Awakened Weapons are an exciting, highly customizable new feature in MHW. But each Awakened Weapon is really all about its Awakened Abilities. These come built into each weapon, as you acquire them from Safi’Jiva, and can be added to as you increase the weapon’s potential. You can read all about that in our basic Awakened Weapons MHW guide. That’s only the beginning, though.
In this guide, we’ve mapped out the best Awakened Abilities to shoot for and how to choose the best Awakened skills for you. While some choices are applicable for a wide variety of weapon types, there are also some wrinkles. It’s a complex system, but a rewarding one as well! Now let’s dive right into the best Monster Hunter World Awakened Weapon skills.
Awakened Level, Dracolite Cost, & Ability Rarity – MHW Awakened Weapon Skills
Before talking about specific Awakened skills, we should talk about the abilities themselves. First you need to worry about your Awakened Level. This is the sum total of your Awakened Weapon’s abilities, based on rarity. A weapon that stars with a five-star Awakened Ability, for instance, will start at Awakened Level 5. Adding a second, three-star ability would raise that level to eight. A two-star ability on top of that adds up to Awakened Level 10 — and so on.
For each Awakened Level, the total number of points you need to unlock new Awakened Abilities (either by spending Dracolate or fighting Safi’Jiva with the weapon equipped) increases. Anecdotally, however, this also seems to increase the rate at which you unlock higher-level skills. Put simply: a weapon with Awakened Level 13 is more likely to get four-, five-, and six-star skills than one with Awakened Level 12 (and so on) as your level increases.
Awakened Abilities can also stack. Though that’s only possible if the second stack of the ability is lower than the first. For example, if you have Attack Increase IV, but then try to add Attack Increase V, the stronger version of the skill will overwrite the weaker one. The opposite is true for weaker skills. If you have Attack Increase V, and then add Attack Increase IV, the second skill will be added to another ability slot — applying its full damage value.
At the same time, six-star abilities only appear if you have a five-star version of that same skill applied already. And you can only have one six-star Awakened Ability per weapon. Trying to add a second six-star skill will automatically reduce the first back down to Level 5.
That’s why it’s often good to fill your Awakened Weapon slots with lower-level abilities… at least to start. Doing so will first make your Awakened Weapon more powerful, if only a little bit. You can then use them for faster, safer Safi’Jiva hunts. You’ll accrue free potential each hunt that way, while also farming more Dracolite to further juice any weapon of your choice.
In addition, your higher Awakened Level will produce greater-rarity skills to choose from each time you roll for new Awakened Abilities. For now, this seems to be the most time and resource efficient way to increase your Safi’Jiva weapon’s level.
Basic Melee Awakened Weapons – MHW Awakened Weapon Skills
Poison is mathematically one of the best status ailments in the game. It’s applicable against all monsters in the game so far (except Zorah Magdaros, which is a bit of a special case). And even enemies with a one-star weakness tend to the damage type take the same number of Poison procs throughout a hunt (about three).
This makes Poison Awakened Weapons a good choice if you don’t know what else to pick. That’s doubly true for any weapons that don’t have Gold Rathian variants (e.g. Lance, Insect Glaive). Prior to the release of Awakened Weapons, Gold Rathian weapons were nearly always the best in the game, thanks to their across-the-board high levels in raw damage, Poison, sharpness, and critical hit chance.
That’s not the end of the story, however. Every Awakened Weapon in MHW can also have one level of an armor set skill. For example, having one level of Teostra Technique on your weapon counts as wearing one piece of the Teostra (Kaiser) armor. Instead of needing to wear three pieces of Teostra gear, you can substitute this weapon skill and only wear two Kaiser pieces to get the full Teostra Technique skill.
No matter what armor skill you shoot for, this opens up a great deal of build options. Set bonusesthat previously couldn’t stack, thanks to the limited number of gear slots on your hunter, now can. But Teostra Technique (a.k.a. Master’s Touch) is particularly appealing (at least for most melee weapons). It guarantees you won’t lose any sharpness during critical hits. Crits are, in turn, one of the most important ways to deal extra damage in MHW.
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Maxing out your Affinity (critical hit chance) is typically more efficient than boosting your attack. That’s partially because, unlike your attack damage, criticals often stack with things like Teostra Technique, Critical Element, or Critical Status. That means your crits deal more damage than usual — while triggering other skills that deal more damage or save you downtime on weapon maintenance (effectively raising your damage over time again).
The short version? Crits are always good! Teostra Technique is also good because it makes crits even more useful. Not to mention Master Rank Teostra armor is pretty powerful, as well. Including the Teostra Technique skill on your Awakened Weapon lets you activate this powerful ability, while opening up more build damage.
That’s where Blast damage comes in. This is an often underrated damage type in MHW. While it doesn’t always deal as much pure damage over time as Poison, it has a couple other benefits. Unlike Poison, it can break monster parts — which is something you usually want when farming specific materials, or to shut down monster abilities. Blast damage also doesn’t decay over time. Whereas Poison drains out of a monster if you’re not attacking them fast enough, or frequently enough. Blast gives you extra wiggle room.
Several pieces of Teostra armor also come with the Blast Attack skill. This lets you build up Blast more quickly, in addition to giving you more build options around Teostra’s Technique. You can wear the Kaiser Coil, which also comes with exceptional Decoration slots, for instance, without wasting the innate skill it provides.
Ranged Weapons – MHW Awakened Weapon Skills
Things get more complicated when you move away from strictly melee weapons. Bows and Bowguns don’t have sharpness at all. Whereas Gunlance shells cannot crit. That makes Teostra Technique less important, or downright useless on each of these weapon types.
Common wisdom dictates that, in Iceborne, Bows get the most mileage out of elemental damage. That makes Silver Rathalos Essence an extremely valuable skill to equip these Awakened Weapons with.
The four-piece Silver Rathalos set bonus gives you True Critical Element — increasing the elemental damage you deal on critical hits. This has always been a bit of a pain to acquire, since Silver Rathalos armor isn’t the best on its own. Knocking down the requirements from four pieces to three, however, makes it much more palatable. It even leaves room for a second, two-piece set bonus! Besides that, try for the six-star elemental damage skill on any Awakened Bow. Since these Safi’Jiva weapons are Rarity 12 (thus can’t use Custom Augments) this is one of the best ways to boost your elemental damage.
Now we’ve reached something even more complex than the Bow or Gunlance: Light and Heavy Bowguns. These are unique among Awakened Weapons. Unlike their peers, they actually get different ammo types depending on their elemental style. These, in turn, have different stats of their own — like Recoil and Reload Time.
More than any other Awakened Weapon, Bowguns must be designed according to the specific player’s needs. Although there are a few tips.
Recoil Suppression basically never goes amiss as an Awakened Ability. It lets you fire faster and maneuver more easily. While that may seem like a waste of an ability slot, given that you can also reduce recoil with Bowgun mods, consider the mods themselves. They also have a limited number of slots. Each one you put towards recoil or reload means one less to put towards close-range damage (if you’re using Spread Ammo). In which case, you should always go for Recoil Suppression on Bowguns with Spread Ammo 3 (as it’s the most powerful close-range ammo type).
Gunlances – MHW Awakened Weapon Skills
Gunlances are also interesting. They support a variety of play styles depending on the type of shells they use. In the case of Awakened Weapons, these are Normal Shells by default. Although you can boost their power and change the type with Awakened Abilities. Long Shells have greater range and power than Normal, but fewer shots. Wide Shells normally do the most damage. However, they have the least amount of ammo, and do less damage than a Long Gunlance if you charge your shots.
Whatever Gunlance you create, the Zorah Magdaros Essence skill is great. It reduces the total number of Zorah Magdaros armor pieces you need to reach Artillery Level 5 (from three pieces to two). Artillery 5 doesn’t just increase the power of your shells. It also cuts the cooldown on your Wyvern’s Fire super-attack by 70 percent. That’s always useful on a Gunlance!
As for elements, Wide Shell Gunlances should always try for Blast damage. That’s because the Wide Shell playstyle is all about poking the enemy repeatedly and firing shells with a tap of the Circle or B button in between. Blast is currently the strongest status effect for raw damage. It also comes with several quality-of-life benefits over Poison (as outlined in the Basic Melee Weapons section).
Normal Gunlances can also go for Blast damage. Although trying for specific elements might be useful against specific creatures, since you tend to use the “lance” part of the Gunlance more with these shells. Normal Shells are all about the “full burst” playstatyle — where one completes a melee combo and detonates all their shells at once at the end.
Long Shell Gunlances, meanwhile, don’t need to worry too much about elements at all. They’re best used with charged shelling, which doesn’t factor in elements, status effects, or crits at all. If you need to pick something, Blast is still good, since its buildup doesn’t decay inside a monster over time. You probably won’t poke a creature very often while charging. So you might as well get the occasional Blast proc.
Hunting Horn Songs – MHW Awakened Weapon Skills
Hunting Horns work an awful lot like the Gunlance. Except it doesn’t change shelling levels and types according to Awakened skills; it gets different songs. These songs even change based on the level of the ability! So the Stamina Melody IV Awakened Ability has different tunes than Stamina Melody III.
But like the Bowguns, this comes down to personal preference. You should lean into whatever song types you think are the most useful for your team, or in random groups. That being said: Attack Up (S) and Attack Up (L) are generally considered the best in the game. When you encore the two songs, there’s only a five percent difference in the offensive buffs they provide (15 percent versus 20 percent). Don’t feel obligated to only shoot for a melody with Attack Up (L)!
Besides this, Hunting Horns are some of the most open-ended weapons in the game. They don’t burn through sharpness quickly, can’t be deflected (usually), and don’t use stamina. Combined with defensive songs, you can reduce or ignore some defensive skills that would otherwise take up armor and Decoration slots. The same goes for regenerating health (with the right song, of course).
The Diablos Ambition armor skill might be useful here, though. That allows you to mix and match just two parts from the Diablos and Black Diablos armor sets to unlock Slugger Level 5. Since the Hunting Horn is a blunt weapon, it deals stun damage. The extra 60 percent stun damage from Slugger 5 can go a long way — especially if you have the Impact Echo Wave song. This lets you quickly deal stun damage in a massive radius.
There you have it! This is our guide to picking the best MHW Awakened skills for your Safi’Jiva gear. We’ll be sure to update it with new information as the game develops, more monsters appear, or if new weapon types unlock. If this latest siege is anything like Arch-Tempered Kulve Taroth before it, we’re likely in for something extra down the line. Until then: happy hunting!