Monster Hunter World has made huge strides from the previous games in the series in terms of its armor system. Older generations featured an unintuitive, opaque system that made use of break points which required you to stack certain amounts of a skill to get any effect such as elemental resistances or stat boosts. Those days are gone, and any armor piece will be guaranteed to have an effect on your character. However, that doesn’t mean that just any mish-mash of gear will work. Anyone who’s spent an afternoon getting bodied by an apex predator can attest to that. So then the question is: How do you build the best armor set? How do you get the gear that will rocket you to speedrun godhood?
Monster Hunter World Armor Set Guide: Basic Concepts
That’s a loaded question, in all honesty. There is no one “best” armor set. The skills your character uses should be geared to different challenges. You won’t need poison resist when fighting a Barroth, but by the same token water resistance is as good as useless against a Rathalos. Therefore, the secret to making a great armor set is to do your research. You need to build around what you need to win the fight.
That may seem like an obvious point, but it’s more complex than it may seem on the face of it. Take, for example, how your armor loadout can affect the Earplug skill. Player skill or weapon loadout can reduce the utility of Earplugs, since you can use invincibility frames or a shield to negate some roars. However on some monsters, blights are a nightmare regardless of player skill. Thus, for monsters like Vaal Hazaak with unavoidable damage, use armor skills that can negate that damage (Effluvial resistance). Once you’re comfortable with your hunter’s resistance, fill your armor with damage and utility skills.
The utility and attack skills that you want depends on how you want to play. The two most obvious numbers to boost are Attack and Affinity. Attack adds a flat attack boost, which is better on faster weapons. This is because if a weapon attacks more frequently, that flat attack gets added each time you swing. Affinity operates like critical hits in other games. Your weapon’s affinity score is the percent chance that any given attack will do 25% extra damage. Mathematically, this means that each point of affinity adds .25%. Because of this, Attack Boost level 4 is one of the more commonly-suggested attack investments as it adds 12 flat attack and 5% Affinity, and with the right decorations can be added with one armor piece. More point investment in this skill loses efficiency.
Handicraft is another vital skill for many weapons. Handicraft boosts Sharpness. Sharpness determines which parts of a monster you are capable of cutting as well as granting you an attack multiplier the higher it is. White, which is the highest available sharpness until G rank is released, gives you a 1.32x damage modifier while your weapon still has white sharpness. Elemental weapons, however, do not benefit from this. Instead they have their own skills for each element. While this may seem cumbersome, applying the right elemental damage to the right parts can absolutely shred through a monster’s health. Like with Attack Boost, elemental damage is applied to each swing so it’s generally more efficient on smaller, faster weapons.
Utility skills are the ones that don’t directly boost your damage, but instead give you vital boosts to your hunter’s other abilities. An example of an important one for some weapons is Evade Extender. Low-mobility weapons like Heavy Bowgun will find this ability hard to live without, as it will often be the difference between triple-carting or a smooth hunt. When hunting in groups, Sword and Shield users will find great utility with Wide Range which allows you to heal others using your own items. Mushroomancer pairs well with this skill, as it lets you use certain mushrooms in lieu of extremely powerful, top-tier consumables. Speed Eating keeps you out of the battle for a shorter period of time, and can really help against some extremely aggressive monsters.
Monster Hunter World Armor Set Guide: Build Philosophies
But if there’s one skill type to focus on—and there really isn’t, but roll with me here–there’s just no substitute for attack abilities. The faster you bring down a monster, the fewer opportunities you have to slip up. Plus, damage is factored into the monster’s stagger threshold. More damage means you’re more likely to get free hits on a monster. These abilities should always be your first priority. Utility skills and resistance skills exist on a second tier when constructing a set. They should only be considered insofar as they keep you alive to deal damage, barring one unique case which I’ll talk about later. In theory, the perfect Monster Hunter player can just build damage and never cart. In fact, speedrunners tend to almost entirely stack damage. Unless you’re willing to practice each monster and map for hours to perfect your runs, don’t do this. To optimize your build, you want to go as light as possible on utility as you’re comfortable doing. You can make yourself essentially immune to monsters by maxing utility skills, but you’ll be underperforming on damage and fights will be frustratingly long.
Monster Hunter World Armor Set Guide: Examples to Get You Started
The easiest way to get started making your own mixed sets is to copy popular and successful ones, so here I’ll go over a few versatile mid-high rank builds as bases from which to start customizing to your own tastes. An excellent general build is the one pictured above. This set is extremely attack-heavy and is very useful for farming monsters that you’re familiar with. It works extremely well with a bow if you utilize the Trickshot Charm II to get bonus power on your Dragon Piercer attack. It also works well with Greatsword, Hammer, and all of the Odogaron weapons. The reason for this is that these weapons all do high physical damage and so they benefit from the raw attack boosting skills. The weapons I listed also don’t need any help with sharpness to keep their damage numbers up. Therefore you can maximize damage while minimizing downtime because this set will trip and stagger monsters like crazy. The linchpin skill of this set is Weakness Exploit. Weakness exploit level 3 gives an insane 60% affinity if you hit a weak point, which you absolutely should be doing anyway. That’s a 15% damage boost on every attack that hits a weak spot.
My preferred set for learning a monster uses parts from the Bazelguese (Helm and Waist) and Rathalos (Chest and Legs) to stack Earplugs and Weakness Exploit. Unless you’re a monster-killing machine, high rank monsters will roar a decent number of times before you bring them down. This can be extremely frustrating and break any flow you had up until that point in the hunt. When you’re scrabbling for any advantage you can get, this can be extremely frustrating to deal with. Then, when you throw the frequent tendency of high rank hunts to throw multiple roaring monsters at you, this set will keep you dealing damage while your two targets decide to have a screaming contest for a full minute. It’s also an excellent general set for simply exploring the endgame. If you’re like me, you might have sped through the game to experience everything as quick as you could without taking time to smell the roses. Upgrade this set and you’ll be able to smell the roses while angry wyverns screech about you invading their territory. It changes the whole game into a relaxing romp without sacrificing too much attack power.
And lastly, I felt it was appropriate to address the elephant in the room. There is no support “class” in Monster Hunter. There never was and there never will be. That said, with the new SOS system in World, it can be necessary to rescue people from themselves while still being able to carry an online party. Enter: Wide Range Sword and Shield. There are ways to construct this set with event gear, but since those aren’t available to anyone currently trying to make such a set, I’ll stick with what’s in the regular game content. To make this set, you’ll need the Rath Soul Mail and Dober Vambraces and Dober Mail Alpha. Unfortunately, it also calls for the Mosswine Mask. I’m really sorry, but it’s for the greater good. Your leg slot is open, but for both aesthetic and optimization’s sake I’d suggest you use the Dober Greaves Beta. What this set gives you is unparalleled flexibility while keeping your struggling party members alive. They could even spend the entire time farming herbs and you can finish the quest just fine. Which is good because they might just try that bold strategy.