This is basically a long winded response to Azure Storm's thread, but I felt it warranted its own discussion, as I intend to bring up a lot of different points and steer the conversation from there. https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/95k1v7/in_defense_of_earplugs_and_why_you_should_use_them/
In this thread, Azure Storm has a well wrote out defense of the Earplugs skill in MHW, but I think he ultimately misses a few things and thus I am making this thread. Now, yes, I am against Earplugs, but I will be providing a long argument WHY that fully explains details instead of your average DPS elitist saying "muh deeps". I will be addressing his points in order and providing my own context and thoughts on the matter.
The Skill Point Investment: First off, I want to say that YES, the Bazel helm and waist are amazing for Earplugs. They don't lose many/any slots, have respectable defense, and still leave room for very good mix sets. The issue lies within the other piece…the Charm. The charm, on first glance, is quite good. And in certain situations, it is! However, we encounter many issues with this as we progress through weapons depending on our decorations and set goals.
One prevalent example is the Handicraft charm. This and the Death Stench are currently the most consistent ways to hit Handicraft 5 (although many sets are opting for less due to Master's Touch being absurdly busted). As a result, if you cut out Handicraft for Earplugs, you are losing a significant amount of damage and needing to sharpen more.
If Handicraft gave you White Sharpness, you are losing roughly…12% damage. The Blue sharpness modifier is worth 1.20 damage, and white is worth 1.32. So losing sharpness for this charm immediately risks huge loss of damage just with Handicraft.
That's not even factoring what you're losing from the sets…however, on a good decoration budget, most Earplugs sets CAN get many damage skills…but that sadly brings me to my next point. Many people don't get good Damage skills. A lot of the elitism DPS arguments stem from the fact that people who build for Earplugs often don't stop there. They drop another skill, and another, and another, for many less than ideal skills that overall result in a slugfest of a fight. The same is extended to Medics. Is Widerange a bad skill? Hell no, it's amazing. Is it worth throwing every skill out the window for? Absolutely not.
I have had hunters in my sessions actively argue for Earplugs before skills like Weakness exploit, and things like that. These arguments simply aren't realistic and represent a lack of knowledge on the user's side…but the same thing can be extended to elitist DPS users who think people are trashing their sets every time they have Earplugs. Is it often a problem? Yes. Is there a way to do Earplugs properly? Absolutely.
One last small note before continuing- it's not just the Handicraft charm. It's true to anyone who needs a particular charm. Focus 2, Artillery 3, etc…Earplugs is a fine skill on some hunts, but it never ever should come before the core skills to a weapon class.
Next argument: Other ways of dealing with roars. Here's where I risk being a tad bit elitist, but without further ado. Yes, rolls, tackles, Foresight Slashes and all of that assume a level of player skill. But in a lot of regards, it's not assuming a lot of player skill, and even if it did, that's exactly the point.
So, to address each weapon. 1. Greatsword. By far the easiest to ignore roars with. Why? Yes, exactly what you'd think, Tackle. Tackle can be executed from just about any point in a GS's time attacking, having many windows presented to you that all don't interfere with much. Charging your sword early and it starts to roar? Tackle. Right after another swing? Roll and tackle. Or start to charge and tackle.
The only exception to this, is of course, the True Charged Slash, which has lots of recovery frames which are hard to mitigate and transition into a tackle with. However…if you're landing a TSC properly, you will often be hitting for enough damage to stagger a monster out of a roar. Sure, it's a bit specific, and involves a bit of "luck", but it happens more often than you'd think for the only case tackle is hard to use.
As for the next weapon I'll address, it's Charge Blade. Roars are ridiculously easy to guard point, and being as (sadly) CBs are entirely "get phials, use ultra", a fair amount of your hunt is spent being in a state where it is easy to guard point from. In addition, much like other games, the window you are provided to ultra is gracious and very, very rewarding, with little to no risk provided to the user.
As for Long Sword, as he noted previously, it's fairly easy to Foresight Slash any and all roars because you can initiate it from just about any combo. Secondly, "losing a bit of damage in the Spirit Slash" is almost never a concern if you were trying just to get to red, as landing Foresight Slash's…slash will give you a full gauge, and consume it to upgrade it. And if not….you have a full gauge to being another Spirit Slash.
Or you could be a Focus LS enthusiast like me 😛
Lance, you obviously can counter most roars in the game. Even blocking on Gunlance is fine, and sometimes you even have room for guard on GL…not that it's ideal except for Long Gunlance (which can use Guard AND Earplugs well, funnily enough, as no damage is lost due to their playstyle)
Next, we have rolls. Yes, they are really hard to do and take a lot of practice. But that's exactly the point some people try to make. Earplugs is often like a training wheels, and playing the game normally is like riding a bike. Which makes rolling through roars….like trying to do a wheelie I guess? XD
It takes a lot of practice, and you're right, can sometimes cost positioning, but the thing is, there are a lot of ways to improve rolling through roars that people fail to notice.
- Learning WHEN a monster will roar. This is my favorite by far. I have played enough, and enough of specific monsters, to roughly guess when a monster will get enraged (the most common source of a roar). More often than not, the surefire sign is a status or a trap/trip. Did you Paralyze Rathalos? You'll probably do enough damage to piss him off. Did you knock Daora out of the sky with a Flash Pod? You'll probably do enough damage to piss him off. Do you love spamming the shit out of Odogaron with traps til he dies and never gets to roar? Well, uh…. PETA!!!
You get my point. In noticing when monsters are going to rage before they do, you give yourself ample time to prepare and successfully dodge their roars.
- Learning similar monster roars. If you learn Rathalos, you learn Rathian. If you learn Bazelguese, believe it or not, you also learn Diablos/Black. Lots of monsters have very similar styles of roars in this game, and very similiarly animated ones. If you learn Barroth, you'll probably learn Nergigante and Anjanath's fast roars, at least somewhat. The point is, learning "the time it takes a monster to actually roar". Many Brutes have fast roars, many flying wyverns telegraph the hell out of theirs, and Bazel and Diablos make a movie out of screeching. Learning what they're going to do is a great way to give yourself a window to practice dodging.
Also obviously, if you learn Teo, you learn Luna. Duh. Daora is similar but Daora likes to be a hoe by roaring way more often than the rest to refresh his windcoat…one of the few times I might argue in favor of Earplugs, ahaha.
And on the note of positioning…you can always just control WHERE you roll. Learning where to be for each monster comes with practice, but the general rule of thumb is…hit the fu*king head. XD
A bit out of order, but here's my next point. Mantles. Rocksteady and Evasion are your bread and butter here, and they will last you a good fourth of your quests (the average being 4-6 minutes, 7-9 for elders). Sure, it's not a lot fractionally, but…it's always guaranteed to last through 1, if not 2 roars. How often would you say a non Daora roars in a quest? I'd say 3-5. A mantle can instantly solve half the roars at least, and as a result, really diminishes the value of the Earplugs skill.
Suddenly, the "only 7-8%" loss of damage (which by the way, is generally considered significant…you might not think of it as that way, but at the same time…think of it like dropping from attack seven to three or two…you wouldn't freely do that normally, and that's not even considering if you're dropping "mandatory" class skills like Artillery) starts to look a lot bigger when 5 earplugs is only netting you one or two roars…which is one or two attacks, which much like dodges, can be positioned wrong to where you don't get a good attack.
Throughout my time in the post, I basically addressed the "Loss of damage skills argument", but here it is in summary. 7%-8% is often a minimum loss, and even for a minimum, it is a lot. You also do NOT stand to gain much from Earplugs, as it will net you 2-3 roars tops once you factor Mantles. In some cases, you risk sacrificing crucial weapon skills for…one free attack every now and then. Ultimately, I do not think it is worth it.
Earplugs also stops players from ever getting the chance to learn how to dodge roars, or worse yet…they risk making players ALWAYS need them. I have played with hunters who, when taking off earplugs, have no idea how to position or prep for a roar and as a result end up getting hit by a lot of the basics (like Rathalos's fireball after his roar, for example).
TL;DR In the end, I think Earplugs functions as a great cushion and training wheel skill, but quickly becomes outclassed the better the player is at the game. Additionally, you risk not improving by always relying on skills to prevent things like roar (and even stun if you think about it).
I think there are many specific fights where earplugs could benefit you…namely Daora, but I simply and personally would not put it on for every fight in the game. It, like many skills, is situational.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to discuss below, I'm up to civil and healthy discussion!
© Post "A Critical Assessment of Earplugs (Instead of just “muh deeps”)" for game Monster Hunter World.
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