15 things I wish I knew before playing Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter Worldis a huge, unweildy, and oft-confounding beast when you first start up. The game's nuanced combat, rich, role-playing depth, and endless, unexplained menus can make this deeply compelling game decidely intimidating during the early hours hours. And then, just when you think you know everything, it changes the rules and sets you on a whole new path during High Rank play. 

Monster Hunter World, then, is pretty much an endless road of learning and mastery. And, being that it's ultimately such a brilliant game, you'll want to get started along that path quickly, with the minimum of fuss. Thus, we've put tpgether this handy guide to understanding all of the elements vital to early success, and also given you a primer on the second, decidedly tougher, but even more rewarding stage of your journey. Read on, and you'll be showboating a chiq, lizard-skeleton wardrobe in no time. 

1. Be prepared

Being prepared isn’t just for Boy Scouts (though, if the Boy Scouts existed in the Monster Hunter universe, I suspect they’d be hunters). Monster Hunter provides a tremendous suite of tools, gear, and consumables to streamline and optimize your hunter for every battle, but it doesn’t force you to employ any of them, and it’s easy to be hasty and and launch yourself into a fight you’re not prepared for (and end up triple-carting your battered carcass back to camp under a giant Mission Failed flag). 

While it’s tempting to just stack armor that has the highest defense rating, for instance, and while that strategy might serve you against some early foes, you’ll inevitably hit a brick wall in the form of a monster with massive elemental damage or particularly lethal status effects. Do your homework, research what the monster’s strengths and weaknesses are (the game provides a robust field guide for just this purpose), and prepare accordingly. 

Fighting a Kirin that scorches the earth with massive tempests of lightning? Bring armor strong against thunder, eat a meal at the canteen that boosts elemental resistance, and bring along the mantle that negates thunder damage.  Suddenly, instead of being one hit by a single arc of lightning, you’re able to go toe-to-toe with the deadly Elder Dragon and shrugging off its most potent attacks. And no matter what you’re facing, always, every single time, bring some mega nutrients or max potions and some cooked meat to maximize your health and stamina bars. 

2. Bring plenty of heals

No matter how timely your blocks or artful your dodges, you’re going to get hit in Monster Hunter World. A lot. It’s a game that makes fights necessarily unpredictable and challenging (that’s one of the key reasons it’s so charming, in fact), and this means that, inevitably, you’re going to take the occasional walloping. But more so than any Monster Hunter that’s come before it, World gives you a huge number of ways to quickly heal up your wounds and get back into the fight. Take liberal advantage of them, especially early on when you’re still finding your footing or mastering a new weapon.

This doesn’t just mean to stack potions and mega potions, though that’s an obvious first step. It also means that bringing along a palico with the healing vigorwasp gadget and getting it leveled up is a huge early game priority. And always be aware of the wild vigorwasps in the enviornment, and the vitallies, both of which provide large, almost instant healing out in the field at zero cost to you. 

Need even more healing? Add the healing station specialized tool, which provides a constant heal over time as long as you’re within its radius, or pack the vitality mantle which makes you invulnerable to a certain amount of damage, so you’re not as reliant on other healing in the first place. If you’re still having trouble, throw in some extra max potions and ancient potions. 

3. Always be mounting

(Image: © Capcom)

Mounting is a fairly new mechanic in the Monster Hunter series, and so even a lot of vets aren’t properly familiar with it. But it’s an incredibly handy trick if you can master it, and can be the source of a huge amount of fairly low-risk damage, and a great way to break some of the trickier parts of a monster’s anatomy (more on that later). When you’re fighting a monster, particularly some of the trickier flying wyverns, always be aware of ledges and cliffs you can scale and leap from. Land a mid-air attack on a monster and you’ll automatically mount it (and don’t worry about the occasional miss, there’s is absolutely no falling damage in Monster Hunter World).

Once on its back, the mounting process becomes something of a mini-game, where you’ll be hammering the attack button to weaken it enough to deliver a final attack and knock it prone. But it will be constantly attempting to shake it off, and you’ll need to hit a button to brace yourself, or move up or down its body to avoid specific attacks. It sounds difficult but is actually quite simple once you get the hang of it, but make sure you pay attention to the tutorials the first few times you mount, because eventually they’ll disappear, and you’ll be left with only visual cues to indicate when you should move, or brace, or charge a final attack. When the camera zooms in and changes angles, it’s time for that last strike, so deliver it quickly and be ready to hit the monster with your best attacks immediately after you’ve knocked it down. 

4. Always be breaking

As in previous games, monsters have a huge number of spots on their bodies that can be shattered or cleaved. Finding these spots and exploiting their weaknesses is key to not only delivering additional damage (broken areas will often expose the soft tissue beneath, meaning strikes there are much more impactful), but also crucial to collecting some of the rarest crafting materials. 

Do your best to focus your attacks on a single area, especially if you’re looking for a specific mat. Need a noseridge to make some new helm you’re craving? Chances are you’ll need to break the monster in questions face to get it as a post-hunt reward. One lovely new quality-of-lfe improvement that World adds is the ability to see exactly why you got every reward when you receive them after a hunt, so pay attention to the text that indicates whether it’s for completing the quest, capturing a monster, breaking a body part, etc. That way, if you discover you need twelve of them to make a complete set of armor, you’ll know precisely how to farm them.

5. Use the environment

More than any past Monster Hunter game, World encourages you to interact with its living environments. There are some obvious, important ways to do so, like the aforementioned vigorwasps or by interacting with the tracking materials you need to locate your prey. But there are some less obvious (and less explicitly explained) pieces of the environment you should also be aware of.

For instance, there are a number of natural traps strewn around the hunting grounds that clever fighters can bend to their advantage, from rock falls to vine traps to waterfalls. Not only do they deal massive damage, but they often leave your prey disoriented or immobilized, meaning it’s a perfect time to launch your most devastating combos without fear of retribution. And always be aware of the arena you’re fighting in.  Generally, open areas with lots of space to move around and dodge in are the best — getting caught in a tight little nest with a rampaging anjanath is a bad time, believe me. But also be aware of natural ledges and pits that can provide you with the opportunity to mount or make a quick escape to heal, and of clumps of high grass that let you conceal yourself for a well-timed sharpening. Perhaps most importantly of all, watch out for poisoncups or paratoads, interactable flora and fauna in the environment that you can lure monsters into and afflict them with devastating status effects, without needing to harvest or craft anything.

6. Stack bounties

Finally, take full and liberal advantage of the bounty system. The way armor upgrading works has been changed a bit in Monster Hunter World, and it now requires a much larger number of armor spheres to improve your existing gear. One of the primary ways you get these precious spheres is through the bounty system, mini-objectives you pick up in town that you can complete while going about the business of your main or optional quests. 

First and most obviously you want to always make sure you have a full slate of bounties when you go out a-questin’. But also try, whenever possible, to stack bounties of the same type. It’s possible, for instance, to get multiple bounties that task you with collecting honey, which means that every time you harvest honey (which you should be doing anyway, by the way, it’s one of the most vital crafting ingredients in the game) you’ll be getting rewarded multiples. Stacking bounties like this means less work for you and more precious armor spheres to feed your hungry gear. 

7. Pay attention to Armor Skills

You won't need this stuff immediately, but it's worth learning about as early as possible. You see, while the 'basic' armour stats list will give details of elemental resistances - say, for instance, if a piece is particularly good at blocking fire damage - when you really want to dig deep into building specialist, high-level armour sets, Armor Skills are where it's at. Pulled up on a separate menu in the blacksmiths' shop, Armor Skill cover a lot of functions, from increasing your resistance to status effects like poison, to boosting your health, to all kinds of other, more situational gameplay modifiers. What's more, they stack too, meaning that wearing multiple bits of kit with a specific perk will increase its strength. When you want to create really personalised character builds, Armor Skills will have you covered. 

8. Looking for more damage output? Boost your Affinity rating 

And on the subject of higher-level gear stats, every weapon has an Affinity rating. Affinity is basically your chance of landing a high damage, critical hit, and its rating can be negative as well as positive or neutral. Although a negative rating will increase your chances of scoring hits lower than your standard damage output, it isn't necessarily a problem, as high raw damage can be more than enough. But if you want to negate low Affinity or improve a positive rating, then you'll want to look out for Armor Skills that increase the stat, like Critical Eye or Attack Boost. 

9. Be aware that High Rank is coming 

You might notice, throughout your various journeys through the many locations, menus, and additional menus of Monster Hunter World, various references to Low Rank. For the first 30 hours or so, this will be your home. But of course, if Low Rank exists, surely High Rank hunting must also be a thing, to define that existence by contrast, right?

Very right. Be aware that however powerful you begin to feel, however many glorious, grandstanding monsters you’ve killed and captured, however many tens of hours you’ve put in, if you’re playing at Low Rank you’re still just playing the tutorial. When you step up to the next phase, a lot will change. Things will get tougher, but you’ll get a stack more freedom and gameplay options to compensate. New gear types, and whole new systems will come into play. And Monster Hunter’s ecosystem will expand a great deal, bringing a whole raft of surprises.

10. Know when (and how) High Rank starts 

Don't worry about doing any overly specific grinding. If you keep playing Monster Hunter World, you will get there eventually. All you need to do is make a point of coming back to the main story missions amid all the Investigations, Expeditions, Arena Quests, Bounties, and material grinding you're no doubt getting entirely sidetracked by.

When you finally make it through to the second, main-game confrontation with Zorah Magdaros, you're nearly there. Get through that, complete the follow-up mission, Invader in the Waste, and when you get back to Astera, you'll find that High Rank monster hunting has unlocked, and things have rather changed. Howso, exactly? Well...

11. High Rank armour is more complicated (but potentially way more powerful) 

When you go to the Smithy after hitting High Rank, you'll notice that the Forge Equipment option now comes with separate tabs for High and Low Rank armour. The Low Rank stuff, you're already familiar with. The High Rank selection though, works differently.

The main thing to be aware of is that each HR armour set comes in two versions, denoted Alpha and Beta. The overall gist here is that Alpha armour comes with an array of those all-important Armour Skills built in, while Beta armour has less Skills in its vanilla form, but comes with additional Jewel slots allowing you to customise its Skills at will.

It's a longer, harder road, but by designing and crafting custom perk sets (whether going full Beta or mixing and matching armour pieces), you can create some incredibly powerful, incredibly specific, personalised armour. Theres' a reason that Monster Hunter World has so much space for pre-set gear load-outs, and High Rank is it. Just be aware though, that not all Low Rank armour has a High Rank equivalent, so you might have to say goodbye to - or at least redesign - some of your beloved existing sets as you move on. Just something to be aware of if you're going all-out with building multiple armour set-ups at Low Rank. But whatever your long-term game-plan turns out to be, you really need to...

12. Build a High Rank armour set as quickly as possible 

Any set. Just get /something/ that's up to High Rank defence levels, or you're going to get wrecked very quickly indeed. High Rank's monster can do ridiculous damage, even if you think you've mastered fighting their Low Rank versions, so until you're kitted out, you're going to be in real danger. There's a significant jump in defence ratings between top-level Low Rank gear and introductory High Rank kit, so competitive armour is the absolute first thing you need in order to legitimately stake a claim in the big leagues. 

13. Decorations (Gems and Jewels) are your path to High Rank power 

Decorations come in two forms. Gems are a crafting material required to make certain High Rank armour pieces, while Jewels are the aforementioned trinkets that allow you to custom mod your gear. You'll get both as loot drops from High Rank activities, though Gems can also be acquired at the Melding Pot resource exchange service that opens up in Astera in the run up to High Rank.

Both are rare, random drops, and will require a fair degree of High Rank grinding to get hold of, and rarer, better Decorations will come from tougher activities. Aside from High Rank quests overall, you'll want to keep an eye on Tempered Investigations and limited-timed Event Quests as you become more powerful.

14. High Rank Quests and Investigations need selecting especially 

Like in the Smithy, you'll now find that the Quest Board map is tabbed into Low and High Rank versions too. This is because Low Rank play remains available, regardless of your new status as a High Rank big-shot. Because really you're not that big a shot at all yet.

You still have tens, if not hundreds of experience levels to work through, an absolute stack of stuff to discover - including whole new versions and subspecies of monsters to track down before you can start battling them - and not a great number of High Rank quests to choose from when you get going. See High Rank as a new starting point, with Low Rank as your foundation for getting strong enough to take it on properly. Just make sure you're on the right tab when you do want to hit the harder stuff.

15. Pay attention to the new, High Rank vendors, and understand how they work 

While the main store in Astera will stock up with new stuff at High Rank, you also really want to look out for the visiting Argosy trade ship. A bit like Xur in Destiny, the Argosy will appear and leave on a semi-regular timer – turning up after a few quests have been completed, hanging around for a bit, and then heading off for a few more quests – and will sell you rare goods whenever it’s present. Be aware that the Argosy only takes Research Points as currency, not that you won’t have loads by the time you hit High Rank. Additionally, you can request that the ship makes specific stops on its next trip in order to pick up the specific stuff you want for its following visit. That, friends, is service. So make use of it.