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Dauntless (PC) artwork

Dauntless (PC) review

"A very playable Monster Hunter clone, in need of fine tuning and content."

I denote that it is in fact, in its open beta but I’ve played betas before and typically games don’t change too much upon release. There are a few changes in the works including fixing up the rather wacky UI and some weapon buffs. I’ll elaborate more on that shortly.

Dauntless is, as many are calling, a Monster Hunter clone. This is not an insult, in the same way many ARPG’s are called Diablo clones or passable MMO’s sometimes get called WoW clones. They’re simply the codifiers of a very specific kind of game, and there is no shame in riding their coattails to a degree. I have little to no experience with the Monster Hunter franchise except for a brief stint on the PSP during a road trip with a friend. I have little memory of it, but now I have what I guesstimate to be 40 to 50 hours and have reached the current endgame.

Whatever the lore is, it’s minimal. You start as a recruit (naturally) on some magically inclined airship (as they do) which crashes on a floating island where you face a single behemoth called the Gnasher. What follows is several minutes of frantic slashing as the game does very little to tell you how to play. I didn’t learn that “TAB” brought up a combo menu until well after the fact, which tells you how to use the varied weapons in the game.

It’s not necessarily as complicated as it might look. Weapons don’t typically have more than three or four combos and there’s typically one or two go-to’s that you find works for you and just stick with. With the sword, I find that three basic attacks and a dodge is enough to get some hits in and then avoid the very inevitable spin attack most behemoths do.

Each weapon functions a bit differently. Chain blades are noteworthy of being part-destroyers which is vital if you want to get any crafting done. However as of the beta they are considered underpowered and not often seen in higher tiers of play. Swords are solid all around and hammers are built for staggering enemies. Axes hit hard but are slow. War Pikes are mostly support, creating wounds that let the team do extra damage to certain parts. Most weapons are capable of staggering or interrupting a behemoth which is important, and it can only happen during certain windows in their attack patterns.

I’d love to say every behemoth is unique but some are very easily seen to be reskins of others. The Pangar and Hellion for example are basically just Gnashers with extra armor plating and maybe a slightly different face. However they all have a very similar tail slam attack and they’ll even roll around the same way. Drask, Nayzaga, and Charrogg all look like they share the same skeleton but still manage to function a little differently in terms of how they fight. That’s fair enough, but on a visual standpoint I wish they stood out more.

The gameplay is largely comprised of “hunts”. There are different forms of hunts but it’s all the same thing but with varied rewards depending on what you are trying to focus on. Are you suffering from a plant shortage to craft helpful potions? Go on an Expedition, where you’ll get a small boost of materials regardless if you pick them out of the ground yourself or not. You go on a Patrol when you need a boost in weapon and armor upgrades, and you can go on a direct Pursuit if you need a behemoth’s very specific part (for me it’s almost always those damn tails) but at the cost of lower resource gains.

Chiefly, the gameplay is mostly just learning behemoth attack patterns and dodging the right ones or ideally, all of them. The idea is that behemoths will have certain attacks based around how they’re being hit. For example, the Pangar will kick its feet around if two or more players are slicing at its heels. If some people are hitting its tail, it will do a tail slap on the ground. Most behemoth’s attacks are random but they do follow a pattern and learning them is highly necessary, as they all have openings to exploit. I say that, with the utmost frustration when trying to fight the Kharabak, a flying insectoid type thing with openings that only last a couple seconds at a time.

He and his higher level “Razorwing” variant are easily my least favorite bosses. Attacks fast, moves quickly, rarely lands, and when he does I’m usually a mile away from all the running and strafing away from his high damage attacks. Yet his equipment boosts my stamina functionalities as well as part damage. I will not enjoy farming them.

For those wondering; No, this is not an MMO. Every hunt is instanced for parties of one to four. The city will have a handful of players but they are not typically very chatty. Despite however many thousands of players actively playing right now, I never see more than a dozen running around the hub town (of which there’s only one, and could benefit from being just a touch smaller so the crafting vendors are closer together).

Some may be concerned about the level of grind that may be involved and I can tell you, it’s not too bad. The game gives you quests to progress through each island and a lot of the earlier behemoths you may only face a time or two. Really, the most important part of the game is understanding the behemoths is the most vital part of playing the game well and there are a couple of learning curves that spike more than others. There’s the Hellion in the fourth island that you discover who acts as a test for players and I can tell you from personal experience, queuing with random players rarely ended in a success. Beyond a couple of walls, you only need to hunt the same behemoth a handful of times in order to get a full set of armor. This changes in the fifth island (or “tier” as they’re called) when you need more and more parts and upgrade tokens in order to maximize your equipment. In the endgame the upgrades needed become a bit more elaborate, so you will be facing the same behemoths a couple dozen times but you’ll very likely fetch some upgrades regardless.

Those upgrades come in the form of perks that can be added and removed, and consistently acquired through Slayer, Weaponmaster, and Alchemist ranks which function as the game’s “daily” system, always giving you something to focus on. In theory, you will never not progress. In practice, I find that randomly queuing with strangers in the higher tiers of play rarely ends in success, and you get nothing when you fail a hunt. Like many party-based multiplayer games, you’ll have a higher chance at progressing if you join a discord community, guild, or just gather your friends for behemoth ass-kicking.

There are micro-transactions but good news, it’s all cosmetic. Well, most of it. You can actually purchase resource packs that give you chunks of useful potions which might help smooth out certain hunts. I bought one that had a whole fifteen “Bulwark” potions which reduce incoming damage by 45% for three whole hits, not even in a time window. Just three hits, whenever they may occur. I find this incredibly useful and they’re vital for keeping me in the fight.

However not one of those supply packs will give you any boost to your armor and weapon and you won’t have any technical edge otherwise, just pure utility.

The game, as it stands, is very playable. There’s some difficulty spikes here and there, and plenty left to do once you hit the gear ceiling. It’s still an open beta so I’m not sure what their content plan is. Obviously I expect more behemoths in the future but I do hope they add some in-between tiers and not just an ever increasing top ceiling of powerfully annoying behemoths that some of the player base may never see. I hope they add more content in the downtime of hunts. I feel it could use some minor monsters to kill while looking for the behemoth, to charge up weapon meters for their special attacks and maybe gain some extra resource types to fuel some potion-like utilities. There’s much more for them to do and I’ll be happy to review it again when the time comes, where I may reiterate some of these points but time will tell if the experience improves overall.

Happy hunting, slayers!


Zydrate's avatar
Community review by Zydrate (June 10, 2018)

Zydrate is most active on Steam and Tumblr.

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