Witchering is a dangerous trade, and not just because of the monsters one slays as part of the job. Witchers aplenty have fallen to the claws and fangs of wild animals, the slings and arrows of other humanoids, and even to the blades and signs of fellow witchers. They carry two swords for a reason, after all.

With that in mind, today we’ll be digging into the Witcher 3 best steel swords. This article assumes you’re operating in a typical new game, but the best swords on the list also rank highly by the NG+ community. That said, let’s jump in and break down our preferred bandit removers. 

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The Witcher 3 Best Steel Swords

We’ll start with a look at the best steel sword Witcher 3 has to offer in the early game experience.

1. Viper Steel Sword

The Witcher 3 best early steel sword

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It’s not the fanciest blade, but it’ll get you through the perils of White Orchard just fine.

While perhaps not the group you’d expect to immediately start min-maxing and worrying about which is the best steel sword, Witcher 3 neophytes (especially those jumping into Death March!) can benefit from a little hardware know-how in the witchering trade. So what’s the first steel sword players should prioritize acquiring? That honor goes to the Viper Steel Sword. 

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Wolf School witcher in Cat School armor with a Viper School sword. Confused yet?

In addition to solid damage and a 15% chance to poison enemies with a strike, this steel sword in Witcher 3 also makes leveling up faster. You gain an additional 5% XP for slaying humans and non-humans, making bandit butchery all the more rewarding. It’s also worth noting that this, like other entries on this list (and most of the worthwhile gear in the game), must be crafted from a diagram. So get acquainted with your local blacksmith — you’ll be seeing a lot of them. 

2. Cat School Steel Sword

The Witcher 3 best late-game steel sword (no DLC) 

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Pictured: albino cat, claws out

Now, this entry on our list of The Witcher 3 best steel swords is somewhat unlike its peers in that personal preference is a significant factor here. The Viper Steel Sword is one of the earliest pieces of witcher gear you can pick up, and it’s a reliable way to get an edge in the early game. In the case of the big boy (we’ll get to him), there’s just no real contest in terms of killing power. But for the bulk of your questing in the main game, you’ve got some options. Generally, those options are confined to gear from the various witcher schools. My personal favorite — and the best choice if you prefer to enter a fight with superior agility and ridiculous damage — comes from the School of the Cat. 

Any witcher school sword will feature competitive damage and a nice XP boost. The Cats sweeten the pot by giving you a chance to inflict bleeding, increasing your crit chance and (if you’re rocking the armor, which you definitely should be) boosting your damage to absurd heights. 

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It feels wrong killing a cat with a Cat School sword — or is it the only proper way to do it?

Having more pieces of the set also grants an ability that encourages a mix of light and heavy attacks by boosting the former’s damage for a brief period after using the latter. As long as you’re keeping up with the upgrades, the Cat School’s steel sword will be equal to nearly any threat you encounter out in the world. Every witcher knows that you send a professional, not a hero, to kill a monster — the Feline Steel Sword is the weapon of a professional. 

3. The Mighty TKSS

The Witcher 3 best steel sword in the game

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The TKSS: hideously ornate, weirdly proportioned, and devastatingly effective.

If you’re hunting for the Witcher 3 best steel sword in the game, your Google search might look something like “Witcher 3 best late-game steel sword.” Maybe you’re struggling with the DLC? You could plug in “Witcher 3 best steel sword blood and wine.” Perhaps you’re just trying to tweak a build, maybe by boosting your odds of landing critical hits, so you search “Witcher 3 best crit chance steel sword.” Let me save you some time by telling you that one sword will service all of those little needs and more: the goddamn TKSS.

What the hell is the TKSS? That stands for “Toussaint Knight’s Steel Sword,” and we’re talking about the crafted relic variety here. And now that we’ve established the name, what exactly makes the TKSS so impressive? In sum, it provides +300 armor piercing, +30% Quen sign intensity, +100% critical hit damage bonus, +20% critical hit chance, and +15% chance to cause burning. So, uh, yeah. 

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Who knew that the one thing missing from this scenery was a flaming decapitation?

While there’s still room for personal preference (especially when it comes to aesthetics, jeez), there’s simply a categorical difference between the TKSS and most other swords. Testing blades on the group of bandits occupying the Silver Salamander Inn illustrated this perfectly. With its peers (the Belhaven Blade, for example), the bandits were certainly eviscerated. Used in tandem with parries, signs, bombs, and my trusty crossbow, these swords served admirably. Then along came the Toussaint Knight’s Steel Sword.

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This picture might speak 1,001 words.

With the TKSS, each and every man was dead after two blows. In mere moments the battlefield was strewn with maimed and beheaded corpses, some of them cut clean in two. No parries, no bombs, no crossbow. Just Quen, dodges, and pure butchery. Sure, the thing’s ugly, but what’s it matter when you can bisect anyone who gives it a sideways look?

Best Runes for Steel Sword Witcher 3

Runes, meanwhile, will be much more subjective in terms of quality, depending on your preferences and needs. That said, certain runes are worth taking more than others. Generally, the runes worth your time are Trigalv, Dazhbog, and Chernobog. Stun, burn, or take a boost to attack power, respectively. 

Stunning is excellent crowd control and opens up a target to a heavy attack. Burning packs a nasty combination of group management and damage over time, leaving a foe flailing in agony while you play with their friends. And damage, of course, kills. Simple as that. For those worrying about resistances, recall that we’re talking about steel swords, which are used only on humanoids and beasts, most of whom will be susceptible to status effects. 

Hearts of Stone also introduces runewords to the mix, replacing all three runes with a special ability. Most of these aren’t terribly worthwhile, but if you’re happy with your sword and build overall and want convenience more than anything else, the Preservation runeword makes bonuses from grindstones and armorer’s tables permanent. It’s also only a level one runeword, meaning you won’t have to pump much coin into a largely superfluous money sink. 

The High Ground View

There you have it. A witcher might prefer to avoid killing people and wild animals if it can be helped, but sometimes you’re out of options. In these instances, steel comes in handy. Unsurprisingly, other witchers tend to be exceptionally good at designing swords perfect for the trade. 

That said, if you’re going up against threats fit for Duchess Anna Henrietta herself, it can only do to bring a fittingly ostentatious sword along for the job. There isn’t much overlap between the worldviews of a witcher and a knight of Toussaint — one is practical, professional, even downright cynical, while the other shows an idealistic fervor that borders on the insane. But both can agree that the Toussaint Knight’s Steel Sword is certainly ostentatious enough to handle the duquessa’s needs. 

Happy gaming!

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