Jumping into Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is no small feat, especially if you’re a new player or returning after a lengthy monster-hunting hiatus. Our beginner’s guide is designed to help hone your hunting skills and prepare you for the long journey ahead. 

The Capcom-owned action RPG‘s latest expansion adds a bunch of new monsters to hunt, weapons and armor to craft, and introduces some game-changing mechanics and QoL improvements. With some practice and a few sips of lucky liquor, you’ll start looking and playing like a Master Rank hunter in no time. 

New Features and Changes

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New Locale

Iceborne sees players traveling to a new area called the Hoarfrost Reach, an unexplored landmass that’s locked beneath snow and ice. Accompanying the new destination is Seliana, your home away from home while exploring the Hoarfrost Reach. Seliana is much more compact than Astera, placing each of the necessary vendors and quest givers within a conveniently small radius. 

New Mechanics

The most significant change in Iceborne is the introduction of the Clutch Claw, a grappling hook that allows you to latch onto monsters and perform different actions. While its range is quite short, the technique comes in hand for knocking monsters down and dealing extra damage. Once you’ve managed to attach yourself to a monster, a few options open up. 

Assuming you have some slinger ammo equipped, you can deal damage to a monster’s tail, body, or head, with the latter having a chance to stun the monster or cause them to fall over. Alternatively, you can use your weapon to attack the monster directly, dealing a lot more damage. You should familiarize yourself with using the Clutch Claw early on as it can help make battling Iceborne’s new monsters a lot easier. 

Tips for Surviving in the Hoarfrost Reach

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As you begin exploring everything Iceborne has to offer, you’ll quickly realize how important preparation is. Conditions in the Hoarfrost Reach can be quite brutal; freezing-cold temperatures will cause your stamina bar to shrink, thick snow reduces movement speed and makes it tougher to dodge, not to mention being in a completely foreign environment surrounded by dangerous creatures you’re meeting for the first time. To keep yourself toasty and more importantly, alive, we recommend the following:

  • Craft Hot Drinks – Early on, you’ll be introduced to Hot Drinks, a tasty beverage that when consumed, temporarily prevents the stamina-draining effects of cold weather. Hot Drinks can be crafted by picking up Hot Peppers found growing throughout the Hoarfrost Reach. Later, you’ll receive the Warming Jewel, which completely negates the effects of the cold and removes the problem altogether.
  • Use Your Iceproof Mantle – You should be bringing along your Iceproof Mantle for any quest taking place in the Hoarfrost Reach. This will greatly reduce the amount of ice damage you take and make it easier to traverse the region’s snowy terrain. For your second slot, things are a bit more flexible, however, we recommend equipping either the Temporal or Vitality Mantle.
  • Visit Hot Springs – Throughout the Hoarfrost Reach you’ll find hot springs that will temporarily negate the cold weather effects upon entering. If you have a few seconds to spare, we recommend hanging out in a hot spring as it’ll eventually reward you with a buff that regenerates stamina quicker.
  • Equip Gear with Aquatic/Polar Mobility – This skill is extremely useful for traversing environments with water or snow. Although you can obtain it via decorations, the easiest way to max out its effect is to craft the Beotodus armor. We recommend doing this as soon as possible since it’ll come in hand for a majority of the early hunts.

Tips for Combat

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Picking the Right Weapon

Which weapon you pick can say a lot about you as a person and your preferred playstyle. Iceborne sees all 14 weapon types from World returning, this time with extra abilities that are sure to spice things up even for returning players.  To find the one that’s perfect for you, we recommend the following:

  • Practice in the Training Area – Speaking to the Housekeeper in your room will let you access the training area where you can practice using different weapons and find one you’re most comfortable with.
  • Know Weapon Damage Types – A majority of weapons in Iceborne deal either Blunt or Cut damage. Blunt damage weapons include hunting horns, hammers, and most coatings/ammo types. Cut damage weapons include swords, lances, axes, blades, glaives and slicing ammo. Blunt damage works best for stunning a monster and breaking off pieces of its head and body while cut damage works best for severing a monster’s tail.
  • Find Your Class – Iceborne’s weapons fall into separate categories, ranging from DPS to support, so it’s important to know where you land on the spectrum. Faster weapons like the Long Sword, Sword & Shield, Insect Glaive, and Dual Blades are going to allow you to deal consistent damage while the Heavy Bowgun, Hunting Horn, and Gunlance are more effective at supporting teammates.
  • Have Multiple Options – Some monsters will be harder to defeat using certain weapons, so it’s best to find at least two types you feel comfortable bringing into battle. We recommend having one melee option such as the Insect Glaive or Sword & Shield and one long-range, with the Bow and Light Bowgun being the more popular options.
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Using Your Clutch Claw

The addition of the Clutch Claw in Iceborne has affected World’s combat in several ways. While it provides a new layer of strategy and risk/reward when hunting tough monsters, it’s also led to more fast-paced battles that see you using up your stamina meter more quickly.

This coupled with the stamina-draining effects of the Hoarfrost Reach can make practicing with the new tool feel quite challenging. If you want to become a Clutch Claw master, we recommend the following:

  • Remember to Equip Slinger Ammo – If you want to have any chance of stunning or knocking down a monster with the Clutch Claw, you’re going to need Slinger Ammo. There are multiple types with varying situational uses, so experiment and find out which is the most effective. Ultimately, having any Slinger Ammo is better than having none.
  • Carefully Time Your Clutch Claw Attacks – At first, you’ll be tempted to constantly spam your Clutch Claw and try to mount the monster any chance you get. More often than not, this will result in your character being sent flying off the monster’s body, usually losing some health and stamina in the process. Pay attention to the monster’s body language and positioning before deciding to latch on.
  • Aim For The Head – Once you’ve latched on to the monster, you’ll be able to move to different areas of its body including the head, torso, and tail. If the monster is standing near a wall or large obstacle it could easily bump into, we recommend hopping onto its cranium and delivering a burst of sweet Slinger damage. This will send the monster reeling and may cause them to fall over, providing an opening to attack.
  • Don’t Forget to Use Your Weapon – In all the excitement of using your Clutch Claw, you may forget to use your main weapon as well. Not only does your weapon deal more damage, but landing a successful hit on the monster will cause them to drop Slinger Ammo. This can help set you up for your next Clutch Claw attack.
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Knowing When to Attack or Disengage

Learning to read a monster’s body language is arguably one of the most important skills in Monster Hunter. It can be the deciding factor for whether you survive an attack or end up getting carted back to camp. To help you develop your monster mind-reading abilities, we recommend the following:

  • Get in The Monster’s Face – Since quests are timed, you’re going to want to spend a majority of time dealing damage, preferably up close and personal. While it can be quite daunting, especially with tougher monsters, this is the best way to ensure you’re dealing maximum damage consistently throughout a fight.
  • Remember to Heal – This one may seem obvious but Iceborne’s Master Rank monsters deal a lot more damage than their High-Rank counterparts, meaning you could easily be OHKO’d by more powerful attacks and 2HKO’d by a majority. Therefore, you must pay attention to your health bar and heal if you see it drop below 75%.
  • If Enraged, Disengage – After you’ve dealt a significant amount of damage to a monster, they’ll enter an enraged state where they become much more aggressive, putting your safety at a higher risk. You can tell a monster is enraged once they let out a piercingly-loud roar and parts of their body begin to glow. Until you have the confidence to fight through the enraged state, we recommend backing off as it only lasts a few minutes.
  • Learn Attack Patterns – Whether it’s your own or the monsters, you should be paying attention to the duration and direction associated with each attack. Once you’ve fought a particular monster enough times, you’ll begin to pick up on their many tells and learn to predict when and where their attack is going to land. The same can be said for your weapons, with many combos allowing you to cancel out of attack animations to escape.

Tips for Crafting and Upgrading

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Armor / Weapons / Decorations

Keeping a steady supply of materials for crafting and upgrading an exhaustive list of different weapons and armor in Iceborne can feel overwhelming at first. The game doesn’t always do a great job at indicating how to get certain materials or which armor you should consider investing in, so we’re here to help by recommending you do the following:

  • Invest in Elemental Damage – Elemental weapons got a major buff in Iceborne and are now more viable than their non-elemental brethren. Before setting off on a hunt, refer to your Hunter Notes to find out what element a particular monster is weak to. If you find you don’t have a weapon of that elemental typing, consider crafting one. Avoid crafting hidden elemental weapons in the early goings, as they’ll require you to dedicate precious skill slots towards unlocking their elemental damage.
  • Don’t Make Every Armor Set – The completionist in you may be tempted to try and craft a full set of every armor in the event you’ll need it for a particular monster. This is completely unnecessary since each set has unique skills that may not apply to your weapon type or playstyle. Instead, we recommend making specific builds designed for specific situations (i.e. farming materials, dealing maximum elemental damage, fighting Velkhana).
  • Max Out Your Armor – If you’re a returning player, chances are you’ve accumulated a bunch of Armospheres that are just waiting to be used. If you’re new, you’re going to want to pick up and complete bounties from the Resource Center, as they’ll reward you with Armorspheres of varying sizes. Once you’ve crafted a useful set of armor, try to upgrade it as much as you can to increase your defense.
  • Assess Your Decoration Situation – For new players, it can be hard remembering to swap out decorations between quests or even equip them at all. To make things easier, we recommend creating and saving different load-outs for specific situations. You can always make adjustments if you obtain a new decoration that makes more sense for a certain build.
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Consumables / Materials

Obtaining enough materials to maintain a steady supply of potions, buffs, ammo, and coatings can feel like a never-ending quest. Thankfully, Iceborne features many ways to expedite the process, freeing up some time that can be better-spent hunting. To set you up for success, we recommend doing the following:

  • Make Cultivation Your Motivation – The Cultivation Box is a useful tool that allows you to collect a variety of different seeds, insects, and plants while you’re out hunting. You can assign up to three different items to be cultivated and use Research Points to increase the quantity harvested or reduce the amount of time needed to harvest.
  • Tailriders to the Rescue – Talking to the Housekeeper in your room allows you to deploy Tailriders in any locale of your choosing. Once deployed, the Tailriders will begin gathering materials while you’re out hunting which you can later choose to keep or sell.
  • Gather Materials During Hunts – It can be easy to get wrapped up in fighting a monster and forget about the plethora of materials available in each environment. During downtime when you’re tracking a monster or traveling between areas, pick up any materials you find along the way. Combine this with a well-managed Cultivation Box and you may never need to go on an Expedition again.
  • Visit The Argosy – The Argosy is a useful way to obtain a variety of items in exchange for Research Points. The ship docks every three quests so make sure to visit the Captain in Astera or his steward in Seliana to see what’s in stock.
  • Play the Steamworks Minigame – New for Iceborne is the Steamworks mini-game, which rewards you with a variety of items for completing a timed mini-game. The amount as well as which items you receive depends on your performance.
  • Set and Forget – Similar to armor/weapon load-outs, Iceborne allows you to set load-outs for your item box as well as for the game’s Radial Menu. Once you know which consumables are essential, (Mega-Potions, Life Powders, Demondrugs, etc.) create a loadout to serve as a foundation that you can add more items to later on; this will decrease the amount of time spent prepping before a hunt.

Tips for Multiplayer

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If you’re someone that enjoys teaming up with other players, you’ll be happy to hear that Iceborne introduces a new system for scaling difficulty to reflect the number of players in a squad. However, before you hop onto someone’s session or have them join yours, we recommend you consider the following: 

  • Watch The Cutscenes First – One of the few inconveniences Iceborne inherited from World is a restriction that forces players to have seen a story mission’s opening cutscene before other players can join them. Players can get around this by either abandoning the quest once the cutscene finishes or sending out an S.O.S. flare.
  • Don’t Flinch Your Allies – Attacking with certain weapons can cause your teammates to flinch if you’re too close. Heavy weapons like Great Swords, Hammers, and even the Bow’s pellets can interrupt your teammate’s attacks. Therefore, you should be aware of your positioning and communicate if you want to strike a certain part of the monster. 
  • Sever The Tail, Bash The Head Damage type also plays a major role when it comes to multiplayer. The player(s) using a weapon that does Blunt damage should be focusing on the monster’s head, which will increase the chance of stunning it. On the other end, player(s) dealing Cut damage should be concentrating on cutting off the monster’s tail. 
  • Look For Signs of Sleep If one of your teammates is using a Sleep elemental weapon, ammo, or coating, chances are the monster will fall asleep multiple times throughout the fight. This can give you and your squad a chance to recover, sharpen blades, and deal a massive amount of opening damage. Pay attention to the monster’s body language to see if it’s about to fall asleep hold off any attacks until your team is ready. 
  • Mounting Etiquette – Once another player manages to mount the monster, avoid using flash pods, clutch claw attacks, or inflicting any status effects that could interrupt your teammate’s mount sequence. Not only does this waste an opportunity to down the monster, it also uses up useful resources and can delay the fight. 

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