This blog is a follow up to my previous three posts: Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter?, Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter? Part 2 - Weapons, and Thinking About Diving into Monster Hunter? Part 3 - Armor. If you’re thinking about getting the game, or got it and are a little bewildered by it I would suggest you check out both of those posts!
It occurred to me I perhaps should have done this blog second or maybe third. What I've posted is getting a little long and I think this will be my last post on the Monster Hunter. If anyone is still interested or has questions feel free to drop a comment as I try to follow all the comments on my blog posts.
This blog post will be all about the hunt, sort of the namesake of MH. Hunting is really divided up into two portions: Preparation and Execution, and this post will outline those aspects separately.
Monster Hunter is a series that is as much about planning as it is about execution. This aspect is one of the key things that sets it apart from any other action based game. My previous points somewhat foreshadowed that, talking about Weapon Choice and Armor Choice, both of which are in essence preparative acts. But the immediate preparation for a hunt is another layer of preparation that a lot of other games don’t have and is sort of a defining characteristic of Monster Hunter.
The primary aspect of hunt prep is consumables. If you play a little you will often notice little nodes strewn around the map where you can gather things like herbs, mushrooms, whetstones, stones, and a panoply of other things. While some of these things are used to craft/upgrade gear, a majority of them are intended to be combined with other things to make consumeables which will help you take down monsters easier.
Most people see item collection for consumables a bit of a burden in MH, including myself (seriously I need more spider webs!!!). Luckily, the Farm and the Fishing Fleet in the single player campaign give you a steady stream of materials to make consumables. Both the farm and the fishing fleet are unlocked as you play through the beginning stages of the early game.
Take advantage of these, even if you play on line, make an effort to get through the offline portion of low rank stuff to upgrade your farm / fishing fleet. It pays off bigtime once you get to high rank saving you both time and money in game.
Consumables and Item Combos
The obvious question I wanted to get to quickly is this: What do I need to make consumables which are useful? The answer to this is that it depends on the monster. But ultimately, consumables are massively effective and should not be avoided. A well placed / timed flash bomb can be the difference between a 5 minute kill on a rathalos, or a 15 minute kill. Bombs can do more damage than you can in a short amount of time, etc. While not all monsters are affected by all consumables, most are by one or two. Here is a short list of what I think is most important, along with their combinations. (Note that before trying to combine them, it’s recommended that you buy the combination manuals from the vendor so that when combining in your box the combo rate will be 100%).
Shock Trap - Thunderbug + Trap Tool
Pitfall Trap - Net + Trap Tool
Flash Bomb - Flashbug + Bomb Casing
Sonic Bomb - Gunpowder + Screamer
Dung Bomb - Dung + Bomb Casing
Potion - Herb + Blue Mushroom
Mega Potion - Potion + Honey
Barrel Bomb L - Large Barrel + Gunpowder
Barrel Bomb L+ - Barrel Bomb L + Scatterfish
Barrel Bomb S - Small Barrel + Fire Herb
Using these consumables at the right moment can render monsters incapacitated for 5-20 seconds, giving you ample time to beat on them to break their parts, or just put out damage. A lot of new players don’t understand the use of consumables, but one of the keys to quick runs is utilizing consumables to increase your effective time to damage monsters. Just note that when monsters are ‘enraged’ (next section) the consumables will have diminished or no effect, and also after using one type on an enemy the next one of the same type may have diminished effect (e.g. using 2 shock traps on an enemy in 1 hunt).
The Hunt (Execution)
The other big aspect of hunting is actually taking on the monster itself. I don’t want to go too much into combat mechanics here, but rather things to keep in mind while hunting. One of the most mystifying things for many new players is things like trapping enemies, or why they sometimes become more dangerous or ferocious, and that is what this section will be about.
Monsters have 5 states, more or less, and each one indicates something different.
A patrolling ‘unalert’ state, which is what they are in default before they have detected you as the hunter. A monster going from their unalert state to alert will always have the cheesy red exclamation point, as well as some sort of “fanfare” which you can usually take advantage of to deal a little damage, though this will often be a Roar, which will leave you prone unless you are using the armor skill Earplugs or Earplugs HG.
The next state is the “normal” combat state. This is the state the monster is in by default when the fight starts. This state will last depending on the rate at which you damage the enemy and honestly I don’t know all the details for this state change.
The next state is when the monster is most weak. For most monsters, after about 5 minutes it will become Exhausted (though, this depends on the monster and the weapon you are using). You can tell when a monster is exhausted by two things. Not only will it be more slow or docile, but it may attempt to attack and end up flopping on the ground at the end of its attack,’ but the better tell is to look at its mouth. If the monster looks like its drooling, it’s probably exhausted. Take advantage of this state as much as you can. Exhausted monsters are more affected by consumables (Traps last twice as long, for example) and are generally much easier to connect with in terms of attack.
Exhausted monsters will often try to do something to regain some of their stamina. In order to do this they either need to a) eat or b) sleep. If you can interrupt either, you can prevent the monster from regaining stamina and you will probably have an easier time killing it. So, if a monster ‘flees’ an area, try to chase it as best you can (paintballs come in handy here). They tend to move faster than you, but if you are diligent you can generally catch up before its too late.
Monsters will also enrage. This is where monsters are much more problematic. Enraged monsters move more quickly, and often deal more damage. They have less “recovery time” after each attack, and consumables will last less time or not work at all. If a monster just started kicking your ass seemingly out of nowhere, it probably went into rage mode.
Monsters go into rage mode for various reasons, though it’s usually marked by a large roar to indicate that it’s pissed. Additionally, enraged monsters also have puffs of smoke either white or black that will come out of its face or other body parts. Some monsters it’s very easy to tell if they are enraged (deviljho), while others may need a more trained eye (diablos). But look for that smoke coming out of the monster’s mouth or head orifice, as that’s usually the tell.
Triggering enrage mode is tricky and I believe it is a combination of time spent fighting, damage taken, and “staggers” or “breaks” (See below). Often, once you break a monster part, they will stagger, roar, and then go into full rage mode.
Note that rage mode overrides exhausted, so even if the monster was exhausted it can still be dangerous if it goes into rage mode (which it will) so be alert.
This isn’t exactly a monster “state” but I list it as one anyway. Once a monster has taken 90% of its hp in damage it will begin limping. This is only visible when it is either a) walking around unalerted, or b) transitioning from one area to another or retreating.
Limping is important because it is the indication that you are almost done with the fight, or that you need to capture the enemy. Some players mistakenly think the “drooling” tell is an indication that a monster is ready for capture (At least I did as a newb), but that is wrong. When the monster begins to limp, that is your signal to capture it. If you’re on a capture quest (or just like capturing because of the rewards / reduced time) keep an eye out for this tell.
Monsters have two types of health pools. First, the general health pool. This is the monster’s total HP. Once it is depleted to zero, the monster dies. But as you may have noticed, monsters do not have HP bars, so guaging how much damage you are doing to them is more nuanced. You can see if you’re doing effective damage by staggers, breaks, (below) and the limping from above.
In MH every monster consists of multiple “hitzones.” Each hit does damage depending on how vulnerable that part is. In general, monsters tend to be most vulnerable in the head or the stomach and least vulnerable in the back or the wings (though there are exceptions to this rule). Hitting a monster in the head might do 4 times as much damage as hitting it in the leg. However, hitting in the leg may be significantly easier, so don’t pass on opportunity for free attacks just because it isn’t the weakest point.
In many action games, combos are dependent on “staggering” the enemy, where the first hit knocks the monster back a little, and the next hit continues this knockback animation. MH has a stagger system but it’s nothing like this. Generally, once a body part reaches a threshold of damage, it will stagger. This generally applies to all body parts. Staggering an enemy at the right time can knock them down, giving you free time to wail on them, though timing staggers is generally impossible (or doable with an insane amount of practice vs a single monster).
This is one of the key indications that you are actually hurting the monster and progressing. Additionally, as the monster becomes more injured, the stagger threshold reduces. This means that if you seem to be knocking the monster down a ton in a short amount of time, it’s probably close to dead, so keep at it!
Breaking / Cutting
(Rathalos with tail vs. tail sever)
Breaking is one of the key aspects of MH. Breaking monster parts serves three purposes. First: it indicates that you are making progress toward taking down a monster, second: it often reduces the effectiveness of a monster, and third: it increases your rewards at the end of the fight (even more if you capture).
You may have noticed this as all large monsters have at least 1 breakable part. Great jaggi’s “frill” around his neck will break if you hit him in the face enough, Azuros’ claws will break if you hit his hands, etc. etc. Some monsters will be seriously impaired if you can break their parts, for example Barioth becomes a pushover if his wings are broken, and most monsters have a ‘tail whip’ which is reduced in range if the tail is cut off.
Breaking and Cutting is key to getting the parts of the monster you need to make gear, as well as making the monster easier to fight, so go for those breakable parts!
One last note, because I found it completely mystifying when I was new, is on capturing monsters. To ‘cap’ a monster, you need to have 3 conditions: It needs to be trapped, it needs to be tranquilized, and it needs to have 10% or less of its life left. When I was new, this seemed overwhelming and when I was hunting for materials I often chose kill quests over cap quests, but now that I’m more experienced I almost exclusively capture monsters.
It is simply much faster because it’s 10% less damage that you have to deal. Admittedly, you have to be careful if you can kill monsters quickly, but by paying attention (or taking the skill Perception / Capture Guru and using a paintball - the mark on the minimap will flash when it’s ready to be captured) you can reduce the time to finish the hunt by 10% which is significant. Additionally, you get better rewards at the end of the mission, typically more rare materials which is often more useful than the normal materials you can gain from the 3-4 carves you get on monsters normally after killing them.
One of the other problems can be preparation and trap placement. When going on a cap quest keep in mind the following: You will always be “gifted” with a free trap. However, always take one of your own as well. While it is nice to have the free trap, nothing sucks more than beating a monster into submission then failing a mission because the monster didn’t trigger the trap, or while it was trapped you couldn’t tranq it.
Second, don’t be hasty with your traps! While it may be tempting to try an “intercept” a monster before he leaves the area, make sure you have time to set the trap up to stop it before it does, otherwise the trap will be wasted and any time you saved from doing a cap quest is lost (because you can only have 1 trap down at a time). When you are trapping an enemy do it either when they are in a long animation (i.e. the Qurupeco Buff Dance) or put the trap in a place you KNOW the monster will step on or wait until it runs off to take a nap and trap it while it’s sleeping.
Once trapped, toss your tranq bombs or shoot your tranq shots and thats it.
Welp, that concludes my MH beginners stuff. It’s huge, almost essay like and I apologize for that. I’ve tried to strike a balance between being clear and comprehensive, and being concise and easy for beginners to understand. So I hope you enjoyed it, and as long as I reached one new player I will consider this forray worth it.