I’ve tried Monster Hunter a few times. My experience with the series is as such, Monster Hunter 3 (Wii/WiiU), Monster Hunter 4 (3DS), Monster Hunter Stories(3DS), Monster Hunter World(XB1). None of these games has necessarily stuck with me. MH3 & 4 were near incomprehensible to me. Stories is basically a Pokemon game so, not a real Monster Hunter game. But World made the best impression.
With World, I had a crew to hunt with on a regular basis and we made some good progress in the campaign. I was grinding monsters to build up my armor andrunning expeditions and arenas as well. At some point, like a lot of titles, my crew moved on to new games and I still wasn’t quite grasping certain aspects of the game so after some solo progression, I too dropped off. It was fun enough but nearly impossible to really play by yourself because the game does a piss poor job of explaining things to you and the online in the game was a bit of a mess, with all its myriad of restrictions and splintering of the player base.
What World told me was that I enjoyed the idea of hunting giant monsters with a group of people. I just wish I understood more of the underpinnings that make the game really click.
So when Dauntless came around I was skeptical. Could free-to-play Monster Hunter with a cutesy art-style (think Fortnite) be good? The answer for me is a resounding yes.
Set in a world of floating islands, airships, and giant monsters called behemoths, Dauntless casts the player as a rookie slayer out to depopulate the world of these behemoths. Why? I don’t know. There is a story wrapped in here somewhere but after the opening cutscenes, everything is delivered in text screen after text screen after text screen. I was on board pretty early with the story and it does a good job of world building but I quickly lost interest as its doled out as you get quests but only prove to delay me in getting to the fun stuff, killing giant mutant dino creatures.
Like Monster Hunter there are tons of different currencies, mostly from parts of the monsters you slay. You can craft armor and weapons out of these supplies, which have can have certain elemental effects. For instance Embermane armor has a boost against fire attacks but is weak against cold. Similarly weapons made from an Embermane have a boost against cold enemies but are weak against fire enemies. There a handful of weapon types that include swords, hammers, repeater pistols, and my favorite, chain blades (think Kratos’s Blades of Chaos). Each plays differently, which allowed me to customize the gameplay to my comfort zone.
If all of this sounds like Monster Hunter, its because it basically is that. It’s just more open and user-friendly about showing you what you want to know and how to get it. Need a certain part from a monster, each monster has detail on what parts you can get and how to go about getting them. Yes, you’ll still be grinding certain beasts over and over again trying to get your parts but you’ll know that by attacking a certain part and breaking it, you’re likely to get what you need so you can focus on that face if you need a tooth.
It being free-to-play, microstransactions are a thing. Fortunately they don’t seem to impact the game as they are mostly for cosmetic items like dyes or skins. There is also a season pass (again think Fortnite) called the Hunt Pass, which you level up by collecting “pearls” by completing weekly quests, hunting beasts (received as a random drop), or doing the daily fetch quest. Most of the rewards in the Hunt Pass are cosmetic, although there are some currency drops where you can get premium currency (platinum), gold, or chips to speed up the modfier crafting. I don’t find it intrusive, although I do wish that you could earn enough platinum in a complete pass to buy the pass again like you can in Fortnite.
Other than that, it should be noted that this is primarily a multiplayer experience. You can run private hunts but like with Monster Hunter, most of the beasts are designed to be fought with other people. Unlike Monster Hunter though, the online for Dauntless seems to be very well thought out. Matchmaking isn’t instant but its fast enough that its not an issue. And hunts generally last between 5-25 minutes, so it seems good for bit sized play sessions (or as I’ve been playing it mostly, long obsessive play sessions).
So Dauntless is basically Monster Hunter for babies and me. And it’s currently one of my favorite games of the year.