tl;dr if you're gunner, you get Orange damage numbers if the target hitzone is equal to or greater than 45. If you're a blademaster, you'll get orange damage numbers if (Hitzone value)*(Sharpness modifier)>=45. If you don't fulfill these, you get gray damage numbers instead.
So, huh, I guess I can't be the only one that's been puzzled by the Orange/Gray damage numbers. The consensus is that Orange numbers represent hitting better hitzones, which is fairly easy to confirm in-game (Orange numbers are larger than gray numbers), but the exact criteria for triggering them seemed nebulous to me. At first, one might think that hitzones of 45 or higher would trigger the orange numbers, as that's also the threshold for Weakness Exploit. As far as I know, that IS true for Gunners, but not Blademaster.
My main source of confusion on this was Teostra. As anyone who's ever hunted a Teostra with a Blademaster weapon knows, his forelegs will trigger Orange damage numbers, despite being a hitzone of 38 for both Cutting and Impact weapons, a fair amount below 45. If you hunt Teostra with a negative affinity weapon, but run Weakness Exploit with it, you can and eventually WILL score "negative crits" on its forelegs, assuming that you don't run other affinity boosting skills. So the orange numbers, as far as blademasters go, are not directly linked to Weakness Exploit's activation threshold. So, what could the criteria be?
I was stumped on this, until something almost magical happened today. I was hunting a Bazelgeuse and noticed that, at White sharpness, its legs got Orange damage numbers. However, as soon as my sharpness dropped to blue, I got gray numbers instead. How odd! I then remembered that the criteria for your attacks bouncing depends not only on the target hitzone, but also your weapon's sharpness. So maybe that's also what goes for the damage numbers too!
I ran a few tests targeting hitzones from different monsters at different sharpness levels and taking note of the Hitzone*Sharpness product, along with the damage number color (Orange or Gray). I organized them on a small table, that you can check out here: https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/3a1n2a/bouncing_formula_and_damage/
The same post also mentions that, in older games, we'd get larger bloodsplashes with the same Sharpness*Hitzone>=45 threshold. Seems like the orange numbers weren't nearly as mysterious asI fair thought. 😉
© Post "[MHW] Some research on orange/gray damage numbers" for game Monster Hunter World.
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