Monster Hunter: A brief beginner’s guide

by Ben Kirby
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Monster Hunter: Rise came out on Friday! So Nintendo Switch owners and Monster Hunter fans around the world are in for a treat.

What if you’re a Switch owner and Monster Hunter curious? Is it worth spending £40 on a game that people seem to love? Well that’s yet to be seen, although early reviews are looking great.

How about a quick run-down of what to expect, and what to do in those all-important first few hours of a Monster Hunter game?

Note that this isn’t all specific to Monster Hunter: Rise, but the series in general, especially Monster Hunter: World.

If you can get your head into some of the core concepts, you’ll be way ahead of the other beginners.  So it’s worth a few minutes of your time, to try and understand what’s going on.

Monster Hunter

The core loop

Ok, it’s in the title “Monster Hunter”. You hunt monsters. No surprises here.

The thing is, each monster has it’s own dance to learn, you have to familiarise yourself with their attacks, their movements and how to become the lead in that dance.  So each monster is a different challenge. Cool!

Why hunt all these monsters though? Why bother learning them?

Story aside, the core gameplay loop of Monster Hunter is that of crafting gear (weapon/armour) and becoming more powerful, with a view to moving up to harder hunts.  So, you want to prepare yourself to farm some monsters over and over.

It’s worth noting at this point, too, that farming monsters in the initial Low Rank hunts isn’t really worthwhile.  Get yourself one full set of armour to blast through those hunts.  Wasting all that zenny (currency) and those monster parts is a little redundant as you’ll soon be in the High Rank hunts, and that’s where your stats truly matter.

So, hunting, crafting and learning how to tackle each foe and the environment that they’re in.  That’s the core.

In black and white, it maybe doesn’t sound exhilarating, but trust me, it’s excellent.

If you understand what you’re doing, you’re half-way there.  Starting in Monster Hunter: World, I wasn’t really aware of this, and thought it was a story-based adventure. I bet it took me 20-25 hours before it all “clicked” into place for me.

Weapon choice

Another big element of Monster Hunter is the weapon selection.  Monster Hunter: Rise has 14 weapons to choose from.  Each of them changes how you play the game. Do you want to play at range with a bow, or bow gun?  Do you want a slow-paced, heavy-hitting hammer or greatsword?  Or perhaps you want mobility and the option to pepper your targets with damage in the air with the Insect Glaive?

Monster Hunter is nothing but generous in giving you options and flexibility in your approach.

My advice would be to not lock yourself into the first weapon you pick.  You can swap and craft new versions of anything you want, at any time.  So don’t feel that you “have” to craft just the weapon you’ve been using.

Get yourself into the training area and have a play.  Watch some guides and videos on YouTube to understand how they work, because I don’t think the games do a great job of educating new players.

I spent my first 10 hours in Monster Hunter: World using the Charge Blade, which was great, and I was getting by.  I had no real idea of combos, or how to properly charge/discharge it though.  I was only getting a small fraction of the benefits of it!

Mix it up, find your flow and don’t be afraid to swap if you’re not feeling it. Monster Hunter is all about options.  Craft new, better stuff and see if you’re getting the most out of what you have!

Play with others

I know that none of my friends care enough about Monster Hunter to buy a Switch, or to spend £40 on a game they don’t really know anything about.  Bummer…

Actually, no.  I found myself in a happy bubble of responding to quests posted online (in-game) and responding to SOS requests.  Furthermore, I realised that firing-off an SOS flare isn’t a sign of weakness or inability, but the best way to get a full hunting party on your current quest.

Once you see a full group of 4 hunters going for it, and not all carting, ruining the hunt.  You really see what Monster Hunter is about.  To me, it’s a social game, it’s not a solo game, and even with communication by auto-responses, stickers and emotes, 99% of the time, people are just as pumped to be playing as you are.

Get in and help people on low-rank hunts that you remember struggling with.  Ask for support from fellow hunters when you need it, and join in on as many online activities as you can.  That’s where Monster Hunter truly comes to life.

Work on builds

Weapons, armour, gems, talismans. You have a lot of options when it comes to your build, and rocking full sets of a specific armour will allow you to unlock higher-levels of specific buffs.

Work out what you want/need to be better, it could be quicker sharpening or better chance at critical attacks? Maybe you want maximum damage output and better defense stats.  The numbers game is what drives Monster Hunter.

Again, the internet is a wonderful resource and the Monster Hunter community is HUGE. You’ll find people creating resources around specific builds to best suit your weapon choice/play-style.

If you want to be the best version of your style of hunter, this is where the game comes to life.  If you’re a big min/max kinda player, Monster Hunter is for you!


Take yourself out on an expedition. Learn the lay of the land. Find those spots for mining outcrops, mushroom colonies, different bugs etc.  Go collecting and just have a mooch about.

Monster Hunter can be a super-focused game, where you’re hunting and farming the same monsters over and over.  But it can be a chilled experience, where you go exploring, and even largely ignore the monsters if you want.

You’re always going to need ores and bones for gear. You’re going to need endemic life and items from the world to craft items and tools.  Just talk a walk around, learn the areas and take it all in.  It’s good to take some downtime, and you’re going to return with loads of good stuff you can use to build and craft.

Just have fun

I wrote about carting the other day, and yes, Monster Hunter can become pretty sweaty, especially on high rank, and eventual master ranks.  But take a step back, and remember, it’s a game.

Better still the series and namely Monster Hunter: World and Rise are refined, honed and built to be more accessible than ever before.  These are great looking, fun to play games and why do we all play games?

Escape reality, have a good time and get that gear!

Have fun out there hunter, I’ll catch you out on an SOS call sometime.

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