Japanese publisher Capcom has tried numerous times to make their monster hunting series, appropriately titled Monster Hunter, successful in the western world. Despite massive success in Japan, the games have a tough time making waves elsewhere, owing to an increasing cultural divide in how Japanese and western gamers play multiplayer titles. Things are looking up for Monster Hunter in the west, however, and the series’ slow start outside of Japan means that a lot of players are jumping into newer entries without having the foundation of previous games to fall back on. This can leave new hunters lost and quick to drop the game in frustration, dismissing it as simply not for them. Perhaps most frustratingly, the esoteric design of the game’s tutorials doesn’t give new players fairly important information.
If you’re new to Monster Hunter and need some help or simply want some refreshers before you pick up the brand new Monster Hunter Generations, here are a few tips to help make sure you hit the ground running.
Watch Your Stamina
In FROM Software’s Dark Souls, you have to carefully weigh your frequency of attacks versus your ability to roll away from danger, making it dangerous to get too greedy and lose all your stamina. In Monster Hunter, attacking does not take away stamina, but rolling and running away do. The hidden message in this mechanic is that evading attacks is your first priority and stamina is the precious resource governing it, while attacking is what you worry about when you’re safe. Fights in Monster Hunter can take a while, tempting the player to try and get more aggressive than they need to, and they will pay for it.
Try Every Weapon
Every weapon type in Monster Hunter is a different character. Some will feel terrible for your playstyle, others will fit you like a glove. You might enjoy long swords and then find what you really want are the quick swipes with dual blades or the overwhelming power of the charge blade. Try each weapon at least once to figure out what suits you. Even veterans who have a favorite might want to try a new style in Monster Hunter Generations with the new weapon skills providing depth to old move sets.
The Most Important Meal of the Day
By default, your hunter’s health and stamina will both reach about halfway across the screen. As monsters get tougher, this will prove woefully inadequate for all but the weakest monsters. Make sure you eat a meal before every quest. As you begin to familiarize yourself with the monsters, you can start figuring out which ingredients will work best for each type, but you generally can’t go wrong with max health and max stamina.
Pick Up Everything
Once you get some money, it may be tempting to spend it buying potions rather than making your own by gathering ingredients and trying to combine them together. The best course of action is to just gather whenever you see resource gathering points, and then you’ll be rolling in the ingredients by the time you need potions. You will save money in the long run and you don’t want to be caught with an empty wallet when you’re just a few bucks short of a new weapon.
Your Cat is Your Pal
Monster Hunter’s mascot character, the Palico, is your lifeline in singleplayer. Not only can your partner distract enemies and gather items, they can also heal you and do some degree of appreciable damage themselves. This is a two-way street, as your Palico also counts on you to keep them upgraded, leveled up, and well-rested. Keep a stable of different Palicos to pull out as you need them.
Wave at Balloons
This is just an odd but specific tip, though it is also one that has saved many hunters quite a lot of time. If you are struggling with a monster and have run out of paintballs to track the annoying behemoth when it runs away, search for the Hunter’s Guild Balloon. Whenever you see it in the sky, open the gesture menu and give your air-colleagues a wave, they’ll repay your politeness by showing you the location of the quest’s monster on a map. It’s also a good way to quickly find the monster when you first start the quest.
The Superman Dive
When fighting a large monster and running away from danger, keep the run button held down while you roll. The hunter will do what is colloquially known as the Superman Dive, a panic dive that lets you avoid some of the rougher monster attacks. It can also help you jump off ledges quickly to take a breather. Some high-rank monsters even require mastery of the move to avoid their attacks, so it is smart to get used to it as soon as you can.
Skip the Cutscene
Monster Hunter is very self-indulgent about its monster deaths and will suck up a significant amount of your final sixty seconds with the monster’s death throes. Hit B to skip the cutscene and give yourself more time to carve the monster up. With the extra time, you can walk around the area and gather resources to take home with you.
Trapping is Better Than Killing
Unless you specifically have to kill the monster for the quest, it is almost always better to trap them to finish the quest than to kill. Monsters are at their most dangerous as they approach death and this aggressiveness can take a sure thing and turn it into a three-death defeat. By setting a trap for the monster and then throwing two sleep bombs at it, you not only end the quest successfully, but you also get more materials from the monster. If you are trying to get items for a specific weapon or armor set, it is worth the effort to trap the enemy and bring it home alive.
Have a Guide
I cannot emphasize this enough: Monster Hunter should not be a class you take yourself. It helps to play with someone else, but it is absolutely necessary that you don’t go into the game completely blind. There are so many aspects of the game that are just explained poorly or not at all that require the outside resources to fully grasp. Monster Hunter did not fully click for me until I had people willing to guide me to competency and the biggest tip I can provide is to party up with players who want to help.
Imran Khan is a San Francisco-based writer that tweets @imranzomg.