Monster Hunter World & Iceborne Elements Guide: Elemental Damage, Status Ailments, Monster Weaknesses and more
In Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, a lot of gear features an Element in addition to their "Raw" power. These elements fit into the classic categories of earthly element you'd expect from an RPG - Fire, Water, Ice, Thunder and Dragon. There's also some unique status ailment elements like Poison, Blast, Paralysis, Stun and Sleep.
Monsters in turn all have different elemental allegiances, and so they'll deploy specific elements against you in battle and in turn be weak to others if you choose to use them in battle. Choosing the best weapon with elemental damage that suits your target and armor and armor skills to match can sersiously turn the tide of even the most difficult battle. Other elements let you hinder monsters with debilitating status effects.
However, what do these different elements do, and what makes each of them unique? We're here to help. Elements are best split into 2 separate groups - Damage Elements and Status Ailments. Each type of element fits into a specific category, that represents what they're used for out in the field. Allow us to explain in more detail:
Once you're a master of the elements, check out our other Monster Hunter World guides:
- Beginner's Guide: Tips & Tricks for new hunters
- Weapons Guide: which of the 14 weapon classes is best for you?
- Armor Guide: skills, strengths, weaknesses, forging and upgrading
- Multiplayer Guide: how to play with friends, set up parties and send invites
- Herbivore Egg & Wyvern Egg: Egg Quests
- What is Affinity? How this weapon stat defines your damage output
Elemental Damage in Monster Hunter World: Damage Elements, and Monsters weak to them - Every Element Explained
Damage Elements are any elements that primarily add damage to a weapon based off of both the amount of element on the weapon, and a monster's weaknesses and resistances. To be clear, you will never deal less damage to a monster if you add elements to a mix: using a water sword against Jyuratodus, for example, will still deal at LEAST as much damage as a sword with the same amount of "raw" damage and no element. In fact, even if a monster isn't explicitly weak to the element, often you'll still deal more damage than you would if the weapon was the same "raw" value but had no element.
Keep note of what monsters are weak to what element, and plan your gear accordingly! With that being said, these are the "standard" Damage Elements, along with a few monsters that are weak to said element:
The burning power of flame! A good number of monsters use this element themselves, but there are also a decent few who are weak to Fire when it's turned against them: The Great Jagras, Barroth (when not covered in mud, otherwise no extra damage), Paolumu, Kirin and Vaal Hazak. For Iceborne's new monsters - as well as DLC monsters - you'll want to use Fire against Beotodus, Barioth, Shrieking Legiana, Acidic Glavenus, Velkhana, Namielle, and both varieties of Leshen from the Witcher 3 collaboration. Kulve Taroth also takes exceptional Fire damage, when not covered in gold.
The power of Water can be used against many of the monsters that are naturally strong with fire, as you'd expect. Hit Kulu-Ya-Ku, Barroth (when covered in mud otherwise no extra damage), Jyuratodus (when covered in mud, otherwise no extra damage), Tobi-Kadachi, Anjanath, Great Girros, Zorah Magdaros or Teostra with Water damage to make them hurt. When tackling Master Rank exclusive Iceborne monsters, Nightshade Paolumu, Glavenus, Fulgur Anjanath (when charged), Ebony Odogaron, Yian Garuga (as well as Scarred Yian Garuga), Brute Tigrex, and Silver Rathalos are most easily doused.
The Thunder element often comes hand-in-hand with paralysis or stun-causing status ailments when on enemies, but you can also use it Thor-style to beat down Pukei-Pukei, Jyuratodus (when not covered in mud, otherwise no extra damage), Tzitzi-Ya-Ku, Legiana, Dodgama, Bazelgeuse, Nergigante and Kushala Daora - it's their weakness. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne additions that are susceptible to a quick shock are Viper Tobi-Kadachi, Nargacuga, Tigrex, Savage Deviljho (and normal Deviljho too, for that matter), and Gold Rathian. Kulve Taroth will take special damage from Thunder, too - assuming she's covered in gold.
Ice is a less common element than you'd think, and actually only serves as a key weakness for a handful of monsters out in the New World. Hit Tzitzi-Ya-Ku, Odogaron, Diablos or Teostra with the cold stuff to speed up their demise. With Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, ironically quite a few monsters with this weakness have been added to the mix. Coral Pukei-Pukei, Brachydios, Fulgur Anjanath (especially when not charged), Seething Bazelgeuse, Shara Ishvalda, Zinogre, and Lunastra all can be put on ice.
Given many of the wyverns that stalk the new world are rather dragon-like, it doesn't come a surprise to find that many of them have the Dragon element. Many monsters with the dragon are also weak to it, and with dragon materials and drops you can often forge weapons imbued with a dragon's power - that can then be used to tackle Rathian, Radobaan, Rathalos, Zorah Magdaros, Pink Rathian, Azure Rathalos and Vaal Hazak, who are weak to it. Continuing this trend, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne monsters that are especially weak to Dragon include Banbaro, Savage Deviljho (as well as his base version), and Ruiner Nergigante. If you're returning to World after launch, the Final Fantasy XIV collabaration monster, Behemoth, also takes exceptional damage from Dragon.
Status Ailments, and their effects: Stun, Poison, Sleep, Paralysis and Blast Elements
Status Ailments, unlike Elements, don't deal damage directly. Rather, they're used to either indirectly harm the monster or otherwise restrict them. This includes Paralysis, Sleep, Poison, and even technically Stun and Blast. Instead of adding to a weapon's damage output, they build up through repeated attacks until the effect is activated all at once. The effect are as follows:
- Poison does what you'd expect, poisoning the enemy, dealing damage over time, depending on the monsters weakness to poison.
- The Great Jagras, Barroth, Tobi-Kadachi, Legiana, Dodogama, Kushala Daora and Xeno'jiiva are all especially vulnerable to this type of ailment.
- Master Rank exclusive monsters vulnerable to poison include Coral Pukei-Pukei, Shrieking Legiana, Ebony Odogaron, Namielle, and Savage Deviljho (as well as his base version).
- Sleep puts the monster to sleep, allowing for wise hunters to take advantage of wakeup damage bonuses.
- A few monsters are suseptible to this: the Great Jagras, Pukei-Pukei and Great Girros
- Some Master Rank monsters that can easily be lured to sleep include Seething Bazelgeuse and Savage Deviljho,
- Paralysis stuns the monster in place for a period of time, while they're still standing up. It differs from sleep in that they remain stunned for a set duration even if you attack.
- Paralysis can be very useful for taking down Great Jagras, Pukei-Pukei, Barroth, Odogaron and Diablos.
- Ebony Odogaron and Savage Deviljho are both especially susceptible to Paralysis in Master Rank
- Attached to many different types of weapons, the Blast Element causes the monster to stagger, and deals a "blast" of explosive damage.
- Hit Great Jagras, Barroth, Paolumu, Radobaan or Kushala Daora with Blast Element damage to see its true power.
- Blow away Beotodus, Banbaro, Velkhana, Namielle, Ruiner Nergigante, Shara Ishvalda, as well as Yian Garuga/Scarred Yian Garuga in Master Rank
- Stun knocks the monster out for a period of time, noticeable as a set of stars twirling around the monsters head. Again, this is different from sleep in some subtle ways.
- This works great on Great Jagras, Jyuratodus, Rathian, Paolumu, Pink Rathian and Uragaan.
- You can more easily knock out Banbaro in Master Rank - though more or less every other monster does take decent Stun damage, regardless.
- A special note about "Stun", while the game classifies it as a Status Ailment, you might be scratching your head wondering why you haven't seen any weapons in the forge advertising having it as an element. The reason is simple - while Stun is indeed treated as a status ailment, normally only blunt weapons such as Hammers or Hunting Horns deal Stun. There are exceptions, such as the Greatswords shoulder charge or various shield bashes or phials on other weapons, however.
A Note on Monster Element Resistance
Keep in mind that some monsters are resistant to certain elements, as well! This means they'll deal no extra damage. Some of these are listed above, but some more monsters that are resistant to specific elements are:
- Fire: Anjanath, Rathian, Rathalos, Diablos, Zorah Magdaros, Dodogama, Pink Rathian, Bazelgeuse, Uragaan, Azure Rathalos, Teostra, Lunastra, Glavenus, Tigrex, Brachydios, Seething Bazelgeuse, Yian Garuga, Scarred Yian Garuga, Brute Tigrex, Gold Rathian, Silver Rathalos, Kulve Taroth (when not covered in gold)
- Water: Great Jagras, Pukei-Pukei, Paolumu, Kushala Daora, Vaal Hazak, Banbaro, Viper Tobi-Kadachi, Coral Pukei-Pukei, Barioth, Nargacuga, Blackveil Vaal Hazak, Namielle, Leshen, and Ancient Leshen
- Thunder: Barroth, Tobi-Kadachi, Great Girros, Kirin, Fulgur Anjanath, Namielle, Shara Ishvalda, Zinogre, Yian Garuga, Scarred Yian Garuga, Kulve Taroth (when not covered in gold)
- Ice: Legiana, Kushala Daora, Beotodus, Banbaro, Barioth, Shrieking Legiana, Velkhana,
- Dragon: Odogaron, Beotodus, Nightshade Paolumu, Gold Rathian, Silver Rathalos
Some monsters can resist Status Ailments too. Don't bother with these ailments for these monsters:
- Poison: Zorah Magdaros
- Sleep: Zorah Magdaros, Xeno'jiiva, Shara Ishvalda, Leshen, Ancient Leshen
- Paralysis: Kirin, Zorah Magdaros
- Blast: Zorah Magdaros
- Stun: Zorah Magdaros
As you can see, Status Ailments are applicable in most fights - consider whether they're worth using instead of a regular element depending on the battles you plan to tackle!
Hidden Elements, or "why is this element greyed out?"
Another thing to note about elements, is the fact that it's not just as simple as some weapons having it, and others not having it. Indeed, some weapons actually do have elements - but they're locked away until you equip the Armor Skill "Free Elem/Ammo Up". These are denoted by a greyed out icon next to the weapon, as shown above.
You'll need to use the aforementioned armor skill to "awaken" the element, 1/3rd of the value for each level in the skill. Some potentially great elemental or ailment weapons might be gated this way, so keep an eye out!
A Final Note on Elements, and how they're applied
A high element or ailment stat on a fast-moving weapon is preferable to the same stat on a slower moving weapon. Since status is applied with each attack, Dual Blades will get much more out of an element than, say, a hammer. In fact - in many cases it's still preferable to go with a non-elemental weapon for something like a Hammer or a Great Sword. You might get a better damage output, and faster weapons will be applying status ailments faster than they can, too. That's not to say that they can't be useful on these weapons - rather, you should consider this while forging or upgrading weapons.
On an unrelated note, do you know those ailment throwing knives you sometimes get in quests in low rank, and in the arena? Well, you can equip status ailments to regular throwing knifes that are available as account items in more quests by combining them with a Toadstool for Poison, a Parashroom for Paralysis, and a Sleep Herb for Sleep. It might be wise for hunters to consider this when heading out on a particularly difficult hunt that gives access to knives! It might just help turn the tide in the heat of battle.