‘Monster Hunter: World’ beginners guide

Check out our 'Monster Hunter: World' guide If you need help slaying beasts

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Monster Hunter: World isn’t subtle. You are here to hunt monsters. It sounds simple, but there’s a lot that goes into it — tracking, getting geared up, studying the creatures, and preparing for your bouts. What’s more, the New World is packed with gargantuan creatures including dragons, dinos, and great aquatic beasts. Many have weak points, hunting patterns, defensive tactics, preferred prey, et cetera, that you at least need to be somewhat familiar with to take them down. It’s Dark Souls on safari.

There aren’t too many shortcuts here, nor is it generally feasible to rush a hunt. If you go in without the right know-how and without the right gear, you will get stomped and ground to dust in seconds. You need to spend the time out in the field learning all that you can, then head back to base to get yourself ready. To help you figure out how to best elder dragons and ginormous wyverns alike, we assembled our best hunting tips in this handy-dandy Monster Hunter: World beginners guide.

Find some weapon styles you like

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The first and perhaps most important step to becoming a great monster hunter is familiarizing yourself with all the basic weapon types. It takes some doing, but, mercifully, Monster Hunter: World makes this part pretty easy.

After the opening, you will be dropped off in Astera, your primary base camp for the game. Here, you have access to your own private quarters. From there, you can access your full inventory — including one of each of the 14 weapon types — and equip them by selecting “Change Equipment” and then your weapon of choice.

From there, talk to your housekeeper (a cat person just to the left of your main storage). They let you access the training grounds where you can practice with any of the basic gear. This is critical, though, because your weapon dictates almost everything about your play style.

  • Greatsword: Arguably the traditional Monster Hunter weapon, The greatsword has high damage output, but limited mobility and speed while attacking.
  • Insect glaive: The glaive allows you to vault on top of monsters to attack their head/spine
  • Light bowgun: The light bowgun has special arrows let you set explosive traps that can be remotely targeted and detonated
  • Sword and shield: Good for beginners. The sword and shield offer a good mix of damage output and basic protection.
  • Bow: Large, mid-ranged weapon that emphasizes stealth. You can modify arrows for different effects.
  • Dual blades: Light and fast, dual blades quickly dish out moderate damage and can charge for additional attacks.
  • Heavy bowgun: The monstrously powerful heavy bowgun severely limits mobility but can wipe out weaker monsters in one shot.
  • Longsword: The longsword has moderately high damage output, with greater speed and precision than its greater cousin.
  • Hunting horn: A support weapon, the horn lines up roughly with standard bards. Fairly useless on its own, but helpful in groups.
  • Charge blade: A complex, powerful weapon, as its name implies, the charge blade allows its wielder to charge up a special, devastating attack.
  • Switch ax: The switch ax combines an ax and a sword into one bizarre, though versatile weapon.
  • Gunlance: Large piercing weapons, gunlances can also fire explosive rounds, but only at close range.
  • Hammer: The hammer is a heavy weapon that relies on huge combos.
  • Lance: The lance offers exceptional attack range for a melee weapon, and comes with a shield to shore-up defense.

Earlier entries in the Monster Hunter series were (somewhat notoriously) tough for new players to dip into, but World offers quite a few concessions to help you figure out what to do. Every weapon has a newbie-friendly rating. In general, smaller, close-range weapons are a bit easier to handle and offer the best physical damage resistance. Ranged weapons and even longer spears and lances and the like will be a bit more challenging and offer better protection from elemental and ranged attacks from your foes.

Try them all and see what feels right. So far, we’ve primarily used the insect glaive. It’s a more complex, albeit highly mobile weapon that focuses on juggling minor attacks and vaulting oneself into the air for flashy combos and aerial maneuvers. No matter what you choose, the important thing is to practice with as many as you like and find ones that feel good to you.

Don’t just get comfy with one style either. Some monsters have some different needs or weak points, so it pays to have a main weapon and a couple of backups in case you need to change tactics for later hunts.

Whichever way you go, keep in mind that while this is by far the most significant choice in the game, you won’t ever be locked into one style. Play around with different types, and revisit easier areas to get some more real-world practice with your backup weapons when you can so that you’re ready for whatever beasts you encounter.

Follow those scout flies!

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Monster Hunter itself will tell you this quite often, but World still undersells just how reliant you are on your environment. Everything comes down to what you’re doing in the field, away from your base camp. You need to keep an eye out for footprints, mucous, eggs, and all kinds of clues just to hunt your prey. Then, there are countless passages, hidden routes, crafting materials, traps, etc. that can aid you mid-fight. Making good use of as many of these as you can is key to besting great beasts, and it’s a lot to keep track of (especially at first).

Once again, though, World has learned from its predecessors and offers an invaluable system for helping you manage it all — your scout flies.

Kept in a cage on your belt, Scout flies automagically spring forth and help you track nearby points of interest. Monster tracks will send them buzzing while crafting supplies and other noteworthy finds yield lesser flickers. In either case, though, you want to pay close attention and keep an eye out for what they track.

If you’re going to rely on scout flies, though, you have to “train” them. When you’re tracking a creature, especially a larger one, you will likely find older tracks first. You can use those to help the flies “learn” what you’re looking for, and as you gather observations, they can, in time, lead you straight to the monster’s lair or nest. This is particularly helpful when dealing with flying enemies, or foes that like to flee from battle. Often, you have to track a beast several times to fully take it down. Training your flies to catch the “scent” early and direct you straight away saves a lot of time late in the hunt.

The flies’ flow intensity is largely governed by how well you’ve studied that creature or item before. The more you use your flies, the better they become. Initially, though, you need to be on the lookout for everything from herbs to stone ores. While not as immediately useful as some old dung, for instance, will help you down the line with upgrading your tools and crafting new potions, foods, weapons, and armor.

Plus, even when they’re trained, scout flies never become a suitable replacement for paying close attention to your environment. They are a great hint, but not every clue will be obvious.

How to prepare

Before you set out after a monster, you need to prepare yourself for the hunt. There are a lot of steps to keep track of, but, once again, the move to more accessible design all around has dramatically helped ease the strain on newer players. All you really need to do is follow a few basic steps.

First, you want to research the mission. Sometimes you will be given quests to fell or capture a single, large monster. These are the most straightforward, at least as far as planning is concerned. If you know the monster you are hunting, check your field guide. This is a compendium of all the data collected on the various monsters of the new world thus far. You can do this either by opening up the start menu and selecting “Hunter’s Notes,” or by checking in with the Ecological Research station. Either way, if you collect enough info, you can start forming a plan. The Barroth, for instance, is an aggressive, armored tyrannosaur-like beast found in the second major area. Its description tells you that it hunts ants — giving you a clue to look for when searching for tracks or markings that will lead you to it. With a bit more data, the guide will also reveal which parts of the monster may be harmed or “broken” for added damage/rewards. Going back to the Barroth, we also learn that it is armored, using thickened mud to form a temporary shell and that this shell can be weakened with water-based projectiles.

Monster Hunter: World Beginner's Guide Barroth

From here, you can expect the fight to be a slow one — or take a while, at least — and you can probably bank on it being tough, and you have to keep pelting it with water attacks to get to the monster’s weak points. That’s our basic plan. Now, here comes the real prep work.

Scout the shops for useful items, see which weapons and armor you can upgrade, and settle on a broad attack style. When facing off against our first, we leveraged the fact that it was weak to poison, and that would charge blindly at foes to make a plan and gear up accordingly. We stocked up on the ingredients for gunpowder, ran to the shop to get barrels, and made contact-bombs to lay out for when the Barroth charged. We also upgraded our insect glaive with poison attacks so we could reliably chip away at the monster’s health regardless of whether or not the attacks themselves were getting through the beasts tough mud casing. We didn’t have much in the way of water projectiles, though, so we ignored that section and focused on what we could easily do without having to backtrack for other resources.

Don’t be afraid to improvise, but straying too far from your plan is a recipe for disaster.

Every major bout will run somewhat like this. But, because so many monsters have different traits, no one strategy will work for them all. It’s up to you to figure out the weaknesses and then piece together your own organic strategy as the fight progresses. Don’t be afraid to improvise, but straying too far from your plan is a recipe for disaster. Also be sure to check out the Canteen before you head on an expedition. These meals can give you significant bonuses, and keep your stamina high so you can lay on the beat down without letting up.

If, after all that, you still don’t feel quite ready, fear not, you can always get help from other players. This process is remarkably simple and is seamlessly integrated into the quest system. When you’re just about ready, head to the quest board or to your handler (both are always marked in Astera with glowing red symbols). From there, you simply need to sign up for the quest itself and you can freely accept help from other random players. You can, just as easily, make your session private so that only friends may join in. But, in either case, if others come to help, you’ll face a much easier battle at the cost of a percentage of the total loot (in-game payouts are split amongst the combatants).

If you do bring someone else along, it will help to run through the core plan with them before heading out. If all that shakes out, you’ve got the foundations for a great hunt!

Keep an eye on your surroundings

Monster Hunter: World Beginner's Guide terrain

On top of tracking your prey and gathering all the items you’ll need to be successful down the road, you will want to pay special attention to how each area is layered and laid out. Maps in Monster Hunter: World are not simple — they are multi-level behemoths with curves and hidden paths all over.

The terrain can be extraordinarily tough to follow and learn, but once again, it pays to be mindful. As your fights with bigger beasts progress, you or someone on your team will need to duck out and resupply. Even if everything is going perfectly, your weapon won’t be able to hold its edge. At the very least, youl have to find a place to safely withdraw from battle so you can pull out a whetstone and sharpen your blade, lance, or what have you. That is where your understanding of the map comes in.

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If you know where the monster’s nest or hunting grounds are, you can lay traps and steadily steer combat toward them. Getting your prey caught up in vines so you can wail on its legs and/or wings until they break is a morbid, but an incredibly useful tactic. Where possible, do everything you can to restrict mobility and guide enemies toward areas where you have the upper hand.

You want to have a strong, functional internal map of the area. You won’t need to know everything, but you should have a rough idea of where major clearings are, or where you can lose larger monsters in tunnels to recuperate as needed. You will have an in-game map to help you, but looking at it doesn’t pause the action, so if you’re pulling out your planner to figure out a quick getaway, you are already doomed. Conversely, if you know exactly where to go, you can lead your prey on a chase toward a much larger creature that can whittle down your foe — just be careful you don’t get stomped in the process.

Resupply!

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It’s easy and even necessary to restock potions and antidotes mid-bout. If you or your prey has managed to get away, don’t hurry back into the fray. Take your time. Sharpen your weapon, poke around for medicinal herbs, and see what else you can craft before you set out again. Think of it as regrouping your own little army. Or, if it’s clear, you won’t be taking the creature down, you can use that pause as a break to head back to camp and change tactics or gather more information on the monster and its weaknesses before tackling it again.

No hunt is a failure

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If you need to retreat, or you’ve been knocked out too many times — that’s OK. No hunt is a complete misfire. The beauty of Monster Hunter isn’t only in the victory, but in the steps you take to prepare for it. You cannot charge into fights half-cocked ready to slay the ultimate dragon from the word go.

Each trek, each expedition is a learning experience. You should consider any outing where you learn something a success. If you’re gathering clues, observing your prey, and collecting gear and items, you haven’t failed. You’re just getting ready.

Now, with that said, you definitely want to get the most out of each expedition. So try to decide beforehand how much you want to do before heading back to base. You will be warned by special flies that glow an eerie red if you’re coming upon a bigger monster. That’s both a warning for you to try and avoid detection unless you’re ready to throw down and an opportunity for you to check in with yourself to see if you’re ready to tackle it. Even if you aren’t totally set, it could help to try and spar with a bit to get a sense for how it attacks and how you’ll need to move as these can yield clues for where it’s squishy bits are and what weapons might be helpful.

Once you’ve learned enough, you can head back to base and check in with Ecological Research to get an up-to-date field guide on various monsters, including vulnerable spots, weapon and elemental weaknesses, as well as behavioral clues. These are indispensable tools and you are advised to use them and leverage them at every opportunity.

Beware the puns

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OK, so this last one isn’t technically a tip, but seriously … if you’re not used to the series or its brand of campy humor, this one could be a little tough. Everyone and everything will spout puns at you at every opportunity. Bestial buffoonery, hunting humor, and kitty quips abound. So be ready, and take it all in stride. You’ve got dragons to slay!

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