The games are primarily action role-playing games. The player takes the role of a Hunter, slaying or trapping large monsters across various landscapes as part of quests given to them by the locals. As part of its core gameplay loop, players use loot gained from slaying monsters, gathering resources, and quest rewards to craft improved weapons, armor, and other items that allows them to face more powerful monsters. All main series games feature multiplayer (usually up to four player cooperative), but can also be played single player.
Monster Hunter is played through quests given to the hunter by the Village Elder or the Town Guild. Village Quests can be classified into four categories: hunting, gathering, capture and event. They are also categorized into different levels, ranging from 1 to 8. Higher level quests become available after quests in the previous level are completed. Hunters can be classified as either Blademasters or Gunners. The Blademaster classification consists of five sub-categories: Sword and Shield, Great Swords, Lances, Hammers, and Dual Swords (Dual Swords are unavailable on Japan version). Blademaster weapons can also be of a certain element, be it fire, water, thunder or dragon as well as status effects such as poison, stun or sleep. Gunners have two choices: Light bowgun, and Heavy Bowgun. Classifications and use of sub-category weapons are not chosen and solidified into a file; hunters are able to choose to use any weapon they want, before the start of any quest or event, as long as they have the proper money and/or supplies to do so. Armor is always dependent on whether one chooses to use a Blademaster or Gunner weapon (excluding some few which can be worn either way). Blademaster armor usually focuses on stronger physical protection, while Gunner armor usually focuses on elemental protection. Certain armor combinations provide the user with skills such as fast eating (drinking potions faster) or being able to sharpen your weapon fast and better.