Hi everyone, I want to preface this by saying that I recently picked up HBG in Rise after having not played it since sticky shells were called crag shells. When I was looking for resources on HBG, I found that there is very little to go on. There are some great videos out there but basically no written guides. In this guide I will go through why you should play the HBG, an overview of the weapon, the switch skills, the armour skills you want and how not to die horribly, and lastly; my personal sticky build. I hope this will be of use to some people.
- Why should you play HBG?
Gunning in general is a very different bag to chopping and whacking monsters. First of all you need to be sure to stay stocked up on ammo. This means that you need to carefully manage your ammo during hunts and make your shots count, especially with the premium ammo types like sticky and cluster. This also means that you need to keep your item box piled high so you can stock up easily between hunts. As a gunner you also need to get a feel for your effective range. This means that you need to be far enough form the monster that it can't yeet you into the afterlife but close enough that your shots actually do damage. These are just things you will need to get used to when gunning.
So you decide you can tolerate these minor annoyances, what do you get in return. Well, you get good range so you can stay out of harms way. You get a BIG gun that can go BOOOOOM. You get a choice of a crazy sniper shot or a gattling gun. You get a lot of style points. You get great support options.
You may also be thinking 'I want to gun but why not just play LBG instead?', and thats a valid question. LBG is doing really well right now and in a lot of cases can outperform is heavy brother. It is faster, more mobile and generally better for normal ammo types like pierce and spread. The things the HBG has over on the LBG though are better special ammo (in my opinion), charge shots and more damage per shot. This gives HBG a nice niche in all things that explode. This isn't to say that HBG can't use other shell types well, just that LBG can most probably do it better.
Tl;dr: Play HBG if you like explosions.
- An Overview of HBG
2.1 Special Amunition
First of all, you have the special ammo types; Wyvernsnipe and Wyvernheart. They both operate on a cooldown system but are available right at the start of any hunt.
Wyvernsnipe is a mega pierce shell that hits the monster multiple times as it goes through then explodes for every hit. It does good damage and you get 1 shot per charge. To fire it though your character must stop moving to go prone and line up the shot.
Wyvernheart is a gattling gun mode. It has a fair amount of ammo per charge, deals good damage and you can walk as you shoot. It does have a short spool up where the fire rate and damage ramps up to a maximum value though meaning it is most efficient to keep shooting once you start. It is also good to note that you do not have to wait for the ammo to completely recharge before you are able to load it again, unlike wyvernsnipe.
Both of these are good and which you like better comes down to personal preference. I personally much prefer wyvernheart as you do not have to stop moving to fire it. Wyvernsnipe does have a shorter cooldown though.
The next options you have are whether to go shield or power barrel.
Power barrel gives a significant increase to the raw of the weapon.
A shield allows you to auto-block hits from the front as long as you are not performing an action.
Both are fine choices, I prefer the power barrel though to push that damage up, also if you play right with my build later you shouldn't really be getting hit all that much.
Next up you need to decide what ammo you like shooting. you can check what ammo can be loaded by going right on the stats page of a bowgun. I will not go into super detail of all the ammo types here, instead giving a quick outline of most of them but focussing on the ones that I feel the HBG uses best.
Normal is exactly what it sounds like. You shoot, it does damage. No frills.
Spread is like a shotgun pellet. I does good damage across many hits but you need to be really close to use it.
Pierce does what it says on the tin. It pierces the monster and hits multiple times on the way through. These are the best ammo to have as a backup type as they are very strong in rise.
Shrapnel is like spread but longer range and worse. Don't use these.
Slicing embeds in the target, then goes off doing a series of hits. These are pretty good.
Sticky ammo sticks to the monster and fizzes for a bit before exploding. These shots are very interesting for HBG because they come with a very limited ammo supply, making them a good candidate for charging, they do stun damage and they are have a pretty high motion value compared to most shell types. These are a build around ammo type.
Cluster is a cluster bomb that most guns shoot mortar style. They are not the fastest to fire and there is a very noticeable travel time to them so you need a good window to get some off. They are very goo though as they do very high damage. They cannot be charged. There are also 2 guns that fire them like regular shots. This is a powerful thing to be able to do.
Elemental ammo/ elemental pierce ammo. This is for exploiting elemental weaknesses. Only useful in niche scenarios, most of the time just use the other ammo types.
Wyvern ammo is like wyvernfire on a gunlance. It hits very hard and is excellent any time the monster is locked down or asleep. The shots have very short range so be sure to be stood right up against the target. They can also be charged. My build has fully charged wyvern shots doing 600-700 damage depending on the target and active buffs.
Status ammo does whatever status is says on the tin. Sleep and para are nice for making openings for yourself and your team.
Demon/armour/recover ammo is for buffing and healing team mates.
Exhaust does exhaust damage to drain stamina from the monster.
2.5 Rampage Skills
I will not go into detail about the standard affinity up, attack up and so on.
The unique ones to gunning are:
Silkbind Boost. Gives a 10% damage increase to silkbind moves (counter shot). It's ok but there is definitely better out there.
2.4 Moves and other things
The moveset of a HBG is simple. You can melee with X+A, aim and shoot with the triggers and roll with B as you would expect. The wirebug skills are accessed through the right bumper rather than the left trigger though which takes some getting used to. After any shot you can also do a sidestep by pressing evade and sideways. You should also be aware that HBG moves VERY SOWLY. Even the evade is slow and sluggish. Do not wait until last minute to get out of danger, you will be hit. You can cycle ammo types with L+X/B. Reload is X or the fire button when the magazine is empty. Shots can be charged by holding the fire button.
- Switch Skills
The skill choices are as follows:
Counter shot (2 bugs) or Counter charge (1 bug). Both are counter skills that will negate all incoming damage with a very generous window. Counter shot will allow you to fire off a very powerful shot after a successful counter dealing in the region of 250 to 350 damage to a weak point on my build. Counter charge gives you a temporary shot charging buff, allowing shots to be charged very fast. My personal preference is the counter shot as it is a good damage skill and I do not find the charge buff to be that useful personally. Costing 2 bugs is very steep though so you may prefer just having a 1 bug counter. Also be aware that both will block 1 and only 1 attack. If you are hit by a follow up attack you will get hurt.
Tackle or melee attack. Tackle gives hyper armour but no damage reduction. I don't really use either as melee is rarely an effective thing to do, but hyper armour has its uses so I would say tackle is better.
Healing or non-healing special ammo. The healing ammo does less damage but gives a good amount of heals. Personally I like the non healing variant as it is normally more time effective and safer to just sheathe and drink a potion.
Lastly your A silkbind attack that cannot be changed is a dash. It isn't fast so do not try any crazy evades with it but is a useful repositioning tool.
4 Armour Skills
The armour skills you are aiming for can, as usual, be divided into comfy skills and damage skills. If you are going full speed run mode then you will want to cut some comfy skills for more damage. For most hunts you will want to find a balance that suits you. The lists below are not exhaustive and only cover the main skills to consider.
4.1 Damage Skills:
Weakness Exploit (not always needed depending on build)
Crit Boost (only with weakness exploit)
Artillery. This is a good skill for explosive builds as it boosts sticky damage and wyvern damage.
Special ammo up. This is a 2 level skill that significantly boosts your special ammo. I find it hard to justify though as other skills will benefit the who fight but this only affects the times special ammo is in use. If you run it, stay on top of using the special ammo.
4.2 Comfy Skills:
Spare shot. This is a really nice skill. It goes up to level 3 and gives a 20% chance to not consume a shot upon firing. This makes your limited ammo last longer and can give a DPS increase by shaving off reload times. You can certainly play without it, but for me this is a high priority skill.
Reload speed. Makes it faster to reload. Exists as a level 1 deco. Great.
Steadiness. Reduces deviation. Exists as a level 1 deco. Use it if you need it.
Recoil down. Does what it says on the tin. Is a level 1 deco.
Aim Booster. Extends the range at which you can hit good damage from. Nice skill but far from necessary. It exists as a level 2 deco.
Evade extender. Maybe not a super meta pick but a personal favourite. Really helps the HBG to get around better. Level 2 is fine but level 3 is better.
- How not to Die
Heavy bowgun is a slow weapon and if you are not careful you will cart. These are some rules to live by.
Thou shalt not be greedy with shots. There is recoil and you are slow moving, you will not have time to move out of the way.
Thou shalt aim for the weak points. The difference between hitting a weak zone and a resistant zone can be nearly double damage. If most of your shots are being resisted, hunts will take twice as long and run you out of twice as much ammo. Longer hunts mean more chances to be hit. Cluster, sticky and wyvern ammo do not care about weak points and will do the same damage anywhere.
Thou shalt make the most of knockdowns, traps, flash bombs. Heavy bowguns can unload scary amounts of damage very quickly against an immobile target. Use your clusters and wyvern shots when you have the chance.
- My Personal Sticky Build
I am a big fan of the tigrex HBG with a power barrel and cluster effect 2. This bad boy can load all 3 levels of cluster, all 3 levels of sticky, wyvern as well as having pierce and cluster 3 as backup ammo and a massive raw attack stat. You want to be aiming charged sticky shells at the monster's face to get fast stuns and great damage. You get 1 stun after 2 charge headshots and can get a 2nd before you are out of sticky 3 ammo. In these gaps you can normally just about unload 2 charged wyvern shots. Weaving in some counter shots this stacks up to thousands of damage with only a handful of sticky and wyvern bullets used.
The armour is as Follows:
Utushi mask, recoil down gem.
Vaik mail, 2x attack gem, reload speed gem.
Rhenopolos Braces, attack boost gem.
Pukei coil, attack gem and steadiness gem.
Baggi greavesreload speed and aim booster gems
Talisman with Artillery 1, evade extender 2 and no slots.
The skills you get from this are AB5, Spare shot 3, Artillery 3, Reload speed 2, Steadiness 2, Evade extender 2, Aim booster 1, Recoil down 1
You can replace the talisman with ANY evade extender 2 talisman and just swap out the aim booster gem for an artillery gem. The set will function almost identically. You may also notice that there is a lack of crit here. This is because the exploding shots we are building around cannot crit so we don't care.
With power charm + talon and armour charm + talon, this gives 316 attack, 355 defence.
This build is capable of sub 10 minute hunts quite easily against top tier high rank monsters. I personally honed my bowgun skills on the high rank tigrex as dodging one of the fastest monsters in the game as a slow weapon is very good practice. Also its damn head is hidden between its forelegs from the side so it makes you work for headshots. When I first started playing HBG my times were around 30 mins but now I can get it in under 10 without stacking buffs.
You can also swap out evade extender to or spare shot to max attack boost for a tiny amount more damage. I have a build that gives up evade extender for it and the difference in damage is less than 10 per charged stick 3 shot, and only in the magnitude of 10s for big shots like wyvern and counter shot. You do drop a noticeable amount of damage on wyvernheart though by only running AB5 but I dont miss the damage most hunts. If you really want to pump up the damage and already took the build to AB 7, agitator is an easy extra raw skill to slot with Goss legs.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far and happy hunting.
- Teostra HBG vs Tigrex HBG, An analysis of Teostra’s Soul
- HBG Cluster Build
- [MHR] Sticky lbg build for 2.0 update
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