Of all the builds available in Elden Ring, why do so many gravitate towards the katana-wielding Dex build? Simply, because it works. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as slicing and dicing your enemies to ribbons with just a few expertly timed swings of a blade. Easy to pick up and quick to learn, katanas are some of the best weapons in the entire game.
Those who walk the path of the katana must put the majority of their runes into their Tarnished’s Dexterity stat. Not only will this greatly increase the power of the katanas in this list but it will also increase the speed of certain actions, reduce fall damage, and make it less likely to be knocked off Torrent in battle. All in all, investing in Dexterity will take your Tarnished from clumsy, newborn foal to silent assassin in no time.
But skills aren’t everything; you also need the right tools for the job. There are plenty of great katanas to get your hands on in Elden Ring, but which stand above the rest? Which slice through foes like a hot knife through butter? And which will give even Malenia a run for her money? From the humble Uchigatana to the stylish Rivers of Blood, here are the very best katanas in Elden Ring.
This is the starting weapon for the Samurai class and can also be found out in the world fairly early in the game, but even so, don’t underestimate the Uchgatana’s strength. While it might not be as flashy as the others on this list, it is light, quick, and has surprisingly long range. But the best thing is, as the Uchigatana is a normal weapon, it can be upgraded to +25 in the Roundtable Hold.
The Standard upgrade route takes it from its base physical damage of 115 to its max physical damage of 281. But its Dex scaling will peak at C. However, if you use the Whetstone Knife and make the blade Keen, the physical damage will lower to 258, but with a Dex scaling of A. This means, the higher your Dexterity, the more bonus damage the Uchigatana will do on top with every swing.
Like most katanas, the Uchigatana also inflicts bleed build-up (or Hemorrhage). Combine this with the blade’s quick strikes and the fact the majority of enemies and bosses in Elden Ring are weak to bleed, and you’ve easily got yourself one of the deadliest weapons in the game. Its Weapon Skill, Unsheathe, delivers either a rapid light attack or a quick heavy attack, both of which deal extra damage to an enemy’s poise. But this can be swapped out for anything that suits your playstyle. Such as Bloody Slash, if you want to inflict further blood loss.
Where to find
The Uchigatana can be found in the Deathtouched Catacombs in Limgrave. It can be looted from a dead body hanging over the edge of a platform. Otherwise, picking the Samurai starting class will see your Tarnished start with this weapon automatically.
One of the longest and largest katanas in the game, the Nagakiba can fulfil all of your Sephiroth cosplay fantasies. With its incredible range and quick speeds, this is the weapon of choice for those after a flashier, more dramatic version of the Uchigatana.
As with the Uchigatana, the Nagakiba can be upgraded to +25 in the Roundtable Hold. A Standard upgrade will take it from its base physical damage output of 115 to a max of 281 but with a decent Dex scaling of B. Whereas, making it Keen will drop the physical damage to 242 and raise the Dex scaling to A. Either one works well, so it all depends on how high your Dexterity stat is.
The blade’s ferociously long reach makes it perfect for dealing with both crowds of enemies and other players in PvP, as you can easily keep your distance while inflicting great damage. Of course, each swing also deals a decent amount of blood loss. It also comes with the Ash of War Piercing Fang, which launches the player forward with an impressive impaling stab that cannot be blocked.
Where to find
The Nagakiba can be obtained by defeating Bloody Finger Hunter Yura either north of Murkwater Cave or at his camp near the Seaside Ruins Site of Grace. It can also be obtained by completing Bloody Finger Yura’s questline.
Hand of Malenia
The only katana to rival the Nagakiba’s range and the ultimate proof your bested one of the game’s toughest bosses, the Hand of Malenia is a very unique and powerful katana. The only downside comes from the fact that it can only be obtained late in the game. However, its speed and ferocity can easily carry you through New Game + and beyond.
As it is a boss weapon, the Hand of Malenia can only be upgraded to +10, and its scaling cannot be changed with a whetstone. Fully upgrading this mesmerising blade takes it from a base physical damage of 117 to a max of 286, with a Dex scaling of B. So, invest heavily in Dexterity to get the most out of this impressive weapon. Of course, each swing also inflicts a good amount of blood loss.
But what makes the Hand of Malenia stand out amongst the rest is its Weapon Skill, Waterfowl Dance. While it’s terrifying to be on the wrong end of, it becomes a hell of a power trip when it is you unleashing this flurry of chaos instead. This stylish, graceful, and above all, deadly series of strikes inflict massive physical damage and impressive blood loss buildup, and as long as you have the FP and stamina, it can be spammed over and over again. Pair this with the Rotten Winged Sword Insignia talisman for even more damage. Not only is this move great against bosses, but PvP opponents simply don’t stand a chance.
Where to find
But what if you’re after a katana that deals magic damage as well as blood loss? Well, then the Moonveil Katana is exactly what you need. This is the perfect weapon for either players going down an aggressive sorcerer build route, or who want to dual-wield with another katana from this list for a little extra kick to each attack.
While it might not be as powerful as some of its contemporaries, the Moonveil Katana is incredibly fast, has good range, and deals both physical and magical damage with each hit, as well as bleed build-up. As it is a special weapon, it can only be upgraded to +10, but each level greatly increases its damage output. Upgrading takes this magical blade from a base of 73 physical and 87 magical damage to a max of 178 physical and 213 magical. It also raises both Dexterity and Intelligence scaling to B. This means magic users will deal even more magic damage.
But, of course, it is the Moonveil Katana’s unique Weapon Skill that places it this far on the list. Transient Moonlight sheathes the blade, then launches the player into either a lightning-fast light or heavy attack, which is followed by either a vertical or horizontal beam of magic. One strike deals great damage on its own, but the best part is, this move can easily be chained into an impressive and deadly combo.
Where to find
Rivers of Blood
Despite the patches and the nerfs, there’s still nothing that comes close to the brilliance of the Rivers of Blood. Still easily the best katana in the game, this is the blade of choice for those who want to carve their way through the Lands Between with impunity. Its speed is unrivalled, but it’s the fact that each swing of this blade hits for physical, fire, and bleed build-up that truly makes it unstoppable.
Again, being a special weapon, the Rivers of Blood only upgrades to +10 in the Roundtable Hold. Starting at a base of 76 physical and 75 fire damage, it may not seem like much, but fully upgrading reaches a max of 186 physical and 186 fire, as well as a decent B scaling in Dexterity. So those going down the Dex build route should hit for much, much higher.
As almost every enemy and boss in the game is weak to either (or both) fire and blood loss, the Rivers of Blood is perfect for every encounter. But it’s Corpse Piler, the blade’s Weapon Skill, that puts it in the top spot on this list. Activating this skill launches the player forwards with a rapid double slash that can be chained into a killer combo. Each slash leaves behind a trail of blood, increasing its range, and dealing extra blood loss. One swift combo can easily Hemorrhage an opponent, cutting them down to size in no time. No wonder it is also the best weapon for bleed builds.
Where to find
For those who have already beaten the game and want to mix things up with one of these weapons, why not check out one of Fextralife‘s build videos?