Monster Hunter: World is not a game that will hold your hand. With a lot of trial and error, it’s possible to figure out everything on your own, but it takes a huge investment of time and, frankly, it’s not a lot of fun to play when you don’t understand what’s going on.
We spent a lot of time playing that way and, once we figured out the things below, it was like we were playing a different game. We wrote out the highlights of what we learned below. Check out Polygon’s extensive collection of Monster Hunter: World guides for more in-depth discussions of the more confusing parts of the game.
Monster Hunter: World is a game of hours, not minutes
That’s not to say that every session or activity takes you hours. It’s more to prepare you for the pace at which the game unfolds. Fighting a monster is pretty action-packed and exciting, but a necessary grind to prepare for the next fight, quest or activity follows the action. This isn’t a game you can just rush through.
That doesn’t mean it’s an endless grinding slog, though. There’s a rhythm to the game that, once you learn it, makes a lot of sense and makes the game a lot easier to wrap your head around.
There’s a rhythm to the game
We called this the unspoken loop. It turns the game from a barrage of impossible-to-beat monsters, seemingly pointless investigations and confusing requests into a purposeful series of steps to make yourself ready for the next big fight. The loop goes like this: play a story mission, pick something to make or improve, grind investigations and bounties until you can improve it, move on to the next quest or a tougher monster.
No one in the game tells you to do this. It’s even a little counterintuitive based on the dire way the NPCs remind you about the next story mission constantly. But when you learn to play this way, you steadily improve (albeit slowly — see above) and make progress.
Hunting monsters is about crafting gear
Nearly every new monster you carve up unlocks new armor to make or a new upgrade to your weapons. Which, in turn, makes you better prepared for hunting the next monster. And that is the point of Monster Hunter: World — it’s in the name after all. You’re there to hunt monsters. You make gear out of those monsters to hunt other monsters. Then you just repeat that cycle until you’re finally fighting a mountain.
Every time you hunt a new monster and pick up new materials, head to the workshop in Astera. Look at your options for forging and upgrading your armor and weapon(s). And then you’re back into the loop, working toward a goal.
Treat every hunt like a boss fight
Monster Hunter: World is not a game where you’re a superpowered hero taking on the world. You’re just an employee doing your job. That job just happens to be hunting, killing and carving up bus-sized monsters. There’s no reason you should expect that to be easy. Even the weakest (large) monster — the great jagras — will take you several minutes to kill. And they get a lot harder from here — you’re given 50 minute time limits on investigation quests for a reason. As your weapons get more powerful, the new monsters you’re hunting get stronger and every hunt is going to take you 10 to 20 minutes.
Approach every hunt as if it were a boss fight in any other game. Stock up on healing potions, bring your best gear, study your quarry’s weaknesses and eat a hearty meal.
Always clean your plate
Meals that you eat at the canteen — either in Astera or at one of your camps — can give a boost to your health bar or your stamina. They can give a buff to your palico as well. As you unlock more and more meals, some of them will increase your attack or defense stats. And it’s pretty cheap. Eat a meal every chance you get.
Explore Astera thoroughly
After your initial rush across the Ancient Forest, you’ll enter the town of Astera. This will be your home base for the rest of the game, but Monster Hunter: World doesn’t go out of its way to introduce you to it. It’ll walk you to a couple of the locations, but there’s a lot more to discover and do in Astera.
During your early visits, watch your map and minimap to make sure you’ve checked in at every vendor, research center and quest-giving NPC. Some of the important points of interest are shockingly easy to overlook (we’re looking at you, Ecological Research).
Always talk to people with exclamation points over their head
Just like in real life, people with yellow a exclamation point over their head have something they want you to do for them. These NPCs will probably ask you to make some sort of delivery in exchange for a rare item or an upgrade to one of the vendors.
Also check in with the field researchers
Any time you see one of your fellow Commission employees out in the field — they’re marked with a green dot on your map and have a green pin over their head — seek them out and have a chat. They’ll give you useful information or, better yet, a critical bounty (which is basically a delivery request). Just like the exclamation point-having NPCs above, they’ll give you a useful item or an upgrade to the shops in Astera.
You already have tools to help you along
Monster Hunter: World is pretty (read: completely) silent about it, but you start the game with (and always carry) a few tools to help you out — a roasting spit, a capture net and a fishing rod.
Any time you have raw meat in your item pouch, you can use the roasting spit to turn it into a stamina-restoring meal-on-the-go. Use the capture net to obtain pets and earn research points. Use the fishing rod for, you know, fishing which is a great way to spend some down time.
The map is weird
Every area of the New World is full of twists and turns and stacked layers. It’s surprisingly difficult to just follow a path from point A to point B. There’s no way to put a custom marker on your map, either. But you can mark any resource, animal or monster you’ve seen before and your scoutflies will lead you straight to it. Pick a resource near where you want to go and ask your scoutflies to take you there.
As you find more and more stuff out in the world, your map will get very crowded. In the upper right corner of your map screen, you can cycle through filters to pare down all of those icons to something more useful.