Monster Hunter feels like a game of plateaus, sprinkled with randomness. There’s something to be said about hunting a dragon for 45 minutes, then taking it down with a fraction of life remaining.
The randomness first. Enemy behavior is based on code. They have specific move patterns, and those patterns can change based on a few factors, mostly environmental. If there’s another large prey around, expect a battle between them. If they are under 25% hp, expect them to enrage and use a different skill set. Some movement patterns are restricted due to the space on the map – space between you or space to the wall. The randomness is which of these skills are used, against which target.
Diablos has 2 killer moves – a quick rush and a burrow attack. Both pick a target, beeline to them, and can shift a few feet left/right. They can also trigger this move without a whole lot of warning. Or you can stumble on a rock, or a bush. Or just run out of stamina and get stunned. Or, you can take a minor hit that knocks you down, and then he’ll charge you for a quick trip back to base. That’s a bugger.
Randomness at low percentages plays against you the longer the fight draws on. Say it’s a 5% chance of a tweak to a move that can kill you. If he uses that move every 30 seconds, then your odds of seeing that tweak are a lot higher after 30 minutes than after 2.
Weapons have a clear tier structure, and each increases some portion of power. For the quarter of the game, it’s just numbers. More damage = quicker fights. After that point, elemental damage plays a much larger role. For the 4 basic elements (ice, thunder, fire, water) it’s pretty obvious that the damage is welcome. Dragon is a bit different – enemies that deal that damage are usually weak to it. This is weapon #6.
Why have a normal damage weapon? For quests that require you to take down more than 1 enemy, who have competing resistances, and for times when you need to explore a map and don’t know what you’re going to find.
There’s a fair chunk of grinding to get the pieces needed for each item. Thankfully there are wishlists that let you know once you have all the parts. Still.. having to take on a 20 minute hunt for 2 items, and only 1 drops at a time, that’s a bugger.
Oh what a fun thing you are. They say “defense wins championships” and that is certainly the case with MHW. There are some fights where you will simply die in a single strike. Diablos is one. Pink Rathian is another. It is not possible to avoid all damage due to the randomness listed above. You can certainly avoid the big hits for a long time, but eventually you’re going to get hit.
There are 3 ways to reduce the impact of the damage – armor, resistances, and buffs.
Armor is pretty straightforward. You have 5 slots, each with a number. If you are in starting gear (for the skills on the gear), then you likely have ~30 armor total. You need more like 150 to take a hit from Diablos. I am at 171 now and I’m sure I could use a boost to something better. But then I’d be giving up a lot of skills, which is a tough trade off.
Resistances are a pretty straightforward % decrease to specific attacks. You want more fire resist to be able to take a fireball hit. This is tough enough since a piece with a decent armor score and a decent skill may have a negative resistance score. I find that the most important two are Fire (burning) and Thunder (stun).
Finally buffs – either from armor (defense boost), food (defense (L)), or nutrients. These are extremely useful. The downside to food and nutrients is that they are temporary, and food buffs cannot be reapplied for 10 minutes. In the 2nd half of the game, there’s a chance that the mission will not start at a camp base, meaning that you really should be eating before leaving. It’s a bugger when you die before that timer is done.
Breaking a Wall
There are two parts here. Damage is what you need to kill a monster before the timer expires, and to reduce the chances of having a bad random event. You need to have the best weapon possible, based on the available list, with the appropriate damage type – at the very least the “neutral” damage weapon should be always at max.
Armor is what you need to survive those bad events. It allows you to experiment with new tactics and figure out how to optimize future runs. If you are dying in 1-2 hits, then this is where you need to invest.