So, you’ve decided to get into Monster Hunter Rise. Welcome! The first decision you’ll have to make — after going through the character creator, cat character creator, and dog character creator — is what weapon to use. Monster Hunter gives you access to every weapon type in the game right off the bat, and that can be a little overwhelming. It doesn’t help that Rise is pretty bad at explaining how to get started. What you should know is that weapon types in Monster Hunter are more like different classes in an RPG or characters in a fighting game than different guns in an FPS. They all come with different abilities, levels of mobility, and advanced skills.
Your first order of business in Rise should be heading to the Training Room to get a feel for your weapon of choice. But which should you pick? I’ve broken the game’s weapon types down into three groups to make things a little easier. Remember that you can try out a different weapon type whenever you want, and that you can check the Weapon Controls section in your Hunter Notes to get a quick rundown of each weapon at any time.
If you’re brand new to Monster Hunter and you want to start with something simple, these weapons are your best bet. They have a minimum of mechanics and have useful features that are helpful for beginners and can really shine in the hands of an experienced hunter.
Sword & Shield
The Sword & Shield is one of the most versatile weapons in Monster Hunter Rise. You get some easy combos, a pretty good guard, and great mobility — you move just as quickly with the Sword & Shield out as you do with it on your back. There are no gauges or extra mechanics to worry about, so you can focus on learning monster behavior and the general controls of the game.
The humble Lance is deceptively powerful. It not only attacks quickly, but has the best guard in the game, letting you tank all but the gnarliest hits. Plus, it has surprising mobility with its charging attack, and doesn’t have any gauges or meters to worry about. While it’s not the flashiest weapon, the Lance is an all-around workhorse that can be paired with the Diversion skill later on to play a tank role in multiplayer by drawing and soaking hits.
The Switch Axe might look intimidating, but it’s much simpler than its cousin the Charge Axe. Basically, you’ve got an axe that builds up a meter as you dish out damage. When you fill it up, you can morph your axe into a sword that hits harder and adds extra effects to your blows depending on the phial type of the particular Switch Axe you’re using. Pretty straightforward, and can be devastating when you get the hang of when and how to morph.
It’s a Hammer. You hit things with it. You can charge it up to make it hit things harder. Contrary to this weapon type’s reputation in most games, the Hammer in Monster Hunter is actually pretty speedy and agile. More than any other weapon type, the Hammer is great at stunning monsters, so be sure to bonk them on the head as much as you can.
2. Intermediate Picks
These weapons aren’t quite as simple as those above, but they’re still pretty reasonable for new players to work with.
In Monster Hunter World, the Bow was one of the best weapons for new players. In Rise, though, it’s more of a support weapon and takes some getting used to. It’s an okay choice for beginners, but has a bit of a learning curve. Unlike in most games, the Bow is a close-range weapon more akin to a shotgun-type gun than a long-ranged sniper. The idea is to get close, but not too close, then unleash a hail of arrows. The Bow is the only weapon in Rise that expends stamina just to attack, and it has some complexities in its ability to load different kinds of arrows and fire different support shots, but it’s nowhere near as complicated in this regard as the Bowguns.
If you start with the Great Sword, you’ll probably be shocked at how slowly your character swings it. After getting jerked around by monsters interrupting your glacial attacks, one of two things will happen — you’ll switch to a different weapon, or you’ll get really good at reading monsters and taking openings as you see them. The Great Sword is a powerful weapon and a good teacher, but can be frustrating until you get the hang of it.
Dual Blades are probably the most single-minded weapon type in Monster Hunter — they’re all about hitting things very much and very quickly. You’ll be agile, but the lack of any real defensive capabilities can be tough for new players. Plus, to really get the most out of them you have to manage a gauge that allows you to switch into a different stance but depletes over time.
It has less pure defensive power than the Lance and doesn’t hit quite as quickly, but the Gunlance makes up for that with shelling attacks, which are great for breaking monster parts. You’ll have to make sure to reload every once in a while, but the Gunlance is an interesting intermediary step between the simplest weapons in Monster Hunter and some of the more complex ones.
3. Use Caution
Now we’re getting into it. These are the weapons that still confuse even veteran Monster Hunter players. Either they use specialized ammunition, they have multiple sets of mechanics, or they’re just the Charge Blade, you’re going to have a hard time if you start with any of these. That said, don’t be afraid to take them into Training to try them out, because with practice they can be some of the most rewarding weapons in the game.
It’s a lot simpler than it was in previous games, but the Hunting Horn is still more complicated than most weapons in Monster Hunter Rise. It’s a blunt weapon that casts helpful buffs for you and your fellow hunters, and the Rampage Horn in particular is being touted as one of the best weapons in the game right now, but has a steep learning curve and is at its peak effectiveness in a group rather than solo.
Managing Editor and fellow hunter Steven Strom has tried to explain to me multiple times how the Charge Blade works and I still don’t get it. It sure looks cool, though.
The Insect Glaive is two gimmicks in one — acrobatics and pet management. With a Palico and Palamute, you probably already have enough animal friends to worry about, so adding a bug into the mix will probably feel a little overwhelming. Very fun, but throws a lot at you right away.
Whether Light or Heavy, Bowguns require you to purchase, craft, and keep track of various forms of ammunition. These are incredibly flexible weapons, with different ammo types allowing hunters to inflict status effects, heal teammates, and do big damage — but having to worry about your reserves adds another layer of complexity to hunts that beginner players don’t need.
Ok, so the Long Sword actually isn’t that complicated. I put it here because if you start with it, there is a very real chance you will never try anything else — lots of players seem to start with the Long Sword and just get stuck there. If you do use it, try not to smack around your teammates too much, ok?