Most RPGs follow the tradition of giving attribute points to build a character’s stats. The points that are given to you, or randomly assigned, determines how strong you are, the equipment that you can use, if you can cast magic, your health, etc. This allows replayability so players can restart the game and build their character in a different way. Monster Hunter is a bit different and unique when it comes to handling how you grow and improve as a player. Rather than attributing points into your strength, dexterity, agility, and whatnot, Monster Hunter rewards players who take the time to practice and study (with a dash of grinding and luck).
While there are skills you can attach to your hunter, there are no fixed points that you can use to strengthen your hunter. Your strength, health, stamina, and abilities are all attached to the equipment and item effects. There are no permanent stat boost that you can apply to your character. Let me try to explain. Say you find an equipment set that boost your attack power by 15%. You will gain the benefit of that equipment, as long as you are wearing that equipment. The simple answer would be to always use that set of equipment; however as the challenges get tougher, your low rank armor will not be the best protection (unless you yourself become a better player).
The appeal to craft better armor also comes with new abilities to use and more free slots you have. Free slots can be used to equip charms. Charms can be set in any weapon or armor that allows it to fit. This can be used to counter any negative abilities or to create an equipment set that fits your play style perfectly. Just remember that un-equiping any of the armor will result in losing those skills.
So what is the best approach of improving your character? In my honest opinion, it is all about doing two things: finding a weapon that you enjoy fighting with, and studying each and every monster that you face. Both of these tips will help you in the long run, and will help you with all of the challenges you face in the game (seriously there are challenges you can do on the hardest difficulty while only wearing your underwear).
Let’s start with the first point, weapon proficiency. While there is no way for the game to tell you that you have mastered a weapon style, you will notice it as you play. There are a total of 14 weapon types to choose from, minus the four exclusive to Monster Hunter Frontier Z and Explore. I would like to go over the different types of weapons in a different post, but just know that no two weapons function the same. It is up to you to study each play style and figure out which weapon suits you better. This will come with practicing each weapon in low rank quest until you get a feel for the different mechanics.
As you fight each monster, you will soon realize that some weapons will work best for different types, or that you can’t hit the weak spots as easy. This does not mean that you cannot win a fight against these monsters with the weapon you choose. By the time you get to these challenging monsters, you will have spent a long time understanding and perfecting certain moves to help you turn the tide. I recommend becoming familiar with at least one weapon in each family: cutting, impact, and pierce/shot. Becoming proficient with different weapons makes you versatile, but mastering one weapon can make you unbeatable with that weapon.
The second point is probably the most important skill to learn, reading and understanding each monster that you face. Leaning each monsters weaknesses, behaviors, attack patterns, and movement will make trump any skill you obtain in the game. No monster is too powerful if you know how to evade its attacks and hit them where it hurts. This is also where a lot of patience comes into play as it can be frustrating to lose to a monster over and over again (while also sometimes fighting the controls). Every monster gives a visual clue as to what attack they are about to do next. Rathians and Rathalos will take a step back and spread their wings when they are about to attack with a forward tail attack. The Teostra will explode in 100 seconds after it is enraged. They will even start to drool and lose their elemental attack when exhausted.
Learning all of the signs will give you all the information you need to know when to attack or defend. There are some people who view the game as a beat’em up with little strategy except when to attack. Hunts can be extremely long or short if you understand the right tools and tricks to take down your opponent. There are no tutorials that teach you these things, so it all comes down to how much time and effort you took to understand these things. In some way, you are increasing your intelligence stats by learning these things.
These are just my tips on how to become a better hunter in Monster Hunter. Like in real life hunting (I’m assuming since I have never hunted before), you have to watch your prey and learn their behaviors and interaction with their habitat. Obviously crafting better weapons and armor is the smart thing to and is a deciding factor when taking on G Rank nightmares, but understanding your weapon and the monster will give you the determining edge. To grow as a hunter is to grow yourself, and for me that is one of the most rewarding things that this series gives.
Thank you for reading,