Dauntless

Or perhaps Monster Hunter Lite.  Whether that’s a bad thing or not… I haven’t really decided.

I’ve put in a whole pile of hours in to Monster Hunter World.  The experience up until Elder Dragons is really quite a lot of fun.  The “long tail” of the game is predicated on passive boost through exceedingly rare gem drops.  Well, that and collecting an elemental set of each weapon type (2-5 depending on the weapon, and there are a dozen weapon types).  Hoarder’s dream I suppose.

Still, the game is a near master class in design and execution.  Worth well more than the box price for the sheer number of hours you can get out of it.  And Capcom seems to release some sort of monthly update to the game, to let people have something cosmetic to chase.

At a high level MHW does the following in a near perfect fashion

  • Distinct and complex weapon variation
  • A complex combat structure of active strikes and dodges
  • Varied equipment options, with moderate modifications
  • Unique monsters, with attack patterns that change depending on various factors
    • A boss so big you need 5 minutes to climb from head to tail
  • World building where there are distinct “zones” within each area
  • A crafting system for food and potions that is near essential at end game
  • Beautifully rendered, without making my PC melt
  • Fishing

You’ll notice that grouping/social work is not listed.  I’ll get to that.

Dauntless

It’s been an interesting journey for Dauntless.  I’ve been following it for more than a year, and the beta builds have undergone some significant changes.  What I’ve played recently is a marked improvement on 6 months ago.  Says Open Beta… but they are in season 3…so about as open beta as PUBG/Fortnite were when they took off.

Here we have 6 weapon types, and each certainly controls in a unique fashion.  They are fairly well balanced, but some have a much high skill ceiling than others. A sword is certainly simpler than a hammer.  The combos are more developed now than previous versions.  Still simpler than MHW, but that gap seems a lot closer now.  It’s possible to cancel an action to dodge… don’t recall that working before.  It just feels more forgiving than MHW.

There are more creatures to combat, and their telegraphs are less evident (no red circles).  Thankfully hit boxes are calibrated (yay Unreal!  booo Frostbite!)  I wouldn’t argue that they are more complex, since most have 6-8 large attacks that you need to avoid, but I am still talking about the first half dozen creatures.  There are no traps, I don’t see any environmental hazards, there is only every the actual creature alone – nothing else around.  In that sense, it feels a lot more like combat in an arena than in an actual world biome.  Considering that 90% of the game is about hunting these creatures…this is the part that has to be the most fleshed out.

Crafting is better, if unfortunately linear.  You never need to sacrifice a weapon to make a new one… which does bear mention of inventory bloat.  You need to collect items in the field in order to craft in town.  That part works, and it’s pretty straightforward.  There’s the ability to swap passive gems (or the equivalent I guess) for other types, on a 24hr timer (F2P to speed this up).  Viewed in isolation, this is more than an acceptable model.  But it’s not in isolation – this is a direct comparison to MHW.

The art style is block/cartoony.  The players and creatures have enough detail to make them stand out, and the movements are fluid.  The world around you.. less so.  A rock is a rock is a rock.

I have quite honestly no idea what most of the numbers in game mean.  I don’t know how many HP I have, what power levels mean on armor, or what % increases to damage actually do.  These games are entirely around tweaking numbers to find your personal build… and that lack of transparency is tough.  There is this GDocs Sheet that has some info…

There’s more than ample customization for visuals.  Honestly, the F2P portion of this game is built 99% around customization, which is just fine.  I’d have to do the napkin math in terms of value… but this is in line with Path of Exile.

Sadly, there is no fishing.

Multiplayer

Up until this point you’d be thinking Dauntless was a weaker MHW, certainly less complex.  Right enough.  But it does do one thing much better than MHW, and that’s the social part.

Every quest can be done solo or in a group.  There’s a matchmaking process, and group coordination makes combat so much more fun.  One of my major annoyances with MHW was the grouping mechanic… which was almost entirely built on pre-made groups or the SOS flare.   Generally, it takes 30s or so to find a match.  There are times where the matchmaking tool seems to not work, as cancelling and restarting finds a group quickly.

Thoughts

I am honestly impressed.  There’s a lot of content, very few bugs, general balance, and a non-intrusive F2P model.  It’s pretty clear that the forward design path is about adding systems, instead of fixing systems.  Their Roadmap is impressive in clarity.  Mastery as a new system sounds really quite fun.

Well worth the try.

2 thoughts on “Dauntless

  1. I need to duck my head back into Dauntless and give it a go. I have not really played since closed beta first started, and at that point there were a lot of aspects of the game that felt repetitive. I largely started playing it in part because Monster Hunter World had yet to release on the PC. When that happened it quickly got dropped by the wayside. That said a lot of the aspects felt better for new players… the crafting system was way more straight forward as you said which made it easy to figure out what you needed to do to craft each item.

    The biggest problem I had coming from Monster Hunter is none of the weapons felt quite as fleshed out, but then again… this is a new game and not one standing on the shoulders of several decades worth of evolution. I bought one of the founders packs so I should patch the thing up and give it another shot…. after I get tired of Grim Dawn that is 🙂

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    • Combat feels much better than before, but MHW truly shines above all in that domain. I didn’t realize how much vertical combat there was until I didn’t see it in dauntless.

      Funnily enough, last night the devs posted about a major change during April 24 specifically around combat. The next few months are going to be interesting for sure.

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