Monster Hunter is a series built around weird weapons. Like yeah, there’s a lance. But there’s also a lance with a cannon on the end of it. An axe? How about an axe that turns into a sword? How about two different kinds of sword-axes? But one of the oddest weapons of all is the Hunting Horn, a musical slash blunt instrument of big lizard destruction that allows its user to play songs which grant useful buffs. For a long time, the Hunting Horn has ranked near the bottom of most Monster Hunter weapon popularity polls, and it’s not hard to see why — historically, the Hunting Horn has been a difficult weapon to use, and it’s shined best in group situations rather than solo. But Monster Hunter Rise has changed all that.
It used to be that you had to take a break from bonking monsters to bust out a solo on the Hunting Horn — and that mode is still available as a Switch Skill. But by default, the Hunting Horn now busts out the jams as you attack, so you can wail on your Poison Fungusax as you whale away on a Khezu.
Managing Editor Steven Strom tried to explain this all to me back when the Rise demo launched, but I still wrote the Hunting Horn off as a little too complex for me. That changed almost immediately when I decided to give the weapon a shot after completing most of the game with my trusty Great Sword. The Hunting Horn is — to use Monster Hunter community parlance — extremely comfy. It can heal you, give you Earplugs (one of the best skills in the game), up your attack and defense, and stun monsters with sonic booms.
Plus, it’s just really fun to use. My go-to combo is a three-hit string that involves slamming the horn down, kicking it back up, then swinging it horizontally. That sets me up to bust out a Magnificent Trio, which activates all of my melody effects in a stylish and fluid series of blows. The Magnificent Trio can be further boosted with an Infernal Melody once its gauge is full, which boosts me and my friends’ attack power significantly.
The Hunting Horn does have its weaknesses. The best Horn in the game right now, the Rampage Agitato, sacrifices a Ramp-Up skill slot for the ability to switch out its melodies, which isn’t a big deal at the moment but may become more of a factor as better Rampage Weapons are released with later updates. Additionally, Hunting Horn users have nothing in the way of defensive maneuvers, so they have to rely on dodge rolls to avoid taking hits.
Still, I can’t help but wonder whether Capcom may have overcorrected on the Hunting Horn. The ability to apply buffs to not just yourself but your entire squad even as you dole out punishing combos with stun potential seems almost too good, and I’ll be interested to see how many players hop on the doot train over the coming months. Maybe a future update will reduce the weapon’s effectiveness a little, but until then, I’ll be serenading Rise‘s monsters with deadly renditions of Careless Whisper and Baker Street.