Monster Hunter World

In defense of Earplugs, and why you should use them.

478445 AARA1 1024x576 - In defense of Earplugs, and why you should use them.

As somewhat of a Monster Hunter veteran (been playing since MHF2) it's always baffled me a bit that people consider Earplugs useless in World, when it used to be one the most sought after skills in previous games and was widely used even in speedruns.
I mean, it's a great skill! It prevents you from getting stunned by roars, which is not only annoying but can also lead to you getting combo'ed to death by some monsters, as well as giving you new openings you can use to attack, heal, prance, or grill a steak.
Yet I barely ever see them used online and even on this sub see mostly arguments against them. So I want to address the most common of those arguments in this post to hopefully convince some of you of the greatness that is bashing a screaming monsters face in.
(Wall of TextTM incoming, go grab a sandwich or something)

The Skill Point Investment:
This probably the complaint I see most often and I can kind of understand why. Earplugs is an expensive skill to max out, the equivalent of five 3 slot decorations, pretty much the most expensive skill in the game (together with Handicraft) to be honest.
What most people fail to consider however, is that it also has some of the best armor pieces in the game associated with it. Namely the Earplugs Charm III (3 points of Earplugs), Bazel Helm Beta (2 points of Earplugs and 3,1 slots) and Bazel Coil Beta (2 points of Earplugs and a 3 slot). Take any two of these, with one decoration thrown in if you don't pick the charm, and bam! Earplugs 5.
Now let me explain why I think they are so good. Personally, when I compare armor pieces I usually look at how many effective decoration slots they give me. So the ever popular Dragonking Eyepatch, to me, looks like 3,2,2 and good ol' Dober Greaves Beta are only 1,1,1 for example. This doesn't take set bonuses into account, of course, but it's still a good way of comparison. So viewing things like that lets compare, shall we?
The Earplugs Charm III (3,3,3) handily beats all other offensive charms like the Mighty Charm II (2,2) or the Attack Charm III (1,1,1) and I consider it, and the Handicraft Charm III for that matter, to pretty much be the best charms in the game.
The Bazel Helm Beta (3,3,3,1) faces some stiff competition in the helm slot since the Dragonking Eyepatch (3,2,2), Nergigante Helm Beta (2,2,1,1), Empress Crown Beta (3,2,2,2) and Drachen Armet Alpha (3,2,2,1 or 3,2,1 really, because who cares about Airborne?) are all excellent and might be preferable depending on the decorations you have and what kind of set you are going for. But the Bazel Helm Beta is undeniably the most point efficient of the lot and I highly recommend it.
The Bazel Coil Beta is slighty worse (3,3,3) but also has far fewer good pieces to compete with. There is the Nergigante Coil Beta (2,1,1) which is decent if you are lacking Attack decorations, the new Drachen Coil Alpha (3,2,1,1), and the Vaal Hazak Coil Gamma (2,1,1,1,1,1) and Empress Coil Beta (2,2,1,1) if you only need more slots. The upcoming Kushala Cocoon Gamma (3,3,1,1) is also really good if you need Handicraft. But that's really about it when it comes to general use waists in the game at the moment.
As you can see, Earplugs are actually far easier to get than you might initially think.

Alternative ways of avoiding roars:
Another thing that is frequently brought up is that you don't need Earplugs to avoid roars. GS mains in particular love yapping about how their Tackle is the bestest thing ever, but you can also just roll through roars, really, so who needs Earplugs, amirite? "Git Gud", is basically the argument here.
What bothers me about this one is consistency, both of execution and follow-up attack as well as the assumption on player skill it makes. I don't know what kind of MH God you claim to be (and whether I believe you or not), but most people, me included, just can't do this consistently, if at all, and that's not counting the random Bazelgeuse that's 99% sure to swoop in, roar juuust off-screen, and proceed to fu*k your shit up help. Earplugs are Gogs gift to earth with multiple monsters in a zone, believe me.
To be fair, there are a number of other ways to avoid roars, but I don't think most of them can really replace Earplugs. So let me list them and explain why.

Rolling: For the sake of argument, let's assume you can consistently roll through roars and that there are no other monsters in the area. Rolling still necessitates that you are in a position to roll. There are plenty of attacks with long animations or recovery times (Charged Brutal Big Bang with Hammer, Demon Flurry Rush and Blade Dance with Dual Blades, Spirit Blade 3 and Spirit Helm Breaker with Long Sword, Recitals with Hunting Horn, SAEDs with Charge Blade, Burst Fire with Gunlance, the Tackle with Great Sword if you mistimed it, funnily enough, you get the idea) as well as Wind Pressure, Tremors and just plain being staggered by a minor attack or your friendly neighbourhood LS main.
You also lose things like your Hammer Charge or your progress through a Spirit Combo with Long Sword, which hinders your damage output in that moment quite a bit.
Rolling also changes your position. Obvious I know, but this means you might not be hitting a monsters weakspot anymore, if you hit at all, and you need to spend time to move back, which uses up time you could spend attacking instead. This is very dependant on which weapon you are using though (Lance wouldn't really care for example), and I this is probably my shakiest argument.
Long story short, in my opinion, you can neither consistently evade roars or attack during them if you only rely on rolling.

Rocksteady, Evasion, and Temporal Mantle all help with mitigating roars (ignoring them outright, making them easier to roll though, and protecting you from a follow-up attack respectively), but they don't last that long and have high cooldowns. You can increase their uptime with Tool Specialist, but if you're investing in that, you might as well go for Earplugs in the first place. They're great for Speedrunning because the hunt is likely over by the time two mantles run out (then again, most speedrunners run Affinity Booster), but most of us aren't speedrunners so I feel the point is moot.

GS Tackle faces much the same problems as rolling: Being in a position to Tackle and properly hitting afterwards. In addition, in my personal experience I also never quite have enough time to fully charge afterwards even with Focus 3 which is a fairly sizeable loss of damage. But maybe I'm just bad at GS, I dunno.
LS Foresight Slash is actually fairly reliable. Most LS attacks are quick to execute giving you plenty of time to trigger it, the invulnerability time is pretty generous, the follow-up attack is baked in already, you can adjust your positioning and it gives Spirit if you hit to boot. But using a Spirit Helm Breaker during a roar is good damage and you can Foresight Slash a roar for Spirit even if you are unaffected by it, so I still prefer to have Earplugs here.
Lance can just guard roars and Counter Thrust means you almost always have opportunity to do so. Invest in the Guard skill (Bazel Mail Beta and Ironside Charm III if you don't have the decorations) instead.
Charge Blade can do something similar to Lance if you know your Guard Points but you won't quite have time to properly land an SAED during the roar if you go that route. Most monsters will be able to move before you finish the rather long animation.
SnS and FunGunlance can guard as well but have no way to really incorporate that into a combo, so they benefit more from Earplugs than from Guard in my opinion.
Dual Blades, Hammer, Hunting Horn, Switch Axe, Insect Glaive, Bow and Bowguns have no special moves to help avoid roars, so they would have to rely on rolling without Earplugs which I discussed already.
So yeah, with the exception of Lance, I think there is case to be made for including Earplugs on most armor sets.


And lastly: Loss of offensive Skills:
Ah, but this is the crux of the issue, isn't it? People need their sweet, sweet DPS, they need those high crits, they need to show that damn Training Pole who's boss dammit!
But the difference in damage between sets with and without Earplugs is miniscule, really.
To show you what I mean I threw together a, completely unscientific because I'm lazy, comparison between the highest damage sets with and without Earplugs I could build. I used Hammer because Hammer is my baby I love you because it's a very raw reliant weapon with high motion values and I can compare the damage I would get during a roar more easily than with Greatsword for example. With Hammer I would either line up an Upswing or Charged Brutal Big Bang, which do similar amounts of damage, while with Greatsword I don't know if I would be doing a regular, Strong or True Charge. That 5% damage modifier on the center of the blade also further muddies results. It would all be very situational, which makes it harder to compare. So Hammer it is.

Sets used are as follows:

Empress Mace "Styx"Mighty Jewel 2, Attack Jewel 1
Bazel Helm BetaFlawless Jewel 2, Attack Jewel 1
Drachen Mail AlphaFlawless Jewel 2
Drachen Vambraces Alpha2x Tenderizer Jewel 2
Drachen Coil AlphaTenderizer Jewel 2
Drachen Greaves AlphaCritical Jewel 2
Earplugs Charm III

Critical Eye 6
Earplugs 5
Attack Boost 5
Critical Boost 3
Weakness Exploit 3
Peak Performance 2
Power Prolonger 1
Maximum Might 1
Razor Sharp
Soul of the Dragoon 4

Empress Mace "Styx"Attack Jewel 1
Dragonking EyepatchTenderizer Jewel 2
Drachen Mail AlphaFlawless Jewel 2
Drachen Vambraces Alpha2x Flawless Jewel 2
Drachen Coil AlphaMighty Jewel 2
Drachen Greaves AlphaCritical Jewel 2
Attack Charm III

Attack Boost 7
Critical Eye 6
Critical Boost 3
Weakness Exploit 3
Peak Performance 3
Power Prolonger 1
Maximum Might 1
Razor Sharp
Soul of the Dragoon 4

(Drachen Armor is ridiculous)

Some notes before I present you with the results.
I know the damage shown on the Training Pole doesn't reflect the damage on a normal hunt, as it's such a high hitzone (80% iirc?), but the absolute numbers aren't important here. It's the numbers relative to each other that matter and that doesn't change on a weaker hitzone.
I had Power Charm/Talon in my Inventory but used no other attack buffs like Demondrugs or the Kitchen.
I also actually run both of those sets with Agitator 4/5 instead of Peak Performance and Maximum Might, but since you can't proc Agitator in the Training Room I used those to simulate the effects as best I can. On the first set Agitator 4 would give +16 Raw, +12 Crit, instead I have +13 Raw, +10 Crit. On the second set Agitator 5 would give +20 Raw, +15 Crit, instead I have +20 Raw, +10 Crit. That's also why I left one slot in the Hammer free on the second set, there would usually be a Challenger Jewel 2 there.
Both sets reach 100% Affinity on a weakspot for consistencies sake.
I also tested only the most commonly used attacks and assumed you are always Power Charged because laaaazy.
With that out of the way, here are the results:

AttackDamage Set 1Damage Set 2
Overhead Smash I129138
Overhead Smash II8086
Side Smash5256
Charged Side Blow6367
Charged Follow Up191206
Charged Brutal Upswing156168
Charged Brutal Big Bang2x 52; 2952x 56; 318
Big Bang I97105
Big Bang II111120
Big Bang III156168
Big Bang IV226243
Big Bang Finisher2x 97; 3472x 105; 374

That's about a 7~8% difference in damage, or to put it another way, for every twelve attacks Earplugs would need to give me one extra to make up the difference.
Now the question becomes whether or not Earplugs actually do that.
So I went and killed a Kushala Daora (the optional quest) using only Charged Brutal Big Bangs and counted my hits between roars. Far from the optimal way to play Hammer but it's the easiest way I could think of to compare amount of hits with fairly consistent damage.
For this I used the first set with Agitator 4 as previously explained, ate for Attack Up L, had Power Charm/Talon in my Inventory, took a Demondrug, and left my palico at camp.
The results looked like this:

13/2/4/3/0/2/2/0/1/5 (zeroes are because it roared twice in a row)
Time was 9:39 (ugh, so bad)

With a pattern like this I'd argue Earplugs were more than worth it.
"But Daora screams a lot, that's not a fair test", you might say.
"Maybe you were just unlucky with that amount of roars", you might say.
"Surely this would look different if you tested this more often", you might say.
But to that I say I'm lazy do it yourself to count the number of CBBBs it took me to kill Daora. 32. Only 32 hits. As previously stated, Earplugs need to give me one extra CBBB for every twelve. In other words it takes only three roars for it to break even.
Three. That's it.
If you can consistently finish quests before a monster roars a measly three times, teach me your ways for I am not worthy.

Joking aside, sure, the numbers won't be quite the same across all weapon types (try Duals, the difference per hit is barely noticeable), and my "test" is far, far from any kind of thorough and scientific, but the offensive benefit is there. And that's not counting the sheer quality of life Earplugs bring because getting constantly roared at and interrupted is annoying as hell.
So yeah, yay Earplugs!

tl,dr: Earplugs are easy to get, more consistent than other ways of avoiding roars, and don't hurt your DPS at all.

If you actually finished reading this Behemoth ha, get it of a post I hope you enjoyed it and that it makes you consider using Earplugs in the future.
Feel free to disagree since this is just my opinion after all, though I'd like to hear your reasons in the comments.

I hope everything is properly formatted and legible, as this is my first time posting on reddit (I'm a lurker at heart) and english is not my first language.

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