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Monster Hunter World: Iceborne beginner’s guide

Get your sea legs back before you get carted to camp

Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Jumping into Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, you’ll find yourself in the deep end of a very complex game. Iceborne assumes you never stopped playing Monster Hunter: World and that you’re just as skilled as the day you took down that Arch Tempered Kirin in the Choral Highlands.

If you’ve taken a break and are ready to dive back into some hard content, you need to be as ready as you can. If not, Iceborne will chew you up and spit you back to camp in a cart.

No matter what we tell you, you’re still going to lose some in Iceborne. But here’s how you can lose a bit less.

Upgrade your feline friend

Monster Hunter: World - chef palico Capcom

Thanks to our early access version of Iceborne, we got to experience the joys of hunting alone in Monster Hunter: World. Solo hunting can be very punishing, since you don’t have any allies to rely on. However, you do have your Palico to assist you.

If you’re hunting solo or in a group of two, make sure to build new tools for your Palico. Don’t just focus on your own armor and weapons. Build new tools for your Palico. The difference between a geared Palico and a weak Palico is shocking in Iceborne. These fights are hard, and you’ll notice a big difference if you can get your feline friends to carry their own weight.

Palico gadgets each get a new ability in Iceborne. To unlock them, you’ll need to level up your tool a bit more. Pick the ones you like best and stick with them. We recommend the Coral Orchestra for negating debuffs, or the Vigorwasp Spray to keep you and your pet healthy.

Find yourself a Tailraider

If you’re hunting solo, find a Tailraider before every hunt . These are random cats who help with your battles. You can find Tailraiders by looking for the little cat icons on the map or using the Tailraider Signal you get from befriending the BoaBoa in Hoarfrost Ridge.

If your Tailraider goes down, consider going to grab another one before continuing the fight. The traps and damage they offer make a big difference in the harder hunts. They also tend to draw a lot of aggression from the monster, giving you some additional chances to drink a potion.

It’s easy to forget about these little guys, but Tailraiders are invaluable allies in Iceborne’s most difficult battles.

Always carry Hot Drinks and Nulberries

three hunters fighting a Barioth on ice in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Capcom

Early in the Hoarfrost Ridge tutorial, Iceborne will instruct you to carry Hot Drink to keep your body warm. Staying warm — which you can also do by standing in a hot spring — prevents the reduction of your stamina bar. It’s a serious pain to leave a fight just to get hot peppers and make another. Carry as many Hot Drinks as possible to prevent stamina drain in the middle of a fight.

Similar to Hot Drinks, Nulberries are invaluable in Iceborne. Several monsters apply different kinds of ailments like Iceblight, and Nulberries can cure them. Each time you enter a fight, make sure your pockets have a full stack of Nullberries in them.

These items aren’t the kinds of things you notice until they’re gone. Avoid some of our early mistakes and make sure you always have some with you.

Replenish your items at the garden and the Steamworks

Failing out of a hunt takes a toll. Not only is it discouraging, but it also doesn’t return any of the items you used on your hunt. For us, it wasn’t uncommon to down 30 Mega Potions in some of the more difficult fights.

If you play like us, you’ll run out of resources pretty quickly in Monster Hunter World: Iceborn. To prevent this, use as many of the game’s systems as you can to replenish your items. The garden is especially useful here, as you can grow herbs and honey to keep your potion stock up, as well as Nulberries.

But the new Steamworks system is one of the best ways to passively refill your inventory with goodies. Just by building steam for Seliana — an essentially random process — you’ll earn a variety of random items. Often, that includes healing items like mega potions. Stop by every few missions to build steam and stock up.

Learn to balance aggression and defense early

three hunters battling a Tigrex in an icy area in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Capcom

This tip is the most general and the most important one we have to offer.

Iceborne will test your limits as a hunter, and you’ll need to learn new moves and tactics if you want to slay the final elder dragons. The hardest thing to learn in Monster Hunter is how to stay aggressive without getting yourself killed. Time is always a factor.

You have 50 minutes for every hunt in Iceborne, and you’ll likely use every bit of that at the start. As you go on to harder hunts, resist the urge to play safe and pull punches. If you don’t learn to get in a monster’s face and stay alive, you’ll never defeat the elder dragons later in the game.

Monsters have a massive amount of health in Master Rank, and you’re in a constant battle with the clock. As the fights get harder, it becomes that much more difficult to step back and defend. Start teaching yourself to only dodge out when you need a potion, or you’ll end up spending hours trying to fell your first elder dragon only to run out of time. Keep in mind that you also only have three lives, so you need to dodge attacks as you punish the monster.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a difficult but stellar expansion for Monster Hunter: World. If you don’t meet it at its own level, you’ll fail out and have a miserable time. But if you’re dedicated to being the best hunter you can be, Iceborne will reward you with some of the most satisfying gameplay this year. Happy hunting.

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