Monster Hunter: World’s long sword is a close-range melee weapon with high attack power and unique evasive capabilities. If you’re interested in raw melee attack power above all and throwing off all possible defenses to get it, the long sword is your deal. Long sword users are going to charge in and attack the monster while paying close attention to its movements and using their various evade moves to get out of the way of the monster’s attacks.
After saving up spirit energy by successfully attacking, the long sword user will strike with spirit blade attacks to deal big damage. Then, the process begins again from the start with the long sword user slightly stronger than before. Keep this up, without taking hits that will stall the process, and you can work your way up to really big damage. The damage output of this weapon is directly tied to how skillfully you play.
Unlike some of the other melee weapons in Monster Hunter: World, you cannot guard with the long sword. Rather, you need to carefully watch the monster’s movements, dodge at the right times, and get away entirely when the situation calls for it. It takes a lot of awareness to dance up close with the monster while dodging its every attack, and button mashing will not get you far. Also, as you’re constantly using long series of attacks, the long sword does lose its sharpness quite quickly. Nevertheless, its high attack power and simple moveset make the long sword the most popular weapon with players online as of this writing (according to that First Wyverian).
Basic attack sequence — don’t mash!
The basic attack sequence is triangle (or Y) four times for two vertical slashes, followed by a thrust and a slash. You can repeat this sequence indefinitely. It’ll just repeat itself from the second strike. Don’t button-mash these moves out (or any, for that matter): You need to be thinking, “Should I dodge here?” at every single strike as you watch the monster move. When you see a monster getting ready to attack, it’s time to cancel your basic attack to fade slash or a roll to get out of the way.
The vertical slices attack the precise space in front of you, from above. It’s important to aim this move well so that you don’t hit any hard surfaces of the monster.
The thrust is circle or B — the same move as in the standard combo chain. You can interrupt any of the moves in the basic attack series with this. The straight thrust is a precision poke for times when, for example, you want to poke at the soft underbelly of a monster without having to overhead slash through its hard top layer. Press triangle and R2 (or Y and RT) for the spirit thrust, which charges forward.
After the thrust, pressing triangle or Y will go to the rising slash (the fourth hit of the standard combo chain). From this point, you can use the thrust again (this sequence also repeats indefinitely) or end the chain with a fade slash or evade roll.
This attack is the key to using the long sword to its fullest. Don’t overlook it.
The spirit blade attack is R2 or RT. When you attack, you build up some spirit power (the red meter, and then you can use this series of horizontal attacks. Spirit blade not only does more damage than a normal attack, but hits a much wider area and slices through the enemy regardless of the hardness of their body.
If you are able to complete the entire spirit blade attack chain, which ends in the final spirit roundslash, you will notice that the border around the spirit meter changes colors. This indicates a buff to your attack power. The first level is white, the second level is orange and the maximum level is red. Keep landing spirit blade attacks, and you’ll be able to maintain a permanent, powerful attack buff.
However, if you don’t attack with spirit blade, the effect will drain, and you’ll lose your buff. The key to playing long sword properly is to find openings that you can capitalize on with spirit blade as quickly as possible, without charging in recklessly and getting hit. Maintain a balance, and you’ll see your damage shoot through the roof and your hunts end quickly.
Press triangle and circle (or Y and B) at the same time to use fade slash. This move slices horizontally, and your character immediately hops backwards. When canceling from another attack, you can also fade slash with a left or right sidestep if you press the corresponding direction. You can also cancel fade slash into the end part of the spirit blade combo, allowing you to land the final hit faster than normal.
Fade slash doesn’t have any invincibility like a dodge roll would, so it’s not a last moment escape. Rather, use it to reposition. For example, when you see a monster start to rear up for an attack with a long windup, you can go straight into a fade slash sidestep and then run or roll out of the way. When it really comes down to the wire, on the other hand, use a dodge roll.
Press R2 and circle (or RT and B) to use foresight slash. Your character hops backward, then jumps back in with a slash (kind of an inverse of fade slash). However, its use is not so obvious at first glance. It’s actually a parry. Use foresight slash in the very moment before an enemy attacks and it will absorb the hit, right before you dash back in with your strike.
The window for this parry is extremely small, so you’ll have to time a foresight slash down to the millisecond for it to be any use at all. Foresight slash also eats up the spirit gauge, so you can only use it once at a time. No Daigo parry here.
This is an expert level move, requiring not only that you know the monster you’re fighting extremely well but that you practice the execution of the parry itself. If you mess up, you’ll get hit and lose your spirit gauge, which is about as badly as you can mess up with the long sword.
The nature of the long sword implies that you’re choosing to give up all defense for attack power, so the first skills you should get are naturally offensive in nature. Attack boost skills are tough to come by in the early game, but find the rare gear that gives you attack boosts and equip it. Affinity is deeply tied to attack (it decides how often you’ll make critical hits) so if possible try to boost this stat with critical eye.
Agitator is an easy choice, boosting your attack and affinity when the monster is enraged. If you fight well, dealing a lot of damage quickly, you’re going to get the monster enraged as a matter of course. You may as well get something out of it.
The long sword’s rapid attacks eat through weapon sharpness, and losing weapon sharpness means you’re losing attack power. Given that you need to be continually attacking, it’s highly inconvenient to stop, run away and use a whetstone two or three times in a hunt. To counteract this, look for the handicraft skill, which increases the base sharpness of your weapon. Speed sharpening does what it sounds like it does: It cuts down the length of the long whetstone animation to make it more manageable in a fight. Several late-game armor sets also have skills that mitigate the loss of sharpness.
Focus might help a little bit with the buildup of the spirit gauge, but the gains aren’t great. You shouldn’t devote a lot of space to the skill, but if you have a spare spot and nothing else to put there, it won’t hurt.