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Monster Hunter: World guide to research points and Ecological Research

Or why you care about mucus

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

There are countless things to pick up any time you’re exploring in Monster Hunter: World. There are crafting materials, slinger ammo and instant-use items to be found. But just as important — if not more important — is finding evidence of monsters so you can track and hunt them. It’s in the name of game, after all.

Your scoutflies will point out the various leavings of the monsters in the area. You’ll find a steady stream of things like footprints, feathers, skidmarks and mucus. Examining those things will earn you research points. Once you earn enough points, you’ll start unlocking investigations. But there’s more to research points than just investigations.

Below, we’ll talk about how to earn research points and what you can do with them. Then we’ll talk about Ecological Research, where you can turn those points into monster hunting prowess.

How to earn and spend research points

You’ll earn research points for just about anything you do out in the world that isn’t about crafting or carving parts off of monsters. Examining traces of monsters, capturing endemic life-forms with your capture net and fishing all earn you points.

You’ll only earn a few points at a time, but there’s so much to find and capture that those points will add up quickly. There are three places where you can cash in research points:

  • Palico armor. At the smithy’s workshop in
You can track your monster research level and current scoutfly level at Ecological Research in Astera
  • , you pay for new palico armor with these points (and monster parts).
  • Canteen. You have the option to pay for meals at canteens with your points.
  • Botanical Research. Later in the game, after you complete your eighth assigned mission, you’ll unlock botanical research in Astera. You’ll spend your points to purchase fertilizer from the Chief Botanist.

Ecological Research

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here that the game just doesn’t tell you about. The tl;dr is “pick up things because research points are good.” If you want to understand what those points do for you, this section will explain the unexplained.

The points you earn while exploring the New World come in two types. We’re calling them generic and monster-specific:

  • The endemic life you capture and the fish you catch just earn you generic points that go toward your total (that you can spend on things like we discussed above).
  • Monster-specific points are the ones you earn when you pick up traces of monsters like footprints and skidmarks. These points are labeled with the monster’s name when they appear in the notifications on your HUD. These go toward your bank of points just like the generic points, but they also feed into research levels with the Chief Ecologist in Astera.

Monster research levels

The Chief Ecologist is really hard to spot.

You’ll find the Chief Ecologist and Ecological Research hidden among a stack of books behind the Resource Center in the tradeyard. He’s your gateway to using those monster-specific points. Every monster-specific point you earn goes toward your monster research level. No matter how many points you earn, your monster research level will only increase once you visit the Chief Ecologist.

You can track your monster research level and current scoutfly level at Ecological Research

Your monster research level does a couple things for you:

  • First, it determines the detail included in your hunter’s notes. You’ll find your hunter’s notes in your menu under info. As you increase your levels, you’ll get information about each monsters’ weaknesses and weak points as well as information about each monsters’ drops.
  • Your monster research level also influences your scoutfly level. They deserve their own section.

Scoutfly level

You can track your scoutfly level at Ecological Research in Astera. See the bottom left box in the image above, which is called “Scoutfly Level.”

When your scoutflies find monster traces and help you hunt down monsters, the points you earn go toward your scoutfly level for that monster — they’re monster-specific like we said above.

There are three scoutfly levels that you’ll achieve by earning research points:

  • Level 1: Once you hit the first level, your scoutflies will lead you to the next monster trace along a monster’s trail.
  • Level 2: At the second level, your scoutflies will lead you directly to the monster.
  • Level 3: At the third level, the monster and its status will appear on your map.

Your scoutflies’ level isn’t permanent, though. It degrades over time. You can think of it as your scoutflies losing the scent of monsters you haven’t hunted in a while. That means your scoutfly level for each monster will increase and decrease over the course of your game.

Monster research level and scoutfly level

Your monster research level

The monster research level for each monster adds a multiplier to the research points that fill your scoutfly level gauge. Basically, your scoutfly level will increase faster for monster research level 3 monsters than for level 1 monsters. By the time you reach level 3, you’ll earn one scoutfly level for each trace you examine — that means you only have to find two things before the monster appears on your map.