There’s just a ton of armor you can craft and wear in Monster Hunter: World. And there are a few layers of complexity to the stats that each set and each individual piece has. Beyond generic defense and specialized elemental defense stats, there’s armor skills.
It’s a lot of information to take in. It’s easy (and sometimes enough) to just focus on the bigger-is-better numbers and let that guide your gear. As you get more comfortable with the game and monster fights become more nuanced and specialized, it helps to understand your options.
This guide will give you a quick review of armor stats, then focus on armor skills, why they matter and how to improve them.
Monster Hunter: World armor basics
The first stat you’ll need to focus on is defense. This is basically just your protection against damage to your health. Early in the game, this is the only stat you’ll have to worry about. Defense will remain important as you tackle harder and harder monsters, but you’ll be able to tailor your armor to each individual hunt.
As you progress through the game and each monster hunt becomes more specialized, you’ll start to worry more about elemental defense. These stats indicate how good (or bad) each piece of armor is against elemental attacks like fire or ice. This stat becomes important in hunts for monsters like the anjanath or legiana. Bigger, positive numbers are better than smaller or negative numbers here. When your basic defense is already pretty high, the extra bit of help your elemental defense gives you can make a big difference.
Monster Hunter: World armor skills
The final layer to understanding your armor is armor skills. These are more specialized stats and buffs that aren’t necessarily related to your defenses. Skills tend to be more esoteric and context-dependent. Each piece of armor has its own skill, and skills are only rarely repeated within a set, so getting the most out of a skill will require a lot of mixing and matching.
There are dozens of skills that buff everything from your health and stamina to how much honey you gather. Any time you sort your gear — both while changing your gear at an item box or while choosing something new to forge at the workshop — you can choose to “sort by skill” by clicking the right thumbstick. This will highlight items (if you have any) that carry that skill.
What are armor skills?
Any time you’re examining your gear — like at your item box or in your equipment info menu — you can check out your armor skills. Just the trackpad/view button. From there, you can highlight each of your (armor’s) skills to learn more.
In the image above, we’ve highlighted attack boost. Below the description, you can see that the charm slot is yellow, which means that’s the slot granting the skill. Beneath that, there’s a list of the stats and buffs you get at each level of the skill. (For the attack boost above, we’ve got a +3 to our attack power at level 1.)
Monster Hunter: World amor skill levels
The only way to increase a skill’s level is to equip more than one piece of armor with that skill. In the image above, you can see that we’ve equipped three pieces of gear — a kulu headpiece, an anja coil and a fire charm I — that all have the fire resistance skill. This bumps that skill up to level 3 and gives us both a great fire elemental defense buff as well as a general +10 to the defense stat.
Skills aren’t just about stat buffs, though. There are skills that speed up item use like how long it takes to use your whetstone or whetfish scales (speed sharpening) or how fast you eat to regain stamina (speed eating). Other skills, like aquatic expert above, change how your hunter handles movement and impediments in the environment. By wearing three items with this skill — a jyura helm, a pair of gajau boots and a mirewalker charm — and raising the skill to level 3, water no longer slows us down during movement and evasion.
You might notice that some skills’ level cap is above six — which is more than the number of equipment slots you have. Later-game armor will have multiple levels of a skill, which will let you increase your armor beyond just the number of pieces you’re wearing.