Changing weapons in Monster Hunter World is no easy feat. Each weapon is hard to master, and even harder to kick the habits from when you’re in the endgame of Iceborne. That’s why we’ve put together our top tips for using Switch Axes, so hopefully you won’t get destroyed by those monsters in The Guiding Lands.
In Axe Mode you should focus on hitting the trip part of the monster. This is different for each monster, and could be anything from the head to the tail, arm, or foot. It’s important to keep the power up with this mode as much as possible, because your damage will take a serious hit if you don’t.
For moving enemies, usually the beginning of hunts when monsters are still very active, it’s best to use the Upswing Attack, sometimes followed by the Fade Slash. Most monsters will go through an early phase where they’re pretty dangerous and will continue to defend themselves and attack you, so you need to watch out for those attacks and dodge during this point in the fight.
After a little while, you’ll start to get some openings to attack a monster. During a 2.5 second opening, the best attack for these openings are wild Swings with Slash Downs. These don’t take too long to pull off, and deal the most damage in the time you’ve got.
The next longest opening you’ll have in fights is for five seconds. The best attack for these openings is Wild Morph. It takes a little longer to pull off, but it’s worth it for the additional damage you deal, shortening the time between this opening and the next point the monster will be downed.
When a monster is downed you have a huge opening to attack it during a point in the fight that it is pretty much defenceless. At this point you need to power up the Switch Axe as often as possible, giving you the best attack power. The attacks you want to be using are the Heavyswing, the Upswing, and the Heavyswing Morph. Use as many of these as you can before the monster gets back up, because you’ll need to down it all over again otherwise.
The other tactic for hitting a downed monster is to mash the Wild Swing button, hitting the monster as many times as possible while it’s down. This doesn’t require the Switch Axe to be powered up, so it’s a good tactic if you’re tight on time with the fight. Once the monster is getting up, hit it with a Heavyswing to deal a final hit of increased damage before it runs off.
One final tip for Axe mode. Use the Slinger Burst with Special ammo after Axe combos to flinch a monster. That’ll make it easier to defeat in the long run, and give you a better chance of breaking parts.
The Strong Attack is slower than others in Sword Mode, and it locks you into your attack animation. This is the best attack to use to fill your gauge, so it’s worth getting as many of them in at the start of the hunt as possible to max out that gauge.
Your Standard Attack pokes enemies and is much better for damage. This is the attack to use when your gauge is full, dealing the most damage to the monster whilst maintaining that gauge for use later on in the hunt.
When the monster is downed, the best combo to use is three Standard Attacks followed by a Strong Attack. This deals a decent amount of damage, and it can be used a couple of times before the monster will get itself back up again.
There’s also an Explosion Combo you can use to deal even more damage, this is achieved by an Overhead Slash, followed by two Power Attacks, a ZSD (Zero Sum Discharge), then the aim button, and finally a Claw Attack or another ZSD. This will deal a huge amount of damage, but it can take a while to pull off.
Some final tips for Sword Mode. Clutch Claw ZSD empowers the Sword’s power gauge, which allows you to discharge without sacrificing any of the weapon’s sharpness. It’s also worth noting that during ZSD your character has +4 earplugs, which can be enhanced to make a character completely immune to roars.
To make the most of your time using the Switch Axe we also have some tips on mobility, since it can be a pretty clunky weapon to run around with.
By pressing the draw weapon button during rolls you can do a mid-dodge in Morph Attacks. This mid-dodge during the Sword to Axe transformation is extremely useful. It speeds up the transition and acts as an evade extender when you need it most.
Monsters are quick, and a lot of the time they’re quicker than you. However, if you want to change direction fast during Axe combos, then use the Slinger Burst attack. This lets you change your direction much faster than usual, and should help you catch a monster as it tries to escape.
When you attack a monster, they’ll often flinch and fall backwards. This makes follow up attacks harder, because the monster might be out of range by the time your Sword comes down again. In Sword Mode, Overhead Slash and Morph Slash let you move forward as you attack, as long as you’re pushing your character to do so.
Iceborne made Axe Mode sidesteps longer, but it dropped the recovery time between Sword Hops. The Sword Hop with the smallest recovery window is the Front Hop, so it’s best to use this one if you need to get closer to a monster. Note that it’s possible to combine a Forward Hop with an Overheard Slash in order to both move forward and deal big damage.
Our final mobility tip is for Sword Mode attacks. For maximum movement potential, avoid spamming Strong Attacks. Instead you should chain Standard Attacks because it’s possible to dodge out of the attack at any point in time.
Hopefully all of these tips make it easier for you to work with the Sword Axe, whether you’re an experienced hunter, or just getting into Monster Hunter World before you set out in Iceborne.