Monster Hunter World Iceborne guide: All balance changes, fixes, and updates

Monster Hunter World came out early in 2018 and has been the most accessible Monster Hunter game to date. Unlike all of the previous Monster Hunter titles, World was much more streamlined. It introduced a ton of quality of life (QoL) changes that made it much more friendly for newcomers to the series.

The very first expansion to MHW, Iceborne, is releasing in just a few days. Iceborne is bringing about a ton of changes to MHW, such as an entirely new area (Hoarfrost Reach), a new Hunter Rank (Master as it's now called, instead of G-Rank), some brand new monsters (Velkhana, Namielle, Beotodus, Banbaro, etc.), as well as returning fan favorites (Zinogre, Brachydios, Tigrex, Nargacuga, are a few), and much more.

Related: Every new monster coming in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Like you would expect from any major expansion such as this one, there will be some balance changes and other fixes. We're going to dive into them here.

Elemental Damage changes

MHW Iceborne Elemental Damage changes

Previously in World, it was much easier to go for physical damage over Elemental, because physical damage is strong against pretty much any monster. Elemental damage, in contrast, works best against specific monsters who are weak to that element. Plus, each elemental weapon capped out at a certain point, so you could only benefit so much with elemental damage. That is no longer the case with Iceborne.

Before, the arbitrary level cap on elemental damage was at five. Iceborne has effectively raised it to six now. And while it's still the same at the base and lower levels, you'll get bigger damage bonuses in the mid-range and higher.

For example, the Corona Sword & Shield weapon has Fire element on it, and previously it would cap out at 230 Fire damage at Level 5. Now, with Level 6, Fire Damage caps out at 320, which is a huge difference. The Legiana Rimespire Sword & Shield previously maxed out at 430 Ice damage at Level 5. Now in Iceborne, it will max out at 500 at Level 6. The Holy Sabers Dual Blades previously capped out at 160 Water damage from Level 3-5, but now it will be 220 at Level 3, then 230 for Level 4-5, and then 240 at Level 6.

If you still prefer to go with physical, non-elemental damage, then you'll be sad to see that this is getting nerfed to encourage experimentation with elemental damage. Previously in World, the Non-Elemental Boost skill offers 10 percent physical damage increase on weapons with no elements (think of the Diablos line of weapons). And all you need was just one level two Decoration slot in your gear. Iceborne reduces this 10 percent buff to only five percent, so it's definitely not as enticing.

There is also going to be a new skill added in Iceborne that combines two unique properties. One of the properties is "Free Element," and the other increases the amount of elemental damage that you do as you continuously attack.

Right now, "Free Element" is a skill that you can get by socketing the right Decorations into your gear. What Free Element does is draw out the hidden (grayed out) elemental damage that is found on some weapons. Without the Free Element skill, you would only get the raw physical DPS of that weapon, as the elemental damage remains inaccessible. The other part of the new skill does not exist before Iceborne, so we do not know the name of it.

Weakness Exploit skill changes

MHW Iceborne Weakness Exploit Changes

Iceborne introduces the Clutch Claw, which is a grappling hook tool that allows you to attach yourself to a monster and then bash it up pretty good. Doing this results in that particular area becoming a soft spot, which is a weak point. When a spot on a monster that is usually tough and reduces damage or causes your weapons to bounce off, but those can now be softened with a good Clutch Claw attack. After that, that area will no longer deflect weapons, and it will take full damage.

With this in mind, think about Affinity, which is another skill in Monster Hunter. Affinity raises your chance for critical hits, and the Weakness Exploit skill gives you an additional 30 percent Affinity when hitting those soft spots.

With this in mind, you'll want to make use of the Clutch Claw to take full advantage of the Affinity and Weakness Exploit skills.

Maximum Might skill changes

MHW Iceborne Maximum Might changes

Maximum Might is another powerful skill that is getting some changes. In World, it was a simple three-level skill that will increase your Affinity by 30 percent but only when your Stamina is full. Here's the new breakdown in Iceborne:

  • Level 1: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 10 percent, lasts two seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 2: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 20 percent, lasts three seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 3: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 30 percent, lasts three seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 4: Keep stamina full for five seconds to activate. Increases Affinity by 40 percent, lasts four seconds after stamina is used.
  • Level 5: Activates and increases Affinity by 40 percent as soon as stamina is full. Deactivates when stamina is used.

With these new changes to Maximum Might, it's better to have it at Level 5 rather than Level 3 now. Why? There is no time requirement at full stamina, and you'll have a large window of opportunity to deal damage.

Gunlance weapon changes

Gunlance in MHW Iceborne

While all weapons are receiving some gameplay changes in Iceborne, the biggest one is, of course, the Gunlance.

There is a new move called Wyrmstake Blast, which lets you jab monsters with a big, spiky pylon of Slinger Ammo. While the different types of Slinger Ammo will have different properties, but the principle remains the same. With this in mind, you'll want to make sure to shoot the Wyrmstake Blast and have it lodged in the monster with Gunlance shells. This causes secondary explosions, which deal more damage.

From the beta feedback, Capcom is making Wyrmstake Blast load faster and do even more damage. There is also a new "guard point" when it is used. This new feature means that when you are in the animation of loading Wyrmstake Blast, it will count as a block, even though you aren't holding the block button.

If you miss with Wyrmstake Blast, you will not lose the Slinger ammo you spent on it. Instead, the ammo simply falls on the ground so you can pick it right back up. And finally, the Wide Speed attack will no longer knock down your allies, which is a welcome change for everyone.

For more of the upcoming weapon changes, hit the link below.

Related: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Guide: All new weapon moves, updates, and abilities

Reach into the Hoarfrost

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne will be arriving as a paid expansion for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 6, 2019, for $40. The PC version will be coming at a later date.

Related: Monster Hunter World's Iceborne expansion feels like a full sequel

Christine Chan