The best weapons in Elden Ring for every playstyle

elden ring
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

The best weapons in Elden Ring depend entirely on how you play the game. That might sound like a copout, but it’s true. Elden Ring is all about how you build your character, how you upgrade your gear and how you explore the Lands Between. To say that there’s a “best weapon” in the game is a little bit like saying there’s a “best character build” or a “best boss fight.” Truthfully, the best weapon in Elden Ring is the one you feel the most comfortable with.

Still, some weapons are more powerful than others, particularly if you’re looking to defeat some of the game’s hidden bosses or explore optional late-game areas. You can tackle the whole game with a Light Crossbow, or a Longsword, or a Glintstone Staff, but there are more exciting options out there.

While I haven’t experimented thoroughly with every single weapon in Elden Ring, I’ve at least been able to single out a few favorites. Whether you want to get up close and personal with enemies, defeat them from a distance or lean into magic spells, here are some of the best weapons in Elden Ring. And if your favorite didn’t make the cut, remember that this list is not exhaustive.

The best melee weapons in Elden Ring

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(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

If you want to tackle foes up-close and personal in Elden Ring, you’ll want a weapon that scales with strength and/or dexterity. You’ll also want high vigor to bolster your health, and high endurance, to keep your stamina and equipment load competitive.

In my own playthrough, I couldn’t find a weapon I liked better than the Bloodhound’s Fang. This curved greatsword requires 18 strength and 17 dexterity to wield, which isn’t too prohibitive. You can also find it early in the game by defeating Bloodhound Knight Darriwill in Limgrave’s Forlorn Hound Evergaol. He’s not unreasonably tough, so the Bloodhound Fang can take you through pretty much the whole game. It has a relatively long windup, but the swing covers a lot of ground, and it causes blood loss over time. Lots of enemies, including bosses, are susceptible to this status effect.

If you want a weapon with a longer reach, consider the Dragon Halberd. To find it, defeat the Dragonkin Soldier boss in Siofra River; to equip it, be sure to have 22 strength and 10 dexterity. The weapon scales primarily with strength, but offers dexterity bonuses as well. The weapon’s skill, Spinning Slash, can cause frostbite over time, and also deals thunder damage. Halberds in general are a good choice for mounted combat.

There’s also the Moonveil Katana, which has a killer weapon skill: Transient Moonlight. Not only is this attack lightning-fast, but it also shoots a wave of energy toward your enemy. The weapon causes blood loss over time, and scales well with both dexterity and intelligence. To find it, defeat the Magma Wyrm in Gael Tunnel, and build your character to have at least 12 strength, 18 dexterity and 23 intelligence.

The best ranged weapons in Elden Ring

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(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

If you want to tackle Elden Ring with from a distance, then you have a few excellent ranged weapons at your disposal. Just be aware that you’ll probably need to augment these armaments with a melee weapon, as bosses tend to close the distance between you pretty fast.

First off, there’s the Pulley Bow. It doesn’t deal a tremendous amount of base damage or have a particularly impressive weapon skill, but it does have the longest range of any bow in the game. And a long range means that you can get off an extra shot or two before an enemy reaches you. You can find the bow on a siege tower in Mt. Gelmir, and you’ll need 11 strength and 11 dexterity to wield it.

Crepus’s Black-Key Crossbow is also worth a look. The base damage is just OK, and the weapon skill is forgettable. But it has an extremely long range, and it can fire Black-Key Bolts. These projectiles cause scarlet rot buildup, and a lot of enemies — including some bosses — are ridiculously vulnerable to it. You can find the crossbow in Roundtable Hold (you’ll need a Stonesword Key to unlock the door), and you’ll need 14 strength and 16 dexterity to wield it.

Finally, I’d be remiss to not mention the Jar Cannon. I don’t know whether this is actually a “good” weapon in the conventional sense of the word. It’s an enormous cannon that fires greatbolts in lieu of cannonballs. Fully upgraded, it can deal a tremendous amount of damage, although it doesn’t scale with anything. While the Jar Cannon takes too long to reload to be truly practical, the fun factor alone makes it worthwhile. Defeat Demi-Human Queen Margot to find the weapon, and have 34 strength and 12 dexterity to equip it.

The best magical weapons in Elden Ring

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(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

The best weapon in Elden Ring for magic users varies somewhat, depending on whether you’ve built an intelligence- or faith-based caster. You’ll also need a catalyst to actually cast spells: a staff for sorcery, or a sacred seal for incantations. Here, I’ll focus on weapons to augment your magic, rather than the catalysts themselves.

First off, there’s the Sword of Night and Flame, which scales equally well with both intelligence and faith. It deals decent base damage, and it’s extremely easy to control, with fast, precise swings. The bit advantage of the sword, however, is its weapon skill: Night-and-Flame Stance, which lets you leverage either a Comet Azur spell or a fiery melee burst. You can find the sword in Caria Manor, but its requirements are steep: 12 strength, 12 dexterity, 24 intelligence and 24 faith.

The Coded Sword is about as good as it gets for faith casters. The weapon deals holy damage right off the bat, then scales with your faith stat, and only your faith stat. In other words, you don’t need to upgrade strength or dexterity at all to dish out a ton of melee damage. You’ll find the weapon in Leyndell, Royal Capital, and you’ll need 20 faith to equip it.

Intelligence casters can fall back on an old favorite: the Dark Moon Greatsword. Some variation of this sword has been in every Souls game. This time around, it dishes out both physical and magical damage, and scales primarily with your intelligence stat. It’s a gorgeous weapon, with a unique projectile attack and frostbite buildup. Finding it, however, is a bit tricky, as you’ll need to complete Ranni the witch’s questline, which is long and involved. The Dark Moon Greatsword requires 16 strength, 11 dexterity and 38 intelligence to equip.

Looking for more Elden Ring tips? Check out our guide to 11 Elden Ring tips for intermediate and advanced players, how to beat Starscourge Radahn in Elden Ring and Elden Ring keepsakes ranked best to worst

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.