Lances – because size does matter!
I’ve been playing the Monster Hunter series for half a decade now and there was one thing I always kind of diskliked: lances. Especially in the first few parts of Monster Hunter (Monster Hunter [PS2], Monster Hunter: Freedom [PSP]) this weapon just didn’t seem all that useful. For starters it was way too slow and despite having the possibility of blocking most of the enemys attacks with your shield, it was just too hard to handle. Also the moves seemed kind of absurd. Take the “charge” attack of the lance for example. How on earth can you actually use this in a fight? So as a reaction to this most players were kind of scared off.
Then a couple of Japanese guys invented that awesome thing called “headlocking” and lances were all over the place. “Headlocking” was (and still is) a strategy in which you make the opponent stagger by constantly hitting his weak spot (usually the head). Among the weapons used for this was, beside the hammer, mainly the lance. It’s popularity grew steadily and especially veteran players started using the lance as their main weapon. Still, the weapon or rather its attacks had some flaws as they were rather unflexible and hard to master. For that reason Capcom introduced a more beginner-friendly type of this weapon: The gunlance.
While the lance already had a huge attacking range, the gunlance took it even further. By shooting projectiles at the monsters you now had the perfect mixture between short- and long-range weapon, especially the wyvern-fire (a special attack in which you first charge and are completely open to attacks for around 2 seconds before you fire a devastating blast) made this weapon top notch. The gunlance became one of most popular weapons in the series, but at the same time many of the monsters became tougher and the headlock was harder to complete, in some cases even became impossible.
With Monster Hunter Tri however, Capcom decided to “start from scratch” and exclude most of “newer” weapons, figuratively reinventing the game. That also meant that the gunlance had to go. I myself, being a huge sucker for hammers and LS, wasn’t really all that sad about it. Anyway, a couple of days ago I needed to clear the Jhen Mohran quest in order to advance in HR. Unfortunately my only weapon with dragon element happened to be a lance (Model: The Undertaker). So I involuntarily had to go with it. It turned out to be not so bad though, in fact it was quite enjoyable to use it and completely different from what I remembered. It was a little hard to judge it though, since fighting with Mohran is like fighting a mountain. So a while later a couple of friends and I decided to take down a Rathian and Rathalos. I wasn’t really sure what weapon to use, normally it would probably have been a hammer but this time I wanted to try something new – the lance was the obvious choice. The first thing I noticed at our encounter with Rathalos, was that the lance had become a lot faster. Also Capcom added some new moves that made fighting alone much easier, such as the swing in which you strike your lance from left to right and get rid of the small fries. But there was another attack that impressed me even more. The biggest advantage with the lance, is that you can always hide behind your shield and then pierce your opponent with the lance from a defensive position, which is basically what everyone does when he wields a lance. So instead of inventing another useless running move Capcom decided to go for a counter-attack. In this attack you charge while defending with your shield and then thrust the tip of your lance into your enemy will brutal force. You can also expand the attacking by dealing some more blows after that. While getting a better grip on the abilities and possibilities of the weapon I decided to go for the obvious: try to headlock. And guess what, it worked!
Conclusively I can only tell that the lance has become a monster of a weapon. After defeating several Uragaans and Rathians/Rathalos with it, I’m really impressed with what you can now do with a weapon that was initially more of a hindrance than acutal help in a hunt. Go ahead and try out!