Seeing as we have an influx of new monster hunters, I think It is best to also put forth my tips on the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon in order to help you guys and gals out when you stare at your beginner stash.
Sword and Shield:
This weapon gives the hunter the power to be both mobile and still have a defensive back-up. You can jump into an opening, hit the monster’s weakpoints, then roll out before the target can react. If you made a bad choice and you know you will be on the receiving end of pain, you can throw up a shield which will block most normal attacks and leave you still alive. Also take note that normally you can only use items when your weapon is in its sheath, with a sword and shield you can use items either way and this can help you save precious seconds if you need to heal up and you only have a moment to spare. This weapon also boasts the strongest elemental damage near end game, so if you like to use swords that are literally made of ice and like to study and take advantage of elemental weaknesses, then this is a good choice.
However, one of the biggest disadvantages of this weapon is its low overall damage and the shield can only block the most basic of attacks (unless you use armor skills that is). This can be overcome with good technique and by attacking weakpoints.
Overall, this is a fun weapon if you want to just survive and take your time with hunts.
Sacrificing the shield with another blade, the Dual Swords will enable you to do much much more damage. Mobility and mastery of the perfect time to dodge will enable you to stay inside danger zones much longer than anyone without a shield. You also have the DS special skill ‘Demon Mode’, which gives you a small damage boost, turns your dodge roll into a dash, and gives you the capability of doing the Demon dance. Demon dance is a multi hit attack that locks you in place for the duration (around 5 seconds) but your weapons will not bounce off even if you’re hitting steel and you have a super armor effect in place, that is, any attack that is not capable of knocking you away will just damage you but not break the dance. One of the cheap moves from earlier Monster hunter titles is to use Energy Drinks, which will keep your energy from decreasing for a time, and just keep Demon dancing. This will cost you in potions but you can get really easy kills.
Disadvantage? No shield; requires good dodging, and Demon Mode is risky.
This was the most popular weapon back in Monster Hunter 2 and I assume will still be popular today. The Long Sword attacks a bit slower that the Dual Sword and the Sword and Shield, but has more power. It has decent range and can hit tall targets with its various moves. Its main special technique is that it charges a bar with each hit, think: a super bar from a fighting game. When the bar is full you can use it to do a 5 hit combo ending in flashy spinning cut which then changes your bar to another color, starting from yellow to red, each change gives you more damage and in most cases changes the look of your sword into something scarier or cooler. Moderate damage and flashy, really a good combination.
Disadvantage? Good dodging required and you tend to get careless when you keep trying to get the final bar.
Also very popular. The Great Sword is all about hitting with a charge move. There are people out there who are using this weapon to only do combos but do not follow them for they are just trying to be different. With this sword you have a move where you aim it and charge. Theres a sweet spot around 3 seconds in where if you start the attack you’ll do the highest damage and then you can combo into another charge. This is one of the highest single hit damage dealers in the game and can be very tricky to master. If you wish to wield a very large and heavy blade and do high damage, it can also be used to block attacks if needed, then this is for you.
Disadvantage? Slow movement when unsheated.
A new weapon only introduced in Monster Hunter 3. The Switch Axe is a good balanced weapon for those who like flashy things. It can switch between Axe mode, which has good range but slightly lower damage, and Sword mode, which uses the special coating and can do the ChainSaw-ish attack. The unique trait of this weapon is that you use the coatings that bows use but only when in Sword mode, this gives you a lot of alternatives when building up your skills. Also its very flashy when you do a combo with an axe, change it to a sword midswing and end it with the chainsaw attack.
Disadvantage? Damage dealt is slightly lower than long sword and certain moves will annoy team mates. The chainsaw attack explodes in the end which throws away team mates.
The Hammer is the weapon that is on par with the Great Sword. With this weapon, you can actually move while charging and you have the option to cancel the charge attack into a spinning move that can hit multiple times. Also, as this weapon does crushing damage, if you hit the head of a monster enough times they will often get stunned, giving you a free attack. Very high damage and mobility. You can place a Hammer user and a Great Sword user side by side and they will argue for hours on which weapon is better.
Disadvantage? Low reach for most attacks and it eats stamina like cake.
The Hunting Horn is the weaker and more musical cousin of the Hammer. You have moves with good reach, you can stun enemies by hitting them on the head multiple times but you don’t have the charge attacks. What you do have is the ability to play songs that can give buffs, heal, or emulate sonic bombs. With one self buff you can actually move as fast as someone with his weapons sheathed. This is mostly overlooked by people but if you want to play riffs on an electric guitar before bashing then on monsters then I recommend this.
Disadvantage? Slightly less damage than Long sword and you don’t have a lot of hard hitting attacks so it can get a tad boring. Playing songs also takes some time and unless you use a trap or a flashbang you will have to move to a safe area just to buff.
The lance is unpopular due to its speed. With a lance, you get a long reach weapon that does both crushing and cutting and an equally large shield that can block almost all attacks. The most common technique with this weapon is to just turtle up and keep poking at the enemy. Sooner or later they’ll break down against your impenetrable fortress or you’ll crumble. Its all about patience and proper hopping and guarding.
Disadvantage? Can get boring… fast.
The mix of a lance and a gun equals awesome. This weapon has a large shield and the poking capabilities of the lance and a short shotgun effect because it can carry bullets. You can attack and shoot or do a long combo which ends with you discharging all the rounds in one shot. Also, you have the sweet Wyvern Fire move. Which is a charged attack that has a long build up but is very devastating. This weapon cools down and can only be shot in 3 minute intervals, as can be seen by a graphical change with your weapon to show it. Overall a very damaging and cool weapon, I like it so of course I’m biased.
Disadvantage? Slow movement. Shooting makes sharpness go down fast. Can get boring.
The bow is all about mobility. It’s the equivalent of the sword and shield but ranged. Also, no shield. You have good elemental damage later, but the claim to fame of the bow is in its coating. By applying coatings to your arrows, you can get them to do additional damage or cause status effects like sleep and paralysis. Good for groups. Also, take note that in Monster Hunter, range is not long range it just means you’re going to be slightly farther away than melee users as the bows and bowguns have an optimum distance for maximum damage. If you like mobility and shooting arrows, then this is good for you.
Disadvantage? You tend to take a while as the Bow has the lowest damage of all the range weapons. Also, range armor is paper and you can get One hit killed later in the game.
Light Bow Gun:
The Light Bow Gun has slightly higher damage than the Bow but uses bullets. This will be your main limiter as each Light Bow Gun can only carry a number of shots before you need to reload. This also has elemental damage, but in the form of the elemental bullets, which can get expensive if you purchase it, so I recommend using the farm to get the materials and just make them yourself. The Light Bow Gun has the feature called multifire, which makes the gun fire up to 5 shots for each bullet used. Useful, but it locks you in place so it can by risky. The Light Bow Gun is mostly used for support, that is, you use status effects on the monsters for the rest of the team or even heal teamates with bullets. Good, but for its role, the bow is much better.
Disadvantage? Ranged armor is paper and you will get bogged down with the massive amounts of bullets you need to bring.
Heavy Bow Gun:
My weapon of choice. The Heavy Bow Gun sacrifices mobility in order to do high damage with each bullet. The only ranged weapon that can stand up to the melee users in terms of damage. This weapons exclusive feature is Crouching fire, where you crouch down and load up a massive amount of bullets on your gun so you can shoot continuously for a while. If you like to take risks and do competent damage at range, then this is what you need.
Did I miss anything? Ah no, that’s all of it. I wish Capcom included the new weapon in this update but I guess we have to wait for Monster Hunter 4 to get our hands on the Swarm Stick.
Good Luck Hunting!