Feeling like I might as well get ahead of the curve, I decided I was going to go ahead and do a guide for the Longsword in Monster Hunter Rise. A long time ago, before the plague, I was tempted to write a tip guide for the Longsword but never quite finished, and that has formed the basis of this guide.
Just so that I hope this is useful for you, if you’re pretty new to Monster Hunter or the longsword, I suggest you go ahead and read through most everything. If you’re not so green, go ahead and skip down to Advanced Techniques if you’re looking more to get current than a complete refresher. And finally, if you’re fairly competent with Rise already, but you’re interested in what ideas I might to the table, head down to Custom Techniques, Tips, & Tactics
This guide assumes you use the default keybindings. If you use custom ones, please factor in the difference with your setup, however, some consideration will be given to the two types of directional control available.
Also, there are thirty-two embeds from gfycat in this guide, so I think it’s only polite to say check your wifi.
The basic premise behind the longsword is that it’s similar to Monster Hunter’s greatsword but more focused on consistently attacking the target rather than dealing damage in one huge blow. That said, there’s a lot of similarities between the two weapons both in their overhead attack animations as well as how to cancel recovery on these moves.
While Monster Hunter World took longsword’s emphasis away from simply hitting the target repeatedly to counter-orientated play, Rise has done better to mix and blend those gameplay styles, which in turn has put greater emphasis on the core longsword skills of applying constant pressure.
This is largely done through meter management with the Spirit Gauge shown under the health bar.
The Spirit Gauge can be broken down into two primary elements: the gauge itself, a bar that shows you your charge status to do normal Spirit Blade attacks, and an outline that shows the longsword’s state across four levels: no outline, white outline, yellow outline, and a red outline.
Some Spirit moves require charge from the bar, whereas others can cost a level from the outline’s indicator, and furthermore, other moves in the longsword’s repertoire raise the bar and levels. Covering those in detail will come later, but the goal of a longsword user is to get to the red spirit gauge level and to the best of their ability, stay there, as the higher your level from none to red increases your damage across all your attacks.
By having enough charge in the bar to commit fully to a Spirit Blade combo finishing in a Spirit Roundslash where the longsword is sheathed is the most straight forward, basic, and classic method to raise your level, but with Monster Hunter World, there’s more than one way to skin a monster.
As every fight starts from here, we’ll look at the sheathed state first. As shown above, there are two primary options to attack from the sheathed state, the first is a normal attack executed by pressing forward + X and the second is with the Spirit Blade attack through ZR.
Your third option is to go with pressing the normal attack button, X from a neutral stick position in order to unsheathe. By unsheathing this way, you lose out on opportunities such as exploiting any draw buffs your armor might have, which is a fun style of build focused around some of the additions Iceborne made regarding Special Sheathe. Therefore, if you were looking to perform maximum damage on a draw, your best bet is through a Spirit Blade attack.
Otherwise, when using a longsword, you move faster than heavier weapons such as the greatsword when your weapon is unsheathed and have better access to your quickest ways to get into defensive moves, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend defaulting back to a sheathed state as your preferred neutral state but to stay unsheathed unless you’re focusing on a draw build.
The longsword has a fairly basic normal attack string which can be performed by pressing X up to five times. After the fifth attack, the combo will “reset” except the second overhead attack will be skipped entirely.
Normal attacks do middling damage and also provide about as much charge to the spirit gauge’s bar, but the first two overhead strikes are crucial for those moments the player needs a significant amount of reach.
Similar to the greatsword, if you’re not immediately going into another attack, there’s a window of recovery. This window can be useful as it maintains your combo state until going fully back to neutral and is a trait that’s shared with virtually all longsword moves, but to get out of it, one of the quickest solutions is simply to dodge roll.
The secondary attack available to longswords at any time they’re unsheathed is the thrust. Pressing A will start this attack, which can then be followed up with an upwards slash, afterward, the combo will repeat.
Due to its relatively low damage and likely potential to bounce in certain situations, typically the thrust is used to setup another one of the longsword’s moves, the Foresight Slash, and that’ll get covered later.
Out of a dodge when pressing A, you’ll go straight into the upwards slash rather than start with the thrust.
Spirit Blade Combo
Pressing ZR four times in a row will perform the Spirit Blade combo. This sequence of attacks is one of the default ways to be dishing out damage, but the third and fourth attacks, that is, the three hit combination attack and the Spirit Roundslash require a large amount of commitment, so learning where your widest openings are is crucial to be able to execute the entirety of the combo.
That said, don’t get too tied up in needing to execute the entire combo as there are multiple ways to shortcut into the later parts of the Spirit Blade Combo.
As you’re executing the attack, you can adjust by pressing the control stick according to your directional settings. If you use Type-1, pressing in the direction you want the swing to come out will allow you to guide your attacks accurately, however, if you use Type-2, pressing to the left or right on the control stick will be necessary to precisely adjust your character’s heading during the combo. It is absolutely possible to use this to precisely navigate between a monster’s active hitboxes and continue to attack them.
The Spirit Blade Combo can be broken up between the first and second attacks and the second and third attacks by pressing X between these moves. This won’t reset the combo but will allow for additional bar gain between strikes. That sneaks in some extra damage as well as making it easier to ensure there will be enough meter left to perform the Roundslash.
Shortcuts into the Spirit Blade Combo will be covered where they’re relevant.
Fade Slash is the real center of the longsword’s basic core techniques. Properly used, it can position you effectively and simultaneously attack the target, either exploiting an opening too narrow to fit in another attack or providing an opportunity to attack and then cover a significant distance to avoid reprisal.
Fade Slashes can be done in three directions: left, backwards, or right. Once upon a time, there wasn’t such a thing as a backwards dodge, so the value in an attack that could place you there was far greater, however, Fade Slashes to the left or right cannot be performed unless the player is in a non-neutral state.
A Fade Slash can be used as a shortcut into the later parts of the Spirit Blade Combo by pressing ZR after performing the Fade Slash. This isn’t much different from starting your Spirit Blade Combo from ZR, but you won’t be spending as much gauge to do use it.
This is where I’ll cover the more nuanced parts of the longsword’s moveset that are largely the additions from Monster Hunter World and Iceborne.
Originally the presence of some of these moves pushed the longsword into being a very counter-orientated weapon; however, as mentioned prior Rise has provided some resistance and gotten the longsword to be a more well-rounded combination of the counter-orientated play and the pressure game from before.
Most advanced play will come from stringing these counter moves into your usual setups responsively. When you start to look at situations like a monster roaring as less a problem and more an opportunity to counter attack, that’s when you’ll know you’ve settled into a good spot with the weapon.
Foresight Slash is an attack which consists of two parts: the first half is backwards dodge where the hunter slides backwards and prepares their sword with the second half obviously being the attack that follows. This was the first counter introduced in Monster Hunter World, and it is performed by pressing ZR+A.
Foresight Slash uses all of the available spirit bar, although it does not matter if there is very little or a full bar, as long as there is some left in the gauge when the attack is input, the player will have a significant period of I-frames.
If the player successfully dodges an attack, that is, they are hit during their invincibility period during the first half of Foresight Slash, when the second attack connects, their gauge will be refilled, and in addition to this, if they press ZR again, they will shortcut straight Spirit Roundslash, raising their spirit gauge by one level.
The first half of Foresight Slash is considered in Monster Hunter to be an evasion or dodge. Therefore, evade pertinent skills do affect it. In Monster Hunter World, combining both Evade Distance with Evade Extender was necessary to maximize the period of invincibility for this maneuver.
Special Sheath is a new stance that was added in Monster Hunter World’s Iceborne expansion. It provides access to two then-new moves: Iai Slash and Spirit Iai Slash. Those will be covered individually as for now the Special Sheath is entirely the focus. It is performed by pressing ZR+B after the majority of attacks in the longsword’s repertoire.
When performing the Special Sheath, the hunter will take a small step back opposite the direction that the control stick is currently being pressed or that their currnetly facing. This is the direction that they will aim their attacks, although it some fine adjustment can still be had similar to the Spirit Combo by pressing on the control stick in this state.
After a certain amount of time if no action is performed, Special Sheath will be dropped and the player will return to a neutral stance with an animation that can delay other actions. This is pretty typically undesirable as a Special Sheath is used to largely set up an Iai Spirit Slash, where up until the Special Sheath was dropped you were wanting the monster to come at you..
A two-hit slash, this attack is performed by pressing X in Special Sheath. In Rise, this is one of the longsword’s stronger attacks in terms of raw damage and that’s before giving consideration to its other traits.
If it connects with an enemy, it will turn the spirit bar a flashing blue, after which the bar will rise steadily. Because of this, it’s highly desirable to be in this state virtually always, so weaving in an Iai Slash as soon as possible will help build momentum early.
Iai Spirit Slash
Iai Spirit Slash is performed by pressing ZR in Special Sheath. This is one of the longsword’s highest damage attacks, although in Rise now that damage is spread across multiple ticks of damage: if the blade itself connects with the monster, that’s one, and if the attack is used as a successful counter, a larger hitbox will trigger three additional ticks of damage.
While before this attack used to cost a level if performed as a non-successful counter, another one of Rise’s changes is that this is no longer a factor. Instead, Iai Spirit Slash will raise the Spirit Gauge by one level if it is performed correctly, and besides that…
After a successful Iai Spirit Slash, you can perform a variety of moves smoothly, ranging from Special Sheathing again, to performing one of the new Wirebug attacks, to the three hit part of the Spirit Blade combo. With this in mind, pressure has now largely returned to the longsword as aforementioned after a successful counter or dodge, there typically is an opening to provide punishment to the monster you’re hunting.
With these options in mind, dealing a large chunk of damage in a relatively short amount of time through solid repeated hits is a lot more achievable, and in another way, the subtle methods in which longsword positioning to dodge attacks is more played out and better emphasized because of this.
There are two Wirebug techniques present in the demo, but at least one more should come with the release of the actual game. This guide will get updated retroactively with information regarding another that will be in the game, but for now, we’ll focus on Wirebug movement and recovery for the sake of completeness and on the two available uses for Wirebugs while the weapon is drawn.
Wirebug movement is fairly complex as there are three main ways to traverse the environment. ZL+A is orientated towards ground-level movement and will move the player in the direction of the control stick unless they’re airborne, in which case, it will pull them towards the ground. ZL+X will send the player into the air, and if the player is airborne, it will pull them along horizontally, again in the same direction as the control stick is pressed.
A third option, ZL+ZR sends out a Wirebug in the direction of the reticule and then pulls the player that way. This is useful for situations which demand more precision, typically when you’re setting up a wallrun on a smaller surface as opposed to a larger one.
Depending on the moment, all three of these movement methods are extremely useful, and if the player connects with a wall or other vertical or nearly vertical surface before they land or perform an aerial dodge, they can run along it and continue to so long as they hold R and have stamina left. It’s possible to change the direction of travel with the control stick mid-way through a run.
After throwing out a Wirebug, it is then possible to dodge at nearly any time through the pull by pressing B, the direction of the dodge reflecting the control stick’s current position. I’m not sure if this is a true dodge with I-frames, but if there are any, the window is likely remarkably small, and it is better used as a positioning tool than as a true dodge in my opinion.
It’s also possible to attack during the same window.
Wirebug Recovery works much the same as Wirebug Movement, the only difference being the timing and the inputs. Wirebug Recovery can only be performed while recovering from certain attacks, and it is performed with ZL+B, going in the direction the control stick is currently pressed, requiring one Wirebug charge.
This recovery option offers a speedier, but sometimes more risky option to recover from being knocked down. It can be used to counter attack, especially in the case of the longsword, but this still puts the player in a fairly precarious position, but with the right timing, it is possible to get in, smack them right back, and get out safely to heal back to a safer level of health.
Soaring Kick (Wirebug Technique #1)
This move serves as presenting an opportunity to perform three different attacks. The hunter throws out a Wirebug and uses it to jump onto the target, executed by pressing ZL+X. If the the player doesn’t actually touch the monster, they’ll just end up performing a slash as they land as seen above.
The next attack is reminiscent of the longsword’s clutch claw tenderizing move from Iceborne, and is performed after a solid connection with the target monster while still in the air after initiating Soaring Kick, and it will put the Spirit Gauge into the blue charging state. It will typically hit twice.
The final is the longsword’s Spirit Helmbreaker from World, only significantly improved in usability. It is performed by pressing ZR after connecting with the first initial jump, and its full execution comes at the cost of not only one Wirebug for the initial jump, but a level of the Spirit Gauge as well to inflict massive damage.
Because of how the Spirit Helmbreaker has been significantly sped up, it is now much easier to successfully hit the Monster, as well as the method of holding ZR anyway to make sure the player is then in aiming-mode, making this all around a much more improved version of the previous iteration.
Moving back to Soaring Kick, it can be used to elegantly and rapidly go from almost any move into a Spirit Helmbreaker. This is remarkably effectively on monsters like Rathian and Rathalos whose tail-whips place them in the air and otherwise are difficult and unsuitable to normally follow-up after a counter.
Serene Pose (Wirebug Technique #2)
Serene Pose is a counter-stance similar to Special Sheathe, but unlike Special Sheathe, it is performed from a neutral or after an attack’s recovery window with ZL+A while the hunter’s weapon is drawn.
Unlike other counters in the longsword’s inventory, when this attack successfully counters a monster’s, it does so automatically at the cost of two Wirebugs and a level of the Spirit Gauge for massive single-hit damage, likely some of the most damage a longsword can deal in a single tick of damage.
And in addition to that, if there is enough energy left in the Spirit Gauge to perform the Spirit Blade Combo, the player can shortcut straight into the three-hit section of that combo, enabling them to rapidly recuperate the lost level if there’s enough meter available.
If a monster can be controlled, there’s usually just enough time to go through the Spirit Blade Combo before it’s actually time to hop on after performing Serene Pose’s counter, take advantage of that to deal the most amount of damage you can in that window.
Aerial combat with the longsword relies mostly on inherent knowledge of one decidedly simple factor regarding the spirit gauge and its level: if you have a white or yellow gauge, then you can shortcut straight from your aerial Spirit Blade attacks into the third attack of the Spirit Blade Combo.
If you have a red spirit gauge, you will effectively perform the third attack of the Spirit Blade Combo while in the air, and immediately following that if you continue the combo on the ground, you will go straight back into that third attack again before the Spirit Roundslash, dealing pretty massive damage in the process.
Therefore, if you’re looking for shortcuts into the later parts of your Spirit Blade Combo, looking towards aerial combat with Wirebug movement can provide an excellent opportunity, but there’s one more factor also at play:
Aerial attacks virtually all require the player to have sheathed their weapon and are therefore also considered draw attacks. As such, it is another factor one should consider with their armor skills and their playstyle, as orientating towards a draw build will also strengthen aerial options. That isn’t to say draw orientated builds are the ideal build for a longsword, but that a significant portion of its toolkit is in that regime.
The aerial normal attack is honestly not something that will get use too often. It’s performed by pressing X while in the air, and can be either a draw attack or a regular aerial attack depending on the player’s sheath state.
It does, like all regular longsword attacks, raise the Spirit Gauge’s bar, but as your recovery ends the moment you touch the ground, typically it is better to perform the next attack instead.
Aerial Spirit Blade Combo
When initiated in the air, the Spirit Blade Combo has three different attacks corresponding to different levels of the gauge. Performed by pressing ZR, if there is no gauge level, the attack will be a single horizontal slash; if there is a white or yellow gauge level, it will be two horizontal slashes before providing a shortcut into the third attack of the Spirit Blade Combo; and finally, if the Spirit Gauge’s level is red, then it will be two horizontal slashes followed by a third overhead as an aerial version of the third Spirit Blade Combo attack.
Custom Techniques, Tips, & Tactics
Here are some techniques and tactics I commonly use when playing Rise. These are mostly based off of my preference and style of hunting from Iceborne, as well as general longsword techniques and concepts I find important.
Focus on the Basics with Difficult Fights
Sometimes, it’s not about going for the counter, but instead going for a decent poke of relatively safe damage, and because of that, when the going gets tough, falling back to a few core skills like Fade Slashes can provide a better opportunity to deal with the situation at hand.
If the monster’s pretty huge and a Fade Slash still hasn’t got you out from under their foot, throwing in a dodge usually seals the deal and gets you to safety, even in some otherwise fairly precarious situations. This is especially true after you’ve gotten familiarity with the monster you’re hunting and know where you can place yourself to avoid attacks rather than actually dodging them.
Exploit the Delay Before a Combo Reset
Most longsword attacks have a long period of recovery if they aren’t cancelled by another move, but between timing out a successful hit with the Spirit Roundlash to getting off a Foresight Slash, the long period of recovery that delays a combo reset can be exceedingly useful.
While obviously during some openings you’ll be swinging like mad to get what you can in, at other times exploiting this reset delay offers flexibility: since at virtually any time, you can weave out of most longsword attacks into a Special Sheath or Foresight Slash instead of continuing to attack, it’s easy to flip back to the defensive on a dime if you give yourself just that moment to breathe.
Reverse Foresight Slash into Special Sheath
This technique sets up one of the two opportunities provided by Special Sheathe: either an Iai Slash or an Iai Spirit Slash. Typically, the double-hit Iai Slash is the default as if you successfully dodge using the Foresight Slash, you’re likely not to have to have a subsequent opportunity to counter using the Iai Spirit Slash, therefore, using the regular Iai Slash to start meter gain is typically the most advantageous.
It is performed by pressing the opposite direction on the control stick than where you want to go before committing to Foresight Slash, then, before the dodge is completed, Special Sheathe with the control stick pointed in the direction you need to aim.
Buffer into Foresight Slash in Emergencies
Sometimes, you screw up, but usually in Monster Hunter you can see that coming. Therefore, even if it doesn’t really work, you’d be surprised the number of times that attempting to buffer into Foresight Slash can actually save your skin just for the attempt of it if you’re caught unprepared.
It won’t work every time you get yourself into trouble, but it’s better than not trying to get out of whatever trouble you put yourself in, and even if it runs counter to the theory of holding on and waiting something out to get a proper Foresight Slash off, simply put, sometimes you don’t give yourself the luxury of waiting for that perfect moment to dodge.
Who knows, maybe if you do pull it off, you’ll figure out a new move you can counter that you weren’t comfortable dealing with before, or a new situation you know you can still pull out of the hat. It’s always fun to scream internally as you come out of the air and then successfully Foresight Slash a monster.
Spirit Attacks Can Charge the Gauge
Supposing that you don’t actually have enough gauge to perform an attack, in certain cases by pressing ZR you can still perform a Spirit Blade attack. This is is typically most useful when attacking from the air with a red gauge as the three hit attack will fill the gauge enough to perform it again on the ground and, potentially, go right back into a Spirit Roundslash.
Learn Type-2 Directional Control
Monster Hunter has two options for directional control, Type-1 and Type-2. While Type-1 is a lot more straight forward as it’s camera-relative, Type-2 is significantly more precise after the player learns to use it effectively. The longsword, like most of Monster Hunter’s weapons, rewards the player for precision, and while Type-1 control can absolutely be more accurate to the player’s intentions, the greater precision offered can be worthwhile.
It’s also important to realize that even if you do use Type-2 controls, you are in fact using a mix of camera relative and character relative controls. Foresight Slash and Special Sheath, for example, is camera relative, whereas the Spirit Blade Combo is entirely character relative in Type-2 controls. That means it’s still quite easy to orientate yourself as the situation demands.
Use Directional Control to Position and Attack
I’ve mentioned this some already, but this is a big one to learn. By using directional control, you can often attack and work your way to a Spirit Roundslash without getting hit, and quite frequently, the Spirit Roundslash itself can act as an excellent way to escape from harm after completing the combo.
Alternatively, it’s possible to guide other moves like Foresight Slash and achieve some pretty crazy angles by keeping your control stick pointed in a way that gets you to where you want to go.
Unsheathed is Safe, Sheathed is Dangerous
When you’ve got your weapon out, it’s a quick thrust that’s all that necessary to get a wide invincibility window if you have anything in your Spirit Gauge. When you’re sheathed, you have to draw one way or another, and the commitment with those animations is fairly long.
Because of that, it’s a lot safer to be unsheathed and to have your gauge charging than it is to be in any other state, just so that when you need to apply that Foresight Slash it’s available.
The quickest way to unsheathe is to perform an aerial attack and land immediately afterward. Otherwise, every other option is significantly slower and a lot more vulnerable if you’re not prepared for it, so sheathe more when necessary and otherwise try to keep the flow up with Special Sheathe rather than allowing your guard to drop after a Spirit Roundslash.
Alternatively, you can use a Wirebug to get in the air, and use your Spirit Combo while in the air. If you hit the ground quickly enough, all that comes out is a single, quick slash which can go right into the later parts of the combo still.
And, obviously, I’m not talking about Special Sheath, I’m talking about always being able to go into Special Sheath.
That covers most everything for now. Since this is all based off of demo gameplay, there may be changes and other things which I’ll become aware of once Rise actually releases in March, so consider this more like a pre-1.0 version of the guide. Once the game releases I’ll go ahead and redo this to get it up to speed. And if I got the names of any moves wrong, that’ll probably be corrected then. I have no idea if it’s Spirit Iai Slash, Iai Spirit Slash, etc.
This is also probably the single largest post on the site, with the Daemon X Machina review coming in at a close second. Neat.