With more Dauntless under my belt, I am getting a better appreciation for tier management.
Monster Hunter World has tiers of monsters (low/high/elder) and they provide different quality of items. This impacts potential not output. If you want to get better gear, hunter better targets. But if you have crappy items, you can still take out better targets… it just takes a bit longer. Specifically, if your crappy sword does 5 damage to a low level monster, it will do 5 damage to an elder dragon too. The output is constant, regardless of target.
Dauntless goes beyond this and affect potential and output. If you have a crappy sword, it will do 5 damage to a low level monster and even less damage to a high level one. Not a whole lot, but it’s a -20% / +25% swing of your attack power vs. the monster’s. The balance here is a bit off, since to get an even amount of power, you actually need to hunt the monster above to get the necessary gear. Let me show an example.
The Pangar is a mid-tier behemoth. It has a power ranking of 242. It is strong against frost, weak to fire. It drops material to make a frost weapon. The closest fire weapon is the Hellion, who is the next behemoth (273 power). Or go down to Embermane (210 power). That 32 point gap is ~20% less overall damage. Pick the Zaga items set (from the previous target at power 231) and you get a storm weapon at 232 power. In effect, as you’re progressing not only are the targets getting more difficult, but you’re getting weaker too.
When you reach the final island – Maelstrom – everyone is at 320 power and all weapons start at 310 power. All meaning ~20 behemoths. I’m there now, and I have to say it’s a LOT of fun. Much more so that the progression through the 3rd island.
This gives the game a false sense of difficulty until you reach the final island. None of it matters… because once you have your first weapon on that final island, there is no real vertical (power) progression – simply horizontal progress (through skills). In the current beta state, that really means that you should simply focus on unlocking the final island and ignore repeating behemoth fights. That is a dramatic difference from MHW.
The good news here is that the devs are aware of the balance issue and are planning to rejig it over the spring. I am somewhat hopeful that this damage neutering mechanic goes away during the leveling process.