Combat in Monster Hunter World (MHW) is covered on this page, including the basics of fighting monsters and advanced tips. These tips assume that you have a basic understanding of how action games work, a basic understanding of the controls for Monster Hunter World, and that you know how your weapon of choice works. Explanations on weapons can be found on their respective pages.
Finding the Monster
The first step to defeating any monster is finding out where it is. You do this with the scoutflies. You start by looking around for footprints or other tracks left by the monster. When you interact with one, your scoutflies will pick up the scent. They will lead you to more recent tracks left by the monster and after finding enough of them the scoutflies will level up. They will then lead you to the monsters. The drawback to this is that scoutflies are slow. If you are going faster than a jogging pace, you will out run them and have to wait.
Dodging and Blocking
No matter how tough your armor is, monster attacks hit hard. Dodging and blocking are key to your continued survival while on a hunt. The basic dodge roll costs a bit of stamina and is primarily used to get out of the way of danger. It does have an extremely brief invulnerability window the very moment you press the button, and this window can be extended through armor skills. Hunters also have a panic dive. When sprinting away from a monster, hunters will run slightly faster and use more stamina, but if you dodge during this, you perform a panic dive. The dive has complete invulnerability from start to finish and is crucial for dodging large sweeping attacks.
The other option is blocking. The only weapons that can block are the Sword & Shield, the Lance, the Gunlance, the Charge Blade, the Greatsword, and the Heavy Bowgun when it has a shield attached. When you block an attack, it costs you stamina and, depending on the size of the attack, health. Generally, the larger, more grandiose the attack, the more damage and stagger is going to get around your block. This chip damage can be lessened by certain armor skills. The Lance and Gunlance have the best block, followed by the Sword & Shield, the Heavy Bowgun, and the Charge Blade with the Greatsword in last. The Charge Blade and Greatsword have the added penalty of sharpness loss when they block.
Monster Weak Spots
Every monster has a weak spot. The usual suspect is the head, but a monster's weak spot can be anything from its wings, to its tail or even the inside of its mouth! When you hit a monster, and the numbers are orange, that means you are hitting a weak spot. On the flipside, if you hit a monster and purple numbers appear, it means you are hitting a part resistant to damage. Remember which parts are tough and which are soft and plan your attacks accordingly. Note: It's best to use a non-elemental weapon when testing for a weak spot as the element might give orange/purple numbers even if you hit a weak/tough spot.
Elemental Weakness 101
Every monster is weak to one of the five elements. However, what element a monster is weak to might not be apparent or even be counter intuitive. For example, the fire breathing Rathalos is weak to the dragon element, and not water as you would assume. When experimenting to find out a monster's weakness purple damage numbers mean it resists the element, white numbers means it has neutral relationship to that element, and orange means it's weak. Another way to check is to look at the elemental resistances on the armor that you can make from the monster. Often, it will mirror the monster's own resistances.
Status Effects 101
Status effects are things like poison or paralysis. When attacking a monster with a weapon with a status effect, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it's about how many times you hit the monster, and not how hard. Light fast weapons will inflict status effects much faster than the heavy hitter. There are some armor skills that can increase the amount of status effect you deal per hit. Second, monsters will slowly grow to resist status ailments. Once a monster has been poisoned and recovered, it will take longer for it to be poisoned again. Lastly, some monsters are immune to certain status effects. If a monster is spewing poison, it's probably immune to poison.
No matter how elaborate your plan is, every hunt will come down to you hitting a monster with your weapon until it dies. While every weapon has its own abilities, movesets, and playstyle, there are several universal constants to consider for all hunters when going on the offensive. These include managing distance, and when to fight defensively, when to fight with moderation and when to go all out.
Managing your distance is important to avoid attacks while still being able to attack yourself. The exact distance will vary from monster to monster and from weapon to weapon. Some monsters will force you to stay far away from them, making you run in to get a few hits and then run away. Other monsters will punish you for staying away so you should make use of the blind spot near their feet. You also have to take into consideration your weapon. Ranged weapons will want to stay out of reach of the monster but within the optimal range of their shots. Nimble weapons will want to dash in and out of combat, while weapons with good blocking ability will want to stay right next to the monster no matter what.
Knowing when and how to fight is also important. When the monster is calm and focusing someone else, you want to fight moderately; getting some attacks in while still ready to block or dodge. Once monsters have taken enough damage, they will enter a rage mode. In this mode they are faster, hit harder, and use new moves. When a monster is in rage mode, or is focusing you, you want to fight defensively; sheathe your weapon to stay mobile, focus on dodging and blocking, and only attack if you are 100% sure you aren't about to get knocked into next week by the monster. When a monster has used up all of its stamina, it will go into an exhausted state. It will be slower, less aggressive, and some of its special attacks will fail. When a monster is exhausted or knocked down, this is the time to go all out. Unleash everything you have on the monster and don't stop until it is ready to attack again. Remember this, master the flow of combat, and no monster will be able to stand against you.
Your slinger is a versatile tool that will help you in a number of ways. Depending on what you load into it, it can provide decent ranged attack should the monster just be out of reach. Projectiles can inflict poison, paralysis or even stun monsters. The other major use for the slinger is mobility. It comes with a grappling hook which you can use to pull yourself around the map with. This allows you to evade monster attacks, catch up to fleeing monsters quickly, perform jumping attack easier, and traverse the map. It also helps with mounting monsters, which is covered in the advanced tips below.
Food plays an important part in hunting monsters. Whether it's at the cantina in town, or with the Handler at base camp, always be sure to eat before heading out to do anything. All meals can raise your max health, max stamina, or both, giving you the staying power to finish hunts. They can provide numerous bonuses from attack and defense buffs to the Felyne skills. These skills have a chance to activate upon eating. There are many skills to gain, some letting you sharpen your weapon faster to being able to gather more items from gathering points.
Monsters Near Death
When a monster is near death, they will try to run away from the hunters. They will start limping as they head back to their home and attempt to sleep and heal. Flying monsters tend to go to high up areas, while aquatic monsters will go by water, and subterranean monsters will go to caves. Attacking the monster while it's running can stagger it and force it to continue to fight, while letting it run will allow you to recover and set up an ambush while it sleeps. Limping monsters are also ready to be captured.
Using the Environment
In addition to your weapons, items and slinger, you can also use the environment to gain the upper hand in battle. With an accurate eye and deft timing, you can trigger rockfalls and landslides to fall on top of monsters. Climbing ledges and leaping off walls can let you land valuable jumping attacks, and keep you out of reach of the monster. Insects and small animals can be struck to provide diffrent effects such as healing, blinding light, or paralyzing gas. Knowing what to look for in the environment, and how to best use it, is as important a skill as knowing how to fight with your chosen weapon.
While the environment can help you in numerous ways, it can also be dangerous. Hunters can get caught up in a landslide, or paralyzed by gas just as easily as the monsters. Additionally, Hunters have to worry about overheating, freezing, and lava. In areas with extreme heat, like the desert during the day or a volcano, hunters will take damage over time as they cook alive. Cool Drinks will stop this, but only for a time. In areas with extreme cold, like deserts at night or in tundras, a hunter's max stamina will decrease far faster than normal as their limbs begin to freeze. Hot Drinks will prevent this, but not for long. Lastly, lava is, unsurprisingly, very hot. Merely being near it will drain a hunter's health very fast, and there isn't an item to prevent it. All of these ailments can be prevented by certain armor skills. Knowing what hazards you will face and being prepared to counter them with items or skills is crucial for hunting in extreme environments.
While the entire game can be played solo, teaming up with your fellow hunters is a main feature and knowing how to work with them is important for surviving the more difficult hunts. Be mindful of your attacks. While you can not damage your teammates, you can stagger them, interrupting whatever they were doing, and even send them flying. Avoid clustering up, if the monster decides to attack one of you, it will hit all of you. Bring items that can heal your teammates, such as lifepowder or recovery ammo. They can save your friend's life, and lives are shared among all players, so it helps you too. Pick your equipment with your teammates in mind. Have everyone stack poison or paralysis, use support oriented weapons like the Hunting Horn or Light Bowgun, or mix cutting and blunt weapons. And lastly, talk with your team. Share monster info, talk strategy, trade favorite item gathering locations, show off your cool armor and weapons to each other, and cheer each other on. It will make you a better hunting party and increase everyone's enjoyment.
Trapping Monsters and Follow Ups
Trapping monsters is a key tactic when hunting. Certain items in the environment can be used or you can bring premade pitfall and shock traps to set up where ever you need one. When deciding what trap to use, you need to consider the monster. Electric monsters will often resist the shock trap and some might even get stronger from it. Nimble and cunning monsters will escape the pitfall trap faster, and some won't even fall into it. Pitfall traps take a bit longer to set up than shock traps, but they bring the monster closer to the ground which allows for easy attacks on hard to reach limbs.
Once you have determined what trap to use, you need to decide when and where to set it up. The ideal trap is mid combat. Set it up when the monster isn't focusing you, and then use yourself for bait. If the monster hasn't noticed you, and eats meat, you could set up the trap and put meat on it. Then find a place to hide while you wait for the monster to notice. Bonus points if you poison the meat ahead of time. Unless you can set it up in the path of the monster, never use a trap when the monster is fleeing. It will almost always go far away from the trap resulting in nothing but a wasted trap and a frustrated hunter.
Now that the monster has fallen into the trap, there are a few things you can do. You could simply start wailing on with your weapon without further ado. This is useful if you had a certain body part you wanted to break. Another option is to bring large barrel bombs with you, set them up next to the monster's weak point and set them off for massive damage. The last option is capturing the monster. A monster that is near death and stuck in a trap can be taken out permanently with two tranq bombs or tranq shots. Capturing a monster doesn't let you carve the monster for materials, but it does give you bonus materials in the quest rewards and these materials are often rare parts. Certain quests also require you to capture a monster, rather than kill it.
Getting Monsters to do Your Work for You
The monsters you hunt are all part of a complete ecosystem, and just like real life ecosystems, there are predators and there are prey. Monsters have their own territories, and they don't like other monsters being in them. If you bring a weaker monster into the territory of a stronger one, there is a good chance that the stronger one will attack the weaker one. The effectiveness of this varies, but often monsters will deal more damage to each other than a hunter could dish out. The downside to this is that you now have two angry monsters to avoid, but the damage is often well worth the risk.
A common strategy among hunters is for one or more people to bring a weapon with the status effect sleep. Once a monster has been put to sleep, the next attack will deal greatly enhanced damage and wake the monster up. To get the most out of this increased damage, hunters will bring large barrel bombs with them on the hunt. Everyone on the team will set their bombs up on top of the monster's weak point, and then the hunter with the highest damage attack, usually the Greatsword's charge attack, will set off the bombs. This strategy requires good teamwork among hunters and a fair amount of preplanning, however, the truly massive damage is well worth it.
Mounting and Toppling Monsters
A key part of hunting monsters is the mounting mechanic. Anytime a hunter lands a jumping attack, they deal what is referred to as mounting damage. Once enough mounting damage is dealt, the hunter will mount the monster and start stabbing it with their carving knife. Once they have dealt enough damage, they will get one big attack with their main weapon and this will topple the monster, allowing for follow up attacks.
To start mounting monster, you must land jumping attacks. To do jumping attacks, you must do running jumps off ledges, climb up cliffs and jump off, get sent airborne by an ally's attack, or use the Insect Glaive's jumping ability. Successful jumping attacks will have a golden flash when they strike indicating that mounting damage has been dealt. Once enough mounting damage has been dealt, the hunter will mount the monster. Similar to status effects, each time a hunter mounts the monster, it will take more mounting damage to mount the monster again.
Once on the monster, you must stab them with their knife. You can leap around while on the monster to change which part you deal damage to. While you are doing this, the monster will try to throw you off. While it is flailing around and smashing into things, you have to stop attacking and hold on or it will throw you off. While holding on, your stamina will drain and if it runs out the monster will throw you off. If you manage to hold on and deal enough damage, you will get to do a heavy attack with your main weapon and this will topple the monster.
You can restore lost health by using potions. If you have some honey, you can combine it with a potion to make a mega potion, which restores even more health.
Dashing, evading, and performing certain actions will deplete your stamina. Your maximum stamina will also gradually decrease over time, but it can be maintained by eating well-done steaks or rations.
Crouching and Camouflage
Press the dodge button while standing still to crouch. Crouching in brush grants you camouflage so you can hide from monsters.
Close-range weapons gradually lose sharpness with each attack. As a weapon's sharpness level falls, its attacks are more likely to be deflected, but you can restore its sharpness with whetstones.
Scoutflies respond automatically to monster traces and many other substances in the environment. If you feel lost in a new locale, follow your scoutflies to discover points of interest as you grow accustomed to your surroundings.
Tracking with Scoutflies
Once you've examined a certain amount of a monster's tracks, your scoutflies will begin to detect more of them. Continue discovering more, and your scoutflies will be able to guide you to the monster's location.