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Monster Hunter: World combat: upgrade trees explained, the best weapon type

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When beginning your Monster Hunter: World journey, you'll be given the most basic version of each of the fourteen different weapons. They all behave in different ways; some being very slow to wind up to deal blows, while others opt for a more nimble approach. You can generally get a good idea of what they do by experimenting with them in the Training room, found in your quarters in Astera, but this guide will go over each of the weapon types, analyse their various strengths and weaknesses, and where they are best used.

Hunter encounters a Tobi-Kadachi in the dark forest.

Monster Hunter: World combat guide

This Monster Hunter: World combat guide will go over the different weapon types in the game, as well as give some tips on how to upgrade and how best to use them.

If you are looking for specifically Monster Hunter World Iceborne guides, then we have created a separate guide hub for just expansion stuff. Head over to our Monster Hunter World Iceborne guide to make your start. The Iceborne weapons can be found in our Monster Hunter World Iceborne weapons guide.

Monster Hunter: World combat guide contents

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Monster Hunter: World combat

As a rather methodical combat game, Monster Hunter: World requires patience and well-timed blows. Those who have experienced Dark Souls and similar games can use the skills they've learned for fighting the monsters; the difference here is there are plenty more moves to execute and each weapon type feels drastically different.

For newer players who are wondering why they're out of breath all the time, attacking in Monster Hunter: World is free, but actions like running and dodging cost part of your stamina meter. You'll need to always keep an eye on that stamina meter to ensure that you don't tire yourself out, otherwise a monster might get a free big hit on you.

Get a feel for the controls in the training area so you aren't just flailing buttons with reckless abandon. Should you get hit, if you back off for a bit, the red portion of your health has a chance to recover, meaning you won't need to chug on potions and other healing items.

Where you hit the monsters also has a huge impact on damage output. Taking a look at the research gathered for each hunted monster will ensure that you know where it hurts the most - more on that in our Monster Hunter: World ecological research guide. Breaking a monster's weak point nets materials gathered at the end, but also can knock a monster prone, so you can get a lot more hits in. Always try to hit a monster in these places as you'll get the best value from your weapon.

As for the more advanced manoeuvres, if you have the opportunity to jump on top of a monster, do so. This will allow for you to get a few decent hits in as long as you can hold on for dear life while it flails around. The circle on the bottom left of the screen will have a white aura around it that will flash yellow when a monster is about to attack. Brace yourself to avoid losing stamina. If it ever flashes red, move to another part of the body and brace, or you'll be thrown off. As long as you still have stamina, you can attempt to use the grappling hook to latch back on if the monster throws you off. Once the circle dwindles enough, your hunter will enter a state where they'll execute a powerful attack that can cripple foes and even sever tails from enemies whose tails can be severed.

Player is visiting the Smithy

Upgrading weapons in Monster Hunter: World

Each individual weapon needs to be upgraded at the Smithy, found on the second floor of Astera. You'll need the corresponding materials to upgrade any given weapon, which is usually found on a monster or in each of the maps lying around. Sometimes the requirements are not shown until you have collected a particular item from a defeated monster, so check back at the Smithy frequently to see if your obtained loot is what's required to upgrade your weapons. This is also where you can tinker around with Kinsects for Insect Glaive users, as well as the light and heavy Bowguns.

Later on, the upgrades you'll come across will add elemental damage, as well as various status ailments that could be of a major advantage to you. These always require defeating a monster of the relevant element or can use the status ailment in question in order to obtain a specific type of item. So if you wanted to create a fire-based weapon, you'd need to obtain the "Flame Sac" from a Anjanath or Rathian for example. You can get a full breakdown of what materials can be obtained from a specific monster in our various monster guides, but we'll start new players off with the Monster Hunter: World Pukei-Pukei guide so that they can access poison weapons quickly.

Of course, with the sheer amount of weapons that are on offer in Monster Hunter: World, it can be daunting to try and remember just which materials you need and which weapons you needed to have crafted to unlock the next tier. For that, there is now a Monster Hunter: World weapon tree guide where you'll find searchable tables for all 14 weapon types.

High Level weapons

Eventually though, you'll come across the higher levelled weapons in the weapon's tree. These are hidden behind defeating a special variant on the Rathian, which is only able to be encountered once you've driven back Zorah Magdaros (the big hulking creature from the beginning of the game). Upon defeating this unique monster, you'll unlock seven and eight starred assignments that grant you better materials, which can be used to upgrade your weapons beyond their current limits.

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Bow - Monster Hunter: World weapons

Deceptively on the weak side when you're starting out, the bow has a huge amount of options for those wishing to invest in using it. Being a ranged weapon, it allows for you to have a bit of distance on your enemy at the cost of a little damage. However you can mitigate this by using its various techniques and imbuing the arrows with various buffs.

For those monsters where specific parts have a weakness, you can aim at that part with this weapon, which on a controller this is the left trigger and on keyboard and mouse it's C or holding V by default. This can be combined with some of the more advanced attacks so that they can hit specific points on the monster for more damage and a potential stun.

It's therefore useful against just about every monster, but especially those that are either slow or can fly around. Quick monsters can have the potential to dodge any incoming attacks, so watch out for more nimble targets and pick your shots carefully.

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Charge Blade - Monster Hunter: World wepaons

This weapon is modular, in that you can switch between the one-handed blade with a shield or a two-handed heavy axe blade. You can switch forms on the fly and even protect yourself from blows with the shield. There is also an elemental charge that requires vials to be filled and enough damage dealt to the monster you're hunting in sword form before switching to axe form to unleash the built up power. Just be sure to recharge your vials when the jars in the HUD are flashing red, or all your attacks will be deflected in sword form.

That said, your quarry for this weapon should be limited to slower monsters, those with thick hides, or monsters that can stagger easily. It can be useful for stunning enemies by hitting their noggin or chopping their tails off for more rewards upon completing the hunt. Just don't go after any flying enemies with this weapon as you're likely not to make much headway.

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Dual Blades - Monster Hunter: World weapons

As the fastest hitting weapon in the game, the sheer amount of blows you can inflict on enemies can be overwhelming. It doesn't have much other than the Demon Mode for smacking enemies around, but it allows for nimble movement to outfox most monsters.

It's best for most ground-based enemies that are a little on the slower side, but the main thing with the Dual Blades is to nip in, deal some damage, then back off to dodge the upcoming retaliatory attack from your enemy. Of course with faster foes this can be trickier, but get the timing down and you should get into a rhythm where you're dealing lots of damage.

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Great Sword - Monster Hunter: World weapons

There's nothing quite like smacking something with a big fat sword. As the weapon with the slowest wind up time, the Great Sword packs a huge punch and can stun enemies hit in the head that are susceptible to being stunned with relative ease. It has a few special attacks like a charged attack, but it doesn't have much more than that.

On your own, this can be a somewhat daunting prospect as enemies don't stand still for a long time. If you're with a bunch of friends that are distracting the enemy, this is a more viable option as you can walk up to the distracted monster and unleash a big attack. It's therefore best for those foes that like to stay on the ground and don't move at a huge amount of speed.

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Gunlance - Monster Hunter: World weapons

On the more unconventional end of the scale, the Gunlance can be used either at close range or at a distance. It comes complete with a shield to protect those looking to get in close and pierce the monster with attacks. It has multiple ranged attacks to allow for more targeted blows, though there is a longer wind-up time compared to other ranged weapons.

Due to its many advantages, there are a lot of monsters that are susceptible from the pain the Gunlance can deliver. Ones like the Anjanath can be dealt with up close while protecting yourself with the shield, while others can be blown to pieces with the shells from a distance.

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Hammer - Monster Hunter: World weapons

Ever feel as if some weapons are just far too flashy and you just want to hit things really hard? The Hammer does just that and can be utterly devastating, even to the more powerful creatures roaming around the various maps.

Like the Great Sword, the Hammer can has various attacks like a charged attack to bring even more pain, as well as an overhead smack to stun monsters. They do take a while to wind up, but once they hit, you'll definitely see high damage. It's certainly best used when teaming up with other players as you can bring down a monster to a stunned state, allowing for other teammates to rack up the damage. Slower monsters are definitely more vulnerable to any pain you can deliver.

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Heavy Bowgun - Monster Hunter: World weapons

A beefy long ranged weapon, the Heavy Bowgun can be equipped with specialised ammunition that can deal major damage to all sorts of horrible beasties. It lacks any close ranged defences or attacks, so make sure that you keep your distance and always be ready to dodge out of the way.

It's also very useful for those who want to inflict status ailments on monsters as ammunition that can be equipped include paralysing and tranquillising rounds, among many others. Skills include a burst fire of sorts, as well as mortars and sniper rounds. Monsters that fly in the air are also very open to being shot at with this weapon, so make sure to bring it with you for those cases.

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Hunting Horn - Monster Hunter: World weapons

Those who want to channel their inner-Scotsman should probably consider the hunting horn: It's essentially a big hammer with a built-in set of bagpipes. Your primary role will therefore be that of a supporting player, buffing any allies, and occasionally hitting the enemy when needed. It also has the added benefit of allowing Scout Flies to be better at finding nearby items.

You probably shouldn't use this weapon when hunting solo, as there's little benefit you can gleam from it and it doesn't deal as much damage as, say, the hammer. Slower monsters are a little more likely to be hit by it, but the Hunting Horn fulfils a particular role that just isn't possible when playing on your own.

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Insect Glaive - Monster Hunter: World weapons

To use the Insect Glaive effectively may be the most difficult, but rewarding challenges in Monster Hunter: World. It's a highly mobile double-ended spear that allows users to flip around and make themselves very hard to hit, while at the same time attacking the very confused monster. It comes with a bug called a "Kinsect", which can be used as you're flipping around like a dazzling tornado of blades, to leech extract from monsters to buff your weapon for a short time.

It's actually decent against almost every ground-based monster in the game, but can also be particularly effective against those that are a little more agile and can easily go airborne to deal with higher threats. It's also a great distraction weapon to allow for allies to get a few sneaky hits in while the monster is concentrating on the chaotic things you're doing.

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Lance - Monster Hunter: World weapons

Similar to how the melee combat works for the Gunlance, the standard Lance can jab at monsters from a somewhat surprisingly far distance for a close ranged weapon. It has a shield that can be raised, with the ability to move around even when guarding. As such, it's one of the more useful weapons that you can wield and can even take on the more agile foes.

It even comes complete with a special jumping attack to allow for you to potentially latch on top of some of the four-legged creatures like the Great Jagras, though really your primary focus should be to keep your shield up and stab at enemies when there's an opening. Lances are great for keeping your enemy's attention too, meaning other allies can inflict their own damage while it's distracted.

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Light Bowgun - Monster Hunter: World weapons

Compared to the Heavy Bowgun, the lighter variation isn't going to deal as much pain per shot. That said, it can unleash a lot more bullets at a time. As a ranged weapon, it can be aimed at specific targets, as well as be equipped with multiple different ammunition types for stunning monsters, putting foes to sleep, and even laying mines for explosive damage.

With its ranged capabilities and higher rate of fire, it's particularly effective against a wide range of monsters, but is especially so if you have someone with you to distract the enemy while you're unloading your rounds into its hide. When paired with someone with the Lance, it can be an utterly devastating combination.

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Long Sword - Monster Hunter: World weapons

The Long Sword is another relatively quick weapon, capable of landing a bunch of quick blows on enemies, while at the same time being able to keep a fair distance thanks to its really long blade. Much like the Dual Blades, it's best used to nip in and get a few hits before retreating. It does have the added benefit of having abilities like the Spirit Blade, which for a small amount of stamina, buffs the weapon for a short time to unload a great deal of pain in with relative speed.

As one of the more versatile weapons in Monster Hunter: World, you can use it against most monsters, including those that are about to fly or quicker monsters thanks to the rather large reach from the weapons. You'll most likely be the one distracting the enemy for your teammates, but it's also good for those looking to dive in while the monster is distracted by someone else.

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Switch Axe - Monster Hunter - World weapons

Much like the Charge Blade, the Switch Axe is a modular weapon that can be turned from a sword to an axe. The key difference with the Switch Axe is that it has an elemental attack in sword form, allows for the blade to deal a huge amount of damage and has a higher chance of stunning.

It's also a little on the slower side, since it's a big weapon, so you're likely to be getting hits in on fatter foes that are on the slower side. That said, when paired with someone else dealing damage to the monster, it can be effective as charging up attacks to stun monsters gives other players that window of opportunity to unleash devastating blows upon it.

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Sword & Shield - Monster Hunter: World weapons

Billed as a great beginner's weapon, it combines the best of both attack and defence. You'll mostly be hiding behind your shield to weather the various attacks from your enemies, while getting a few cheeky stabs in. It's highly versatile too as it can be effectively used against fast and slow targets, and it has the ability to be acrobatic when it needs to be with its skills. Perhaps its best feature is that you can use items when the weapon is drawn, thus giving that little bit of reassurance.

Monster Hunter: World best weapon types

The honest truth is that there is no one weapon that's objectively the best weapon type in the game. It all depends on your play style, the monster you're fighting, and the number of players that are in your game. For example, it is not advisable to bring the Hunting Horn when playing solo, or a heavy hitting weapon with slow attack speed against a monster that is quick. If you're on your own, try to suit your weapon choice to the monster you are fighting.

Provided you're upgrading your equipment where needed, the damage scaling shouldn't be a massive factor, but generally speaking it's always best to try and get a party of four people in on any given hunt. You'll be able to cover a lot of bases by having one person distract the monster with weapons like the Insect Glaive, Lance, or Dual Blades, a couple of people with either ranged or heavy hitting attacks to try and deal big damage, and a fourth person supporting them by either covering with more ranged damage or using the Hunting Horn to buff the others.

Being able to hit monsters is one thing, but which armour upgrades should you be concentrating on? Feel free to check our Monster Hunter: World armour guide for more information on that, as well as our Monster Hunter: World ecological research guide for tips on researching the monsters in the field.

Monster Hunter World guide links

PC specific guides

Individual monster guides

Free update monster guides

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