Slaying a monster and wearing its hide is one of the most satisfying parts of Monster Hunter: World, but crafting armor is about more than just collecting hunting trophies. You use the armor skills attached to armor to strengthen your hunter and tailor your play style, so understanding these skills is essential. With that being said, let's look at how armor skills work, how you can improve your skills, and some of the best skills to use.
Using armor skills
Every piece of armor in Monster Hunter: World has one or more armor skills attached to it which provide passive bonuses (starter armor sets notwithstanding). When you equip a piece of armor, you gain its skills. Notably, armor does not have equip requirements. If you can craft it, you can equip it.
Armor skills like Attack Boost and Fire Attack are pretty self-explanatory, and you can easily check the exact effects of any armor skills in-game via the equipment info screen in the menu or by talking to the smith in Astera. This will also tell you how many levels a skill has and what bonuses it gives at different levels. Some armor pieces offer multiple levels of the same skill, giving you a stronger effect. You can also equip multiple pieces of armor with the same skill to increase that skill's level. So, if a helmet has one point in Attack Boost and a pair of legs has two points in Attack Boost, if I equip both of those pieces I'll gain Attack Boost level three.
Improving your armor skills
Apart from equipping multiple armor pieces with the same skills, there are two ways to level up your armor skills or add new skills to your outfit. In addition to armor, you can craft accessories called charms. Charms don't improve your defense, but they do come with armor skills. Charms can be used to fill gaps in your armor skills or strengthen the skills you already have. For example, if my armor gives Attack Boost level three and I equip a level three Attack charm, I'll jump to Attack Boost level six. Or let's say I want the Guard skill but my armor doesn't have it. By equipping a level three Guard charm, I can keep my armor the way it is while still adding Guard to my outfit.
In addition to charms, later in the game you'll unlock decorations which also have armor skills attached to them. Decorations are gems that you can socket into the slots on some armor and weapons. Decorations require different slots depending on their size. The size of a decoration is indicated by the arrows below it: decorations can be one-slot, two-slot or three-slot. Smaller decorations can be socketed into bigger slots, but not the other way around: a two-slot decoration can be placed in a three-slot socket, but a two-slot decoration cannot be placed in a one-slot socket. So, it's important to make efficient use of your sockets when adding decorations to your armor.
Note that while decorations always grant one level in their respective skills, they are not necessarily named after the armor skill they grant. For example, the Expert decoration grants the armor skill Critical Eye. You can easily check what decorations give what skills in your menu.
Choosing armor skills
There are dozens of armor skills to choose from in Monster Hunter: World, including powerful set bonus skills which can only be obtained by equipping multiple pieces of a monster's armor. You can search for armor with certain armor skills at the Smithy using skill filters. If you want to read the full list of armor skills, have a gander at this wiki page. To read up on which skills are uniquely useful for specific weapons, check out our weapons guide. And if you just want some top-tier offense skills that will help you kill monsters quicker, try these:
- Handicraft: extends your weapon's sharpness meter
- Protective Polish: you won't lose sharpness for a while after sharpening your weapon with your whetstone
- Attack Boost: increases attack and, at higher levels, affinity
- Critical Eye: increases affinity
- Weakness Exploit: greatly increases affinity when hitting a monster's weak points
- Agitator: increases attack and affinity when the monster you're hunting becomes enraged
- Maximum Might: increases affinity while your stamina is full
- Critical Boost: increases damage dealt by critical hits
- Fire/Water/Ice/Thunder/Dragon Attack: increases your weapon's elemental damage (Note: these skills will not add an elemental damage type to a weapon. They will only buff the element it already has. Additionally, there is a limit to how high a weapon's elemental damage can go, and investing in these skills once you've reached that limit is pointless.)
- Sleep/Paralysis/Poison/Blast Attack: increases your weapon's status damage (Note: status skills follow the above rules for elemental Attack skills.)
If you're looking for some defensive skills to help keep you alive, try adding the elemental or status Resistance skills relevant to the monster you're fighting. You can also use these:
- Health Boost: increases your maximum health
- Defense Boost: increases your physical defense and, at higher levels, elemental resistances
- Evade Extender: lets you roll farther
- Evade Window: extends the invincibility window on your roll (Note: this skill literally adds more i-frames to your roll animation)
- Earplugs: prevents monster roars from stunning you
- Tremor Resistance: prevents monster attacks that shake the ground from stunning you
- Divine Blessing: randomly (but fairly frequently) reduces the damage you receive from attacks