It has the potential, but it’s not quite there yet
Ever since its debut on the PlayStation 2 in 2004, I’ve been consistently playing every Monster Hunter release, minus the MMORPG titles. It’s easily one of my favorite co-op franchises, and it has proven to be a great time killer at cons when everyone brings their 3DS to the table. Although PC gamers have similar games like Toukiden and God Eater that are available on Steam, it’s still not the same experience that Monster Hunter offers.
While I’m not really missing out on Monster Hunter, it’s something I would like to play on PC since it’s currently my main gaming platform (something we’ll eventually get to do with Monster Hunter World in 2018). Then earlier this year, I learned about Dauntless via an article calling the game a Monster Hunter-like action game, so it caught my interest and I’ve been following it since then.
Similarly, to Monster Hunter, you hunt big monsters (called behemoth in the game) and gather their parts in which can be used to upgrade or make better equipment to kill bigger and harder monsters as you progress the game. One thing that I found annoying is the amount of grinding it takes to get the loot that you need to make the armor that you want, and that was one of the earlier armors in the alpha. I usually like investing myself into grinding, but it felt dragged with lots of fruitless attempts.
There are four weapon types available to you to choose from; chain blades, a hammer with a built-in shotgun, Axes, and Swords. Considering the game is currently in Alpha, a number of weapon options didn’t bother me, especially since each offer a different playstyle. When you equip the chains for example, instead of your typical rolling you do to evade attacks, the character will dash with a blue flash tailing him.
You can use either KB&M or a controller (a wired Xbox 360 controller in my case). I had a good time using both and found both advantages and disadvantages. While KB&M is most effective and quicker in combat, the key mapping, which is unchangeable right now, made accessing certain functions kind of awkward. At least like essentials like aiming, attacking and evading were easily accessible. Using a controller felt more familiar due to my Monster Hunter experience on handheld and consoles.
While you can complete the initial missions by yourself, the game is meant to be played with a group due to how difficult some behemoth can be. With patience, I was almost able to beat some of them by myself but lack of resources made impossible, so it’s always much easier and faster when teaming up with other players. However, it was bothersome in the few instances where I couldn’t find any players.
What made combating behemoths easy was their predictable attack patterns and them constantly being open for an attack. It made the battles boring, especially since enemies seem to have a lot of health, or you feel like you’re not doing enough damage. I find the lack of an HP gauge a bit annoying as well. I just wish the game was more strategic and less chance to attack. The game is only difficult because of how much health the behemoths have, really. Additionally, the game’s combat is too simple. I feel like there’s not enough combos you can pull in, and eventually it gets repetitive, but still kind of fun just to keep attacking.
One thing that really bothered me was the lack thereof a map, but instead, I had to rely on a compass. While it didn’t hinder me from completing quests, I took more time to reach certain destinations as compared to if I had a map to use. At least in combat, the uses of flare make the experience a lot better. I’ve seen a variety of flares being used, but in my case, I have a custom Mr. Destructoid flare.
After defeating a behemoth, all players will be awarded loot boxes known as cores in the game. Cores will contain some goods that are used to craft or upgrade weapons or armors. It can also be used to craft items that are useful in combat, like healing potions. You get extra items if you complete a mission with a team as well. Dauntless made gathering the items you need a bit exhausting as it just takes too much time.
I feel like Dauntless has a lot of potential, especially if Phoenix Labs keeps their promise of updating the game throughout the years. It’s not exactly the Monster Hunter some PC gamers may be looking for, but it’s a decent co-op adventure. It’s going to be free-to-play when it officially releases, so it’s worth the try then, but as of now, I wouldn’t recommend it with its current Founders Pack prices.
[These impressions are based on a preview version of the game provided by the publisher.]