[What this is: Occasionally, I may run into an issue with the Dark Souls 3 that just doesn’t fit into my usual DS3DD posts, so this is my place to talk about those issues so they don’t keep me up at nights.]
The Issue: My knight spent the early part of the game pumping titanite into the basic broadsword, but he is soon tempted by a bunch of bigger, fancier sword: Irithyll Stright Sword, Black Knight Sword, Executioner’s Greatsword, Storm Ruler, etc. Eventually, after sampling a few of them, the Hollowslayer Greatsword seems like the winner: it does better damage per hit, it has a better reach, and it just looks...COOLER.
This is where the numbers start to deceive the player. On first blush, the Hollowslayer Greatsword just seems objectively better. Sure, it has a higher STR and DEX requirement to use, but its base damage is higher. At +2, it shows a higher damage than the broadsword at +6, so Hollowslayer>broadsword, right? Not necessarily...
The issue arises when you realizes the Hollowslayer swings slower than its much-less-fancy brethren. Without getting too deep into the math—because I DON’T WANT TO, OK!—doing slightly less damage but hitting more often wins out over the opposite. If the gulf between the damage-per-hit was wider or the hit-timing was only slightly slower, it might be a non-issue.
You might be asking at this point: if the broadsword is at +6, wouldn’t it make more sense to compare it to the Hollowslayer +6? And you’re right! At an equal level of upgrade, the Hollowslayer handily beats out the broadsword. However, the broadsword takes exponential levels of regular titanite—which the game practically gives away as the game progresses—to get to +6 while the Hollowslayer take exponential levels of titanite *scale*—thin on the ground and super-expensive once you actually convince the Shrine Handmaid to sell it—to get to the same level. To wit, I’ve only upgraded the Hollowslayer to +2, because one more upgrade would wipe out my entire titanite scale supply.
Why It Matters: You don’t play a Legend of Zelda game to not eventually get the Master Sword, right? That may be a facile comparison, but there is merit in it. They just don’t give these fancy swords away for free; it often involves searching high and low though scary, life-threatening areas and/or beating an impressively dangerous boss. I took several attempts to take down the “Goofiest Dark Souls Boss” Award Winner Curse-Rotted Greatwood—I had the first part down to a science, but I struggled with the second part—in order to get the Hollowslayer Greatsword. Shouldn’t I get some reward for my extra effort?
The Possible Solution: Either bring up the base damage/scaling or make upgrades slightly less grind-y. Mind you, I don’t want this to be the classic RPG trope where you arrive in the next town, go to the store, and scrap all your old gear for the next-level gear (Bronze Guantlets—>Iron Guantlets—>Platinum Guantlets...ad infinitum). I’m fine with some weapons being outliers—more flash than substance or just a weird playstyle—but I also want something like weapon “tiers”, where you still have options but it becomes more practical after enough leveling to switch to the fancier stuff.
Why It DOESN’T Matter: Was that solution above a little too MMO-y? I’m not an expert in those games—apart from the tutorial in OG Everquest, most of my experience in MMOs is vicarious—but I just get that impression as I reread that last bit. I’m not sure I want DS3 to swerve to far in that direction. Like the town of Austin, I want to keep Dark Souls *wierd*.
And the whole “better reach” thing I mentioned so, so many paragraphs ago? It’s not a insignificant advantage. It can be useful in combat to have a better view of the enemy, in order to get a better read on their moveset. Standing even a little closer during combat may make that harder by obscuring the enemy.
The “looks cooler” deal is a factor, too. I’m sure part of the reason Dark Souls gives you so many options is to give players a chance for fantasy dress-up aka “fashion souls”. Or maybe you just want to add challenge to the game with sub-optimal gear or odd play-styles. Who am I to judge? I wear cargo shorts in the dead of winter.
What I Didn’t Consider: Like I said previously, I didn’t drill down and do the math on this. I’m sure there is an Excel spreadsheet out there somewhere that tears all 700+ words of my argument to shreds. I also just looked at swords for this. And I didn’t even look at all of the swords...just all the ones that were interesting to me. In any case, YMMV.