Iceborne Brings Huge Damage & Skill Changes to Monster Hunter

Balance changes are coming to Monster Hunter via the Iceborne update.

Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne isn’t just bringing new monsters into the fold. The massive expansion is also drastically changing the way you play the game. Balance changes and new moves galore round out what Iceborne has to offer! And, courtesy of a new livestream from Capcom, we have a better idea of what those changes entail. Elemental damage in particular is getting a major overhaul — as are some Affinity skills. All of which dovetails nicely with some of the new abilities for various weapons. We’ve got the full breakdown of new Iceborne changes below, too, Let’s take a look!

Elemental Damage Changes in Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne

Perhaps the biggest change comes to elemental damage in Monster Hunter. Until now, it’s been common wisdom among players that raw physical damage is preferable to elemental types. There are a few reasons for this, but it basically boils down to physical damage being overall more useful against more monsters and easier to spec for. Not to mention Capcom implemented a poorly telegraphed cap on elemental damage. Even if you did specialize in elemental attacks, there was an arbitrary limit on how much you could benefit. And it basically made higher levels of elemental damage boost skills useless, without clearly telling people.

Said limits are now basically gone. In fact, elemental damage skills can now go even higher: from the old cap of level 5 to a new one of level 6. Lower levels of elemental damage skills still work the same as before, but you’ll see increased benefits in the middle range and higher. And, of course, there’s that new level 6 cap to shoot for.

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Meanwhile, the Non-Elemental Boost skill is getting a nerf. It currently offers a 10 percent bonus to physical damage on weapons without elements (like anything from the Diablos tree) for the fairly low cost of one level 2 Decoration slot. That makes it an easy must for anyone playing with a raw damage build. In Iceborne, however, this will be reduce to a five percent damage bonus. It’s even more incentive to experiment with elements and status effects, rather than just lean on physical damage.

Finally, Iceborne will introduce a new skill with two unique properties. Capcom didn’t provide us with a name for it, but the skill will provide “Free Element” as a buff if you continuously attack a monster. Currently, Free Element only exists in World as a skill. It draws out the “hidden” (i.e. grayed out) elemental damage on certain weapons. But again, most players just use Non-Elemental Boost on such gear for that tasty raw DPS. In addition to Free Element, this skill will also increase the amount of elemental damage you do to a monster as you continuously attack. It should reward players who use elements and play aggressively.

All of which is to say that elemental damage sounds a lot more viable in Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne. Which is good! Half the fun of these games is prepping to take down specific monsters, with specific weaknesses. Reducing everything to raw sucks some of the fun out of making builds.

Weakness Exploit Changes in Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne

Speaking of builds, a lot of high-level play in Monster Hunter right now centers around boosting Affinity. This is the game’s name for critical hit chance (not that it ever says so plainly). But basically, Affinity is good and you want lots of it. More Affinity means you means you kill monsters faster, as well as cause them to flinch more often, which keeps you safe and… lets you kill the monster faster. You’re smart; you get it.

None of the above will change in Iceborne. But there will be some extra nuance. “Softening” creatures, for instance, is a new mechanic all about boosting damage. It’s tied to the Clutch Claw: a new grappling hook gadget that lets you snap to a monster and bash it good. The area you hit after attaching will temporarily become softened, and count as a weak spot. That means allies who hit said spot can go to town without fear of reduced damage or being deflected.

Areas wounded by the Clutch Claw will also work for the purposes of Weakness Exploit. This is a very foxy skill that gives up to 30 percent more Affinity when you hit soft spots. Although the bonus is only up to 20 percent extra Affinity when attacking the new, impromptu Clutch Claw points.

Monster Hunter Maximum Might Iceborne

Maximum Might Changes in Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne

That last major Affinity skill getting a big change is Maximum Might. It’s currently a three-level skill that increases Affinity by up to 30 percent, but only when you have full stamina. That makes it incredibly good on some weapons (e.g. Bowguns) and next to useless on others (e.g. Dual Blades). But now Maximum Might is getting extra wiggle room. Here’s the new breakdown of how the updated skill will work.

  • Level 1: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 10 percent, lasts two seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 2: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 20 percent, lasts three seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 3: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 30 percent, lasts three seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 4: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 40 percent, lasts four seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 5: Activates and increases Affinity by 40 percent as soon as stamina is full. Deactivates when stamina is used.

The short version? Level 5 Maximum Might is basically a better version of the old level 3 Maximum Might. Every other level takes five seconds of full stamina to trigger, but gives you an increasingly reliable window to deal your damage. I can personally see this being good with Insect Glaives — building up the skill as you collect extract or dish out your ground combos, then carrying the four-second boost into the air as you leap around.

Gunlance Changes in Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne

Sure, every weapon in Monster Hunter is making big gains in Iceborne. But the Gunlance sounds like one of the biggest. The new Wyrmstake Blast attack will allow you to jab monsters with a big, pokey pylon of Slinger ammo. Different ammo has different properties, but the basic idea remains the same. You want to shoot the Wyrmstake lodged in the monster with Gunlance shells. Doing so causes secondary explosions. Secondary explosions deal more damage. And you get bigger explosions from bigger attacks (specifically from charged shells and Wyvern’s Fire).

Capcom is adjusting this new mechanic based on feedback from the Iceborne beta. Wyrmstake Blast now loads faster and does more damage. It also has a “guard point” whenever you load it. This is a special kind of animation previously only seen on the Charge Blade. Basically, when you load the Wyrmstake Blast, it counts as a block — even though you’re not holding the block button.

There will be two smaller quality of life changes, too. The first involves your ammo. You will no longer lose the Slinger ammo you spend on Wyrmstake Blast if you miss. Instead it will just fall on the ground, where you can pick it back up. The second change is more for your allies. The Wide Speed attack will no longer knock down friendlies. Hooray! Although I’d rather see Capcom remove this mechanic altogether. All that “attacks knock back your allies” business super sucks on every weapon.


And that’s about it for this round of Monster Hunter: World – Iceborne patch notes! We’ll be back to offer more insight on what the expansion changes next. In the meantime, stay tuned and have fun hunting, hunters!

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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