The Arch-tempered monsters are starting to make their way to the PC release of Monster Hunter: World (and by the time this article publishes we’ll have Behemoth, the Final Fantasy XIV crossover. YES!!!). Arch-tempered Kirin has come and gone– don’t worry, he’ll be back– and until December 27th, we get to take a crack at Arch-tempered Vaal Hazak.
And Arch-tempered Vaal Hazak is a cheating bastard.
There are plenty of great articles up already about strategies to fight him, such as this one in the Reno Gazette Journal, and I based my armor build around this YouTube video by DigdugDak908, so check those out for tips if you like, but in this article, I’m going to compare A-T Kirin and A-T Vaal Hazak and explain why I think Vaal Hazak is harder.
Now, obviously which fight is harder is a matter of opinion, and play style. I don’t like to play solo, and the common consensus is that I would hate this less if I was willing to go it alone. I may have to give it a try.
(Edit: After I wrote this, but before it was published, I tried it solo. It took a while, and I almost died a couple of times, but it was quite a bit easier. It turns out all the practice in my doomed multiplayer attempts has paid off; I know the fight. I can beat A-T Vaal Hazak solo.)
A-T Kirin was no pushover. He could one-shot-kill you with ease. He’s fast, and small, and a couple of his moves give you very little warning before they are executed. Also, A-T Kirin has a couple of new patterns in which his lightning strikes.
Unless you know his move set intimately and have lightning fast reflexes or Guard Up so nothing is unblockable . . . well, to quote the talented LordKat, host of the gaming show Until We Win: you’re going to die. A lot. And remember, if you’re playing with others, a total of three deaths ends the mission, so if you like to answer SOS Flares, like I do, get ready to see the Quest Failed screen a lot.
If you’ve been reading me, you know I favor the sword and shield in this game. And I typically have Guard Up in my armor set, so I can block anything. I might still take damage doing it, but if I get my shield up, whatever happens, it’s blockable. So beating A-T Kirin, for me, was a matter of patience and practice. Nickel and dime him to death, never get into a long combo unless he’s knocked over, be ready to dodge or block at a moment’s notice. Be prepared (consult my Kulve Taroth article for some good general tips along these lines). In this case, being prepared means all the normal buffs and bombs, eating and speccing for Thunder Resistance, speccing for immunity to paralysis and/or stun if you can, and bringing your Thunderproof Mantle.
Was the A-T Kirin fight annoying? Sure it was! He’s tiny, so people are always knocking each other around as they scramble to try and do some damage. He’s fast, so you’re constantly chasing him (unless you’re with a group that prefers to fight him in small areas; then he doesn’t run around as much, but there’s almost no room to dodge). He hits like a freight train with almost every move. Even just casually bumping into you as he gallops past costs half your health.
And yet, my opinion is that A-T Vaal Hazak is way harder.
I think the community agrees with me. I can’t tell you how many A-T Kirin fights I walked into where people were not prepared for the fight in the slightest. I saw people, right up until the last day of the event, with no armor or defense buffs, no bombs, no paralysis immunity or, barring that, Nulberries to cleanse the Thunderblight Kirin’s lightning puts on you (Thunderblight makes you more susceptible to paralysis and stun), no Thunderproof Mantle, random-looking armor, and weapons that didn’t take advantage of Kirin’s weaknesses.
Within the first couple of days of the event, I stopped seeing that in fights with A-T Vaal Hazak. People come buffed. If they die, they rebuff before they rejoin the fight. I have seen more people with the Wide-Range skill active to heal the party than I ever have before playing with a pick-up group, or PuG (if you’re in a PuG, that means you’re playing with random people that you’re matched up with if you fire or answer an SOS Flare). The community figured out quickly that they couldn’t just come into this fight wearing and doing whatever they normally do.
After my first couple of fights with A-T Hazak, where I died during each fight at least once– and let me tell you, normally if absolutely nothing else I am extremely durable, I almost never die–I made a completely new armor set that focuses on replenishing health as I attack and regenerating health faster, basically a vampire build. I even gave up by beloved Guard Up skill to do it.
Why would I do that, when it has been a requirement for me for most of the game? Because for the most part, it doesn’t help. Why? Because Vaal Hazak is the king of damage over time, or DoT, which you can’t block. Now, if you’ve fought the high rank or tempered version, you’re familiar with this. He likes to lay down clouds of miasma that do DoT and eventually, if you don’t have the skill Effluvia Resistance, cut your max health in half unless you cleanse the ailment with a Nulberry. This is nothing new. In lesser versions of the beast, the miasma is troublesome, but not a dealbreaker.
With A-T Vaal Hazak, it absolutely is. You cannot underestimate that miasma. Also, he can double stack it in an area. Also, A-T Vaal Hazak now likes to fight in areas with ambient effluvia– which lesser versions don’t do– so that’s potentially triple stacked damage in an area.
So he’s basically hurting you all the time, even when he’s not actively hitting you. The smart thing to do is lure him out of his miasma clouds, but I’ve seen very few PuGs do that.
The problem with trying to lure him out of the miasma by standing far away is A-T Vaal Hazak has some extremely dangerous moves, much like A-T Kirin, that can one-shot you easily. The one he likes to use if someone is standing far away I call the Firehose (I’ve also seen it called Water Breath, although it’s technically miasma, not water): he fires a long spout of miasma back and forth twice. It can reach across the whole screen and it is brutal. Even with Guard Up, even if I made the block, this attack could– and usually did– kill me.
It is otherwise unblockable. You either have to execute two perfect Superman dives, be behind some terrain (do not rely on this, it often doesn’t work), or be not be in front of him in a 180 degree arc. So you can’t be anywhere in front of him, anywhere on the whole map. If I think this fight is hard for me, it must be insane for ranged hunters. The only advantage to him doing this move is that if you’re hitting him as a melee hunter, it’s a long move so it’s a comparatively safe time to wail on him.
Vaal Hazak has another move you’ll recognize if you’ve fought lesser versions. It’s like the Firehose except he gets up on his hind legs and fires it at his feet, making a circular cloud that spreads out to a medium range before dissipating quickly. If you liked to stand there and block it before, it would only hit once for a little damage. Now, if you’re at ground zero, it hits three times for substantial damage, even with three levels in Guard and the Guard Up skill. This isn’t a one-shot-kill with Guard Up, but it’s close.
The super move A-T Vaal Hazak likes to get me with is a sort of double tail swipe, either behind him or where he turns around in a circle. I have been one-shotted by this move plenty. The safest place for a melee hunter is right underneath him . . .
. . . but then you can’t see anything. He’s enormous, and you’re probably standing in a cloud to boot. As a result, if you stay under him (and how else is a melee hunter going to do any damage?), seeing his tells can be really hard. Is it a tail swipe, so you can stay where you are? Or is he about to charge? If you’re under his belly, that can be hard to see, even if you know his move set really well. At least with A-T Kirin, you can see what he’s doing/done. And block it, potentially. If you go the Guard Up route for A-T Vaal Hazak, even if you make the block, you’re going to take a ton of damage anyway, as I quickly learned. Bottom line: Guard Up is not the way to go in this fight, at least for me.
So, as a melee hunter that prefers to block damage if she can, I think A-T Vaal Hazak is way harder than A-T Kirin. But again, that is probably based entirely on my play style. And Monster Hunter: World is so customizable that there’s always a solution to your problem, even if it’s not the one you usually use. Did I have to make a whole new armor set and adopt a completely new strategy to fight A-T Vaal Hazak? Yup. Am I feeling naked and vulnerable without my beloved Guard Up? Absolutely. But I’m lasting longer. A couple of days ago I was with a group that got him to drop two dragon pods (that means he was about to start limping and was close to death), which was the farthest I’ve ever gotten with a group. Clearly, I’m not the only one that’s learning.
Here’s my one real gripe: I don’t know what happened in the last few weeks, but the game has started randomly dropping people out of groups mid-fight again. When the game first released on PC (maybe on console too, but I didn’t experience that), it did this all the time. Capcom seemed to fix it, but now it’s back. And it is super annoying. In the majority of the fights I’ve been in with A-T Vaal Hazak, this has happened, either leaving me alone or with one other person.
Now I’m not saying there haven’t been rage quits, but usually that happens after someone dies. When it happens randomly in the middle of the fight where nothing has gone wrong (and the person that’s about to get kicked stops moving before they leave), that’s people getting dropped. Let me tell you, there’s nothing more annoying than being in a promising fight and then getting thrown into a session alone. You probably just quit out of that fight unless the beast is at death’s door, because he still has the higher level of health that he gets in multiplayer. It happened all the way through A-T Kirin, and it’s still happening. Ugh.
By the way, it’s important to mention that this headache isn’t mandatory. This topic came up on The Cartographers Guild stream this week, and Drea asked what the point was. If you need Vaal Hazak Gamma armor (the awesome armor you’re trying to earn by beating this fight enough times) to be able to stand up to A-T Vaal Hazak, is the armor worth all the trouble?
First of all, you don’t need Vaal Hazak Gamma armor to beat A-T Vaal Hazak or for any other reason, you can totally enjoy the game without it. Second, it actually doesn’t have much higher defense numbers, if the Kirin Gamma armor is any indication. Kirin Gamma armor has the extra skills of Alpha armor combined with the more numerous and higher level decoration slots of Beta armor, but the actual defense bonus is only about 6 points higher per piece of armor at max level, making the overall defense of a full set of Kirin Gamma armor only thirty points higher than the Alpha and Beta versions. Assuming Vaal Hazak Gamma’s defense numbers are like Kirin Gamma’s, the higher defense is nothing to sneeze at, but it certainly isn’t enough to make A-T Vaal Hazak easy.
Is it worth the aggravation? For me, it’s worth the old college try. I like to grind, and even if the Arch-tempered fights are really hard, on the verge of ridiculously so, I enjoy learning and practicing them. Even if it takes a lot of practice. And I’m a sucker for loot. If you don’t and you aren’t, Arch-tempered fights may not be your cup of tea. I assure you, you don’t need anything you get from them to have a great time playing this game, and you won’t be undergeared for the endgame without this loot either.
My only real complaint is people getting dropped out of these play sessions. I can patiently practice hunting a hard monster for days on end, but if that close victory gets snatched from me because the game doesn’t work correctly, that is a problem. Not a rare one either, sadly. I like to play with other people. If you give me the option to do that, that option should work reliably.
As hard as I think A-T Vaal Hazak is, I appreciate that Monster Hunter: World requires you to think outside the box, to be adaptable. My preferred “block anything” approach isn’t really helping me here, so I’d better try something else if I want to beat Arch-tempered Vaal Hazak. And I do. So let’s go again, miasma-breath. I can keep this up as long as you can.