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Monster Hunter Rise best armor: How to unlock and craft armor sets

Including tips on picking out the best early- and late-game armor, and an explanation of how Layered Armor works

What is the best armor set in Monster Hunter Rise? If you thought the selection of weapons on offer in Monster Hunter Rise was mind-boggling, I have some big news for you about the game's armor sets. In the base game alone, I counted 142 named sets in total (not counting Layered Armor sets) but to be honest my eyes were starting to go funny; besides which some sets have more pieces than others, and most but not all have male and female hunter variants, making it tricky to put together direct comparisons between all sets. And that's not even taking into account the Sunbreak DLC, which as per tradition adds an armor set for each of the new monsters introduced in the add-on.

This is, obviously, a huge armor catalogue, and since you need to collect the parts to forge most of those sets for yourself, it's good to have an idea of what's required of you before you can begin expanding your wardrobe. In this guide we explain how to unlock and craft new armor sets, give you our picks for the game's best armor, and explain the difference between regular and Layered Armor in Monster Hunter Rise.

Check out our review of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak by clicking on the video above.Watch on YouTube

How to unlock and craft armor in Monster Hunter Rise

To craft armor and upgrade equipment in Monster Hunter Rise, you just need to bring the right resources (along with some money) to Hamon the Blacksmith, who can be found at the Smithy in the central plaza of Kamura Village. His associate, Buddy Smithy Kisaki, is right next to him to do the same honours for your Palicos and Palamutes. Hand over your materials and payment and the finished item will be delivered instantaneously.

A close-up on the face of Hamon the Blacksmith in Monster Hunter Rise, along with his interactions options menu.

You'll start the game with just one or two basic armor sets at your disposal. New Armor sets are unlocked every time you kill and carve a new type of monster. There are also a few sets not made from creature hides, and these become available when you first gather the associated resource (e.g. ore from Mining Outcrops, bones from Bone Piles).

Later in the game, as you begin to hunt High Rank monsters, you'll notice that you can craft the "S" versions of many of the sets you already had access to. These superior armor sets boast more powerful stats and effects, and it's essential to switch to them as you begin to approach late-game hunts.

What is the best armor in Monster Hunter Rise?

As with the game's weapons, there's no definitive answer to which Armor set is MHR's best — unless, of course, it's the Narwa Set, which you can craft after defeating the Thunder Serpent Narwa, the final boss of the main campaign. But by design you won't have access to that for quite some time; and even then, there's every chance that your play style will lead to you getting attached to another armor set with stats that suit you better.

The best choice of armor also depends a great deal on what stage of the game you're at. In the early game, one particularly solid choice is the Izuchi Set, thanks to its high fire resistance, increased crit change, and increased health recovery. On the other hand, if you're struggling to progress, try out the Tetranadon Set for its comparatively gigantic base defense stats.

The Smithy's crafting station in Monster Hunter Rise, with the Izuchi Mail piece about to be crafted from the menu.

No matter what happens, for late-game quests you'll need to retire your early-game armor and pick some new sets with better stats. By this point you'll have a lot more choices on your hands, but remember that you can always mix-and-match items from different sets to get the balance you want. You sacrifice some set bonuses that way, but it can be worth it to ensure you get the exact stats to support your play style.

If you're not into customising your loadout to this extent, though, one of the best late-game armor sets for balance is the Zinogre S Set, which mixes offensive and defensive stats more evenly than most other off-the-peg combinations.

What is Layered Armor in Monster Hunter Rise?

At the top of this page we mentioned Layered Armor. Layered Armor in Monster Hunter Rise serves a completely different function to the 142-ish regular Armor sets we covered above. The most crucial difference is that Layered Armor is purely cosmetic, and conveys no stats or bonuses on the wearer.

Layered Armor, as the name suggests, can be layered over regular Armor sets to change the appearance of your character and their Buddies. Many Layered Armor sets and pieces can be unlocked and crafted in the same way as regular Armor — in fact, all regular Armor pieces you own can be equipped as Layered Armor as well, allowing you to adopt the appearance of a set you like the look of without being stuck with stats you don't.

Other Layered Armor options come from DLC and other in-game rewards and bonuses. Those Sonic the Hedgehog crossover pieces that so bemused us a few months ago, for example, are Layered Armor. (Which feels like a missed opportunity to tag on a stamina boost or something, but hey, I'm not Capcom.)

Trying on Layered Armor cosmetic looks in Monster Hunter Rise.

To unlock the ability to equip Layered Armor, you simply need to play through the game's tutorial and talk to Senri the Mailman in the plaza of Kamura Village. Senri will also deliver any DLC or bonus Layered Armor you have access to.

To equip Layered Armor, go to your Item Box and select Layered Armor Settings > Equip Layered Armor to manage your choice of couture. To equip Layered Armor to your Palicos and Palamutes instead, you just need to do the same from the Buddy Board.

If you're new to this game, be sure to check out our top 10 tips for new Monster Hunter Rise players! We also have a guide to the system requirements and best performance settings for Monster Hunter Rise on PC.

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