Welcome, new hunters. Let me guide you through your first few hours with Monster Hunter: World. Whether you're a veteran wanting to know what's changed or entirely new to the series, you'll find these tips useful.
This post originally appeared in January. We updated it in February with some new and advanced tips, and are bumping it up again today because the PC version just came out.
If you played the beta, you might have found it overwhelming. I certainly did. The good news is that the full game does a much better job of introducing all the systems to you gradually over a period of hours, but it would still be a stretch to call Monster Hunter: Worldaccessible. This advice will give you an edge before you start.
First, pick a weapon
Monster Hunter is really very simple: go out, kill things, make better equipment, kill bigger things. Still, parts of the game are needlessly complicated. The first thing you need to do is pick a weapon.
There are 14 to choose from - all of which have appeared in previous Monster Hunter games - and there are star ratings that show how easy they are for beginners to use. There are close-up weapons like big ol' swords and axes, flashy weapons like the Insect Glaive (a sort of sharp pole you can vault with), and ranged Bowguns for shooting monsters from afar. Good beginner weapons are: Long Sword, Sword and Shield, Dual Swords, Light Bowgun.
You can go to your room to access the Training Ground, where on-screen prompts will help you learn your weapon's combos. This is definitely worth doing at least once. After a bit of grounding, you can learn on the job. I'd also recommend watching YouTube videos to learn advanced combos, once you're comfortable with a couple of different weapon techniques. The Training Ground doesn't teach you everything.
Get better weapons and armour
Once you start killing monsters, you'll want to go to the Workshop to make better gear out of their remains. There are complicated upgrade trees for weapons, but at the beginning, all you need to know is that all upgrades will help. Don't agonize for ages trying to work out which one to pick. There is no point hoarding your upgrade spheres and monster materials, so just spend away.
Armour is more simple: there are no upgrade trees. You just craft the best armour you can from the monster parts you have. There are lots of stats to get to know, but for the early game, go for whatever has the biggest Defence number. Or, more importantly, whatever looks most fashionable. Monster Hunter armour can get very silly. Embrace it.
Eat a meal before every hunt - or during hunts
Meals eaten at the canteen run by the one-eyed cat give you boosts to health, attack, defence, and lots more. The meals get better as the game goes on, and you can complete optional quests to expand the ingredients on offer. Plus, the cooking animation is hilarious. You can also eat meals at the campfire at any campsite out in the field, or even cook for yourself using the BBQ Spit in your item pouch and some Raw Meat gathered from small monsters. Just press the button right after the music finishes and you'll have a Well-Done Steak to restore your stamina.
You'll collect lots of plants, bugs, mushrooms and other stuff on your adventures. This can all be used to make useful items that can give you an edge in a fight, like power-enhancing potions or antidotes that cure ailments.
You can do this out in the field through the menus, or by standing next to your item box and using the Crafting List. The latter is easiest. There's also an automatic crafting feature, which is helpfully turned on at the start. Whenever you pick up the ingredients for a potion or other common item, the game will auto-craft it for you.
Dung is really useful
This sounds ridiculous, but pick up dung whenever you see it. If you throw dung at a big monster, it will run away. This is massively useful when you're hunting down a manageable beast and a much bigger one suddenly turns up and joins the party.
Look at the map
The map in Monster Hunter: World is your most useful tool. As you explore each new environment, it will fill up with icons that show you where gathering points are, where monsters are, where the camps are, and anything else you might need to know. Look at it often.
Enter your tent at camp
At camp, you can do anything you might need to do mid-quest. You can eat at the campfire, and you can enter your tent to change equipment, deposit stuff you've foraged, or craft items. It's often worth coming back in the middle of an arduous fight to re-stock yourself.
Take time to explore
An hour or so into the game you will be allowed to go on Expeditions. This is Monster Hunter: World's free-roam mode. There are no objectives or time limits, and you can explore freely, avoiding or fighting creatures as you see fit. Definitely take the time to do this. It's an invaluable way of getting to know the beautiful places that Monster Hunter: World sends you to, and they're all full of secret nooks. I was still finding new places in the Ancient Forest, the first area, 20 hours into the game.
Out in the field, monsters leave traces: tracks, gouges, mucus, shed scales. Examining these traces builds up a better understanding of the monster. Your useful Scoutflies will then blaze a green trail towards it, allowing you to keep track. It will also be marked on your map.
Select the monster you want to follow on the map, and the Scoutflies will do the rest. It's important to keep examining tracks throughout the game, even after you've fought a monster once. The more you examine, the more your Scoutflies level up, so eventually you'll be able to pinpoint a creature's exact location on the map without examining so much as a footprint.
Use your slinger
The slinger is a versatile tool that can be a crossbow or a grapple hook. You pick up ammo for it from the ground, like rocks, seeds, and moss. The slinger will equip whatever ammo you last picked up.
Generally it doesn't do much damage to monsters, but it's a useful tool for exploring the environment. Look around to see grappling points, hanging rocks that you can shoot and drop on a monster, or traps that you can spring by firing a rock at them, such as plants that ooze poison. You can also distract a monster by firing something at a wall, if you're trying to sneak past it.
Sometimes red glowing things will drop onto the floor whilst you are fighting a monster. This is powerful slinger ammo, like Bombs and Stingers, so pick them up when you have a spare moment. They will usually stagger a monster.