Monster Hunter World Weapons: what’s the best weapon for you? Classes, Controls, Combos and more

Monster Hunter World features many of the same weapon types as in the rest of the series, but they’ve been rebalanced and tweaked to better for this new more open and action-packed experience.

There are 14 different types of Monster Hunter World Weapons, with each type having its own unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Some weapons are easier to use than others, with some requiring mastery of combos or unique mechanics to become truly useful while others will be easy to pick up and use early on when you’re first getting used to Monster Hunter World’s mechanics.

This is naturally a fairly complicated  weapon system with each weapon having its own little pitfalls and advantages – and so in this Weapons Guide we’re going to get in-depth on each of the weapon classes in the game and how they work. This should help you find the best weapon in Monster Hunter World for you. First, here’s a video from Arekkz demonstrating each weapon:

Got your weapon of choice? Master the rest of Monster Hunter World with our guides:

Which weapon type should you choose? What’s the best weapon for you in Monster Hunter World?

Monster Hunter World doesn’t feature any all-new types of weapon, but many of its weapons have been tweaked and changed in significant ways to the previous games in the series. There are 14 types of weapon in the game total, and while you’ll encounter different versions of each weapon type with various stats and elemental affinities their core features, combos and controls will be shared with other weapons of the same type.

We’ll be going into detail on the different types of each branch of weapon available to you on another page later on, but here we’re going to focus on all of the weapon types on Monster Hunter World and what exactly they’re useful for. You might want to switch between some of the 14 classes of weapon depending on not just your personal preference but the nature of the monster you’re currently hunting or your team make-up when heading into a co-op online hunt.

To start with Monster Hunter World will allow you to forge iron or metal versions of every single one of the weapon types, but as you slay monsters and pick up more useful loot you’ll be able to turn those drops, rewards and carves into more useful new types of weapon and armor, or upgrade your existing kit. The best thing you can do in the early stages of Monster Hunter World is experiment. In your room in Astera you’ll be able to access the weapon training room by speaking to your housekeeper Palico – give each weapon a try and see what feels right. Some will be more about dealing out raw damage while others will be more technical, with the weapons that have a higher barrier to entry on their use naturally being ultimately molre rewarding – but we’ll get into that a little more later on in this page.

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As a starting point we’d recommend picking one of the weapons we’ve flagged as being safe for beginners below – and then once you’re more confident, you can graduate to something more impressive. The Sword and Sheidl will prep you well for becoming a Lance or Gunlance user, for instance.

Keep in mind that your choice of weapon in Monster Hunter World will impact a lot. Weapons can have elemental damage affiliations that’ll make them better against some monsters and worse against others. Also, Monster Hunter World features a stat called Affinity on every weapon that has a strong influence on how much damage you can do. Basically, you need to choose carefully and make an informed decision, both in terms of your weapon class of choice adn then what weapon within that class. So! Let’s get into talking through what those 14 core weapon types are…

Monster Hunter World Weapons Guide: the 12 weapon classes

Sword & Shield

If you’re looking for something basic weapon-wise to get you started, the Sword and Shield is definitely one of the best places to begin in Monster Hunter World. The sword is one-handed and lightweight, making for fast attacks – while the shield gives you some solid defensive options when monsters close in on you. The mobility will make it easy for you to stay alive when you’re first getting used to the game.

The most significant original extra around the sword and shield is that you can use items while it’s still drawn. While other weapons require you to sheath them in order to use your slinger for ranged attacks or even heal, with the sword and shield you can use items without stopping to put your weapons away. The trade-off for this is reduced weapon range and damage, but the latter at least can be buffed somewhat thanks to the fact that a number of elemental swords are available – the right sword paired against a monster’s weakness can make all the difference.

Sword & Shield in Brief:

  • You can block attacks, and even use items while blocking
  • Quick Attacks and good mobility for evasion
  • Low damage output
  • Guard is weaker than with heavier weapons that have it

Sword & Shield Controls / Moves

  • Triangle = Chop
  • Circle = Special
  • Triangle + Circle = Roundslash
  • Circle + Left Stick Direction = Shield Attack
  • R2 + Triangle = Rising Slash
  • R2 = Shield Guard
  • L2 = Aim Slinger
  • Controls for using items like heals with the sword & shield remain the same.

Great Sword

In Monster Hunter World the great sword is often a strong alternative starting point as a weapon for newcomers, keeping things nice and simple – it’s a big heavy blade that can also be used to block enemy attacks, and its slow attacks are easy to understand and direct even though you’ll have to get used to the wind-up, since this is a sword that is seriously lacking in only one area: mobility.

The lack of mobility is made up for in the Great Sword’s brilliant charged attacks – hefty built-up attacks that can do some serious damage. Keep in mind that when the weapon is drawn your movement speed will be slower – it’s so large that it’ll seriously slow you down.

Great Sword in Brief:

  • High damage for every hit you land, and when charged the highest in the game
  • Large size of the sword allows you to block with it
  • Long range
  • Charge attacks can make monsters stumble and fall over
  • Very slow and difficult to dodge with
  • Charge attacks leave you vulnerable while charging or if they whiff

Great Sword Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Overhead Slash
  • Circle = Wide Slash
  • Triangle (Hold) = Charged Slash
  • Triangle + Circle = Rising Slash
  • R2 (Hold) = Guard (Costs sharpness and stamina and forces chip damage)

Dual Blades

If speed is your game, the Dual Blades might well be the weapon for you. They’ve got hugely fast movement speeds, and they’re all about laying many low-damage hits upon an enemy in quick successon to wear them down. This is high risk but very rewarding – you’ll need to remain close to monsters to deliver a lot of damage, but when mastered this can combine with its extreme mobility to great effect. You’re not going to be blocking with these, however – your only recourse is to get out of the way.

The original perk of the Dual Blades is Demon Mode – a special mode that, when activated, powers up pretty much everything about these weapons. There’s a catch, however: demon mode drains your stamina, and you shouldn’t really keep it on much beyond 50% of your stamina bar to avoid being trapped next to a monster with no stamina to dodge away.

Dual Blades in Brief:

  • Demon mode allows for very effective, high-damage combos – and even outside demon mode, combos are very powerful
  • Element and status effects are common on many of these blades
  • Without combos, low damage output
  • Short range
  • No blocking options

Dual Blades Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Double Slash
  • Circle = Lunging Strike
  • R2 = Activate Demon Mode / Cancel Demon Mode
  • In Demon Mode, Triangle + Circle = Blade Dance

Long Sword

The Long Sword is the weapon of choice for those who want a fast weapon that has some really impressive combos, but you need to keep in mind that without using its combos the damage output leaves something to be desired. The combos add buffs to the weapon to make it more powerful, and it’s the combination of those buffs and lengthy combos that allow you to dish out real damage.

This strength-buffing power is known as the Spirit Blade in the world of Monster Hunter, and you’ll want to learn well and use them often while using the mobility to dodge heavy-hitting enemy attacks.

Long Sword in Brief:

  • A good balance of damage, mobility and speed
  • Decent range on your attacks
  • Proper use of the Spirit Blade can make you much more powerful the longer a fight runs
  • No block ability – dodge only
  • Its attacks are inaccurate and sweeping in nature

Long Sword Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Overhead Slash
  • Circle = Thrust
  • Triangle + Circle = Fade Slash
  • Circle + R2 = Foresight Slash
  • R2 = Spirit Blade (Drains Spirit Gauge)

Lance

Despite being a little lower down on this page, the Lance can boast that it’s one of the most balanced weapon sets in Monster Hunter World, coming with a hefty long-range lance weapon and a nice large shield in your off hand for defensive purposes. The lance has high and low attack options to get around monster blocks or deliberately target weak spots – something that proves enormously useful when used correctly.

The shield uses stamina whenever it’s raised, but you can move around with it raised, allowing you to creep closer to an enraged monster while keeping you protected. Beware of its basic combo – though it’s a great move, you’ll be dangerously vulnerable as the move finishes if it doesn’t hit, so be careful not to whiff!

Lance in Brief:

  • Joint strongest blocking ability in the game, and able to counter attack quickly
  • Good attack power and excellent range for melee
  • Slow moving, making dodging difficult – you’ll need that shield

Lance Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Mid Thrust
  • Circle = High Thrust
  • Triangle + Circle = Wide Sweep
  • R2 + Circle = Counter-Thrust
  • R2 + Left Stick Direction + Triangle = Guard Dash
  • R2 = Guard

Gunlance

The Gunlance is very similar to the regular Lance but is all about dishing out high damage. It actually features similar moves with one major difference: the lance has the ability to fire explosive shells that seriously power up your attacks when you get stuck in. You can even use this like a gun-type weapon as the name suggests – so while its range is limited, you can use it to keep approaching monsters at bay in a significant way.

This weapon comes with a unique gauge managing the temperature of the weapon – fire too many shots and it’ll overheat, and the Gunlance will generally speaking need to be sharpened often, too. It requires more thought and consideration to use than the regular lance thanks to this, but the buff in attack power you get in exchange is obviously significant. You still keep the shield, and the same rules apply as with the regular lance.

Gunlance in Brief:

  • Excellent reach and mobility for such a powerful weapon
  • Shells are great for exploiting specific monster weak points, and shell damage is unblockable
  • Like the Lance, dodging so slow you’ll need that shield
  • Sharpness deteriorates very quickly when using shell attacks

Gunlance Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Lateral Thrust
  • Circle = Shelling
  • Triangle + Circle = Rising Slash
  • Circle + R2 = Quick Reload
  • R2 + Triangle + Circle = Wyvernfire (Powerful, but has a long cooldown)
  • R2 = Guard

Switch Axe

The Switch Axe will require a fair bit of micromanagement for a Monster Hunter Weapon, since to use it properly you should be using its main selling point, its ability to transform, pretty much all the time. The Switch Axe can transform from a long range heavy two-handed axe to a fast and yet still enormous sword. The sword has an elemental discharge ability that takes time to charge but can be absolutely devastating. This is a super cool weapon, but it’s one of the more difficult ones to use by far.

This comes with all sorts of caveats. Movement speed is significantly reduced in sword mode, and using the axe too much makes it deal less damage – so for the best possible results you’ll want to switch often between the pair, often as a closer to your combos. If you overcharge the weapon you’ll need to take a step back from your enemy to let it recharge, so keep that in mind and try to plan ahead during combat.

Switch Axe in brief:

  • Easy-to-chain combos, but generally complex thanks to its transforming nature
  • Transforms between superior reach & mobility in axe form to damage dealing in sword form
  • Phials can add bonus buffs and effects to it
  • No Guarding
  • Low mobility in sword mode

Switch Axe Controls / Moves:

  • Axe
    • Triangle = Standard Attack
    • Circle = Wild Swing
    • Triangle + Circle = Rising Slash
    • Circle + Left Stick = Advancing Attack
    • Circle + Left Stick Back = Fade Slash
    • R2 = Morph
  • Sword:
    • Triangle = Overhead Slash
    • Circle = Double Slash
    • Triangle + Circle = Element Discharge (Becomes Zero Sum Discharge when Elemental Awakening meter is full)
    • Triangle
    • R2 = Morph

Charge Blade

The Charge Blade is a great advanced option for those who’ve graduated from the Sword & Shield and want a weapon that’s a bit more challenging. This transforming weapon switches between a two-handed sword-and-shield set-up and a hefty axe. Unlike the Switch Axe you won’t be transforming the wepaon mid-combat, however – the transformation takes time, so you’ll need to consider when to switch in advance.

The weapon is built around this, however – you’re meant to build up energy by attacking with the sword and shield and then switch to the axe to unleash that energy with slow but utterly devastating attacks. There’s a new UI element to keep you informed of this as you play. You shouldn’t use the axe mode until it’s charged and ready to go, but when it is make room to switch and then let rip with the beastly attack that follows.

Charge Blade in Brief:

  • Complicated to use but very versatile
  • Axe form has some incredible damage output opportunities
  • Phials can be used with both forms to add extra buffs
  • Performing combos wrong or forgetting the complex moveset could prove very costly very quickly

Charge Blade Controls / Moves:

  • Sword:
    • Triangle = Weak Slash
    • Circle (Hold) = Charged Rising Slash
    • R2 + Triangle = Morph Slash (Attack that automatically changes form)
    • R2 + Circle = Charge Phials (Requires charge – yellow fills 3 phials, red fills 5.)
    • During Charge Phials, Triangle (Hold) = Condensed Element Slash
    • R2 = Guard
  • Axe:
    • Triangle = Standard Attack
    • Circle = Element Discharge (Uses one Phial to cause an explosion if you have it)
    • Triangle + Circle = Amped Element Discharge (Uses all phials but is a massive explosion and automatically transforms back to Axe form)
    • R2 = Axe Morph Slash

Hammer

Monster Hunter World wouldn’t feel like a real Monster Hunter without some big old hammers: blunt, crushing weapons whose immense power is only offset by how sluggish they are. Monsters can’t block or deflect charged blows from hammers, and so if you can get the space and time to charge up a powerful attack you’ll be able to smash enemies into submission in just a few hits.

The flip side of this weapon type should be obvious, however: their range isn’t enormous, they’re very slow, you’ll move slow yourself, and they drain your stamina very quickly indeed. Thus despite being a blunt instrument they require a great deal of precision – and you should really only use charged attacks when you’re absolutely sure you’re going to be able to land it.

Hammer in Brief:

  • Hard hitting with a very high raw attack stat, and charged attacks are more powerful still
  • You can run even when this weapon is out
  • The hammer’s blunt attacks have a chance to KO monsters more easily.
  • Sluggish to use thanks to its weight, so timing is always critical
  • Short range

Hammer Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Overhead Smash
  • Circle = Big Bang
  • R2 = Charged Attack

Hunting Horn

The Hunting Horn is a great support weapon for multiplayer – in addition to functioning like a hammer-type weapon with faster speed and better range, it can also be used to play songs that buff your allies when you’re on multiplayer co-op assignments and expeditions. In terms of the actual weapon part, consider it as being like a less powerful hammer – though if you get the opportunity and the position it can absolutely land deadly blows. Still, this is more a weapon for co-op than for solo play.

The complicated part is you’ll need to spend some time in the training area learning your hunting horn songs – but once you have them down, your support could seriously turn the tide of battle, and the hammer-like side of the weapon isn’t bad either.

Hunting Horn in Brief:

  • Attacks make notes that can be turned into melodies that can buff your team, offering excellent support
  • Decent damage output for a support weapon
  • Like the hammer, is blunt and so can stun more easily
  • Slow attacks due to weight
  • Not much in the way of offensive moves – it’s about supporting

Hunting Horn Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Attack / Note 1
  • Circle = Attack / Note 2 (You can cancel this into another note without the attack happening)
  • Triangle + Circle = Attack / Note 3
  • R2 = Melody 1
  • R2 + Triangle = Melody 2
  • R2 + Circle = Melody 3
  • R2 (after melody) = Encore (extends duration or increases power of buff)

Insect Glaive

The Insect Glaive has some pretty cool and unique uses thanks to its status as the most agile, acrobatic weapon. It allows for some proper Star Wars Prequel Trilogy flipping around action, dancing about around the place and barely touching the floor in the process. It’s an incredibly fast weapon, and is arguably the most outwardly mobile weapon in the game given how it allows you to spend so much time in the air.

When you are on the ground, you can fire your Kinsect Insect buddy at enemies in order to produce different buffs that can then be applied to your regular attacks. This will vary, so it’ll require practice, and the weapon is generally one with a high ceiling execution-wise, so be prepared to spend some time in training mode mastering this one – but when you do, you’ll look absolutely ludicrous as you flip around the battlefield.

Insect Glaive in Brief:

  • The king of aerial attacks with extremely good mobility – great for mounting monsters
  • Fast attacks, but in turn a low damage output
  • Good combo potential
  • Powerful buffs from the Kinsect
  • No block – dodging is your only way to escape damage
  • Mobile shenanigans have high stamina costs

Insect Glaive Controls / Moves:

  • Triangle = Rising Slash Combo
  • Circle = Wide Sweep
  • R2 + X = Vault
  • R2 = Kinsect
  • L2 = Aim Marker (for Kinsect)
  • L2 + Triangle = Kinsect Harvest Extract
  • L2 + Circle = Kinsect Recall
  • L2 + R2 = Fire Marker (Kinsect will target this Marker)

Bow

The Bow occupies a strange little space given that you have firearms as an option – but it fits right in as a very versatile weapon that’s capable of doing a lot of different things with ease. Unlike the gun-type wepaons you don’t have to worry about ammunition, and you can gain access to many different debuffs, status effects and other effects with coatings and different types of arrow.

Given it’s just a bow you have no ability to block, however, and you’ll want to constantly remain at range since while there is a melee option you’re really not going to want to use it. The speed at which you can unleash arrows and the manner in which you can fire them in different scatter formations still makes this a very worthwhile weapon, however, with even the range varying greatly based on the coating and arrow you currently have in use. Keep an eye out for the orange glow on the corsshair – it tells you when you’re at optimal range.

Bow in Brief:

  • Unlimited Ammunition and a strong mid-to-long range combat option
  • A great many coatings for arrows that can determine things like power, elemental effects, or status effects like Poison and Paralysis. The coatings you can use depends on your bow.
  • No blocking and no really viable melee options at all.

Bow Controls / Moves

  • L2 = Aim
  • R2 = Fire
  • Circle (after Firing) = Charged Shot
  • Circle = Special Shot
  • Triangle + Circle = Dragon Piercer
  • Triangle = Load / Unload coating
  • L1 + X or Triangle = Select Coating

Light Bowgun

Unlike the Heavy variant (which we’ll get onto in a second), the Light Bowgun allows you to move around the battlefield more easily and fire at your enemy rapidly. High mobility and rapid fire gives this weapon a certain feel that some will love and others won’t, though it certainly makes it the more immediately useful long-range option for beginners or for people looking to solo content.

Arrows can be coated with different powders in order to exploit different enemies, and crucially you can charge the weapon’s attacks to make them more powerful. Using a bow will restrict what armor you can wear, however, and charging attacks will claw its way through your stamina quite quickly, so be sure to try to keep monsters at a distance.

Light Bowgun in Brief:

  • Fast fire rate with decent range – but low damage in return
  • Lots of ammo types for dishing out status effects
  • Strong mobility
  • No blocking

Light Bowgun Controls / Moves:

  • L2 = Aim
  • Circle = Quick Shot
  • Triangle = Use or Remove Coatings
  • Triangle + Circle = Dragon Piercer
  • R2 = Charged Shot

Heavy Bowgun

The Heavy Bowgun is exactly what you’d expect – a really big, hefty gun. Instead of arrows and powder coatings the heavy bow uses different types of firearm-like ammo, opening up the ability to deal absolutely enormous amounts of damage but bringing with it new concerns around micromanagement mid-combat that you’ll have to consider – generally, this is harder to use than the Light Bowgun.

You’ll want to use different ammo types on different enemies, and you’ll have to reload and switch. You’ll want to get distance from the enemy to do this, and if things get dicey there is an emergency melee attack you can use. These bigger guns are also slower to aim and range is a more pressing consideration – you’ll want to ensure you learn optimal range, and too close or too distant will see your damage dealt drop off considerably. When mastered, this is a deadly weapon indeed.

Heavy Bowgun in Brief:

  • High damage, Long Range, and with high ammo capacity
  • Can be equipped with a shield for blocking
  • Many different weapon attachments and ammo types – one for every situation
  • Slow fire rate and slow movement
  • You have to keep supplying ammo

Heavy Bowgun Controls / Moves:

  • L2 = Aim
  • R2 = Fire
  • Circle = Load Special Ammo
  • Triangle = Reload
  • Triangle + Circle = Melee Attack
  • L1 + X or Triangle = Select ammo

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