Hello! Hello hello hello, and welcome to a new series of posts I'll be working on.
In this new series, we'll be taking a look at the Monster Hunter series, and some of my thoughts on the various aspects of the series. You could consider this a PSA, a general guide, or just something to help with your gaming experience in Monster Hunter.
Starting out, we'll be looking at the answer to one of the most common questions when it comes to the Monster Hunter series, and that question is, "What weapon do I pick?"
Worry not, for we will answer this and many more questions in...
MONSTER HUNTER DISSECTED Chapter 1: The Best Weapon?
Today we will tackle the question of what the best weapon is in the Monster Hunter series. There's actually a very simple answer to this question. That answer is, "All of them."
However, you're here for more than what everyone else has said, and you want something in-depth, I'm sure. After all, you're choosing to listen to me of all people. So, rather than say, "All of them." and be done with it, we're going to have four questions to give you an overview of what kind of player you are. Do bear in mind that not every combination of answers will fit into a given weapon type. However, do pick what suits you best based on your answers. Also note, you can have answers that lie in-between.
1. Would you like to hit hard but slow, or fast but soft? 2. Would you prefer to dodge attacks or block attacks? 3. Would you like to buff yourself and fellow players? 4. Would you prefer close range or long range?
With your answers in mind, we will now go over each weapon type and which games each appears in. We will also grade each weapon on a scale in a few categories...
Power: Do you hit hard or soft? One is soft, five is hard. Mobility: Can you move around well? One is slow, five is fast. Dodge or Block: Is it better to dodge or block with this weapon? This will be Dodge, Block, or Either. Support: Is this weapon capable of support? Will be Yes, No, or Other. Range: Close or long range? Will be Close, Long, or Mixed. Reach: For close range weapons only. How far does each swing reach? Short, medium, or long. Type: For close range weapons only. Cutting damage or impact damage? Impact for smashing heads, cutting for severing tails.
We will be using abbreviations for weapon names here and there, but only as they go on. If I add "er" to the end, I am referring to a user of that weapon. For reference...
SnS: Sword and Shield DB: Dual Blades GS: Great Sword LS: Long Sword HH: Hunting Horn GL: Gunlance SA: Switch Axe CB: Charge Blade IG: Insect Glaive LBG: Light Bowgun MBG: Medium Bowgun HBG: Heavy Bowgun
This said, I will also be listing controls with Monster Hunter World in mind, and so primarily the PS4 controls will be listed. The 3DS/Wii U controls will be very similar to XBO, just that instead of L1 or R2, it's just L or R, and instead of Y, it's X. Here's a list of the general counterparts, but please also refer to your Hunter Notes in the game.
Right Trigger (R2)
Right Trigger (R2)
Left Trigger (L2)
Left Trigger (L2)
Finally, we will provide videos that also detail use of each weapon type, mostly provided by Arekkz Gaming, who has done an amazing job detailing every weapon type. If he doesn't have a video for it, I'll use the ones from his time at Gamescom, and update accordingly. That said, let's hop right to it!
Power: 3 Mobility: 4 Dodge or Block: Either Support: Other Range: Close Reach: Short Type: Cutting (See: MH3 Notes) Availability: Every Game
Sword & Shield, or SnS, is often times the starter weapon for hunters (with MHW being an exception, although, you do default to it when you do select your weapon). Yet, despite being a starter weapon, it remains viable even in the end-game.
SnS features decent mobility and decent attack, making it very well balanced. Because it has a shield, it means you can use both dodging and blocking equally, depending on what the situation most calls for.
An extra plus is that you can actually use items with the weapon drawn, whereas all other weapons have you sheathe first. Simply raise your shield and press the item button.
As you upgrade, you will find that the weapon also has excellent elemental potential, and it also seems as though the weapon bounces a lot less against hard shells or scales.
The only real downside to SnS is that it has a shorter reach and less power in single hits than other melee weapons. It also doesn't have the same blocking potential of other shield weapons. Yet its flexibility more than makes up for it.
MH1 Notes: In the first MH game, the weapon is generally weaker. Can't use items with it. MH2 Notes: From this game onwards, SnS can use items while drawn. Sharpness also lasts longer than in MH1. MH3 Notes: While it is mainly a cutting weapon, the added shield bash does impact damage. MHF ~ MH4U Notes: New moves added throughout. MHGen Notes: Oils were added which increase certain attributes of the SnS. Only one can be active at a time. MHW Notes: Newer moves.
My Experience: When I use SnS, I find that it has quite a lot of mobility. It seems ever so slightly less mobile than DB, but it basically serves as the blocking counterpart to it. I only find myself using this weapon when there's absolutely nothing else, but it's by no means bad. When I use it, I actually find that I love it. I'd recommend using the charge attack in world by holding circle, as this lets you make a mount attempt. It is not a bad weapon, even if it is recommended for beginners. In older games, the shield even blocks roars. What else could be said? Well, your combos are probably your downfall. If you get into a flurry, you lose a bit of control over a lot of things. Even so, as I keep saying, it's not so bad.
Power: 1 Mobility: 5 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: No Range: Close Reach: Short Type: Cutting Availability: Every Game EXCEPT MH3 (Wii)
The dual blades (DB for short) are amazing. Hands down. Everyone loves them or hates them. Those who love them love them for their ease. Those who hate them call them spammy. Yet there's more to the spam than just wildly mashing buttons. Mastery of the DB gives the hunter extra mobility, potentially infinite combos, and a really enjoyable weapon set.
There is a big difference between when they were first introduced and the third generation onward. Demonization became Demon Mode in third generation. The Demon Mode is, in essence, Demonization. However, there were new mechanics enabled for it.
When in Demon Mode, your stamina drains quickly, and your combos change to be faster and deal more damage. Your evade changes from a roll to a proper strafe, which moves farther away. This strafe can link into attacks instantly as well and has more invincibility frames.
When landing hits in Demon Mode, you fill up the demon gauge. When full, you enter Archdemon Mode, which is, in essence, Demon Mode, but even more powerful. This mode has the best attacks of Demon Mode and Normal Mode, but minus the stamina drain. Dodging and attacking will drain the gauge, and ADM ends when it empties. However, you can activate DM at any time to fill the gauge without technically ending ADM.
The cool thing about Demon Mode is that you resist wind pressure, water pressure, and have super armor, meaning no flinching from small monster attacks.
Yet the problem with DB is that they have no defenses. Only dodges, and the dodge can seem kind of weird at times. Further, while the sharpness of DBs are innately abysmal, the sharpness of DBs goes down quicker than other weapons due to how many hits are inflicted in a single combo. Low damage, high stamina use, and low sharpness hinder the enjoyment, yet the high damage over time and DM/ADM more than makes up for these issues.
MH1 ~ MH2 Notes: At this time, no Archdemon Mode. Only demonization. MH3 Notes: No DBs in this game because Capcom wasn't sure how they'd work with underwater combat. However, they changed this in MHP3rd. MHP3rd Notes: Demonization changes to Demon Mode and Archdemon Mode. Beyond MHP3rd Notes: Newer combos, and the style of Demon Mode changes in MHW, where the player holds the blades inversely.
My Experience: Dual Blades is my choice above SnS, but it gets REALLY flashy in world. I absolutely love the animations for it. There is a learning curve with the demon dodge, as it feels like it dodges in shorter distances, but it actually does go slightly farther. Get yourself some evade extending gear to maximize on the effects. This could be Kadachi armor parts in world, or maybe a charm in the older games. Otherwise, I'd focus on affinity gear. While affinity is usually not imperative, it actually is VERY VERY useful and almost imperative with this type. Without affinity, it's no big deal, with negative affinity, you'll see a difference in damage, only made up by, say, an elemental damage type, and with positive affinity, you'll be sure to smile. Yet the key above ALL this is to be in CONSTANT ADM. Stay in ADM if possible, and get into it as soon as you can. A quick way to do so is hit R2 to unsheathe in demon mode, use your triangle+circle combo two or three times. Your gauge will fill almost instantly. With this combo, demon dance, you want to ensure at least the first and last hits make contact, as they deal the most damage. The biggest downside I can find with it is the same as SnS, if you get in a combo, you may have trouble rolling out or cancelling. However, do not be deterred by this or the low base damage. The biggest thing I find is that you need to at the VERY least ensure you're in constant ADM, make every hit count, get a lot of hits in, and stay on top of sharpness.
Power: 4 Mobility: 1 Dodge or Block: Either Support: No Range: Close Reach: Long Type: Cutting, but the new tackle and the side-slap does impact. Availability: Every Game
The signature weapon of the franchise! A giant freakin' slab of metal! It is so heavy, you literally see the hunter struggle to swing the thing around. This weapon is so cool, it was the inspiration of Mikkael Altans' Buster Sword from the Jungalore Forum RP.
The GS boasts a huge amount of attack power while sacrificing literally all of your mobility. You will be reduced to the speed of a crawl while it is drawn. Yet you have a three-stage charge attack the can sunder tails in a single swing.
The blade is so thick, you can even block with it. However, this does sacrifice sharpness.
Yet there is even more to it than that. Location is everything. When you use the great sword, you will find the highest damage comes from the center of the blade making contact rather than the tip or close to the hilt. All that's left beyond that is to chain those charges and sheathe when it's time to run.
As stated, this weapon will put you to a crawl, so if you find yourself pulling hit & run tactics, you're doing it right, as your mobility while drawn is truly the worst out there, rivaled only by the lance and gunlance... and maybe the heavy bowgun. Yet you will find you will lose sharpness very slowly, and still deal amazing damage. Do not give to newcomers, as its sluggish mobility could turn them off of Monster Hunter.
MH3 Notes: You get a side-slap! MH4 Notes: A new move is added here. Overall Notes: From my own observations, with each new game, the GS actually becomes a bit quicker (though, not by a lot), and I find I still have great mobility as long as I sheathe quick enough and utilize sliding well in MHW.
My Experience: Great Sword is good for the people who like hit and run tactics. What you absolutely do NOT want to do is keep your GS out. The best thing to do is, after you've completed your combo or hit, is to sheathe and run/dodge. You can dodge while unsheathed, but it just doesn't feel as effective unsheathed. I personally refrain from guarding with it due to the sharpness penalty, but it is good in a pinch if your roll fails. You also do not want to make a lot of uncharged attacks with the GS, and it should only be done if it is a part of your charged combo. You want to do as many third level charge attacks as possible, and world even adds a impact damage shoulder check by pressing circle when charging. You absolutely need to pay attention to each little burst or get the timing down for level three charge. If you don't let go of triangle, you do a weaker charge hit (level two I think). I personally like to use GS when I need a change of pace from hammer or want to focus on tail severs. What you absolutely do not want to do is give a newcomer a GS though, because it can turn a potential lifetime fan off of Monster Hunter. It looks cool, but requires a bit of practice to use effectively. The keywords for this weapon are, again, hit and run. Don't keep it out if you need to move. The slide attack is probably the coolest part of this weapon, though, as it launches you into the air, and then sends you careening down.
Power: 3.5 Mobility: 3 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: No Range: Close Reach: Long Type: Cutting Availability: MHF2 Onwards
Did someone say Katanas?
Long swords, or LS, are like the GS, but more mobility, fluid combos, and online annoyance up the wahzoo.
Jokes aside, this weapon is interesting, but somewhat difficult to master. It's not quite as mobile as the SnS, but not as slow as the GS. It's not as powerful as the GS, but not quite at SnS level, yet I am not comfortable calling it a four for power.
Basically, here's the best way to describe a LS... It's the little brother of the GS. It lands hits faster, chains hits easier, but doesn't hit anywhere near as hard.
Yet the redeeming trait of the LS is Spirit Blade. When you land hits, you fill the Spirit Gauge. When full, you can unleash the Spirit Blade attack. This combo, on landing the final hit, increases the power of the LS, and gives it a glow (from none, to white, to yellow, and finally, to red). While unleashing this combo, you have super armor, and attacks with a high spirit level deal more damage. In MHW, you can use Spirit Thrust to lower the spirit level, and deal a really awesome jump attack, but you'll need to do another Spirit Blade Combo to get back to red. As a final note, Spirit Blade attacks do not bounce.
Because of Spirit Blade, or SB, you will see a gradual increase in damage over the course of the hunt, rather than having steady damage throughout.
The annoyance of this weapon comes in online play. This weapon does some great attacks, but the wide nature of it can (and will) trip up fellow players. So extra caution must be taken, as you could end up tripping a GSer on a third-level charge, costing a tail sever. Yet, if you can keep this in line, you have a weapon that is pretty good overall, even without the blocking ability of other weapons. If nothing else, it's fun in single-player.
MH3 Notes: The roundslash at the end of the spirit combo raises the attack power. You also lose spirit over time if the bar isn't full. Fade slash was added here, and is a nice back-step attack. MHP3rd Notes: Tweaks were made to the spirit gauge. Now it drains regardless. More conveniences were added to the gauge. MH4 Notes: You can chain from fade slash to spirit roundslash. Have fun! MHW Notes: Now you can Spirit Thrust, which does a high damage jump attack and increases damage at the cost of one spirit level.
My Experience: Spirit Blade is absolutely key. I love the LS because of its great reach, and most of the time I'm okay when it comes to avoiding tripping in multiplayer. I'd use it any time you want to focus on tail servers specifically for taller monsters that GS, Lance, GL, or the like cannot reach. That or if you want to capitalize on elemental attacks, as I find it does great when it comes to such attacks. What you want to do is fill your gauge, and enter SB. You can do so by hitting R2 at any point, but the SB Combo (herein SBC) is chained better after a fade slash (triangle+circle, the attack that dodges out of the way), instead doing a form of round slash. The only hit that matters in the SBC is the last hit, as this hit puts you up one spirit level. Do so and get to your third spirit level, red, then fill up again. You have two options from this point in world. Option one, reset the spirit level to max gauge level three by entering SBC. Option two, spirit thrust by doing triangle+circle+R2 twice. If the thrust hits, you go down one spirit level (to yellow in this ideal case), then make a jump, while midair, you can hit either one of your attack buttons (I prefer triangle) to deal a really powerful multi-hit attack. This won't mount the monster, but it's great for damage. In solo play, this weapon is great, and in online play, it can be iffy. If you have a total newcomer, they will trip you, they will annoy you, and they may even get you killed. The damage doesn't feel super high either, but trust me, it is, and especially in the hands of a skilled user. It's a nice balance between the damage and reach of the GS and the mobility of, say, hammer.
Power: 5 Mobility: 3 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: No Range: Close Reach: Short Type: Impact Availability: Every Game
My personal weapon of choice, the Hammer is the first impact weapon of two that we'll look at. This thing is like a super-mobile GS, but breaks skulls and is just ABSOLUTELY OP IN MHW. It has a charge attack like the GS, no blocks, dodges like the LS, and has some insane combo abilities.
What you want to do while the GSer is cutting tails, is bop the head of a monster with your charge attack, dodging to and fro. In MHW, get up a hill, slide down while charging, and do a mid-air spin like you're Sonic the god-damn Hedgehog!
Okay, there are some downsides to this weapon. The reach is one of them. It's not as short as the SnS or DB, but it still is pretty short compared to the other weapons, somewhere between Medium and Short, with a lean towards Short.
What also makes no sense is that Hammers are considered blunt weapons... Yet still require sharpening. Maybe they have like... Spikes? Well, some of them, but when you sharpen, you're sharpening the handle... Why are you sharpening the handle? Regardless, the sharpness is moderate, and you shouldn't have to sharpen too often.
Hammer players are pure party synergy. As mentioned, you can stun monsters while others are cutting said monster's tail. Run up while charging, wait for the fourth spin, and press a button to deliver a golf swing, knocking the beast down in one combo!
BEGINNERS TAKE NOTE: THIS WEAPON IS FUN. It is not slow, it is actually VERY mobile, and deals EXCELLENT damage. Sure, maybe not GS damage, but definitely great damage. It doesn't have a huge number of combos either, so I would honestly recommend it.
The only other real downside is that you need to time your attacks well, and you will have poor elemental attacks compared to other weapons. Also, if you have a new guy running around without a care in the world, he may be sent flying by your golf swing. On top of this, you won't be cutting tails, so consider picking up a second or third weapon.
MH3 Notes: From this point onwards, the Hammer drains stamina. MHW Notes: You can do a Sonic the Headgehog Spin Jump Attack by charge-sliding down a hill or climbing a shroom wall and releasing. This will let you mount monsters.
My Experience: At first I never liked the hammer when I tried it ONCE in MH3U without a lick of knowledge on how to use it. However, one day, I decided, "Imma try hammer." in MH4U. What happened was I found a pretty fun weapon. It is the go-to for impact damage, but also my personal main. I'd even consider myself an expert in it, but that's just me bragging. First, like the GS, you do not want to do weaker hits as much. However, the difference is "as much" because even the weaker hits are useful sometimes, even just do do a simple stagger or flinching attack. The second, is to pick a cutting weapon to cover your bases, as tail severs may spell a difference between getting an armor set after the hunt and not. Whether the hammer is your primary or secondary, these things are crucial in going to the next part. With this out of the way, we'll talk about your best combo. Your best combo is third level charge (hold R2), then, while moving forward, release, aiming for the head. You will spin up to six times, and depending on the spin, when you hit triangle, you will end it with a different hit. Aim for the sixth spin/hit, but the fifth also works. Hit triangle, and you will deal a "golf swing" which deals excellent damage. This combo can potentially stun monsters if every hit makes contact. Do this if you want that to happen, then continue to use it. Alternatively, if you find you have distance, do a second level moving charge to do a dash attack. A little known fact is that you have two third level standing charges. With at least one charge, press circle, and your hammer head will glow. This, from my experience, tends to increase the damage of all charges. However, it also changes the standing third level charge attack to a faster, two-hit vertical attack. This special charge ends if you either get hit or sheathe, so use it with care. Besides this, the sliding attack... FUN. I love to do this when I know I can and want to do multiple hits and/or mount. Get into a third level charge and start sliding, release and you will launch yourself into the air, spinning like Sonic the Hedgehog and dealing upwards of seven or eight charged hits. This can break backs and mount, and is just really cool. The real surprise of the hammer is its mobility. Unlike the GS, it has a surprising move speed, even while charging. The GS has you stop in your tracks, but this one lets you move while making charges. Whatever one may say about it, the Hammer is really fun, really powerful, quite mobile (maybe not DB level, but quite mobile), and the absolute go-to for impact damage. My only downside with it is that if you are running around with a level 3 charge, waiting for the perfect hit, it feels less mobile. The more you move around with it out, the less mobile and damaging it starts to feel. Further, it's a bit of a one-trick-pony. Nothing really stands out besides it being impact damage and being really strong. Maybe the moves? But even so, there are arguably cooler moves on other weapons like, say, the SA.
Power: 4 (Less in MH2) Mobility: 2 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: Yes Range: Close Reach: Long Type: Impact Availability: MH2 Onwards
The weapon of the support player. Before picking up this weapon, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE OR ARE ABLE TO GET FLUTE EXPERT OR HORN MAESTRO ON YOUR ARMOR. These skills add one minute to the effects of the HH. The only other thing you need is a good memory.
The Hunting Horn is an impact weapon with a lot less damage than the Hammer in its debut (but was subsequently buffed later). As a HH user, you will be attacking to collect notes and then using those note combos to buff yourself and fellow players.
The thing is, this weapon is pretty slow when drawn. Further, you'd better have each tune memorized, because it sucks to be in a party with a HHer who doesn't know the melodies and on forgetting the healing one gets the party killed...
... Not speaking from personal experience...
This said, there are a lot of advantages this weapon has, especially over the Hammer. For one, it has longer reach, somewhere between medium and long. The second is, well, who doesn't like buffs? Especially in the high rank or G rank, when everything is insane power levels. Beyond that, there's no charge attack, no guard, it's not as precise as the Hammer.
Notes: In a few select games, the HH is stronger or weaker than the Hammer. In MHP3rd, MH3G, and MH4, it is stronger. In all others, it's weaker. MHW Notes: In this game, you can queue songs for when you collect the required notes.
My Experience: You want to do two things. One, get armor or charms with Horn Maestro. Two, memorize. That's the only real advice I have. It's not super immobile, but what it is is a bit on the slower side for me. Make our hits and hit R2 to play. Hit R2 once again and you can repeat the song. When you make the motion to play, it does count as an attack, so you can use that to your advantage. It's a fairly straightforward weapon otherwise. The nicest thing about HH is that every HH has a different note set, meaning you get a lot of versatility in power ups. However, this is also its fault, as your note combos may become tricky to memorize.
Power: 4 Mobility: 1 or 3/4 Dodge or Block: Block Support: No Range: Close Reach: Long Type: Both Availability: Every Game
Go get Evade Distance Up.
Now then, LANCE! These weapons are good and bad in many ways. They are great because they can do both cutting AND impact damage. They also come with a shield and have a little hop for a dodge.
The ability of the lance is its charging attack, effectively putting its mobility at a 3 or 4. If you have evade distance up, your mobility goes up to 2. If you just walk around, good luck, because you will be as slow as GS.
There's some other cool things about the lance, though. It is one of two weapons that can attack while blocking, the other being its cousin; The gunlance. The lance also has some high reaching attacks rather than attacks aimed at a middle to ground level.
It has a pretty good attack power, too. Worth trying at least once.
But what do I mean by it being BOTH cutting and impact?
Well, every monster has hit zones. Those hit zones take more or less damage based on the type of damage dealt to it. The lance always uses the higher damaging of the two types.
In later installments, it has become more useful. Don't overlook it just because of low mobility.
MH3 Notes: Gained a counter-stab and shield bash. MH4 Notes: Gains a jump attack that can be executed during a charge.
My Experience: I rarely even consider using lance, personally, but here's what I have... The guard counter is really nice, and so is the super guard. You use these by holding R2 and holding circle, then super guard is entered by then holding X. These, upon exiting, do a lot of damage, and piercing damage always hits for whichever damage type is best. This is the ONLY weapon which does piercing damage, so I'd use it if there's nothing left to pick even beyond SnS, and/or you don't know if you want to cut tails or stun. With this weapon, you have the best of both worlds, but you're cutting down your speed. Now, what about the charge? Well, you enter by hitting R2+triangle+circle, and holding it. It starts out slow and weak, but if you can get good running distance it upgrades to a proper charge. Hitting any monster, dead or alive, causes the charge to end. I rarely ever find a good time to use it as your turning is cut down while in a charge. If you can execute it, then you'll deal really awesome damage. This weapon does have the second best shield in the game, so use it! Evade around the monster with your shield up and use opportunities to attack.
Power: 3 or 4, depends on the attack. Mobility: 1 or 2 Dodge or Block: Block Support: No Range: Close Reach: Long Type: Cutting Availability: Every Game
Go get Evade Distance Up.
If that sounded familiar, it should.
Now then, GUNLANCE! Take a lance, water down its power, remove the charge ability, and give it a blaster. This weapon is even LESS mobile than the lance because of that missing charge. It has a gun built in to deal some neat quick damage in a pinch, but otherwise can be hard for newcomers to really grasp.
It is the other of two weapons that can attack while guarding, has a small hop for a dodge, but doesn't do piercing damage like the lance. It strictly uses cutting damage. On the plus side, it looks cool, and wyvernfire does a lot of damage. Plus, the shooting ability does great damage, too.
Downside, the shelling ability and wyvernfire reduce sharpness, though WF doesn't reduce sharpness in MHW. This was actually the first weapon I ever tried out, and I encourage others to give it a try as well if they like to take a defensive approach to hunts. If nothing else, the damage is very consistent, and it gives you a lot of versatility. You can still sever tails, and use the shells for harder parts.
MHP3rd Notes: You can now do quick reloads. New attacks. MH4 Notes: Gains a slam attack. Artillery skills affect the GL shelling ability. Can do WF mid-air. MHGen Notes: Shelling increases GL heat. Heat increases damage but has other issues. MHW: New attacks. WF no longer affects sharpness.
My Experience: This was the first weapon I ever used outside of SnS (hey, I didn't know they gave you one of each weapon type at the start, don't judge). In earlier games before world, it feels sluggish, and it kinda feels weird at times. But then comes world, and it... actually feels and attacks a lot better. You have some really neat and fun combos in world. For one, your shelling attack, your shelling attacks seem to hit better, and they have a new combo to them. If you do three shots of your shell attack, no reload, you'll shoot a special type of ammo, wyvern stake, that explodes and deals multiple hits, which is great for stunning. The special ammo recharges after about a minute, so make sure it hits. Similarly, wyvernfire, if you hit R2+triangle+circle, you'll charge up a special blast that deals massive damage. It used to have a negative impact on your sharpness, but no longer does. Rather, it takes about three minutes to recharge, so make sure it hits. Normal shelling attacks deal the impact damage, and reduce sharpness more than the lance attacks. Your lance attacks are more limited, given that circle takes up your shelling attacks (which can also be fired mid-air, giving you two jump attacks). Hitting triangle in rapid succession does three simple stabbing attacks, your main bread and butter, however, you can also hold R2 and press triangle to attack higher, which is great for tail severs, and you attack from behind the shield, meaning it covers one of your bases. Other than that, your strongest lance attack is triangle+circle, which does a scooping attack. From all lance attacks you can work in your shell attacks and combos. One of the best combos is scoop attack, then triangle to slam downwards, then circle to deal an explosive full shell attack, which releases all shells. From there, you can deploy the wyrm stake with circle, or use triangle to do a horizontal swoop, then deploy. Then, hold R2 and press circle to reload. The key to gunlance is to decide your combos on the fly and use your shield to block while maneuvering around the monster with the side-step or run. The shelling is to complement the stabs and shield, and each attack/block works into one another. Other than that, in online, your other key is to be communicative and state when you're doing a WF/WS attack so that you don't blast your teammates away. I choose GL when I want to either look cool or try something between blademaster and gunner. It is still a blademaster weapon, but it adds a massive defensive bonus, as the GL's shield is the best in the game, followed by lance and CB, followed by SnS, followed by the GS block, followed by HBG's shield upgrade being the lowest.
Power: 3 (Axe) or 4 (Sword) Mobility: 3/2 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: No Range: Close Reach: Long Type: Cutting Availability: MH3 Onward
A really fun transforming weapon. You fill the phial with energy in axe mode by attacking, and unleash hell in sword mode with a simple switch. This is a second weapon of choice that I recommend as the first kind of technical weapon.
It's a cutting weapon, the other little brother to the GS, and a pretty fun weapon overall. Has some interesting elemental capabilities, just no charge attacks.
The SA is versatile. In axe form, you have some more mobility, more speed, but slightly less power. In sword form, you have elemental abilities, a discharge ability, more power, but less move speed. Yet, sword form attacks really really fast. The biggest plus to the SA is that ALL of its combos are infinite and can be rolled out of, giving it a huge DPS outside of MH4/MH4U, rivaling even the DB. The SA also has access to the exhaust vial, which drains monster stamina.
Add to this some wide attacks, and you have a match made in heaven. Only downside is the rate of sharpness loss, and in MH4 it has even lower mobility. Further, it lacks a solid end-game option in MH3. On top of this, you have no guard and the roll isn't the best. Other than that, you can only use sword mode when you have enough energy in the phial (though, I find it rarely goes below the threshold).
MHP3rd Notes: A lot of issues in MH3 with the SA were fixed here, from being unable to get out of combos, to lacking in solid end-game options.
My Experience: This weapon is FUN. You can swing, you can do charge attacks, it's just fun overall. The unique phial to this weapon is exhaust, so you'll find monsters will stagger or eat more when using those sword mode attacks. It's a nice weapon overall, very middle-road if you want to use a cool big weapon but don't want as little mobility as the GS. The sword mode is actually rather quick, so I'd recommend it to players if they want two-in-one. THAT SAID... World changes things up slightly, as it does for a lot of the weapons, but this one has become even more flashy in MHW. What you want to do is have a full phial and go into your sword mode, mash the circle/B button to do your jumping swing combo. You will notice your phial meter glow. Now, do it again. Your sword mode will glow. This makes it so the sword attacks are even better. Now, fill up again, and be prepared for awesome. Normally, you can release the phial in sword mode with triangle + circle then mashing triangle to go into a big explosion. However, with this little upgrade, you jump onto the monster, jam the weapon in whatever body part you happen to land on, continue mashing like normal to deal multiple bits of damage before doing a HUGE explosion of the phial. This looks really freakin' awesome. Other than that, you can use triangle in axe mode for simple hits, including a high hit (watch out, this can send fellow players flying), or you can mash circle/B to spam a sideways swipe at the cost of stamina. I personally love to spam it because it does great at building up the phial. However, the biggest bonus to the SA is that there's no real flurry attacks. You are completely in control over every hit of every combo you do. The only uncontrollable parts are the switches. Downside, the closest thing to a real flurry is the spam attack that drains stamina. Staying in sword mode will up your damage, but you can play how you wish and still deal plenty of damage.
Power: 3 (Sword) or 4 (Axe) Mobility: 3/2 Dodge or Block: Block in Sword Mode, Dodge in Axe Mode Support: No Range: Close Reach: Medium/Long Type: Cutting Availability: MH4 Onward
A second, really fun transforming weapon. Both transforming weapons are really fun, but this one is about charging multiple phials to deal huge damage with the axe mode's charge attack.
On one hand, the sword mode is defensively inclined, while the axe mode is a sheer powerhouse. You really can't go wrong with this weapon. The axe is slower, but that's the only gripe in terms of speed and power. The sword's speed more than makes up for it.
So what's the downside? Well, I find that it isn't the best for retaining sharpness, and every time that you deal a combo in sword mode, you charge phials. Sword glows yellow? You have three. Sword glows red? You have five. If it's flashing or glowing really bright, you have to stop and empty those phials for use in axe mode. You don't need to worry if you go over, you can only have five at a time, and any extra are discarded. You can even put a phial in your shield which increases the damage of axe mode exponentially.
Where the SA can have exhaust vials which drain stamina, the CB can have impact vials, which deal explosive damage and can stun the monster.
The biggest plus to the CB is that it has a special form of automatic blocking in MHW. At the end of some sword mode combos, you draw your shield in front of you. If you happen to get hit at this time, the hit is blocked.
Since it is a newer entry, this weapon hasn't had many changes. I would encourage this weapon over SnS, just because of how fun it can be to go between the two modes.
My Experience: CB started out as interesting for me, but it started to feel more and more sluggish as time went on. The unique phial is impact, so you can actually deal impact damage. However, the key is to use all your phials, including the shield one, which increases defense in sword mode (equivalent to GL's shield) and attack in axe mode. It also causes shield thrust to deal small phial damage. This is the most technical weapon in the game. So it isn't one I'd give to beginners. Even if you have higher reach, it's easier to pick up LS in my honest opinion. So your basic buildup is attack in sword mode such as with the charge attack until the phials turn red. Charge the phials. Go into axe mode. Store phials into shield. Switch back to sword. Charge more phials. Go into axe mode, deal massive damage. Switch, repeat ad infinitum. Your best charging attack is hold circle/B and release when ready to deal two strong sword hits, then press triangle/Y to do a spin slash. Another good combo is circle/B > circle + triangle/B+Y to do a shield thrust. The way to charge your shield, following charging your phials with R2 + circle/R2 + B, is to do circle + triangle/B+Y three times, then press R2 before you make the final hit. This shield charge lasts two and a half minutes (assuming five phials). Next, you may optionally do a sword charge. This is done with R2 + circle/B > hold triangle/Y. Let go once the shield locks in. This lasts 45 seconds, and makes it so your sword doesn't bounce. Being incredibly technical, I absolutely do not recommend it for beginners. Maybe try it out, figure the combos, and master it in offline, but if you're new to it, don't go with it into online until you got it down pat. In the right hands, it is EXTREMELY powerful. Other than that, like the SA, you are in control over every hit.
Power: ~3 Mobility: 5 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: No Range: Close Reach: Medium ~ Long Type: Both Availability: MH4 Onward
This weapon is really fun, but somewhat odd for me. I have yet to master it, but just due to how well it combos and adding a jumping ability, the insect glaive is a really neat addition to the weapon list. It is similar to the LS in how well it combos, but has more mobility.
The IGer spins, thrusts, and generally does cool looking sweep attacks. Meanwhile, they employ their insect companion, the kinsect, to home in on monsters to train them of their essences, providing buffs to said the user.
The Kinsect has a specific set of upgrade paths, and can be difficult to understand if you don't know what you're doing. So research should be done in advance before taking on this weapon. You should also gather the necessary materials to upgrade ahead of time so you have the best kinsect possible.
This weapon really capitalizes on maneuverability. While you still slow down with the weapon drawn, this weapon allows you to pole vault, giving you a vertical advantage. In MHW, you can even do air dashes, which is what brings it up to a five for mobility. Plus, even if it isn't as fast as the DB, it really doesn't feel slow at all.
The top part of the IG deals cutting damage, while the bottom deals impact damage. This weapon boasts good versatility with self-buffs and decent damage. Further, the kinsect comes in cutting and impact varieties.
The only downside, to me, is the kinsect. It will either home in where you've sprayed the monster with pheromones, or wherever you target, in a straight line. Targeting in earlier MH games is... Tricky, to say the least. In MHW, it's a lot easier, but I would refrain from even trying to target. Even if you spray the pheromones, you still have to target then, too. Further, the type of essence you get, which increases speed, defense, or power, depends on what part of the monster you hit. So on some monsters it may be harder to get certain essences.
On top of this, you are vulnerable while mid-air, you basically rely on dodges due to no shield, the buffs are for you only and aren't as long in duration as the HH buffs, and, once again, upgrading is complex.
Thankfully, one really good change was made...
MHW Notes: you gain an air dash in this game and the glaive itself is no longer attached to the kinsect. The kinsect upgrades separately from the glaive.
My Experience: Management, that's how you master the IG. You have to manage your buffs and make sure you get all three essences. But on top of this, it is assumed that you will be mounting a lot due to the jump attack with R2 + X. You want to memorize each enemy's essence per part, generally divided as head, body, legs/arms/wings, and tail. One of these is a healing essence (green), so that's handy in a pinch. Fire the pheromones and your kinsect will lock onto that part, then call back for each of red, white, and orange essences. Red for power, white for speed, orange for defense. So yes, a lot of management required. If you can get all three essences, you'll be rewarded with HUGE damage, speed, and defense boosts. That's when you wail on the monster. Other than that, mount mount mount. Two kinsects exist at the start of world, one does impact, one does cutting. These split down multiple paths later, and elements can be added or removed per choice. Now, on top of this, you will mount A LOT. The vault move is key to topple and then essence up, and then dish out damage. Or, switch the topple and essence steps around. It can be a really fun weapon in the right hands.
Power: ~3 Mobility: 5 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: No Range: Close Reach: Short Type: Impact Availability: MHFGG Only
This weapon is ONLY in Monster Hunter Frontier G Genuine, and this is only a rough estimate on its capabilities. It seems to be a weapon that relies on dodging, has a mechanic similar to the LS Spirit Blade, and is swift like the DB but does impact damage.
This is all that I can really tell about it. Hasn't appeared in any other games or most of the main series.
At the very least, here is a video by Rezard where they fight Rathian with this weapon.
Power: 3 Mobility: 5 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: Other, it can be through Recovery Ammo. Range: Long Availability: Every Game
Light Bowgun will be the first ranged weapon we look at. Between HBG and LBG, I would pick LBG as an introductory ranged weapon. There are a lot of different mechanics to consider when looking at ranged weapons, but I have one piece of advice.
Good luck in anything from before World. I'll explain later.
When you use the LBG, you mainly are looking at maneuvering around monsters and switching ammo as needed for each hunt. Some LBGs allow only certain types of ammo, and you'll know which ones are allowed or not based on the presence of a large X over the icon if it isn't allowed.
Steady damage overall, and recovery ammo even heals. Easier to master than HBGs for sure.
Some monsters are easier kills with ranged weapons like the bowgun. What makes it different beyond better mobility is better elemental capabilities than, say, the HBG, they also reload easier and have less recoil. Yet they also have smaller clip sizes, more deviation, and less power. These change based on the ammo type used.
MHW Notes: Everything feels more natural for ranged weapons. No more gunner armor. No more shaking of bowguns.
My Experience: Rarely do I ever use the ranged weapons. However, the LBG is my choice. I would not even consider ranged weapons in anything before MHW, though, because it's as if the aiming is done on a grid and doesn't feel as smooth. On top of this, before World, you had two separate armor types for Blademaster and Gunner. In MHW, it feels a lot more run-and-gun, the aiming feels smoother, and you don't need to worry about Gunner Armor. On top of this, the control scheme feels more natural on PS4 than, say 3DS, where I aim with L2 and shoot with R2, though this can be changed for a more traditional experience in the options. The best change in world, by far, is the removal of shaking. Before MHW, when you ran out of ammo and tried to shoot, you would shake the weapon and look at it, costing you seconds of combat. Now, you automatically reload when you try to shoot when out of ammo. In older games, it had a rapid fire. It also had a zoom scope and silencer attachment. Thing is, I find the LBG has more versatile ammo options than the HBG. HBG has heavy hitters, while LBG has support, elemental, and DPS capabilities in one weapon.
Power: ~4 Mobility: 3 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: Other, it can be through Recovery Ammo. Range: Long Availability: MH3 Only
Medium Bowgun or MBG is exclusive to MH3, but not MH3U. It sacrifices a little mobility for a little more power compared to LBG, and has a better roll than HBG. This exists because of the bowgun creation system, where each of three part types determines the weight of the bowgun, and therefore the category of the bowgun.
Not much else to see here as it was only available in Monster Hunter 3 for wii.
Here is a video by Carls493 where they use a MBG against Great Jaggi.
Power: 5 Mobility: 2 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: Other, it can be through Recovery Ammo. Range: Long Availability: Every Game
Heavy Bowgun is a damage dealer. Plain and simple. It's the GS of the guns, but not quite as slow. LBG has focus on mobility, low recoil, higher deviation, and faster reloads. HBG, however, is the opposite. Higher recoil with slower reloads and mobility, but much more power, lower deviation, and more ammo capacity.
Good luck in anything from before World. I'll explain later.
HBG gets the exclusive shield attachment, which will block small hits automatically, but in world, this isn't as viable as other attachments that can be procured. In older games, there were also attachments for increasing capacity, automatic reload, and much more.
Everything from LBG applies here otherwise. It does take a little longer to sheathe or unsheathe an HBG as well. Do not turn this weapon down though, because it is the one weapon with a rapid fire feature.
MHW Notes: Everything feels more natural for ranged weapons. No more gunner armor. No more shaking of bowguns. HBG becomes the gatling gun.
My Experience: Rarely do I ever use the ranged weapons. However, the HBG is pretty cool. I would not even consider ranged weapons in anything before MHW, though, because it's as if the aiming is done on a grid and doesn't feel as smooth. On top of this, before World, you had two separate armor types for Blademaster and Gunner. In MHW, it feels a lot more sit-and-shoot, with a really awesome special ammo that you load in by pressing circle and unleash hell in rapid-fire. On top of this, the control scheme feels more natural on PS4 than, say 3DS, where I aim with L2 and shoot with R2, though this can be changed for a more traditional experience in the options. The best change in world, by far, is the removal of shaking. Before MHW, when you ran out of ammo and tried to shoot, you would shake the weapon and look at it, costing you seconds of combat. Now, you automatically reload when you try to shoot when out of ammo. HBG is heavy hitting, so you'll primarily be a DPS, whereas LBG has a lot more variety I find.
Power: 3 to 5, depending on distance, coating, and charge. Mobility: 5 Dodge or Block: Dodge Support: No Range: Long Availability: Every Game
Bows are excellent weapons for melee players who want to try a ranged weapon. They were really upgraded in MHW, and are my go-to for ranged attacks.
Good luck in anything from before World. I'll explain later.
Bowguns are, well, more like guns. Bows are more like either shotguns or button mashers... At least in world. In games before MHW, it feels more like a shotgun.
Unlike bowguns, bows have infinite ammo, and instead use coatings to inflict statuses or deal heavier hits. They're mobile like LBG, possibly even more in world what with the new dodge mechanics, and they still have the capability to really hit hard.
See my notes below for some better insight on Bow. Overall, I'd recommend this as the go-to for people who just tried melee but also want a ranged weapon.
MHW Notes: Everything feels more natural for ranged weapons. No more gunner armor. No more shaking of bowguns. Bow has two ways to play.
My Experience: A lot of how bows work depends on which game you're playing. In anything before world, you have multiple shot types, and multiple things to work out. You also want to make sure you're always making charged shots and maintaining critical distance (which is shown on hit when the screen shakes). World makes everything for bows ten times easier. First, your critical distance is shown when the aiming reticle has two circles. No more having to fire test shots to get the distance down. Second, the coatings automatically reload just like how bowgun ammo automatically reloads. Thirdly, you now have advantages in NOT doing charged shots. Finally, arc shots and wide shots are combined, no more worrying about your special shots. You still drain stamina while charging shots, but it still hits very very well. Before, weaker shots were shunned, because they hit for next to nothing. Doesn't even matter if you manage to hit. However, a great change was made in world. When you hit with a charged R2 shot to level three, you deal a variety of hits of about 22 per hit in the training room. However, your next shot depends on the level of charge of the previous, and is always one level higher than the previous. So if you make an R2 > R2 > R2, you deal a level one, level 2, then level 3 hit in quick succession, allowing you to maximize on damage. However, this does consume coatings more. In a small experiment, however, it has been shown that the three R2 method (or Rapid Shot Method, RSM) rather than hold R2 (or Classic/Charged Shot Method, CSM) does in fact kill monsters quicker than holding like bow users would in the past. The shot method you use, CSM or RSM, should be reflective of whether or not you want damage focus or status focus/coating conservation. Damage inclined bow users should use RSM. However, if you want statuses, your best bet is to use CSM. As stated, all of your shots, whether they're normal shots, charged shots, wide shots, power shots, arc shots, or even the new Dragon Piercer (triangle + circle), benefit from the previous level of charge, always being plus one charge level. What your best combo then is circle (wide shot, extra damage only if all shots hit) > circle (power shot) > circle (arc shot) > R2 (normal charge 3) > triangle + circle (Dragon Piercer 3). On top of this, your dodge with X will ALSO raise your charge by one level if you are also aiming with L2. Other than that, it should be noted that the arc shot will rain stones from the sky, which increases in duration for each charge level, and does impact damage. This is great for stunning monsters if you have the opportunity. Overall, a very mobile weapon with very high damage capability. Only downside is that it feels like it hits for less damage than the other weapons, but really, it doesn't. On top of this, charging a shot drains stamina.
That's all for this part of Monster Hunter Dissected, in the next chapter, we will explore monster types, their physiological differences, and what weapon types will be best when fighting them. At least, in a general sense...