A little before the release of Monster Hunter Rise I looked up a few weapon tier lists, not to influence my choice of starter weapon but to affirm my choice. At that point, the lists were based off demo impressions, and it was ugly reading. The Insect Glaive was considered to be 'nerfed', and was sitting at the uncool table with the Lance and Sword & Shield.
To my pleasure updated tier lists are a little kinder; it's now mid-tier by some reckonings. I'll take it. For me, though, it's now the only weapon I truly love in Monster Hunter, so figured I'd share why it's the best — and most fun — weapon in the game.
The Insect Glaive made its debut in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for those of us outside Japan (in Capcom's homeland it was in the original MH4), and at the time it was both unique and important. That title brought mounting into the equation, and for other weapons that meant hoping the monster would kindly stand below an elevated platform while you jumped down and attacked. The Glaive, though, allowed you to vault and propel yourself around the area and get aerial attacks in at will. In a team of four, that certainly made the Insect Glaive player a very useful hunter.
What got me hooked on it, along with many others no doubt, was the mobility. As a hunter that opts to dodge rather than block or counter, it made life far easier and more thrilling to boot. There's also fascinating — and potentially bewildering — depth too, as you grind not only to forge new weapons, but varied types and their Kinsects.
For those starting to get confused, a Kinsect is a cool little brightly coloured bug buddy that nestles on your arm — in a not-actually-creepy way. Capcom, wisely, has simplified the Kinsect element in Rise, although some purists preferred the greater flexibility. As you upgrade your weapon you also need to get higher level Kinsects, which become more powerful, faster and have different effects. By late game you'll likely have multiple Glaives and Kinsects on the go, picking the right one for each hunt in the same way you choose which shoes to wear on a day out.
The Kinsect is hugely useful in battles; early on it can be tricky to figure out, but with practice is actually instinctive. You want to gather three elements / 'essence' with the Kinsect, and you do this by launching it at a monster, then recalling it once it's made a hit; each hit does decent damage, too. Pretty quickly you figure out which element is 'harvested' from which part of the body, and once you have all three your weapon becomes a whirling blade of death as your attacks are quicker and more powerful. My favoured way to start a fight is a jumping attack off my Palamute and a Kinsect charge to the face; a good way to say hello.
I'm still in early game, close to finishing 4 star in the single player section, so I'm currently using the rather boring Steel Glaive because, unlike some of the other early iterations, it has a decent 'green' bar for sharpness. Nevertheless I'm enjoying the window shopping as more variations appear in the upgrade tree, and some of them look terrific. The designs have always been fun with the Glaives and Kinsects.
Of course the big addition to Rise is also the thing that has many questioning the value of the Insect Glaive — the Wirebug. Mounting and then riding / wrangling monsters like a demented cowboy is integral, and the door is open for every weapon to do this effectively. It's a welcome design choice, not just for hunts but in the fantastic verticality and exploration opportunities it opens up. For Glaive fans, though, it takes away a key selling point of the weapon; yet I'd argue that's not quite accurate.
For one thing, there are limits to Wirebug uses; they recharge quickly, but it's still a factor. For me, the Wirebug moveset for the Insect Glaive has also made it even better, not weaker. One hugely useful move is 'ZL'+'A' — get close-ish to the monster with your weapon drawn and this will apply wire, propel you backwards to safety and, after a couple of seconds, provide a decent chunk of health. So if you take a couple of hits and are counterattacking anyway, it's a great option. 'ZL'+'X' gives you a huge leap forward for attacks, so if you've created some range it's an ideal way to dive into the fray and get closer to binding that beast. On top of that you can do some nice aerial combos to propel yourself in multiple directions, to either avoid trouble or react to a monster's movement.
The Wirebug combined with an Insect Glaive makes you more agile than ever before, and the default Glaive vault is still a great way to hop out of danger while looking like a heavily armoured Spider-Man.
With the arrival of the Wirebug I'm well aware that, when used skilfully, many more powerful weapons will be just as effective for dodging and getting around a map. Yet still, my loyalty to the Insect Glaive — and a time-restricted lack of will to 'master' another weapon — lives on. It's just a cool, silly thing of a weapon, and cool silliness is pretty much what Monster Hunter is all about.