There are fourteen different types of weapons in this game (for hunters) and that makes for a very diverse set of gameplay for you to look at and be confused by. Weapons can be categorized into two umbrella categories: Blademaster and Gunner . Each has their own separate armor sets and several armor skills are only helpful to either group.
Blademaster weapons are melee weapons which involve getting up close and personal with the monster, striking and cutting away. The armor of Blademasters has, thus, higher Defense.
Gunner weapons are ranged weapons that allow you to hit from far away, adjusting your positioning as needed. You also have an extremely wide variety of ammo to choose from the damage the monster. Gunner armor has much lower Defense.
Blademaster weapons can be further divided into Cutting and Impact weapons. Cutting weapons deal cutting damage and are capable of slicing off tails. Impact weapons deal impact damage and, if the hunter has good aim and can land a ton of damage to a monster’s head, will knock out the monster, leaving it incapacitated for a period of time (this is known as a KO). Different parts of a monster have different weaknesses to cutting and impact. If using cutting weapons, aim for the softer parts of a monster such as bellies, or aim for the tail to cut it off. Impact weapons 99% of the time should be aiming for the head!
Weapons don’t break in this game but they can become near-useless if you don’t keep up with them. Blademaster weapons have sharpness and Gunner weapons require ammo . If your sharpness depletes far enough, your damage will be heavily decreased and you will likely bounce , which means your weapon is so dull that it doesn’t cut through the monster anymore, but rather is deflected right off. This interrupts your combos and leaves you wide open for attack. The color if your blade in the top left corner indicates sharpness.
Gunners can make use of multiple types of ammo. If you do not bring ammo all you have is Normal Lv.1 which means you are dealing absolutely pitiful damage. You must bring your own ammo, such as Normal Lv.2 and a variety of other types of shots, to deal more damage. Many types of ammo have many different properties. Pellet shoots out many small bullets in an array at the monster and are not recommended if you are in multiplayer since you can hit other players. Pierce will pass through the monster, dealing multiple hits along the way, and is effective on large, fat monsters. And the list goes on. There’s even ammo that deals statuses or elemental damage.
Other elements of the weapons include affinity, which is the percentage chance a weapon will have a critical hit or the percentage chance a weapon could have a negative critical hit (hit for diminished damage). Weapons with low raw can rise in power with positive affinity, and weapons with large amounts of raw can afford some negative affinity (but you should try to avoid it if possible).
In addition to raw damage there is also elemental or status damage (for Blademasters and Bow users, as Gunners can vary their ammo depending on the type of bowgun). Weapons with low raw will depend heavily on elemental damage and abusing the elemental weakness of a monster, whereas weapons with high raw can all but ignore their elemental prowess.
Raw and elemental damage are discussed in detail in the Breakdown and Motion Values sections after this one!
Now that we have the basic weapon classifications out of the way, let’s discuss the four new ways you can wield all the weapons in this game: the four Hunting Styles! These are different tweaks made to how you can play the weapon. They are not 100% drastically different from each other, they can be thought of as spinoffs of each other.
Hunting Arts are skills that you can use during the hunt to deal damage, support your allies, or buff yourself. Hunting Arts are weapon-specific but there are a few that are universal to all weapons. Different Hunting Styles can equip a different number of Hunting Arts, ranging from one art to the maximum of three. If you can equip multiple Hunting Arts, consider how different Hunting Arts buff you to strategically use multiple Hunting Arts at once for an extra powerful attack!
The Guild style is the "old school" style and is what you are familiar with if you have been playing previous installments. Aside from minor rebalances, there are no real changes between this and the way you controlled weapons in the previous Monster Hunter games. As a result, it is very well-balanced and while it might not seem like it’s anything particularly powerful because of its profound lack of bells and whistles, you don’t need to fix what’s not broken and furthermore, you can equip two Hunting Arts to augment your arsenal!
Striker Style is all about beauty in simplicity. Many combos and special abilities are removed, such as the Dual Blades’ Archdemon Mode, in favor of pure power and overwhelming aggression. The Striker Style is all about milking the most out of your standard combos, and can equip three Hunting Arts!
If using Striker Style, make sure you are constantly unleashing those Hunting Arts to really push the potential of Striker Style. Striker Style has the advantage of having less complexity and confusion from different attack chains and special attacks, but suffers at the same time because of the lack of them.
Looking to master the air and become the queen (or king) hunter of the skies? Look no further, Aerial Style is for you. Aerial Style’s biggest claim to fame is the removal of the evasive roll in favor of an evasive somersault. If the somersault lands on a monster or a fellow hunter (or your cats), you will vault even higher, giving you ample room to perform devastating combos and special attacks! You can also reach higher parts of the monster that other styles and weapons find inaccessible, like tall heads and the backs of monsters.
Aerial Style shifts many special abilities and strong attacks to the air, leaving you unable to perform them on the ground. The biggest example of this is the Great Sword’s charge attack. You can no longer charge while on the ground, you must vault and then you can perform a level 3 charge. Aerial Style will aid you if you favor mounting as an aid to defeating monsters, but be aware that mounting has been nerfed slightly in this game and so it is much more difficult to mount-spam in this game. Aerial Style can equip one Hunting Art.
Adept Style is the style for those seeking to add some risk and reward to their hunts. Tired of seeing fireballs get shot in your face? Use Adept Style to perfect evade right through them, gaining huge buffs and a short window of time to land a devastating counterattack! Adept Style is all about taking what your opponents throw at you and throwing it right back in their face. When you evade an attack at just the right time (this includes monster roars) you will perfect evade through it and be able to attack back, or you will have an extended period of time where you are invincible.
Adept Style shifts many powerful attacks and abilities to that brief span of time, such as the Dual Blades Archdemon dance. This can be great for when a monster is on a rampage and cannot be approached by any other means, but can also be frustrating around monsters who move particularly quickly, as by the time you have finished your evade, they have jumped elsewhere. Or, alternatively, the monster is a slow, hulking giant who doesn’t attack very often and thus doesn’t give you opportunities for perfect evasion. Adept can equip one Hunting Art.
More detailed weapons breakdowns can be found after the Solo and Online Campaign walkthroughs, so be sure to check them out.