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Monster Hunter World - How Sharpness Works and What the Colours Mean

Monster Hunter World - How Sharpness Works and What the Colours Mean
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Sharpness is a critically important factor in Monster Hunter World. It can influence a near perfect weapon into a harmless piece of junk that produces reduced damage and "bounced" hits. In this guide I'll explain exactly why sharpness is so important and highlight some of the things you should look out for.

Understanding Sharpness

Sharpness is dynamic stat that ultimately affects a weapons effectiveness in battle. In MHW, sharpness level is depicted through a series of colours. These colours range from red (worst) to white (best). There is also a top tier purple sharpness colour but this is reserved for G-Rank.

Studying a weapon briefly will reveal its sharpness composite, shown in the image below:

Weapon sharpness example

A weapons sharpness zones are variable in length. So a particular weapon may have a long green sharpness zone whilst another may have a long yellow zone and shorter green zone.

How do weapons lose sharpness

As a weapon is used for attacking, or defending in some cases, it degrades gradually overtime, essentially reducing its sharpness level. Some weapons degrade faster than others e.g. Dual Blades and excessive use of Demon Mode is a good example. Even blocking with some weapons such as the Great Sword or Charge Blade will degrade sharpness too. Apart from ranged weapons, almost every weapon has a sharpness stat, including the blunt hammer.

To check the current weapons sharpness, check the top left hand corner of the screen. The little sword icon represents the weapons sharpness colour. The meter decreases gradually, eventually turning colour when empty. In the example below, the meter is currently green and about half full. When empty, the meter turns yellow and the bar is full again, signifying that the sharpness has dropped down a level:

Sharpness meter shown in-game

Thankfully, degradation is not so extreme in Monster Hunter that a weapon must be rebuilt from scratch. Instead, players must sharpen weapons using a whetstone to improve (regain) the weapons previously held sharpness level.

Sharpness colours and their meaning

Leaving Purple to one side for a moment, there are five levels of sharpness in Monster Hunter World, each one associated with a particular colour. The list below shows these from best (white) to worst (red):

  • White: x 1.3
  • Green: x 1.1
  • Yellow: x 1.00
  • Orange: x 0.75
  • Red: x 0.5

Damage calculation

Take note of the multipliers beside each of the sharpness colours above. I've included approximate multipliers for now, just to give you a better understanding. True values may vary slightly.

These multipliers are used by the game to calculate the total damage output when you use a weapon.

Red sharpness example

As an example, imagine a weapon with 100 damage but a red sharpness. The game is going to calculate the total damage using the red multiplier during it's damage formula. There are many variables in the formula but at a very basic level the formula would be:

Weapon damage x sharpness multiplier = resulting damage output

100 x 0.5 = 50

As you can see, the output damage is halved because of the detrimental red sharpness multiplier.

The other most detrimental colour is orange which reduces your damage output by 25%. From yellow onwards, your damage is at least on par with the raw damage and as you go up the scale towards green and white, your damage output actually increases for that weapon.

Green sharpness example

Now imagine the same weapon has green sharpness. The calculation would be:

100 x 1.1 = 110

The output damage has now increased rather than decreased.

Already you can see why sharpness is so important - even if a weapon has an unbelievably strong base damage but a natural red or yellow sharpness, the damage output is only going to be a fraction of it's true potential. It's essential to prevent a weapon from slipping down over the yellow sharpness level and into the orange and red zones.

How to increase sharpness

Weapon upgrade screen

There are three ways to increase a weapons sharpness. The first can only increase the value to its previous high but no further, whilst the others will increase a weapons maximum sharpness level.


The whetstone is your weapon "repair" tool in Monster Hunter World. It allows the player to reclaim "lost" sharpness and restore a weapon to its former levels. Using the whetstone is a common task in the game and one which you'll repeatedly do to keep your weapons in prime condition.

Although extremely useful, the whetstone does not provide the ability to upgrade or extend a weapons sharpness levels. If a weapon comes with yellow sharpness then it's always stuck as max yellow unless you use one of the two options below.

Weapon upgrades

The simplest way to upgrade a weapons sharpness is to upgrade the weapon itself using the Smithy in the Forge. This guy can exchange materials, typically Monster Parts, for higher tiered version of your existing weapon or brand new weapons altogether.

By checking a weapons upgrade tree, players can see the new sharpness levels that are available through upgrades. This is also a good way to see if a seemingly "bad" weapon, that has say Red sharpness, could turn into a White sharpness weapon in the near future.

Sharpness skills

In previous iterations of Monster Hunter, the sharpness skill was one of the most sought after. This skill allows a weapon to "jump" up the sharpness scale to the next adjacent colour. This is incredibly useful for a high damage weapon which may be being held back by it's weak Yellow sharpness rating.

As the game progresses and eng-game weapons become available, the sharpness skill becomes less useful as most weapons are white sharpness straight out of the box.

Monster Hunter World also has the Handicraft skill that extends the weapon sharpness gauge. However, it will not extend the gauge past its maximum.


Why chose a red or yellow sharpness weapon at all

If red and yellow sharpness are so bad why would you chose to keep those weapons at all?

Well, as briefly mentioned above, just because a weapon starts with a natural red or yellow sharpness, its not necessarily a bad weapon. Hidden inside may be a very strong upgrade tree that leads to a natural white weapon or something with excellent skills. Furthermore, you may find that simply bumping a weapon from yellow to green sharpness, using a sharpness skill for example, is enough to turn a high attack weapon into something quite extraordinary.

Why attacks bounce with poor damage

The term "bounce" is referred to as an attack that does little or no damage to a monster despite your best attempts. The overwhelming reason for a bounced attack is poor weapon sharpness. When your weapon encroaches on the yellow and red sharpness zones, the weapon is likely to bounce off hard monster parts.

There are other detrimental effects that a bounce can cause in Monster Hunter. These include a double sharpness loss during a bounce attack, combo interruption, and the potential to knock you out.

These are all excellent reasons to keep your weapons sharpness high.


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