If Monster Hunter had been free-to-play it’d look loads like this.
In case you stripped Monster Hunter right down to its core elements and redesigned it as a free-to-play (however not pay-to-win), online-only recreation, you’d get one thing very near Dauntless. It takes a lot of the finest components of Capcom’s iconic franchise and redeploys them in a approach that is accessible and enjoyable with a complete lot much less baggage. Whereas it could lack the depth that arises from that complexity, Dauntless’s streamlined strategy gives one thing else that greater than makes up for it.
The hook is straightforward: you’re a slayer, and also you slay massive, nasty monsters referred to as behemoths. That’s it – slaying is principally all you do. The dearth of an actual story past inconsequential blocks of textual content initially and finish of missions that foster little empathy was a bummer at first, however I shortly forgot about it. Then once more, storytelling has by no means been the promoting level in different video games on this style (similar to Monster Hunter itself or God Eater) so it’s exhausting to say I miss it very a lot. As a substitute of being a supply of lore-heavy dialogue, each NPC in Dauntless is both a vendor or questgiver within the hub city, so while you’re not customizing issues in menus you’re out within the wild chopping off tails, dodging fireballs, and slaying monumental beasts. It’s very targeted.
Dauntless is all about fixed development. Each monster you kill nets you a bunch of crafting supplies like hides and feathers and scales which can be used again on the town to craft weapons and armor primarily based on these exact same monsters. It’s essential harvest fire-based creatures to craft fiery weapons that may make it easier to take down ice monsters, and you should harvest the ice monsters to make armor ok to resist the ice-based assaults of even stronger ones. Each enemy has a transparent energy and weak point so you’ll be able to intuitively craft the precise tools for any given scenario, which then feeds again into the “hunt, craft, repeat” loop for the following combat. There isn’t a really extensive number of actions to do, however the moment-to-moment gameplay is so wonderful.
It’s a development system that rewards dedication.
Past crafting higher tools, there are Mastery ranges as a type of development. The extra you employ a sort of weapon or slay a sort of beast the upper your Mastery rank will increase in that particular subject. The upper your mastery degree is the higher gear you can also make, the higher upgrades you’ll be able to unlock, and so forth. It’s a system that rewards dedication and, refreshingly, it doesn’t punish you for not spending cash on Dauntless’ non-compulsory (and primarily beauty) microtransactions.
Every of Dauntless’ six weapon sorts really feel distinctive and highly effective, with slots for objects referred to as cells that you should utilize to improve and customise them to your tastes. The sword is sweet and balanced as a great entry weapon, however the flashiness of the conflict pike makes it an thrilling one to wield for prolonged combos. The one dual-wielding melee possibility, the chain blades, are extraordinarily quick and environment friendly, whereas the repeaters provide a mid-ranged handgun fashion to combine issues up. Hammers are the slowest of the bunch however inflict big harm and the axe is someplace between the sword and hammer as an enormous bladed weapon that’s fine-tuned for slicing and dicing.
Of all of the weapon sorts my favourite was the conflict pike as a result of it felt probably the most distinctive in comparison with what I’ve tried in different monster searching video games over time. It’s acquired good vary for a melee weapon and might assault both in a short time to construct up your particular meter or slowly for robust slashing assaults to interrupt off monster components. It’s combos and fight fashion are probably the most nuanced and difficult of the weapon choices, nevertheless it feels nice when you get the grasp of it. It additionally simply seems to be actually cool to make use of because of all its spinning and visible results.
Dauntless’s monster designs are sometimes a mixture between fantastical creatures and extra grounded, real-world animals – just like the Embermane, which seems to be like a rhino and lion merged collectively, or the Shrike, which seems to be a complete lot like an Owlbear from Dungeons & Dragons. Whereas not fairly as other-worldly because the bombastic beasts from God Eater, nor as realistically designed as Monster Hunter’s dinosaur-esque creatures, Dauntless has a hanging fashion all its personal that actually grew on me over time. The intense, contrasting coloration palette is simple on the eyes and every behemoth has quite a lot of persona. The boar-like Quillshot has a behavior of lunging sideways to attempt to stab you with the spikes on its again that stored me on my toes, and the shocking pace of the terrifying and fiery Hellion at all times caught me off guard.
It’s acquired an awesome rhythm of planning and execution in every combat.
Studying assault patterns and perfecting your dodge roll is simply as necessary as understanding your weapon combos. Once you dodge you’re invulnerable for a quick time, so you’ll be able to really roll in direction of and thru enemies mid-fight. However since so many weapons are big with deliberate wind-ups, timing issues so that you just don’t get caught in an assault animation proper as a behemoth is barrelling in direction of you is paramount. It’s acquired an awesome rhythm of planning and execution in every combat.
Dauntless makes use of a Hunt Move as a type of development, which is a free system the place you full challenges to unlock rewards just like one thing like Fortnite’s Battle Move. You possibly can pay $10 to improve your Hunt Move to Elite, which unlocks much more rewards as you degree it up, together with some superior beauty skins, helpful (however not important) in-game objects, and different customization choices.
Different non-compulsory microtransactions from the Retailer embody purchasable dyes and emotes, boosters that enhance the loot you acquire, weapon and armor skins, in addition to potions to spice up your stats on hunts. Fortunately, none of them felt intrusive in any respect and the rewards within the Elite Hunt Move itself had been really enticing sufficient for me to improve to it. Doing so let’s you entry any of the rewards you’ve already unlocked, or you’ll be able to pay much more to skip forward and unlock all of them – however, crucially, this technique by no means felt essential and by no means felt prefer it was undermining the earned development of searching monsters and upgrading my gear and Mastery ranges.
The usually slow-paced and methodical build-up of a giant expedition in Monster Hunter is a key a part of its allure, however Dauntless trades all of these further layers for one thing a lot smoother and extra accessible. Loads of the fluff is gone so that you don’t have to cook dinner meat out on a hunt, lay down traps, monitor creatures, or spend time watching loading screens between map zones. As a substitute, you’re simply dropped into considered one of three pretty simple forms of biomes (both temperate, frozen, or arid) and need to go discover the monster. A part of me missed doing different issues attributable to how empty among the environments really feel in the event you don’t discover the monster straight away, nevertheless it’s a worthy trade-off to make hunts simpler to take pleasure in general.
Each time I logged into Dauntless (assuming I wasn’t caught in one of many hour-long queues that accompanied its launch week however have fortunately principally been resolved) I’d typically soar proper into matchmaking for a hunt in beneath a minute. Most hunts final lower than 10 minutes and then you definately’re proper again to the hub to shortly craft earlier than going out once more. Hardcore Monster Hunter followers will seemingly miss the problems they’ve grown to like similar to monitoring monsters, capturing them, and exploring a number of zones throughout every hunt to seek out the precise beast within the wild. However having a extra streamlined expertise eliminated a ton of the friction that might in any other case gradual me down, which made having fun with the style that a lot simpler.
Technically you’ll be able to play Dauntless privately with out matchmaking, however you may nonetheless should be on-line and I wouldn’t advocate it anyway. In case you get downed or die throughout a hunt in any respect (which is more likely whereas taking part in solo) then your rewards are dramatically lowered, and aside from torturing your self with artificially inflated issue that makes each combat take thrice as lengthy there’s nothing to achieve. Plus, multiplayer is a blast. Working collectively to slay a behemoth is far more personally rewarding, and between the number of weapons and armor plus coloured dyes it’s almost unattainable to see two gamers that look the identical.
Dauntless is a shocking achievement not just for its insanely enjoyable and accessible monster searching motion, but additionally for its seamless cross-platform multiplayer and non-intrusive free-to-play mechanics. Eradicating a lot of the supporting methods’ complexity from video games like Monster Hunter leaves a core that’s immensely enjoyable to dive into for fast periods or hours on finish, even when the depth outdoors of fight and crafting is often missing.