Never played Monster Hunter before? Either way you’re in for a treat, as it has numerous features that’ll keep you exploring for months. If you’re having trouble with the complexity of the newest entry in the acclaimed action-RPG series, Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate, we put together some helpful tips for new Hunters. After all, what’s a Hunter without a plan of attack?

Choose your weapon and style 

There are several weapons to choose from. Do you prefer distance weapons such as the Bow, or a heavy-duty, close-encountering blade like the Iron Sword? Immediately following your first two quests, visit the Guildmarm in Val Habar. There, you’ll be able to train with each weapon from one-star quests, learn their maneuvers and find your item of choice. Practice makes perfect, after all. Close combatants are categorized as Blademasters, while shooter-friendly classes fall under Gunners. Each weapon has unique abilities, attacks and combos, so learn them wisely. 

Draw and sheath your weapon 

This isn’t your typical action-RPG. There are two methods when in a fighting predicament: having your weapon drawn, and when your weapon is sheathed. With your weapon unequipped (tap Y to put it away), you’re capable of sprinting and moving faster. If you need to heal, per say, dash away from the battle and use a potionor two from the distance. Note that dashing reduces your stamina bar, so monitor your stamina after a sprint so you don’t run out of breath. 

When your weapon is equipped (press X to draw), the control layout changes a bit, based mostly on attacks. You won’t be able to dash, and you’re not allowed to use items with most weapons, yet you still have the ability to evade (press B) or block (depending on your weapon) after you execute an offensive strike.   

Sharpen or reload your weapon, and do it often 

Repairing physical weapons is crucial. Using your weapon frequently will eventually reduce its power, so you’ll need to sharpen it more often than not. Pay close attention to the weapon icon during combat, and keep an eye out for an indication that your weapon is worn. Weapons can be repaired by using a Whetstone or Whetfish. You’ll find these items in markets and across the hunting field. With your blade sharpened, its attack power will increase. For Gunner-based weapons, you’ll need to reload periodically.  

Manage your items – Supply and Item Boxes  

Using items, reloading and sharpening weapons leaves you completely vulnerable, so keep that in mind before you take a break from combat, since enemies can still attack you. There are plenty of helpful items you can purchase or find that aid you in the hunter field, and you can store them in Item Boxes for later use. Several items can be combined to make significantly better ones. Item Boxes are found in villages, as well as in the wild.  

Blue boxes, known as Supply Boxes, are found upon immediately entering the hunter field, and grant you helpful elements to benefit the hunt. Supply Boxes, on the other hand, always yield a field Map, so be sure to bring it along to view terrain while hunting.  

Target enemies to up your game 

Somewhat similar to the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s targeting system, you’re capable of locking onto monsters in the battlefield once you encounter them. On the lower-left corner of the bottom screen, tap the monster icon to initiate the auto-lock feature if the enemy is in the area. When you confront an enemy, use the L button to lock onto the monster. The result will allow you to reposition the camera immediately on your foe, avoiding the hassle of adjusting your view. 

Locate your prey

When searching for a larger monster in the field, it’s essential to examine your map and target icon on the bottom screen. Monsters vary in locations, but once you encounter them, throw a Paintball on your target. By doing this, it will mark the monster (as a pink dot) on your map even if it happens to escape into another area. Be aware that time is limited for each Paintball use.   

Explore villages as much as possible 

Villages are your much-needed break from the hunting field, where you’ll meet numerous characters that aid you in your adventure. From Smithies that upgrade your weapons and armor to markets that allow you to purchase various items, there’s plenty to do when exploring each area to help prepare for quests. 

Additionally, this is where you assign your Hunter with quests that earn you cash, Caravan Points (redeemable-quest expenses used at shops) and other bonus awards via the Quest Board. Without a quest assigned, you won’t be able to leave town, at least until you advance the story. 

Stuff yourself with food 

Wouldn’t it be nice to boost your attack or defense before venturing into the field? Stop by a Street Cook in villages and eat a meal – it always has a bonus effect. It should be noted you’ll lose the bonus if you decide to save your game when resting in your bed. 

Take advantage of home base

Each village grants you a house where you’ll be able to manage your equipment, save your game and rest on a bed. The Item Box in your home is where you’ll be able to equip weapons and create your own Item and Weapon Sets. Customized classes are essential in preparing for different environments and quests; for instance, assigning your Hunter with water-resistant armor against a water-based monster is a modification you set in advance. 

Palico, your furball friend

As you create your Hunter, you’ll also establish your Palico, a companion that travels by your side. These fur balls are great when playing solo or if you forgo multiplayer. Not only can they give you the upper hand in battle, they’re also capable of discovering treasures and items on their own to save you time searching. Deploy Palicoes from the Palico Board in your home, and be sure to upgrade their equipment.  

Go Hunting, Looting and Scavenging 

Once you enter the wild, you’ll have plenty of activities to indulge in besides your main quest. For instance, you can scout for Mining Points, where you can use Pickaxes to mine large rocks, rewarding you minerals to use at the Smithy to forge weapons, or you can simply snag herbs from flowers scattered throughout the field if you’re in need of a cure. Even when you slay monsters, you have the opportunity to carve them; Konchu monsters contain numerous materials, for example. 

Save a horse, ride a monster 

Monster Hunter 4 introduces mounting. It’s difficult to perform, but you can always practice in the Arena if necessary. When standing on higher ground like a ledge, you can leap off by dashing; you’ll inflict tremendous damage while attacking in midair with a downright-thrust. If your timing and position is right, your attack may allow you to land on top of your prey (this generally happens with a dead-on slash to the head). Once in a rodeo position, you can attack the monster repeatedly to cause significant damage. The mounting bar displayed represents your balance – when in red, make sure to hold R to grasp onto the beast while it attempts to shake you off.