AT fights (and all but Behemoth/Kulve/and I guess leshen) are generally easier solo, due to the less scaling and the fact that the monster is focused on you. By scaling, i don’t just mean health—stagger values and stun values and break values are also scaled, the latter values being absurdly so, in my opinion.
The focus on you alone being beneficial sounds counter productive, but when the focus is on you and only you, you can read the monsters tells and react accordingly much more appropriately. With four hunters, the monster is rip roaring around with different focuses, running in and out of range, sometimes seeming erratic. Plus, get your palico to have the coral cheerhorn—the buffs are all very nice!! (Excluding the weak earplugs… I never notice them doing anything.)
Something to bear in mind, Most hunts don’t end due to the clock running out; most hunts end due to faints. Take the extra time to let them attack, be a cautious hitter, focus one specific leg until they fall and go all out, make use of your slinger shots to stagger them at opportune times. The first time I beat AT Teo it took me 30 or so minutes, but by the end of it there was a dance between he and I. I’d hit his side twice, dodge through his swipe, slash his head twice, dodge past his fire behind him, hit his tail once baiting a tail swipe, dodge to the head and get three hits in. But at first it was a single hit and wait. Dodge. Hit once and wait. Dodge. Repeat until I felt comfortable with the length of his attacks. My record with the same build and DPS potential was about 18 minutes because of just how more comfortable I felt fighting him after getting all the tickets I needed. A hunt with DPS potential to be ended at 5 minutes doesn’t do you any good if you spend most of it healing and then cart the third time before you actually kill the damn thing.
In that regard: Don’t look for “meta max DPS facemelting super special awesome build” used by speed runners. Get Weakness exploit, sure—it’s easy enough to get and encourages good behaviors (focusing on weak spots) but take a look at other options too. Xeno’jiva set can get you blight resist and a crit boost along with halve sharpness loss; imagine being able to go twice as long fighting before having to retreat and find an opening to sharpen. Imagine no longer having to worry about the stamina management of dodging three times when you get caught on fire, or losing an opportune time to dish out damage due to needing to douse the flames.
On that note: do not overlook Stun resistance—it’s a mainstay in every one of my builds—alongside Vitality—because I know I don’t play perfectly, and in AT fights, getting stunned means a faint in 4 of 5 cases.
Take a good look at evade extender or evasion, too—Kushala Daora gives some good pieces for that, and Lunastra Helmet is wonderful for extender—these two can go a long way together, because not only will you have increased I-Frames from evasion, but the distance traveled from extender means it takes less frames to exit the hit zone/where the hit zone WILL be. Extender alone, to me, feels like a buff to evade timing simply because you move out of the way faster!
Essentially: don’t look to max out your DPS, look to make your DPS consistent. Sure you could be hitting a 60-80 every hit in max DPS gear against that AT Kushala, but if you don’t build to address the winds, your opportunities to do those hits are few and far between, whereas if you have the kushala set, you’re given nothing but openings to keep a constant stream of 40-60’s throughout the whole fight. If you can’t kill the monster in a defensive set, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to kill them in an offensive set.
If you really hit a wall, then build a set with as much defence as possible—gem it in as well as the appropriate element resist skill; hell, get fortitude too so each faint nets you more defence—and go into a fight and spend 10 or 15 minutes reacting to the movements of the monster and don’t attack them. They start to get a lot less scary when you stop attacking them.
TL;DR: Try to make a consistent average DPS instead of a Max DPS thats interrupted constantly by upkeep/carting—a dead body’s DPS is always 0. Also be sure to get Vitality 3, Stun Resist 3, and Weakness Exploit 3. If you can’t kill a monster in a defensive set, you can never hope to kill them in an offensive set.
Again, in regards to your pursuit of the endgame meta builds: If you can’t kill a monster in a defensive set, you can never hope to kill them in an offensive set.
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