Everything you need to know about armor in Monster Hunter Rise

monster hunter rise hunters waving
(Image credit: Capcom)

Monster Hunter Rise' armor system is one of the best parts of the game. Kitting yourself out with butterfly wings or a cowboy hat before heading off to crush ancient beasts sparks its own particular sense of joy. I wouldn't want to get smacked around by a giant pumpkin, that's for sure.

Rise's armor is as simple or as complex as you want to make it. You might choose to focus purely on defense and resistance, and you'd still fare okay against high-rank monsters. On the other hand, if you enjoy skill-tweaking and pushing everything towards a particular playstyle, Rise gives you the tools.

In this Monster Hunter Rise armor guide, I'll go through how to unlock more sets, armor spheres, skills and resistances, layered armor, and how to get your hands on secret armor through the Argosy and the Meowcenaries. Note: If you're worried about spoilers, know that a few of them follow, so be warned.

How to unlock armor in Monster Hunter Rise

You can craft armor at the smithy in Kamura, but what armor you're able to craft depends on a number of things. Unlike weapon trees, potential armor sets aren't visible, and you only unlock them by obtaining the materials used to forge them. When you defeat a new monster and carve it, for instance, its armor set will become available to forge.

It's a good idea to kill and carve every monster you come across, as it'll unlock more armor sets. To begin with, you'll craft low rank armor, but once you get to four-star hub quests you can make high rank armor. These are still the same armor sets as low rank—they just offer better defense and skills. That's why it's worth waiting until you have high rank armor to upgrade with armor spheres.

What are armor spheres and how do you get them?

Armor spheres are used to upgrade your armor's defense, reducing incoming damage. When you plug one into your armor, it'll count towards leveling it, upon which it'll gain increased defense. You get armor spheres for pretty much every quest in the early game, and now new players have access to the high-defense Guild Cross set from the start. You'll can hang onto them for later.

(Image credit: Capcom)

How to make buddy armor

If you look to the left of Hamon the blacksmith, you'll see the buddy smith, Kisaki. Talk to him and you'll get ore scraps and the ability to forge armor for your Palicoe and Palamute. All buddy armor requires scraps, which you get by trading unwanted monster materials. As with regular armor, these sets have elemental resistances and a defense stat. That said, as your buddies can only be downed temporarily, it doesn't matter as much as it does for you. 

What are armor skills and set bonuses?

This is where things get more complex. Every piece of armor has its own resistances, and you can increase these by equipping more armor from that set:

  • Three pieces: Increases all resistances by 1
  • Four pieces: Increases all resistances by 2
  • Five pieces: Increases all resistances by 3

Each armor piece also has skills that you can level up by equipping armor with the same skill. Both the set bonuses and these skills are viewable in the 'manage equipment' section of the supply box. If you cycle to the skills section at the end, you can hover over specific armor pieces to see what change they'll make to your overall skill set.

(Image credit: Capcom)

Once you reach high rank and unlock decorations, you can craft skill jewels to add to your weapons and armor, further changing your setup. This lets you prioritise skills that complement your weapon and particular playstyle.

Monster Hunter Rise layered armor: How does it work?

If you like what your armor does, but hate how it looks, you can use layered armor to change it. Once you reach rank eight hub quests you can forge layered armor at the smithy using outfit vouchers, and equip it at the supply box. You'll also start earning outfit vouchers from quests, so you should get plenty to use.

You can still tweak how you look before hunter rank eight, though. Appearance settings let you alter armor pigment and change how your character looks. If there's a piece of armor you really don't like, you can make it invisible using the 'equipment display' option in the manage equipment menu.

(Image credit: Capcom)

How to unlock the Monster Hunter Rise secret armor sets

There are eleven secret armor sets in Rise that you unlock through two different methods. The first is the Meowcenaries in the Buddy Plaza. When you're setting up an expedition, you'll spot that some boxes are sparkling. If you select this path, you'll receive a unique material that reveals a secret armor set at the smithy. Here's the region, special material, and the secret set it unlocks:

  • Shrine Ruins: Shadeshrooms - Chaos set
  • Frost Islands: Stargazer Bloom - Edel set
  • Flooded Forest: Omegapumpkin - Mosgharl set
  • Sandy Plains: Sinister Darkcloth - Death Stench set
  • Lava Caverns: Gothjelly - Jelly set

The second method is the Argosy. Once you've unlocked this ship in the buddy plaza, you'll be able to dispatch a buddy submarine to farm specific items. For some items, you'll spot that there's a chance to gain other bonus materials. As with the Meowcenaries, each bonus material corresponds to a secret armor set. Here's what you'll need:

  • Dobsiscus: Melahoa set
  • Springnight Karp: Makluva set
  • Dreamshell: Shell-Studded set
  • Butterfly Beetle: Rhopessa set
  • Toxic Kumori: Spio set
  • Armored Bream: Vaik set

You won't be able to get every one straight away, but more items will unlock as you play. You can also unlock more submarines by completing three-star village requests, and then the 'Cultural Exchange' request for Rondine.

Sean Martin
Guides Writer

Sean's first PC games were Full Throttle and Total Annihilation and his taste has stayed much the same since. When not scouring games for secrets or bashing his head against puzzles, you'll find him revisiting old Total War campaigns, agonizing over his Destiny 2 fit, or still trying to finish the Horus Heresy. Sean has also written for EDGE, Eurogamer, PCGamesN, Wireframe, EGMNOW, and Inverse.