrading the size of your sword, or at least proved an entertaining diversion. If you enjoyed this or found it helpful, check out our other guides on Elden Ring.
Question: Do you have to kill an enemy with the Sword of Milos or Blasphemous Blade to activate their effect?
Answer: No. As long as you are holding the weapon, how an enemy dies does not matter.
Question: Is the Blasphemous Blade the best weapon in the game?
Answer: Not necessarily. While the Blasphemous Blade is very powerful, there are several situations where other weapons may be considered more useful, such as when you cannot reliably kill enemies or when facing an enemy resistant to fire.
Question: What is your favorite greatsword?
Answer: In terms of appearance, I really love the aesthetics of Helphen’s Steeple and the Sword of Milos. When it comes down to performance, I prefer Death’s Poker just because of how versatile it is.
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