The Hunter’s Arsenal: Massively OP’s guide to the weapons of Monster Hunter World


Throughout their time in Monster Hunter World, players will have to make a lot of decisions, but none of them are as important — or as difficult — as deciding which of the game’s 14 weapons to take up. With so many options to choose from, it can be a daunting task to figure out which weapon best fits your playstyle, and even after you’ve made up your mind, there’s still the matter of figuring out how to master your weapon’s mechanics and moveset, as well as deciding on which skills to incorporate into your build.

In the hopes of making the process a bit easier for both greenhorn and veteran hunters alike, I’ve compiled some brief (and some not-so-brief) rundowns of each weapon and its playstyle, core mechanics, useful moves and combos, and recommended skills. These are by no means comprehensive guides, but I hope that they’ll serve to give players interested in picking up a new weapon a good idea of how they play and which skills will most benefit them.

Note that all button notations provided refer to the Xbox controls, as that’s what I play on, but for PS4 players, here are the equivalents: Y = Triangle, B = Circle, A = Cross, X = Square, RB = R1, RT = R2, LB = L1, and LT = L2.

Playstyle Overview:

Because the massive Great Sword greatly inhibits your mobility while drawn, the name of the game here is hit-and-run. Its attacks can be charged, and landing these charged blows is essential to maximizing your damage output. Its moveset is fairly limited, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a simple weapon to use well: Because of the time it takes to charge and execute attacks, hunters need to be familiar with monsters’ behaviors so that they can predict their movements, position themselves, and time their swings accordingly.

Great Sword Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

The Great Sword’s only unique mechanic is the ability to hold down the Y button to charge its attacks. There are three charge levels, each stronger than the last. Be aware, however, that if you hold the charge for too long, it’ll overcharge, and you’ll only get the damage of a level-two charge, wasting valuable time and damage.

Key Moves & Combos:

Y > fwd. + Y > fwd. + Y: This is the Great Sword’s bread-and-butter combo, dealing a series of vertical strikes. Each attack in the combo can be charged, and each successive attack in the chain is stronger than the one before, so you should aim to connect with the third attack whenever possible. However, the full combo chain takes a rather long time to pull off, which is why you have…

B (while charging): …the tackle. It deals a small amount of blunt damage if it connects, but that’s not its main draw. The tackle effectively substitutes as the current attack in your combo, allowing you to progress more quickly to the harder-hitting second and third strikes. Moreover, during the tackle’s active frames, you gain hyper armor, making you immune to knockback (but not damage) for the duration. The timing is tight, but effectively using your tackle is essential.

Key Skills:

Attack- and affinity-boosting skills such as Attack Up and Critical Eye are solid all-around choices.

Critical Draw grants additional affinity to draw-attacks, and since much of the Great Sword’s playstyle revolves around constantly sheathing, repositioning, and launching charged draw-attacks, this is a mainstay in many GS builds.

Focus reduces the charge time for charge attacks, which can be useful for getting them off in a pinch.

Quick Sheath does what it says. It isn’t exactly essential, but again, since so much of the weapon’s playstyle revolves around draw attacks, it can be useful to be able to sheathe your sword faster.

Playstyle Overview:

The Sword and Shield is the jack-of-all-trades of the Monster Hunter arsenal, providing reasonable offense, defense, and mobility, which makes it an excellent choice for beginners. It’s still a powerful weapon in its own right, however; its fast attack speed makes it excellent for applying status effects, and it’s the only weapon in the game that allows you to use items and fire the slinger while your weapon’s drawn.

Sword and Shield Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

The SnS doesn’t really have much in the way of unique mechanics except for, as mentioned, the ability to use items (hold RT + X) and the slinger (hold LT + RT) with your weapon drawn. Otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward.

Key Moves & Combos:

It’s difficult to pinpoint specific combos for the SnS because of its fluid nature. The basic idea is that you have your Y-attack chain and your B-attack chain. You can’t really weave them together, but you can combine them by executing a full Y-attack combo (e.g. Y > Y > Y) and linking into a full B-attack combo (e.g. B > B > B). Note that holding a direction when hitting the B button will result in a shield-bash combo, which inflicts blunt rather than cutting damage.

Y + B (from neutral): This performs an advancing slash (which can also be done by hitting fwd. + Y while your weapon is sheathed), which is good for closing distance. It can also be used to perform terrain-specific jumping attacks by executing it when near a ledge. Using it while facing toward a runnable wall (like the mushroom-coated surfaces in some zones) will execute the powerful Helm Breaker jumping attack.

back + B (mid-combo): On its own, this input executes a backstep followed by a lunging upward slash. However, you can modify it in a couple of ways: If you continue holding back (but not B) after the initial input, you’ll instead do a backstep and then perform the upward slash in place, making it useful for disengaging from combat. More importantly, if you hold down the B button, you’ll instead perform a Jumping Charged Slash. If it connects, you’ll launch into the air, allowing you follow up with an Aerial Slash (Y) or a Falling Shield Bash (B).

Key Skills:

The SnS is versatile and can benefit from a number of skills, so there aren’t many “must-haves,” in my opinion, but here are a few to consider:

Airborne increases the damage of jumping attacks. Considering the SnS’s ability to execute them virtually at-will with Jumping Charged Slash, this can come in handy, but I wouldn’t prioritize it too much.

Guard increases the shield’s blocking capability. I’m not sure I’d recommend this for everyone, since evading is generally preferable, but if you want to guard with the SnS, you might want to pick this up to make it worthwhile.

Handicraft extends the weapon’s sharpness gauge. Thanks to its high attack speed, the SnS eats through sharpness pretty quickly, so this can keep you from having to sharpen your weapon as often.

Wide-Range allows certain items, such as health potions, to grant their effects to nearby allies as well. Since the SnS allows you to use items without sheathing it, this ability (especially alongside Mushroomancer) can allow you to provide support to your teammates.

Playstyle Overview:

The Dual Blades are all about speed and mobility. While its attacks do relatively little damage individually, the DB’s high attack speed and mobility options allow you to unleash a flurry of blows while sticking to monsters like white on rice. Demon Mode provides access to more powerful attacks and changes your dodge roll to a lightning-fast dash but constantly drains your stamina while active. The DBs are fast-paced, and the combos can take some time to get the hang of, but I think it’s straightforward enough to be a decent choice for beginners.

Dual Blades Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

You can hit RT to enter Demon Mode, which, as I mentioned, grants you a slick new evasive dash and replaces your attacks with new, more powerful ones, including the weapon’s signature Blade Dance, but it steadily drains your stamina while active. Landing attacks while in Demon Mode fills your Demon Gauge, and when it’s full, you enter Archdemon mode, which provides access to additional abilities even when Demon Mode is inactive, but each Archdemon attack used will drain the gauge. The key to success with the Dual Blades lies heavily in managing your stamina consumption in Demon Mode and your Demon Gauge consumption in Archdemon mode.

Key Moves & Combos:

As with the SnS, the DBs are incredibly fluid, and most attacks can be chained together one way or another, meaning there’s not really a “standard” combo for all situations, but here are some examples:

B > B > Y > B: This is your go-to combo for repositioning while attacking. The second B-attack, the Roundslash, can go left or right and will move you slightly in that direction. The final B-attack can be a lunging slash (from neutral), or – if you hold a direction during the input – a turning slash that turns and moves you in the direction held.

Y + B (in Demon Mode): This performs the DB’s signature move, the Blade Dance, a flurry of attacks that deals a significant amount of damage. Be warned, however, that you remain stationary for the duration, and the Blade Dance can’t be cancelled once started, so be careful of your positioning before you launch it.

Key Skills:

The DBs arguably benefit most from pure attack- and affinity-boosting skills (e.g., Attack Up and Critical Eye), but here are some others to consider:

Critical Boost increases the damage of critical hits. Combined with affinity-boosting skills like Critical Eye, this can result in some truly obscene damage.

Evade Extender and Evade Window increase the distance and i-frames of your evasion skills, respectively, increasing the effectiveness of the already-excellent Demon-Mode dash.

Focus increases the fill rate of your Demon Gauge. I don’t know if I’d prioritize this, but if you don’t have any better options, it can be helpful.

Handicraft increases sharpness, and like the SnS, DBs eat through sharpness pretty quickly, so the buff can make a big difference.

Marathon Runner decreases the rate of stamina consumption for actions that continuously drain stamina, such as sprinting or, in this case, Demon Mode, allowing you keep it active for longer durations.

Power Prolonger reduces the rate of decay for your Demon Gauge, making it somewhat easier to sustain Archdemon Mode.

Playstyle Overview:

The Long Sword strikes a balance between power and mobility, and I’d rank it up there with SnS in terms of beginner-friendliness. It has excellent reach and a versatile moveset with relatively high attack speeds, but its wide reach and sweeping attacks can stagger teammates, so it requires extra care to use in multiplayer hunts without pissing off your group. It also requires fairly aggressive play in order to fill the Spirit Gauge and keep the sword’s Spirit Level at maximum.

Long Sword Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

The LS’s unique mechanic is the Spirit Gauge. Landing attacks fills the gauge with energy, which can be consumed to use powerful Spirit Attacks. When you’ve got enough Spirit Gauge to spend, you can link Spirit Attacks together into a Spirit Combo, the final hit of which, if it connects, increases your weapon’s Spirit Level up to a maximum of three. Each level grants a substantial attack increase, so to use the LS to its full potential, you want to try to keep your Spirit Level maxed out at all times. The Spirit Level decays over time, which promotes a fairly aggressive playstyle of landing attacks to fill your Spirit Gauge and then landing your full Spirit Combo to keep your Spirit Level topped off.

Key Moves & Combos:

Y > Y > Y… (infinite): This is your bread-and-butter combo, and it can be infinitely repeated. Straightforward and to the point. Note that you can get the same combo with Y > Y > B, but if there’s any benefit to doing that instead of just mashing Y, I’m not sure what it is.

Y + B: The Fade Slash is arguably the single most important tool in the LS’s kit, if only due to its sheer versatility. It can be used from neutral for a backstep-slash or while holding left or right for a sweeping strike with a hop in the given direction, giving you a solid option for repositioning while maintaining the offensive. Moreover, it can be used at any time mid-combo, where it acts as a sort of combo reset, allowing you to keep pressure on the monster pretty much indefinitely.

Once you’ve filled your Spirit Gauge with your bread-and-butter combo, there are two Spirit Combos that you can use to raise your sword’s Spirit Level:

  • RT > RT > RT > RT: This is the standard Spirit Combo, and it totals six hits (one each from the first two attacks, three from the third, and one more from the closing Spirit Roundslash). It deals great damage, but the full chain takes a while to pull off, and you risk wasting a bunch of meter and missing your Roundslash if the monster moves out of range before you can pull it off.
  • Y + B > RT > RT > RT: Instead, you can choose to start with a Fade Slash, allowing you to follow up with the lunging Spirit Jumping Slash, which replaces the first two hits of the previous combo and proceeds into the three-hit Spirit Slash III, finishing up with the Roundslash. Assuming the initial Fade Slash connects, this combo’s damage is only slightly lower than the standard one’s, and although it’s not strictly faster than the first combo, it does consume slightly less meter, and I’ve personally found it to be somewhat easier to make sure the Roundslash connects.

RT + B (mid-combo): Foresight Slash is without a doubt one of my favorite new moves in World, and fans of Generations’s Bushido Style will likely love it as well. When executed, you perform a quick backstep that gives you a small window of i-frames, then follow up with a quick strike. If an attack hits you during the invulnerability window, your Spirit Gauge will fill to maximum, and you can immediately link into a Spirit Roundslash. Be forewarned, however, that using Foresight Slash consumes all of your Spirit Gauge, and if your counter fails, you’ll be left running on empty. It’s a high-risk, high-reward technique, it’s immensely satisfying to pull off.

RT + Y (with at least 1 Spirit Level): Another new LS trick in World, the Spirit Thrust is a forward stab that costs one full Spirit Level to use. A successful hit will launch you into the air, where you can follow up with the powerful (and satisfying) Helm Breaker aerial attack (Y). If you land the Helm Breaker, your Spirit Gauge will gradually fill automatically for a short time afterward. But if you miss, then you’re down a Spirit Level, so again, it’s a high-risk, high-reward maneuver.

Key Skills:

Like most other weapons, the Long Sword benefits heavily from straight attack- and affinity-boosting skills like Attack Up and Critical Eye, but there are a few others worth considering as well:

Focus increases the rate at which your Spirit Gauge fills, allowing you to use Spirit Attacks more frequently.

Handicraft increases sharpness, which can be very useful as Long Swords are often not especially sharp by default and dull rather quickly.

Weakness Exploit increases the affinity of attacks against monsters’ weak spots, and with the Long Sword’s excellent reach and versatile moveset allowing users to hit weak spots fairly reliably, this can be a solid investment.

Playstyle Overview:

The Hammer is all about one thing and one thing only: bonkin’ noggins. It deals the most stun damage of any weapon in the game and is one of only a few weapons capable of reliably dealing it at all, so a Hammer-user’s job is to stick to the monster’s head and pummel it relentlessly to try to stun it and provide an opening for an all-out assault.

Hammers don’t have much in the way of mobility, but they more than make up for it with stuns and damage output. Like the GS, however, the Hammer requires its wielders to have excellent knowledge of monster behavior so that they can predict where its head will be and bonk it appropriately. It also often necessitates being right in the path of monster attacks, making solid reaction times and defensive skills a must.

Hammer Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:
The first key Hammer mechanic is its charge attack (hold RT). You can charge and move at the same time, and you should do so whenever you’re running to close distance with the enemy. Attacks can be charged from level one to level three, and the attack you use upon releasing RT depends on the charge level. The level-one attack is a rather weak, short-range, horizontal smack that’s fairly useless unless I’m just missing the point. The important ones are level two and level three:

The level-two charge attack is a lunging upswing that moves you forward a considerable distance, making it excellent for closing distance and initiating combos.

The level-three charge attack, when the movement stick is in neutral, does a charged-up overhead slam for massive damage. If used while moving, it performs a whirlwind attack in which you spin in a circle five times, hammer extended. Pressing Y during the whirlwind will do a powerful, over-the-shoulder “golf swing,” and the more rotations you complete before executing it, the more damage it does. Be careful not to let the whirlwind finish without pressing Y, however, as the final hit doesn’t do much damage and leaves you immobile (and thus vulnerable) while you recover.

The other unique Hammer mechanic is the Power Charge self-buff, which is performed by pressing B while charging an attack with RT. The Power Charge grants hyper armor while attacking and boosts your attack and stun power. The buff persists until you sheathe your weapon or until you get hit by an attack that causes you to flinch or get knocked back. Try to keep this up at all times.

Key Moves & Combos:

The Hammer only has two core combos to speak of:

Y > Y > Y: This combo does two overhead swings capped off by a diagonal “golf swing.” The range on the first two hits is very short, and the third isn’t much better. It has a substantial wind-up, so timing and positioning are crucial.

B > B > B > B > B: A series of short-range overhead swings finished off by a multi-hit spinning smash. The first hit must land in order to execute the subsequent attacks. The full combo does pretty intense damage, so if you think you’ve got an opening to do the whole thing, go for it.

Key Skills:

As always, you can’t go wrong with attack- and affinity-enhancing skills.

Marathon Runner decreases the rate of stamina depletion while charging attacks, which can be useful, though I wouldn’t prioritize it, personally.

Partbreaker makes it easier to break monster parts, as the name suggests. As the Hammer excels at breaking heavily-armored parts that cutting weapons can’t damage effectively, this can be a solid choice, especially in a group setting.

Slugger is hands-down the best skill for the Hammer, in my opinion, as it enhances your ability to stun monsters, which is the Hammer’s raison d’ être.

Playstyle Overview:

Repeat after me: The Hunting Horn is not a support weapon. Yes, its core mechanic is that it provides buffs to you and your groupmates, and yes, you should take full advantage of that, but your number one job is to bonk the monster, preferably in the noggin. Although the HH doesn’t deal as much stun damage as the Hammer, it can still K.O. monsters with relative ease, and it deals more exhaust damage than anything else in the game (to my knowledge).

Horn users have a lot to keep track of and manage throughout a fight, but when used appropriately, it can dish out some serious damage, exhaust monsters, and provide useful group buffs all at the same time. You should be up in the fray, cracking skulls like a Hammer-user. Your Recital attack, which is used to activate your song buffs once you’ve arranged the proper notes, is one of your strongest, and it should be used offensively. Serenade them to death.

Hunting Horn Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

The HH’s core mechanic is its ability to provide buffs to yourself and your teammates by reciting melodies. Each of your three primary attacks (Y, B, and Y + B) has a musical note of a specific color associated with it, and each Horn has a unique selection of buff-granting melodies that you can play. When you perform an attack, its associated musical note will be added to the musical scale below your health bar. Arrange the correct notes in the designated order for the melody you want to use, and it’ll be added to your melody list.

You can queue up to three melodies at a time, with newly formed melodies replacing the oldest in the queue. Queued melodies can be performed at any time with the Recital attack (RT) – which will begin with the topmost melody in the queue and move down the list – or by pressing RT + Y or RT + B, which will begin the performance with the second and third melodies in the queue, respectively.

Recital can be done from neutral or while holding left, right, back, or forward. Each input results in a different animation, but they all do roughly comparable damage as far as I’m aware. The left and right animations are the longest, but they move you a considerable distance in the associated direction, making them good for repositioning.

At any time during a Recital, you can press RT again to trigger an Encore, which will play any melodies performed during the current recital a second time. Many melodies’ effects can be stacked to increase their potency, and the attacks performed during an Encore do massive damage, so go for it whenever you have the opening.

Key Moves & Combos:

First of all, every single Horn has a buff called Self-Improvement, requiring two Y-attack notes to play. This drastically increases your movement speed while your weapon is drawn and prevents your attacks from being deflected. Make sure you keep it up at all times.

Y > B… or B > Y…(infinite): Your bread-and-butter combo consisting of diagonal upward “golf swings” alternating from left to right or vice versa. Position yourself at about a 45-degree angle to the monster’s head and go nuts. Can end with Y + B to disengage or fwd. + Y + B for a final, punctuating bonk.

Fwd. + Y: A vertical downward slam with considerable forward reach. It comes out fairly quickly, making for a good combo starter.

Fwd. + B: A double horizontal swing. The animation is fairly long, so use it sparingly, but note that you can press another attack button during the second half of the animation to add the associated note to your performance scale, giving you two notes in one attack.

Y + B (neutral): A backward swing that also moves you a few steps back, making it good for getting a bit of distance while also hitting anything directly above or in front of you.

Fwd. + Y + B: A forward overhead swing. The reach isn’t great, and it’s a bit slow, but the damage is solid, making it a good combo-ender.

Key Skills:

General attack- and affinity-boosting skills like Attack Up, Critical Eye, and Critical Boost are great all-around choices, as usual.

Evade Extender and/or Evade Window increases the distance and the invincibility window of evade rolls, respectively, and can hugely improve the Horn’s somewhat mediocre default evasion capabilities.

Horn Maestro is a decent choice for any Hunting-Horn-user, as it increases the duration of your melody buffs, but since you should be using your Recitals offensively as often as possible anyway, it’s not too hard to keep the buffs refreshed without it.

Slugger increases the amount of stun damage your attacks do, and although the Horn lags slightly behind the Hammer in terms of stuns, it’s still plenty capable, and more stuns are always a good thing.

Stamina Thief increases the amount of exhaust damage you deal. The Hunting Horn already deals the most exhaust damage of any weapon type, so I’d recommend taking at least a level or two.

Playstyle Overview:

The Lance has the best baseline defensive capabilities of any weapon in the game, matched only by its brother the Gunlance, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weapon that plays defensively. Somewhat paradoxically, in fact, it promotes an aggressive playstyle, using its unparalleled shield-blocking capabilities, long reach, and quick evasive hops to stick to the monster like glue while perforating it with a flurry of pokes. I’d say that the Lance is one of the most challenging weapons to use proficiently, not least of all due to its heavy reliance on timing blocks and maintaining good positioning, but a skilled lancer is a force to be reckoned with.

Lance Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

Despite its intricacies, the Lance is a fairly straightforward weapon, but it does have a couple of unique features worth mentioning.

First there’s the Counter Thrust (RT + B), which raises your shield to block incoming attacks, then immediately launches a powerful retaliatory strike. The input can be held to charge the counter, increasing the active duration of your guard and increasing the Counter Thrust’s power. The Counter Thrust can link into your standard poke combo (Y/B > Y/B > Y/B).

Then there’s the Power Guard (RT + A while charging Counter Thrust or when blocking an attack), which increases your guard’s efficacy and greatly reduces the recovery time following a block, allowing you to counter more quickly. Rapidly drains stamina while held, however, so use with care.

Key Moves & Combos:

Y/B > Y/B > Y/B: The Lance’s bread-and-butter combo, a three-hit chain that can be formed with any combination of Y-attacks (forward thrusts) and B-attacks (upward thrusts). You can sidestep or backstep at any time to reset the combo. You can also press Y + B at any point to throw in a sweeping Horizontal Swipe, but its damage isn’t great, so it’s mostly useful for hitting crowds of smaller monsters, if that.

Hold RT + fwd. + Y: Performs a short forward dash with your shield in front of you, allowing you to advance without lowering your guard. Can be followed up with B for a Leaping Forward Thrust that can serve as a combo initiator.

RT + Y + B: Initiates a charge, running forward with your Lance held out ahead. While charging, you have a few options:

  • Y/B: Stops the charge and performs a forward thrust. Damage is increased based on the distance charged before executing.
  • Left/Right + A: Performs a swift sidestep in the given direction, then continues the charge.
  • Back + A: Performs a 180-degree turn and continues charging.
  • Fwd. + A: Leaps forward into the air. Press Y or B while airborne to execute a Jumping Thrust that can mount monsters.
  • A (neutral): Ends the charge.

Key Skills:

Evade Extender increases the distance of your evasive hops. This skill’s usefulness depends a lot on your playstyle, but if you’re having a hard time staying on top of monsters, this might help.

Evade Window increases the i-frame duration on your evasive hops. Again, it depends on your playstyle, but if you find yourself evading more than blocking, this is a huge buff.

Guard reduces knockback and stamina depletion when guarding with your shield. The Lance already has the strongest baseline guard in the game, but taking a level or two in this skill can negate post-block knockback entirely.

Playstyle Overview:

The Gunlance has the best defensive capabilities in the game, paralleled only by its brother the Lance. Also like its brother, the Gunlance is not at all a defensive weapon, and promotes a similarly aggressive playstyle. However, instead of the Lance’s mobility-increasing moves like the Charge and Advancing Guard, the Gunlance has the ability to fire off explosive shells, dealing huge amounts of damage to anything unlucky enough to be in the way. It also has a signature ability called Wyvern’s Fire, which can roast targets with a huge blast of combusting flame. I think the Gunlance, like the Lance, is one of the hardest weapons to master, but when used well, its high defensive capabilities and massive damage potential make it a truly terrifying tool of destruction.

Gunlance Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

The Gunlance is a complex weapon, and there are a few unique mechanics to be aware of. The first and most important is the use of shells. Each Gunlance uses one of three shell types: Normal, Long, or Wide.

  • Normal shells are, well, normal; they provide solid baseline damage, and Normal-shell Gunlances can load more shells at once than the other two types.
  • Long shells have a longer effective range than Normal or Wide shells, but Long-shell Gunlances can hold fewer shells than Normal ones.
  • Wide shells have the lowest maximum ammo capacity of the three types, but their shots spread like shotgun blasts, making them great at close-range against larger monsters.

The second Gunlance-unique mechanic is the Wyrmstake Cannon, a special shot available to all Gunlances regardless of shell type, which fires a blade that hits the target multiple times before exploding for massive damage. The Wyrmstake Cannon must be manually reloaded (RT + B) after each use.

And finally, there’s the Gunlance’s signature move, Wyvern’s Fire (RT + Y + B), which charges the Gunlance before unleashing a burst of flame that deals some truly obscene damage to anything caught in the blast. Using Wyvern’s Fire overheats the Gunlance and triggers a cooldown of about two minutes before it can be used again.

Key Moves & Combos:

Like the Lance, the bread-and-butter combo of the Gunlance consists of Y-attacks (forward thrusts) and B-attacks (shell explosions). You can perform only three forward thrusts in a row, but you can weave shell blasts in at-will as long as you have shells loaded. You can hold down B mid-combo to fire a charged shell, which takes slightly longer to execute but deals increased damage.

B + RT (mid-combo): Performs a Speed-Reload, which reloads your expended shells but not your Wyrmstake Cannon, which must be reloaded with the slightly longer Standard Reload (RT + B).

There are two ways to use the Wyrmstake Cannon:

  • B > B > B: Simply shell three times in a row, and the third shell will come out as the Wyrmstake.
  • Y + B > Y > Y > Y/B: Performs a Rising Slash, a strong Overhead Smash, a Wide Sweep, and finishes with the Wyrmstake Cannon.

The first method is faster, but if you don’t have enough shells (i.e. at least two) loaded and for some reason don’t have time to reload, the second method will work, and if the full combo connects, it deals pretty significant damage.

Y + B > Y > B: Performs a Rising Slash followed by a downward Overhead Smash, culminating in a Burst Fire shell attack that expends all shells in the chamber for huge damage.

Key Skills:

Artillery increases the damage done by your shells and Wyvern Fire. A must-have for any serious Gunlance-user.

Capacity Boost increases the number of shells your Gunlance holds, allowing you to shell more frequently before reloading and to do more spike damage with burst fire.

Evade Extender and Evade Window increase the distance and i-frame window of your evasive hops, respectively. As with the Lance, whether you should take these depends on whether your playstyle is more blocking- or evasion-focused.

Focus decreases the amount of time it takes for your charged shells to fire. I’m not sure that I’d prioritize this too much, but I’m also far from an expert with the Gunlance, so maybe someone who knows more about it than I do will weigh in in the comments.

Guard reduces knockback and stamina depletion when guarding with your shield. Again, like the Lance, the Gunlance’s baseline guard is the best in the game, but if you find yourself relying on your shield a lot, you might want to take a level or two to eliminate the knockback from strong attacks.

Playstyle Overview:

The Switch Axe is so named because it has two different forms – axe form and sword form – between which it can transform at will. The axe mode is slow and unwieldy, but offers excellent reach, while the slightly faster sword mode provides intense damage-dealing capabilities and can inflict elemental damage or status effects depending on its phial type. Switch-Axe-users must learn to flow smoothly between the two forms as needed. Since each form has its own moveset and combos, I wouldn’t recommend it as a weapon for new hunters, but if you’re the kind of player who likes a bit of complexity, versatility, and of course swinging around a massive hunk of metal while occasionally making things explode, the Switch Axe is probably a good fit.

Switch Axe Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

In terms of weapon-specific mechanics, the SA has a lot to cover. Let’s start with phials. Each SA has a specific type of phial, which determines the type of additional damage dealt in sword mode. There are six types of Switch-Axe phials:

  • Power phials are the most common, and they simply increase the amount of raw damage dealt when in sword mode.
  • Power Element phials imbue sword-mode attacks with elemental damage according to the element of the weapon.
  • Dragon phials add dragon-element damage to sword attacks.
  • Poison and Paralysis phials are the two status-effect-inflicting phial types, and they add poison and paralysis damage, respectively, to sword attacks.
  • Exhaust phials are unique to the Switch Axe, allowing sword-mode attacks to deal exhaust damage, which is usually the domain of the Hunting Horn and Hammer.

The other Switch-Axe-unique mechanics to be aware of are the Switch Gauge and the Amp Gauge.

The Switch Gauge takes the form of a thin purple/blue bar below your health and stamina bars. About 40% of the way from the start of the gauge is a thin white line; if the gauge isn’t filled to or beyond this line, then pressing RT in axe mode, which normally switches to sword mode, will instead execute a short “reload” animation that will instantly fill the gauge by just over 40%.

Each sword-mode attack consumes some of the Switch Gauge’s meter, and if the gauge empties entirely, you’ll automatically (and slowly) switch back into axe mode. Manually switching from sword mode to axe mode will replenish some of the gauge, but otherwise, it simply fills gradually over time. It’s important to keep an eye on your Switch Gauge when fighting in sword mode to ensure that you can manually switch back to axe mode to replenish some of the meter and avoid the cumbersome forced-switch animation.

The Amp Gauge takes the form of a sword-shaped silhouette that surrounds the Switch Gauge, and landing sword-mode attacks will gradually fill it with a blue glow. When the Amp Gauge is completely full, the sword mode enters the amped state, which increases the strength of sword attacks for the duration.

Monitoring your Switch Gauge consumption and ensuring that you have enough meter to take advantage of the sword mode’s amped state are essential skills for mastery of the Switch Axe.

Key Moves & Combos:

Axe Mode:

Y > Y > Y: Your basic three-hit combo, consisting of a horizontal slash, followed by an upward vertical slash, and a downward overhead. It’s a fairly slow chain, and most Switch-Axe-users I know don’t use it very often.

B > B > B… (infinite): The Wild Swing combo seems to be the usual go-to axe-mode combo. It consists simply of alternating left and right horizontal swings. Unlike most normal attacks, however, each swing consumes stamina. You can end the combo with RT for a spinning, multi-hit swing that switches into sword mode.

Y + B > Y… (infinite): This combo performs the last two hits of the Y > Y > Y combo, the upward swing followed by the overhead, bypassing the weak horizontal slash. Good for hitting things directly above you, and the forward reach isn’t too bad either.

Fwd. + Y: A lunging stab that moves you forward a short distance. Best frontal reach of the axe-mode attacks.

Back + B (mid-combo): Performs a Fade Slash, which couples a horizontal swing with a short backstep. Not nearly as useful as the Long Sword’s version, but still decent for getting some distance in a pinch.

Sword Mode:

Y > Y > Y… (infinite): Standard three-hit combo, consisting of an overhead swing, a left-to-right horizontal swing, and a right-to-left horizontal swing. Keeps you mostly stationary when performed in neutral, but if you hold forward when the combo starts over, you can add a short forward step to the overhead swing if you need to close some distance to continue your attack.

B > B: A four-hit combo, although technically only two attacks. The first is a double horizontal swing, from right to left then left to right, which comes out very quickly, followed by the Heavenward Flurry, a jumping upward swing followed by a spinning horizontal slash. Excellent damage, solid speed, and can be chained to the end of the Y > Y > Y combo if you’ve got the meter.

Y + B > tap Y: Performs an Elemental Discharge. You stab your sword in front of you and hold it there, charge up the attack by tapping Y, and then unleash a massive phial explosion. This drains the Switch Gauge significantly and automatically switches back to axe mode upon completion, but it does solid damage and builds a lot of Amp Gauge. You can end the attack early by holding back and pressing Y, but you won’t get the full damage from it, so try to avoid doing so if possible.

It may be tempting to spam this at every opportunity, but as far as I can tell, it’s better used as an Amp-Gauge-builder, since in the amount of time it takes to fully charge and fire off the blast, you can get off at least a couple of full sword combos.

Back + RT (mid-combo): Performs a Fade Slash, stepping backward with a spinning horizontal swing and switching back to axe mode. Excellent for backing off when your Switch Gauge is running low at the end of a sword combo.

Key Skills:

General attack- and affinity-boosting skills are solid choices, as always, but here are some others to consider:

Artillery boosts the damage of the Switch Axe’s elemental discharge, but since most of your damage should be coming from standard attacks rather than EDs, I don’t think I’d prioritize it too much.

Evade Extender adds some extra distance to evade rolls, which can help make up for the Switch Axe’s lack of inherent mobility.

Focus increases the fill rate of the Switch Gauge (and, presumably, the Amp Gauge, though I haven’t tested that thoroughly); it’s not a game-changer exactly, but more time in sword mode is always better.

Power Prolonger increases the active duration of the sword’s amped state, and since you want to keep amped state up as much as possible, you could do worse than taking a level or two here.

Stamina Thief increases the amount of exhaust damage you do, and while I wouldn’t recommend it for Switch Axe in general, if you’re running an Exhaust-phial Switch Axe, it might be worth picking up.

Playstyle Overview:

Versatility, thy name is Charge Blade. Like its cousin the Switch Axe, the Charge Blade is a transforming weapon that can shift between two different forms. In its sword-and-shield form, the CB combines quick, mobile attacks with defensive capabilities that can rival those of the Lance, and in its great-axe form, it boasts excellent reach, huge damage potential, and even bigger explosions. Some might call it OP, and they may be right. It’s a somewhat nuanced weapon that may be challenging for newer players, but it’s a great choice for intermediate players looking for a weapon that excels at fluidly adapting to the ebb and flow of battle.

Charge Blade Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

The Charge Blade, like the Switch Axe, uses phials, albeit in a rather different way. There are only two types of CB phials: Impact and Power Elemental.

  • Impact phials, when triggered by axe-mode and/or charged sword-mode attacks, cause explosions that deal solid raw damage as well as significant stun damage, making them second only to Hammers (and perhaps Hunting Horns) in terms of K.O. potential.
  • Power Elemental phials, of course, deal elemental damage according to the element of the equipped weapon.

Here’s how phials work in action: Each CB has five phials available, indicated by small bottle-shaped icons below your health bar. Before phials can be expended for their effects, they must first be filled, which is done by landing attacks in sword form. After enough successful hits, your phials will begin to glow yellow; hit some more, and they’ll glow red. Once they’re glowing, you can press RT + B to fill them; if they’re glowing yellow, it’ll fill three phials, and if they’re glowing red, it’ll fill all five. Note that if your phials are glowing red and you continue to attack with your sword, eventually you’ll overcharge, causing all of your attacks to bounce until you transfer the charge into your phials.

Once your phials are full, the fun begins. There are a few things you can do with them from here:

Their “primary” use is offensive: In axe mode, your B-button attacks will discharge one or more phials when they connect, triggering impact or elemental explosions depending on the equipped weapon’s phial type. They can also be spent to use the Charge Blade’s signature attack, the Amped Elemental Discharge (or AED), a gargantuan overhead swing that, upon impact, detonates all your filled phials in a single devastating blast.

But before you do any of that, you’ll want to use your phials to charge your shield, which can be done by triggering an Elemental Discharge (X + A in axe form), then pressing RT, which will interrupt the ED animation, switch back to sword mode, and transfer all filled phials into your shield, causing it to glow either yellow or red, depending on how many phials were consumed.

Keeping your shield red-charged at all times is essential to proficiently using the Charge Blade, and here’s why: When your shield is charged, your guard becomes roughly as good as the Lance’s, meaning that none but the strongest of attacks will knock you back when blocked. Moreover, since your shield becomes the blade of your axe in axe mode, a red-charged shield increases the power of your axe-mode attacks and makes them harder to deflect.

A charged shield also enables you to use the Condensed Element Slash (hold Y during the phial-charge animation) to transfer some of your shield’s power into your sword, causing it to hit harder and trigger phial explosions on attack for the duration. In addition, when your shield is red-charged, your Amped Elemental Discharge becomes a Super Amped Elemental Discharge (SAED), drastically increasing its damage output.

Lastly, a charged shield enables the use of the CB’s final (and arguably trickiest) unique mechanic: Guard Points (or GPs). During the animations of some attacks, your character will raise his shield. If you get hit during one of these windows, you’ll block the attack and trigger a Guard Point, which is superior to a standard block for a few reasons:

First, blocking an attack with a GP triggers a phial discharge on impact, allowing you to stay offensive even when you’re on defense. This is especially good when using an Impact-phial CB against monsters that use their heads to attack, since it means you can potentially stun them by simply GPing their headbutts. Second, Guard Points are more effective than standard blocks, meaning you’re less likely to be knocked back after guarding when blocking with a GP. And finally, after GPing an attack, you can immediately follow up with a rapid Charged Slash – good if you need to fill phials – or an (S)AED.

Mastering the Charge Blade is all about getting into the flow of building phials in sword mode and switching to axe mode to dish out damage with phial attacks and SAEDs, all while maintaining the charge on your sword and shield and exploiting Guard Points to your advantage.

Key Moves & Combos:

RT + Y (weapon sheathed): This allows you to draw your weapon directly into axe mode with a forward overhead smash. It’s got great reach and deals solid damage, making it a great way to initiate combat. You can press RT immediately afterward to combo directly into an axe-to-sword transformation to continue the assault and start charging phials. Additionally, the start-up of the animation is a Guard Point, making this the only way to go directly into a GP with your weapon sheathed.

Sword Mode:

Y > Y > Y: The standard three-hit combo for sword mode, consisting of a quick horizontal slash, an upward vertical swing, and finishing with a spinning Roundslash. It’s worth noting that the end of the third attack’s animation is a Guard Point, but you probably won’t be using it for that purpose very much. You can also trigger the Roundslash by sidestepping mid-combo then pressing Y, bypassing the first two hits, but there are still better GP options available.

B (hold): The Charged Slash, which can be inserted at just about any time during a combo, is the single best phial-builder and should be used at every available opportunity. Note that if you hold the charge for too long, it will fail, and the attack will come out super slow, super weak, and won’t grant the full phial charge energy.

Y + B (from neutral): The Forward Slash moves you forward a short distance and launches a quick horizontal swipe. It makes a great combo-initiator when you need to quickly close some distance. Can be used as a sliding jump-attack if used when facing down an incline.

Y + B (mid-combo): Performs a quick Shield Thrust. It’s not great for damage, but it essentially serves as a combo reset/extender. It can be followed up with any sword attack, or you can follow it with another Y + B input to combo into an AED.

RT + B > Y + B > Y + B > RT: This combo is my go-to for charging my shield once I’ve built up some phial energy. The first input will transfer the charge to your phials, the second is the aforementioned Shield Thrust, the third begins an AED, and the last interrupts the AED into a shield charge. As far as I know, it’s the fastest way to go from charging phials to charging your shield, but I could be wrong.

Any direction + B (mid-combo): Slides a considerable distance in the direction held, then finishes with a spinning horizontal slash. The slide has decent directional control, allowing you to somewhat control your trajectory, making it excellent for repositioning mid-combo when a sidestep won’t cut it. Additionally, the end of the animation is a Guard Point.

Axe Mode:

Y > Y… (infinite): A simple two-hit combo – an upward vertical swing followed by a downward overhead. Decent damage and great reach.

Fwd. + Y: The Dash Slam charges forward a short distance and finishes with a vertical overhead attack with great reach. Ideal for closing distance when initiating an attack. Links into the Y > Y combo and can be linked after the second hit of the same combo.

B: When in axe mode, your B-button attacks are Element Discharge attacks, which expend phials. There are two Element Discharge attacks, plus the aforementioned (S)AED:

  • Element Discharge I is a short, horizontal chop. It does the least damage of the three, and you probably won’t use it very often. You can hold forward when pressing B to add a short step forward to the attack.
  • Element Discharge II swings the axe twice in a full circle over your head. Each hit triggers its own phial blast if it connects, meaning you get two blasts for the price of a single phial. This is your best option for damage if you don’t have an opening for an SAED.There are two ways to execute it: B > B performs Element Discharge I followed by Element Discharge II. Not recommended, as it uses two phials. Instead, you can simply press B after the Rising Slash (neutral Y), the Dash Slam (fwd. + Y), or the sword-to-axe transformation attack. (RT + X in sword mode).

Y + B: Executes the (S)AED. You can combo into it from the sword-to-axe Morph Slash (RT + Y), from the second hit of the Y > Y axe combo, or from the axe mode’s Dash Slam (fwd. + Y), as well as from the sword mode’s Shield Thrust (X + A mid-combo).

Key Skills:

Artillery increases the damage of your phial blasts. Since the bulk of your damage will generally come from Element Discharges and SAEDs, this is a solid choice for any CB build.

Capacity Boost adds an extra phial for a total of six, allowing you to do more damage per SAED.

Guard increases the effectiveness of your shield blocks. A charged CB shield is already excellent, so don’t prioritize it, and don’t take more than one or two levels of it.

Slugger increases the stun damage of your attacks. Only useful for Impact-phial CBs, but if you want to show those Hammer-users how to really knock a monster’s lights out, this is worth grabbing.

Playstyle Overview:

The Insect Glaive is an unusual beast. The Glaive itself is an incredibly fast and agile weapon that allows its wielder to perform all sorts of ridiculous acrobatics, including using the Glaive as a vaulting pole to launch skyward for on-demand aerial attacks, making the IG the master of monster-mounting. But the Glaive comes with an accessory of sorts, a charming little bug called a Kinsect, which the hunter can send out to attack monsters and harvest extracts from it and providing a variety of powerful self-buffs. It’s a complex weapon with lots of elements to keep track of and manage, so it may be challenging for inexperienced hunters, but in skilled hands, the Insect Glaive offers excellent damage, unparalleled mobility, and a flexible, fluid combat style.

Insect Glaive Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

Strap in, folks, ‘cause this one’s a doozy. The Kinsect itself is one of the most complex weapon-specific mechanics in the game, and learning how to use it effectively is crucial for success.

Kinsects can be upgraded in much the same way as weapons, and there are multiple Kinsect upgrade trees, referred to in-game as “lineages.” All lineages branch from two initial lineages: the Culldrone lineage and the Mauldrone lineage. Kinsects from the Culldrone lineage and its offshoots deal cutting damage when they attack, allowing them to cut parts and cause monsters to flinch, while Mauldrone-lineage Kinsects deal blunt damage, allowing them to deal stun damage to their targets.

Each Kinsect has a set of attributes that determines its combat abilities:

  • Dust Effect: When a Kinsect attacks a monster, it inflicts it with the effect of its Kinsect dust, which can deal blast damage, inflict poison or paralysis, or even heal the hunter.
  • Element: Determines what kind of elemental damage the Kinsect deals. Kinsects have no elemental alignment by default but can be imbued with an element at the blacksmith.
  • Power: Determines how much damage the Kinsect deals.
  • Speed: Determines the Kinsect’s movement speed.
  • Heal: Determines how much healing is provided by green extracts and healing dust (if applicable). Also determines the Kinsect’s stamina recovery rate.

Additionally, each IG provides a specific Kinsect Bonus, such as boosting the Kinsect’s cutting, blunt, or elemental damage, or increasing the amount of healing it provides. Try to use a Kinsect that synergizes well with your Glaive’s Kinsect Bonus (or vice versa).

In combat, you can command your Kinsect to attack the monster and harvest extracts from it, which it will deliver to you when you call it back. There are four types of extracts, and the type of extract harvested depends on which part of the monster the Kinsect attacks:

  • White extract provides the hunter with a speed buff. Generally extracted from a monster’s legs or wings (or whatever parts it uses to move).
  • Red extract increases the hunter’s attack power and grants access to enhanced versions of the Glaive’s basic attacks. Generally extracted from a monster’s head (or whatever parts it uses to attack).
  • Orange extract increases the hunter’s defense and knockback resistance. Generally acquired from the monster’s body.
  • Green extract doesn’t provide a buff but instead heals the hunter based on the Kinsect’s heal stat. Generally extracted from a monster’s tail.

In addition to the individual buff provided by each extract, the hunter can gain additional buffs by having certain combinations of extracts active simultaneously. I won’t go over all of them here, but as a rule, you want to try to have all three of the buff-granting extracts active at all times for maximum benefit.

In combat, there are a couple of different ways to command your Kinsect to attack: The first is to do so manually by holding LT to aim, then pressing RT to fire a marker. You can also press LT and RT simultaneously to quick-fire the marker in the direction your hunter is facing. Wherever the marker hits, your Kinsect will fly there and begin attacking.

The second is by pressing RT in close-combat, which will execute a quick Glaive strike. The Kinsect will automatically begin attacking wherever the attack lands.

Once commanded to attack, the Kinsect will continue attacking until it runs out of stamina or until you manually recall it with LT + B.

There’s a lot more nuance to effectively using the Kinsect, but to cover all of it would require more time and space than I’ve got at the moment. This should hopefully provide at least a basic overview of the mechanics, though.

Key Moves & Combos:

The Insect Glaive is one of those weapons that focuses on fluidity, so it has a bunch of potential combos, and if I’m honest, I’m not familiar enough with the weapon to tell you with any authority which ones are “optimal,” so I’ll just be going over some of the highlights.

Y > Y > B… (infinite): One of the Insect Glaive’s infinite combos. Solid damage, fairly quick execution, and keeps you more or less stationary (the full combo moves you forward a couple of steps). Can follow up the B input with a second B input to finish with the strong Tornado Slash, which moves you forward a considerable distance. You can actually continue the combo even after the Tornado Slash (Y > Y > B > B…), but unless your positioning is perfect, the Tornado Slash is likely to put you too far out of place to make it useful.

Fwd. + B: Executes a Leaping Slash, propelling you forward and attacking with a vertical overhead strike. Can be used both as a combo initiator or mid-combo, whenever you need to close some distance.

Back + B (mid-combo): Performs a Dodge Slash, a backwards jump with an upward vertical strike. Good to use when you need some breathing room. Note that this can only be used following a Y-button attack.

RT + A: Vaults into the air, allowing you to launch aerial attacks. While in the air after a vault, you have three options available:

  • Any direction + A: Performs a Midair Evade in the direction held. You can perform only one Midair Evade before landing. Consumes stamina.
  • Any direction + B: Executes a Jumping Advancing Slash, which propels you a considerable distance in the direction held, then attacks with a downward-angled strike. If this attack connects, you’ll vault back into the air and reset the cooldown on your Midair Dodge. Consumes stamina.
  • Y: Performs a standard Jumping Slash, striking at a downward angle. Unlike the other two aerial attacks, this does not consume stamina and can be used to mount monsters.

Keep in mind that while it can be tempting to spend all your time vaulting and air-dodging, some of your highest-damage combos are done on solid ground. The Insect Glaive is still the mounting master, and you should use that to your advantage, but you can only mount monsters so often, and it’s frequently more advantageous to stay earthbound to dish out damage.

Key Skills:

Airborne increases the damage done by jumping attacks. Like I said above, you don’t want to focus too much on aerial attacks, but given the Insect Glaive’s unique ability to perform them at will, this is a common choice for IG builds.

Constitution reduces the amount of stamina consumed by evading and using the Jumping Advancing Slash, allowing you to chain longer aerial combos. I probably wouldn’t prioritize this, though.

Handicraft increases your weapon’s sharpness. Insect Glaives don’t typically have particularly high sharpness, and they eat through it rather quickly, so this may help you cut down on time spent sharpening.

Jump Master prevents you from being knocked back while airborne. Not a high priority, but if you don’t have any better options, it’s worth picking up.

Master Mounter makes it easier to mount monsters. Again, given the Insect Glaive’s unique propensity toward mounting, this might be worth picking up.

Power Prolonger increases the duration of your extract buffs. I’d definitely recommend picking up at least one or two levels of this skill, as less time spent refreshing extracts is more time spent twirling around and cutting things up.

Stamina Surge increases your stamina recovery rate. I’d probably take this over Constitution, given the choice.

Playstyle Overview:

With its relatively small moveset and lack of “true” combos like the ones available to most melee weapons, the Bow may initially seem like a straightforward and perhaps even simplistic weapon. But don’t be fooled; using the Bow effectively requires a great degree of technical skill and a mastery of careful positioning. I’m of the opinion that the Bow (and ranged weapons in general for that matter) is more challenging for new players to learn than all but the most complex of the melee weapons, but if you’re a newcomer whose heart is set on playing a ranged weapon, the Bow is as good a place as any to start. It also makes an excellent stepping stone for players who are accustomed to melee combat but want to make the transition to a ranged weapon. The Bow offers high mobility and great versatility, and it can dish out some truly outrageous damage in the hands of a hunter who knows how to use it.

Bow Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

There are a few unique mechanics to keep in mind when using the Bow. First and foremost is the matter of distance, which you can think of as being divided into three areas: out of range, effective range, and critical range. If you’re too far away from your target, your shots simply will not connect. If you’re simply at effective range, your shots will connect, but deal suboptimal damage. In order to make every shot count, you want to make sure your target is within the Bow’s critical range.

The easiest way to tell what range you’re at is to hold down LT to aim and place your reticle over your target. If you’re out of range, you’ll be notified by a flashing “out of range” message; if you’re in range, the reticle will take the form of a single, large circle; and if you’re in critical range, the reticle will show up as a large circle with a smaller, bright-orange circle inside of it.

Bows also make use of unique consumable items called coatings, which can be applied to arrows to imbue them with various beneficial effects. There are six types of coatings, but each individual Bow can use only certain coatings as indicated on its stat display. The types of coatings are as follows:

  • Close Range: This coating increases the damage of the Bow’s shots, but greatly lowers its critical and effective range while the coating is applied. The Close Range coating is unique in that it can be used on every bow, and hunters are given an unlimited supply.
  • Power: Simply increases the Bow’s damage with no effect on its range. This is the most important and commonly used coating, and any Bow that can’t use Power coatings is almost certainly not worth using except perhaps in very particular circumstances.
  • Paralysis/Poison/Sleep: These are pretty self-explanatory. Arrows with one of these coatings applied will inflict the respective status effect.
  • Blast: Arrows using this coating will inflict the Blast status effect, which causes a damaging explosion after a certain number of successful hits.

All coatings with the exception of Close Range coatings are consumable items, with each coated arrow consuming a single coating. Coatings can be crafted by hunters or purchased from from the Astera provisioner, and any good archer knows to bring as many coatings as he can carry as well as the materials needed to craft more in the field.

And last, but certainly not least, is the Bow’s charge mechanic. Each shot can be charged from level zero (i.e., uncharged) to level two. Some bows have access to even higher charge levels, but for the sake of simplicity we’re going to assume that two is the maximum.

Before we go over the different methods of charging shots, let’s briefly go over the types of shots and the effects of charging them:

  • Basic Shot (RT): Exactly what it sounds like.
    • Uncharged: Fires a single arrow directly ahead.
    • Charge Level 1: Fires two arrows in a tight spread.
    • Charge Level 2: Fires three arrows in a tight spread.
  • Spread Shots (B): Also exactly what it sounds like: They fire multiple arrows in a spread-out arc formation. The in-game controls delineate Spread Shots into Quick Shots and Power Shots, but the former is essentially the uncharged version of the latter.
    • Uncharged: Fires three arrows in a broad arc in front of you.
    • Charge Level 1: Fires three arrows in a tighter arc in front of you.
    • Charge Level 2: Fires five arrows in an arc in front of you.
  • Arc Shot (LT + RT + B): This shot fires a gigantic arrow into the air on a parabolic trajectory and explodes, raining down spiked metal balls over a small area of effect for multiple hits. The individual blows don’t do much raw damage, but they do inflict stun damage and can be used to K.O. monsters. Arc Shot blows will stagger teammates caught in the AoE, so use with care.
    • Uncharged: Hits six times in about three seconds.
    • Level 1: Hits eight times in about three seconds.
    • Level 2: Hits 14 times in about 5 seconds.
  • Dragon Piercer (LT + Y + B): Charges up and unleashes a particularly powerful arrow that pierces enemies in its path, dealing multiple hits as it travels through them. Has a considerable start-up time, and the force of the shot causes the hunter to slide backwards with recoil. As far as I can tell, there’s no functional difference between the different charge levels except that higher charge levels mean more damage and more recoil.

There are multiple different ways to charge your shots, depending on the type of shot in question. Basic Shots can be charged by holding RT and releasing it at the desired charge level. Instead of releasing RT after charging, you can press B to perform an Arc Shot or Y + B to perform a Dragon Piercer, and it’ll inherit the Basic Shot’s charge. However, this is the least efficient shot-charging method.

Alternatively, you can increase a shot’s charge level by incorporating it into a “combo” of sorts by simply firing one shot immediately after another. The charge level of a given shot in a combo will be one level higher than the shot that preceded it. Take for example a three-Basic-Shot combo (RT > RT > RT): The first shot will be uncharged, the second will be level one, and the third will be level two.

Consider that although you could simply hold the button and charge directly to level two, you can just do the triple-shot combo and land three hits in the time it would take to charge up one. It’ll eat through your coatings more quickly, but in terms of raw DPS, it’s a clear advantage. You can mix-and-match Basic and Special Shots, as well – e.g., RT > RT > RT > B will do the aforementioned three-shot combo followed by a level-two Spread Shot. You can chain together as many shots as your stamina reserves allow.

And lastly, you can make use of the Charging Sidestep (hold LT + any direction + A), which performs an evade in the direction held and increases the charge of your next shot by one level. For example, if you do a Charging Sidestep followed immediately by RT, you’ll fire off a level-one Basic Shot.

Keep in mind that you can also combine these methods. For example, you can do RT > Charging Sidestep > B, which will perform an uncharged Basic Shot (raising the charge level of the next shot in the combo to level one), a Charging Sidestep to raise the charge level from one to two, and finish with a level-two Spread Shot.

There’s enough nuance to the Bow that even this wall of text only covers the bare basics, but hopefully this gives you some idea of the Bow’s gameplay flow and the possibilities it holds.

Key Moves & Combos:

Most of the Bow’s important moves have been outlined in the section above, so I’ll just provide you with a couple of bread-and-butter combo templates. The Bow is a very flexible weapon, though, and skilled archers should be able to alter their combos to fit the situation at hand.

B > RT > RT > B > B > B: This combo performs an uncharged Spread Shot, a level-one Basic Shot, a level-two Basic Shot, a level-two Spread Shot, a level-two Arc Shot, and finishes with a level-two Power Shot. Despite its length, it’s fairly quick to execute, so you don’t need too big of an opening to pull it off. You can substitute a Basic Shot (RT) for the opening Spread Shot, but if all of the Spread Shot’s arrows connect, it’s better damage than the Basic. If you’ve got a really good opening (i.e. the monster is stunned or toppled), you can tack a Y + B on the end for a Dragon Piercer.

B > RT > RT > B > Y + B: This is the same as the combo above, but with a level-two Dragon Piercer in place of the Arc Shot and final Spread Shot. May require a slightly larger opening due to the DP’s start-up time but puts out some solid burst damage.

Key Skills:

In addition to the usual attack- and affinity-increasing skills…

Constitution reduces stamina consumption from dodging and firing, allowing you to chain together longer combos to sustain your shots’ charge levels.

Focus reduces the time needed to charge your shots.

Marathon Runner reduces the rate of stamina drain while holding charged shots.

Normal Shots increases the attack power of the Bow’s Basic Shot. Probably not super-high-priority since you’re likely better off boosting the damage of your Spread Shot and Dragon Piercer, but I don’t have mathematical proof of that.

Piercing Shots increases the attack power of the Dragon Piercer.

Special Ammo Boost increases the power of the Dragon Piercer. I’m honestly not sure what the difference is between this and Piercing Shots or which should take priority, so if you’re a Bow main who knows the answer, pipe up in the comments, please!

Spread/Power Shots increases the power of your Spread Shots.

Stamina Surge increases your stamina recovery rate. I think I’d prioritize Constitution over this, though.

Playstyle Overview:

The Light Bowgun is the assault rifle of Monster Hunter’s ranged-weapon arsenal, and with its customizable parts, wide variety of ammunition types, and excellent mobility, it’s one of the most versatile weapons in the game. Whether you want to focus on dishing out elemental damage, applying status effects, or just putting a bunch of holes in anything that looks at you funny, the Light Bowgun can make it happen. The LBG isn’t as technically demanding as the Bow, which makes it a solid choice for new players who want to pick up a ranged weapon, but the weapon itself offers deep playstyle-customization options and can support a wide variety of builds.

Light Bowgun Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

The LBG doesn’t have much in the way of unique combat mechanics, and using it is pretty straightforward: Hold LT to aim, RT to fire, and Y to reload.

Its one unusual feature is the Wyvernblast (B), a landmine that can be used both offensively and defensively. Hunters begin with a supply of three Wyvernblast mines that can be placed one at a time or all at once, but each mine has a cooldown before it can be used again.

When placed, the mine will continually spray a cloud of gas in a small area around it. When any attack makes contact with the gas cloud or the mine itself, the Wyvernblast detonates, dealing explosive damage to all targets in the AoE. There are three “levels” of detonation that can occur depending on the amount of damage dealt by the attack that triggers the mine, which can be delivered by allies and enemies alike.

The first level, triggered by low-damage (below ~50, from what I’ve read and seen) does the least damage per blast, but can be triggered five times before the mine despawns. The second level, triggered by an attack between ~50 and ~75 damage does moderately more damage and can be triggered three times. And the third level, activated when something hits the mine for more than ~75 damage, does the most damage but can be triggered only twice.

It’s worth noting, however, that you can – with careful planning and/or a lot of luck – trigger multiple different explosion levels from the same mine to eke out some extra damage. For example, you could trigger the level-two explosion twice, then finish with a level-three, or something in that vein.

Aside from that, the only other LBG-specific mechanics aren’t related to combat but to the LBG itself. There are two features to consider when choosing your weapon:

First, the ammo. There’s a staggering array of ammunition types available to the LBG: Ammo that deals raw damage, ammo that deals elemental damage, ammo that inflicts status ailments, even ammo that lets you shoot health right into your teammates. However, each individual LBG can use only a designated selection of ammo, and some provide special bonuses – like rapid fire or auto-reload – for certain ammo types, so it’s important to choose one that can use the ammo types that appeal to you.

Second, there are the mods. Each LBG has a number of modification slots, determined by its rarity – higher rarity, more mod slots, with a maximum of three. Each slot can be fitted with one of five mods, and multiple mods of the same type can be installed on the same gun to amplify the effects. The available LBG mods are as follows:

  • Recoil Suppressor: Reduces the amount of recoil (which, despite what the name may suggest, is a measurement of the amount of time needed between shots) when firing certain types of ammo.
  • Reload Assist: Reduces the time it takes to reload certain types of ammo.
  • Deviation Suppressor: Reduces the amount of deviation (i.e., the amount that the crosshair moves) when firing.
  • Close Range Up: Increases the LBG’s attack power when fired from close range.
  • Long Range Up: Increases the LBG’s attack power when fired from long range.

In my admittedly limited experience, lowering the recoil has been most useful, along with the Range Up mod for your preferred distance. I personally haven’t bothered with the Deviation Suppressor, as deviation in World is fairly easy to handle once you get used to it.

The LBG may not be the most technically demanding weapon to use, but it’s important to make sure that your LBG’s usable ammo types and mods synergize well with your playstyle, with your armor skills, and of course with each other.

Key Moves & Combos:

(after firing) A > A: Performs a short evasive hop with the first input, then a fairly long-distance slide with the second. The slide counts as a “proper” evade, meaning it does have a limited i-frame window, making it great for repositioning as well as getting the hell out of a monster’s way.

A (while sliding down incline) > RT: The initial A input jumps into the air, and the RT does an aerial melee attack with the butt of your LBG. The attack can mount if it lands, but its real utility is this: If you stand still for a moment after landing, you’ll go directly into a reload animation that is much faster than the standard reload for ammo types with high reload times.

Key Skills:

As usual, attack- and affinity-boosting skills are solid all-around choices, but if you’re focusing on elemental ammo, go for elemental damage boosts, etc.

Evade Window and/or Evade Extender can be useful as they will affect your post-shot hop and slide as well as your standard evade rolls.

Focus reduces the cooldown on Wyvernblasts, if you find yourself using them frequently enough.

Free Elem/Ammo Up increases the number of shots that the LBG’s clip can hold at one time.

Normal Shots, Piercing Shots, or Spread/Power Shots is a must-have if you plan on primarily using normal ammo, piercing ammo, or spread ammo, respectively.

Special Ammo Boost increases the power of Wyvernblast detonations.

Weakness Exploit increases the affinity of attacks that hit a monster’s weak spot. Their range and freedom of aiming makes gunner weapons particularly well-suited to hitting monsters’ weak spots, and the LBG’s generally high rate of fire means you can hit them a lot, making this a potentially good investment.

Playstyle Overview:

If the Light Bowgun is the assault rifle of the Monster Hunter universe, the Heavy Bowgun is the (barely) portable artillery cannon. Unwieldy and lacking mobility, the HBG can be a truly challenging weapon to master, requiring excellent positioning, timing, and knowledge of monster behaviors to land your shots without leaving yourself open to attack. But what it lacks in speed and mobility, it more than compensates for in raw firepower while also boasting the same wide selection of ammo types and variety of build possibilities as its little brother. The HBG’s lack of mobility, combined with the frequency with which it needs to remain mostly stationary to unleash its full potential, makes me hesitate to recommend it for new hunters, but if you’ve tried the LBG and wished it had just a bit more bang, the HBG’s what you’re looking for.

Heavy Bowgun Mechanics, Combos, and Skills

Key Mechanics:

Like the LBG, the HBG isn’t especially technically demanding, and its moveset is equally simple: LT to aim, RT to shoot, and Y to reload. But whereas the LBG has its Wyvernblast landmines, the HBG instead has special ammo that can be used to devastating effect. There are two types of special HBG ammo, and which type is available depends on the specific gun in question.

  • Wyvernheart Ammo turns the HBG into a full-on Gatling gun. When loaded, an ammo gauge is displayed, and you can then hold down RT to unleash a veritable barrage of bullets until the gauge is empty (or until you press B again to manually switch back to your standard ammo). Once depleted, the Wyvernheart gauge refills gradually over time, but it can still be used even if the meter is only partially filled.
  • Wyvernsnipe Ammo, as the name suggests, temporarily transforms the humble HBG into a high-caliber sniper rifle. Unlike the Wyvernheart Ammo’s slowly-depleting meter, the Wyvernsnipe Ammo gives you only one shot, so you have to make it count. After loading the ammo, aiming down the sights causes the hunter to go prone and take up a sniping position. Pull the trigger with RT and the bullet tears through everything in its path for minor damage, followed shortly by a series of high-damage explosions. As the Wyvernsnipe shot pierces through monsters, for best results you should try to aim it straight down the length of the target – in the head, and out the tail. After use, you must wait for the Wyvernsnipe gauge to refill completely before it can be used again.

Like the LBG, the HBG has a huge assortment of ammo types available to it, and which types of ammo are usable varies from gun to gun, so be sure to choose one that can use the ammo types that fit your playstyle.

Also like the LBG, the HBG can be fitted with mods. The higher a HBG’s rarity, the more mod slots it will have, up to a maximum of three. Multiple mods of the same type can be fitted on a single gun to amplify that mod’s effect. In addition to the five mods available to the LBG, there’s a sixth mod unique to the HBG – the Shield mod. Here’s the full list of HBG mods:

  • Recoil Suppressor: Reduces the amount of recoil (which, despite what the name may suggest, is a measurement of the amount of time needed between shots) when firing certain types of ammo.
  • Reload Assist: Reduces the time it takes to reload certain types of ammo.
  • Deviation Suppressor: Reduces the amount of deviation (i.e., the amount that the crosshair moves) when firing.
  • Close Range Up: Increases the HBG’s attack power when fired from close range.
  • Long Range Up: Increases the HBG’s attack power when fired from long range.
  • Shield: Automatically blocks incoming attacks while your weapon is drawn, provided you are not in the middle of an attack and you are facing toward the attack.

I don’t have much experience with the HBG, and I’ve only briefly tried the Shield mod, but general consensus seems to be that it can be a solid mod choice, especially if you find the HBG’s low mobility to prevent you from effectively evading attacks outright. Stacking three Shield mods evidently provides the HBG with blocking capabilities in the same neighborhood as the Lance and Gunlance, but if you intend to use it as your primary form of damage mitigation – particularly in high-rank – you may want to consider getting a level or two of the Guard skill on your armor as well.

Key Moves & Combos:

A (while sliding down incline) > RT: The initial A input jumps into the air, and the RT does an aerial melee attack with the butt of your LBG. The attack can mount if it lands, but its real utility is this: If you stand still for a moment after landing, you’ll go directly into a reload animation that is much faster than the standard reload for ammo types with high reload times.

Y + B: Swings your HBG for a melee attack. You probably won’t use this much, but it does half-decent damage and can stun a monster if you whack it on the noggin, so there’s that.

Key Skills:

As usual, attack- and affinity-boosting skills are great general choices. As with the LBG, if you’re going to focus on using elemental ammo, consider picking up some levels in that element’s power-boosting skill.

Evade Extender and/or Evade Window can help alleviate the difficulties caused by the HBG’s low mobility. Its evade distance is pretty considerable to begin with, but covering more ground (or having more i-frames) can’t hurt.

Focus increases the rate at which your Wyvernheart or Wyvernsnipe gauge fills, allowing you to use it more often – particularly useful for Wyvernsnipe, as it must fully recharge between each use.

Free Elem/Ammo Up increases the number of rounds per clip, reducing the frequency with which you have to reload.

Normal Shots, Piercing Shots, or Spread/Power Shots is a must-have if you plan on primarily using normal ammo, piercing ammo, or spread ammo, respectively.

Special Ammo Boost increases the damage of Wyvernheart and Wyvernsnipe Ammo.

Weakness Exploit increases the affinity of attacks that hit a monster’s weak spot. Their range and freedom of aiming makes gunner weapons particularly well-suited to hitting monsters’ weak spots, and the HBG already hits pretty hard, so if you can reliably hit the enemy’s weak points, a level or two in this skill can pay dividends.

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