Your Guide to Monster Hunter: World's Weapons
Whether you're a first-time hunter or a series veteran, Monster Hunter: World's many weapon classes and their countless variations can be pretty intimidating. So we've put together your ultimate overview for each weapon type, its uses, and quirks!
Please note: We're using the PlayStation 4 controls for this guide. If you need help with the Xbox One controls, be sure to consult the online manual!
This right here is the iconic butter cutter of the Monster Hunter franchise. The Greatsword is easy to use, but versatile with unique offensive and defensive options. It’s also clear special attention was paid to make this weapon feel great, as the charging blade has a number of special animations to note when you’ve successfully pulled off one of its special attacks.
Hunters that use the Greatsword will have to understand its (admittedly generous) charge timing to use the weapon effectively, however. To begin charging an attack, simply hold triangle. Your hunter will begin to glow, as well as shuffle their weight with each level of charge. Releasing triangle just as your hunter reaches their third level of charge will do the maximum amount of damage, while releasing too early or two late will do one level of damage less. You’ll know that you timed it properly when the red energy around your character flashes brighter than usual.
You can combo your first charge attack into a quick jab by pressing triangle, but the real bread and butter of the Greatsword is stringing three charged blows together in relatively short succession. To do this, you’ll need to charge once, then hold a direction and charge again on the second and third strikes. The one wrinkle is that your third charge attack, or the “True Charged Slash,” will only flash twice. So you’ll want to release the charge on the second flash to perform full damage.
Offense is the Best Defense
All this charging leaves you relatively open to counterattacks. Thankfully, Monster Hunter: World introduces a technique to not only let you cancel the charge, but protect you from being knocked back or down by retaliatory monsters. Just press circle while charging to perform shoulder check that will cancel the charge. This can even combo into another charged strike if things cool down between the defensive shoulder check.
Greatswords also have a nominal block (R2) that can be performed at the cost of stamina, minor damage, and a weapon’s sharpness. So it’s still often better to dodge. But new players might appreciate the extra defensive options!
Sword and Shield
The Sword and Shield is most definitely the weapon for Monster Hunter newcomers who are intimidated by the series’ animation priority, punishing counterattacks, and bevy of consumable items. It strikes lightning quick. So you’re very rarely locked into a combo such that you can’t dodge out of the way of incoming danger. It has a block, so if you start to panic and just need time to think you stay relatively safe. And most uniquely, it lets you use items—like potions and antidotes—without sheathing first. No other weapon in Monster Hunter boasts that.
The price of all that flexibility is some very weak physical damage. The Sword and Shield is best used with elemental or status ailment builds (like fire or poison, depending on what your target’s weaknesses are) to offset the deficit. However, these options won’t be available at the start of World’s campaign.
Bash and Crash
In the meantime, you can make use of the shield half of this weapon’s equation to shake things up. Pressing circle while moving or falling, rather than triangle, will use the blunt object to deal blunt damage. In Monster Hunter parlance, that means it will drain a monster’s stamina and has a greater chance to stun (as opposed to sever damage, which is better for cutting off body parts).
Finally, you can press back and hold circle to do a charged attack. If this hits a particular beast, your hunter will launch into the air. That’s great for the falling shield bash, of course, but if you hit triangle instead you’ll deal “mounting damage.” This has a chance to let you mount a monster, stab them repeatedly, and eventually bring them down on their side for several seconds—during which you can wail on them to your heart’s content.
The Longsword is a step up in complexity from other basic bladed weapons. It requires players to manage not one, but two automatically depleting gauges that determine how much damage and what kind of attacks you can do. Its bread and butter combos aren’t terribly complex, however, which frees up some mental energy to focus on positioning.
It all starts with triangle. Hitting the button four times will perform the weapon’s most basic combo. You can also mix in circle to add a long-range thrusting attack when necessary. Either way, you fill in the blade of the weapon’s “Spirit Gauge,” a sword icon located at the top-left of the screen.
This red energy is expended on the blade’s spirit attacks (R2). These can be chained up to three times and, if you successful finish a chain on a monster, you’ll see the Spirit Gauge begin to glow—first white, then yellow, then red. Each level of aura will cause the Long Sword to deal more damage than the last, but it will drain over time if you don’t perform more spirit chains.
While this weapon lacks any direct defensive options, most of its combos can be canceled out with a dodge roll to reset and reposition. However, it’s often better to perform a “Foresight Slash” (R2 + circle). This lets your character dodge while standing and follows up with a powerful strike. In fact, even if you do get hit during Foresight Slash, it will allow you to follow up with two more spirit attacks in rapid succession.
There’s one more use for all that spirit energy you have lying around, too. R2 + triangle will send your hunter lunging forward while draining one level of the Spirit Gauge. The upside is that if the hit lands, the character will launch into the air and pressing triangle again will let them dive downward for one more powerful strike. If all of this lands, the expended spirit energy will automatically return. Get it wrong, and you’ll have to start the whole process over from one damage level down.
The Lance is among the most defensive weapons in Monster Hunter. Like the Gunlance, it has the strongest block in the game. This, coupled with its short “bunny hop” that replaces the roll of most weapons, means you’ll likely block more hits than you dodge.
The upside is that the bunny hop can be used up to three times between strikes without losing your footing. That makes it perfect for reorienting yourself around monsters mid-battle. It’s also a faster way to chain combos together, as opposed to waiting for your hunter’s “reset” animation after you complete a string of attacks. When you’ve finished a combo, but want to keep up the offensive, hold the block button and dodge in any direction. Once you land, you can continue attacking immediately.
There’s also a “Guard Dash” version of this maneuver that never drops your guard. Just hold block while moving left or right, then press the triangle button after attacking, to perform the usual bunny hop in a manner that keeps your shield held high.
The Lance’s other defensive options require more precise timing. Holding block and pressing circle will ready a “Counter-Thrust.” This move combines a block and an automatic, powerful attack that triggers if a monster tries to hurt you. While Counter-Thrust is charging, you can press R2 + X to trigger “Power Guard.” It drains stamina at a ludicrous rate, but will keep your hunter from being pushed back while completely blocking just about any attack in the game.
By contrast, the Lance has fewer flashy offensive options than some Monster Hunter armaments. It tends to make up for it with raw damage. You have mid-level thrusts, in addition to a high thrust that can be used to jab taller monsters up close.
Its signature move, however, is the charging “Dash Attack.” Pressing and releasing block and both attack buttons simultaneously will send your character sprinting, lance out, at ever-increasing speed. This can then be combo’d in a variety of ways. Attacking will end the charge with a final thrust while the dodge button on its own will end it altogether. You can also perform the usual bunny hop (X + a direction) without breaking stride, stop and swing the lance behind you (back + triangle), and jump to perform a mounting attack (forward + back).
In all, the Lance is one of World’s most complex weapons—not because of its combos, but because of its unique evasion options that let the player string its simple attacks together. Although its high damage, defense, and mobility make its lessons worth learning.
Like the Lance, the Gunlance sports the strongest block in Monster Hunter: World. Yet it sacrifices most of its cousin’s evasive and defensive options for its titular, explosive abilities. The “gun” portion of the Gunlance isn’t actually a ranged attack, so much as several flavors of explosions that ignore monster armor and can be mixed into your regular combos.
The most basic version of this offensive seasoning is a single-shot burst produced by pressing circle. You can mix this into any regular Gunlance combo—the most common of which is pressing triangle and circle simultaneously (Rising Slash), followed by triangle (Overhead Smash), and triangle again (Wide Sweep).
It’s important to recognize these attacks. Your single-shot burst will change depending on which step it follows in the combo. Hitting it after the Overhead Smash will trigger “Burst Fire,” which uses up the Gunlance’s entire clip of standard ammo in one go. But using it after Wide Sweep will activate the “Wyrmstake Cannon.”
This cannon uses its own special ammo and most be reloaded between every shot, but its delayed damage is immense. You can also trigger it by pressing circle after Burst Fire or two standard shots. The trade-off is that it must be reloaded manually (guard + circle), whereas normal ammunition can be reloaded quickly by hitting guard and circle right after a normal attack.
The Gunlance’s flashiest finisher is “Wyvernfire” (guard + triangle + circle). It takes a second to wind up, and takes quite a while longer to cool down, but deals greater gun damage than any of the weapon’s other moves. Just make sure you have a wide enough opening to line it up. Similarly, gun attacks eat through a weapon’s sharpness like candy. So be ready to use the whetstone periodically mid-battle (the ghillie suit is a godsend for this).
The Hunting Horn has long been the black sheep of Monster Hunter’s arsenal. The combat instrument is incredibly useful, as it provides temporary buffs to its user and their teammates. Yet its reliance on memorization and intense focus made it unusable to all but the most dedicated players.
Luckily, Monster Hunter: World makes the bashing bagpipes... downright simple. Each of the weapon’s combat songs are now display in the upper-right corner of the screen, along with which buttons perform which notes. Meanwhile, the order of notes and songs you’ve already played appear on their own bar to the upper-left.
Dial a Combo
Each song comes with its own buffs—like bonus damage or elemental immunity—and now playing them is as easy as reading them on-screen and swinging the horn accordingly. Up to three songs are then added to yet another UI element, right next to your recently played notes. Pressing R2 will then perform the songs in this stock, one-by-one, until all the buffs are active. This leaves your hunter vulnerable, however, so it’s often best to only play one song at a time by canceling out of the performance with an attack.
You can also “Encore” songs to double their temporary buffs. Just wait for the song or songs to be highlighted green in the stock, indicating they’ve been played, and press R2 again. The song will turn purple to indicate you’d doubled the buff. Just keep in mind that every horn in the game has a different collection of these buffs to perform in a given mission and make sure the set list suits you.
If you’ve played a third-person shooter before, you’ll likely pick up Monster Hunter: World’s ranged weapons in a flash, including the Bow. You aim with L2, fire with R2, and have a limitless supply of basic ammo at your disposal. You don’t even have to worry about managing sharpness, as you do with the melee weapons.
The bow is slightly different from its semiautomatic counterparts, but the basic principle is the same. You point. You shoot. You can also hold down its fire button to charge up shots at the cost of extra stamina.
Maneuvering In and Out of Menus
Charging shots is good for more than just doing extra damage, however. Pressing circle immediately after loosing a charged shot will follow up the hit with a second, even stronger “Power Shot.” Likewise, if you aim and charge a shot, then dodge, you’ll do a standing side-step (similar to the lances’ bunny hop). This can then combo into a lunging strike by pressing triangle, which is perfect for mounting monsters.
Different bows also have preset characteristics and abilities, similar to the Hunting Horns’ preset songs. Repeatedly pressing circle will trigger a bow’s special ability (like raining down damaging debris). But the main characteristics are which “coatings” each bow can utilize in combat.
These are fairly self-explanatory. Paralysis coating causes paralysis, poison causes poison, and so on. The trick is checking each bow to see what coatings they can use, then cross-referencing this against your Hunter’s Field Guide to check your opponent’s weaknesses.
True to its name, the Light Bowgun is the smallest ranged weapon in Monster Hunter: World, while also allowing for the most maneuverability. It might also be the simplest weapon in the game (at least in practice). If you’ve never played Monster Hunter before, and are at least marginally familiar with shooters, this might be a good jumping-on point.
It has no combos to speak of. Instead, you can kit different bowguns with different types of ammo, similar to the bow’s coatings. You can find a full list of those ammo types and their effects here. You can also modify the Light Bowgun at the smithy for bonuses like extra damage at close range and lower recoil.
Sleek, Yet Simple
Light Bowguns can also place mines into the ground by pressing circle. You can trigger these by shooting them (or the fountain of sparks above them) with standard bowgun fire. Each mine can explode multiple times before expiring, but you have a limited number of them which regenerate slowly over time.
While the Light Bowgun’s move set is limited, its mobility is not. You can move at full speed while aiming and dodging twice immediately after shooting will trigger a long slide that’s perfect for getting out of a jam. The trick is using that speed to keep your distance and consistently peck away at, or disable, monsters without the need to tangle with them up close.
The Heavy Bowgun is largely identical to its lighter cousin, in terms of basic controls and ammo types. It simply sacrifices mobility and access to more ammo types at a given time for more raw damage and better accuracy. The Heavy Bowgun is more reliable than the Light Bowgun, then, but less versatile.
The most obvious difference between the two types of ranged weapon is special ammo. Instead of mines, Heavy Bowguns have access to either “Wyvernsnipe” or “Wyvernheart” attacks that can be loaded after a brief animation. The former is a single-shot sniping attack that’s great for targeting specific monster parts. The latter basically transforms the weapon into a mobile machine gun with very, very slowly regenerating ammo.
The Dual Blades are fast, furious, and fairly simple. They lack any kind of defensive options and actually require the player to stand at nearly point blank range with their respective foes. However, they have the highest attack speed of any weapons in Monster Hunter. That, plus, their even messier “Demon Mode,” allow them to output serious damage in a short amount of time.
Because the Dual Blades attack so quickly, most of the weapon's many possible combos don’t require much thought. You can (and will often have to) roll out of harm's way at a moments notice. The one major exception is when using the blistering “Blade Dance” technique that’s only available in Demon Mode.
To activate Demon Mode, just hit R2. The stance will slowly drain stamina, but noticeably increase your attack speed and damage. From that point on, any combo can be completed with the aforementioned Blade Dance (circle + triangle). This will lock your character in place of a lengthy, powerful flurry of attacks. The upside is that it’s a great deal of damage for next to no work. The downside, of course, is that not being able to move or roll will leave you open to attack. So choose your windows carefully.
While Demon Mode drains stamina, it gives back in the form of a red gauge on the top-left of the screen. When this fills to maximum, you’ll enter “Archdemon Mode.” Like Demon Mode, this will increase your offensive power and keep your attacks from bouncing off enemy armor. The gauge depletes slowly over time, however, so you’ll need to start spending stamina again to keep the offense flowing.
The Charge Blade is among the most, if not the most difficult weapon to use in Monster Hunter: World. Its statistical weaknesses are few and far between, of course, as the weapon has high damage, sold defense, good maneuverability, and wonderful versatility. It’s just awfully tough to remember absolutely everything the blade can do and when it can do them—much less pull off these moves in the heat of battle.
The weapon starts looking like a fairly basic sword and shield. Indeed, it doesn’t control that differently from the basic Sword and Shield archetype. Attack with the weapon unchecked, however, and you’ll soon start to see your blows bounce off monsters for no good reason. That’s because the Charge Blade does indeed charge up over time. And if it gets overloaded the transforming weapon’s sword mode becomes ineffective.
To mitigate this, you need to inject (R2 + circle) the sword’s energy (indicated by the yellow and red color of its gauge in the top-left corner) into the shield. This will cause the gauge’s five phial icons to fill with white color of their own. Injecting while the bar is yellow will produce three white phials, while red will produce five. Your sword will stop functioning properly if you keep attacking after the gauge turns red and begins blinking, as well.
Once you have some white phials, you can start expending them in a variety of ways. R2 + triangle at any point during a combo will transform your sword into a massive, slow-swinging axe. This, in turn, can expend phials if you attack with it using circle. The blows will take on an electrical energy that ignores monster resistances and inflicts other affects depending on the type of phial listed on your weapon’s description.
One button press usually translates to one used phial in axe form. However, the wind-up on these blows is so long that even a single blow should be calculated carefully. In addition, you can press circle and triangle at the same time to perform and “Amped Element Discharge,” using up all remaining phials in on massive blast.
Pressing R2 in axe form will always morph the blade back to its sword and shield form. Morphing mid-swing on an Amped Element Discharge, however, cancels that strike and instead injects the energy into your shield. This will cause blocking (R2) to deal passive damage to monsters for an extended period. It’ll also beef up Amped Element Discharge one step further, if you hop back to axe form while the shield is charged.
Knowledge is Power…
The sword and shield form has its own cancel, of course, which is triggered by holding triangle while injecting energy into the shield. This will divert the energy into the blade, instead of converting them into phials, and perform a powerful overhead slam. As a bonus, it’ll also add the phial effect usually reserved for the axe form into the sword for a time. And if that still wasn’t enough, remember that you can do a dodging, slashing slide by pressing circle and a direction in blade form. Because why not?
To be clear: the Charge Blade is absolutely not for those intimidated by World’s most over-the-top weapons. There’s something to be said for jumping into the deep end, and mastering this menace right off the bat, but you should absolutely know what you’re getting into before making the attempt. It’s hard.
The Switch Axe is a bit like the Charge Blade, but for human beings. It’s a great intermediate weapon that introduces more complex concepts, gauges and morphing, without the complicated status effect tracking of the Insect Glaive or Charge Blade. Its axe form is good at one thing. Its sword form is good at another. Very rarely do you have to worry about how the two interact.
In the basic axe form, you have stellar reach and decent maneuverability. Yet this form’s most distinct ability is to spam circle for a series of wild swings. These don’t force the character to “reset,” the way most combos do. Instead they drain stamina at a healthy rate. That’s fine, though, since you’re mostly only using the Switch Axe’s standard form for serious damage dealing when its sword form is recharging.
A Better Way to Learn
This isn’t to say the sword form is that much more complicated. Once you morph into it (using R2) combos are fairly standard strings of triangle and circle. The damage is much greater, however, and monster armor will have a tough time blocking it—so long as the sword form is charged, that is.
While in sword form, the Switch Axe’s blue gauge in the top-left of the screen will deplete. Once it’s gone you’ll have to swap back to standard axe form until it recharges. That’s especially likely to happen when you deploy the weapon’s equivalent of the Charge Blade’s Elemental Discharge. Press circle + triangle during any combo while morphed into sword form and you’ll stab the blade forward with elemental energy. Then just mash on triangle to rev it up to an explosive finishing move that eats through your available meter, not to mention sharpness, but deals considerable damage.
Every swing of the sword will also build up a secondary resource around the normal gauge, similar to the Long Sword. This “Eternal Awakening” meter provides the Switch Axe with increased damage. If you time it just right, you can pull an Elemental Discharge in this state for an even bigger explosion and even more damage. Then it’s time to switch back to axe form and for the cycle to continue…
The Hammer is the blunt, stun-focused blood brother of the Greatsword. Like that iconic weapon, this archetype is almost entirely built around charging your attacks. But unlike the bladed counterpart, there’s no element of timing involved. In fact, you don’t have to stand still while preparing your preferred style of swing. Doing so will drain stamina, but you can charge the Hammer while charging your foe as well.
Releasing your charge while standing still will dish out a stronger version of your triangle attack—that is to say an overhead slam that can combo with more triangle. Conversely, if you release the charge while moving, it will initiate a lengthy spin attack. This, too, can be made into different simple combos by pressing triangle. The attack will be different depending on which rotation you strike after.
You can also forgo an attack altogether. Press circle while charging the Hammer to give yourself a none-too-shabby buff to your physical and stun damage, as well as a slight resistance to knockdown effects. The buff only lasts until you are knocked down, or you sheathe the weapon, but it’s easy enough to activate that there’s no reason to go without it.
Speaking of stun damage: the Hammer does a lot of it. That means you should focus your blows on monsters’ heads, as that will stagger them much faster than flailing wildly. A good way to do this without charging is by repeatedly attacking with circle. So long as you hit, the move can be strung together up to five times, with each blow doing more damage than the last. It’s not the most subtle maneuver, but hey: that’s just this slow-slamming weapon’s style.
The Insect Glaive looks tricky on paper. It’s got some of the most moving parts of any weapon in the game—both on the battlefield and back at base. Crucially, though, this spinning staff is extremely quick. So unlike, say, the Charge Blade, it doesn’t require pinpoint timing and precision to master.
To learn the weapon at all, however, you need to understand the Kinsect. This extension of the glaive basically acts as a secondary weapon. Kinsects have their own upgrade trees, elemental bonuses, and are equipped separately from the main weapon. So there’s some room to mix and match them to fit your play style.
In combat, you deploy the Kinsect by readying the glaive, aiming with L2, and “firing” with triangle. This will launch a slow-moving beetle—the Kinsect—through the air at your intended target. If it makes contact with a monster, it will become charged with one of four colors. These are red for damage, white for speed, orange for defense, and green for health. Holding L2 and pressing circle will return the Kinsect to you and inject you with whatever colored buff it was carrying.
The primary goal of Insect Glaive users is to collect the red, white, and orange buffs all at once (indicated by a meter on the top-left of the screen). This will enhance and extend all three buffs, considerably altering the way your hunter plays. The offensive red jelly adds damage and attacks to your swings, while white gives you a speed boost, and orange prevents you from being knocked back while attacking.
Bouncing Beetles and Harmful Hunters
From there, it’s time to take to the skies. The Insect Glaive is the only weapon in Monster Hunter with a truly dedicated jump command (R2 + X). It allows you to pole vault yourself into the air, from which you can air dodge using X and follow up with one of two attacks. Circle will send you carving in any given direction. If the blow hits a monster, you’ll spring back back up and get another fresh dodge and attack combo. That allows you to keep hitting a monster from various angles for as long as you have stamina. Hitting triangle while airborne, by contrast, will slam the glaive down straight. Which is great for mounting.
These aerial acrobatics can be further combined with the Kinsect. The buddy-bug has its own stamina pool which lets it fly and attack independently of its master. Just aim with L2 and hit R2 to fire a glob of pheromones at a given target. The Kinsect will repeatedly nibble at that spot, creating clouds of elemental dust, which explode when you hit them. These can provide anything from free healing to poison damage. So select your Kinsect accordingly.
Flying high is fun and all, but the real goal of the Insect Glaive is knocking down monsters. Be sure to mount and drop them as often as you can so that you and your team can focus normal attacks while the creatures are prone.
There are plenty of minor variations to be had with these 14 weapons depending on crafting and individual play style. Like its bestiary, Monster Hunter: World's weapons each have their own personality and require some getting used to, but the results -- when you fully master a weapon or figure out the ideal combination for taking down a creature -- are extremely worth it. Don't be afraid to experiment!