How I Learned to Love the Grind
Dauntless has finally left the land of NDA (nondisclosure) and it’s time to see what all the hub bub is about this game. Dauntless describes itself as a co-op action, RPG where you battle ferocious Behemoths, craft powerful weapons and forge your legend in the Shattered Isles.
Sounds good so far. Let’s get this started by saying yes, people are going to compare this to Monster Hunter. There’s little to no way you can’t, to be honest. I’ll also be upfront in saying that I am an avid Monster Hunter player. Many were the time that co-workers and I would be on our breaks at work with all of us on our DS’s in hunting parties. So, I will make comparisons between the two, because it’s only natural and it’s the competition. Let’s get this started, shall we?
Dauntless right away impressed me with its visuals. The cel-shaded look to the character animation, the sprawling hub city and of course the Behemoths. It all looked so vibrant and I felt really matched well with the type of game Dauntless is. Which let’s be honest in a game like this where you will spend a good amount of time staring at your character, the monsters and the major hub city; it should be pleasing to the eye and match the theme of the game. The narrative is fairly basic in Dauntless. You have your home city which you get on airships to fly to nearby floating islands to gather intel/kill Behemoths to protect your city from possible destruction. It is a simple story so far, but simple works in Dauntless because for the most part the major lure in Dauntless is in forming parties of four and to go hunt down Behemoths.
The party system, let’s talk about that for a second. You can either form a group of four amongst friends or let the system queue you up and get in a group with three random slayers. I personally felt the auto-matching system needed more fine-tuning or the ability for you to add options to what exactly you’re looking to for. Getting matched up in a party where the other three people are Chainblade users doesn’t feel productive or a good use of the weapon system (which I’ll go into more detail next). Perhaps an option for only wanting specific amounts of weapon loadouts in your group, or the option for this group being more about finding materials and less about killing the Behemoth as fast as possible. Yes, it’s early Alpha, but these are things that could make everyone’s experience tons better and keep a dedicated player base playing longer.
So far in Dauntless, you have four options. With talk from the Devs of more “soon”. What we have first is the Chainblades. A pair of kamas on chains that are meant to be a high-speed, fast combo weapon with short range. Also, something I saw a lot of people playing because let’s be honest they look cool and can reach high damage numbers. Next is the two-handed sword, a good mix of decent speed with decent damage with special elemental abilities. Third up is the great axe. You can charge up both vertical and horizontal attacks. The axe is a slow swinging weapon which is supposed to help debuff the Behemoth on its specials. And last but definitely not least, in my opinion, is the Hammer. The Hammer is another slow swinging weapon with a special twist. It’s supposed to be the better weapon for stuns and interrupts and it has a shotgun on the head. Yes, that’s right, it has a gun on the head of a hammer. It’s one of the reasons that hands down the Hammer is my favored weapon because you can use its special gun attack to help stun or to do a running double jump which ends with you slamming your hammer on the Behemoth when you time it right.
The weapons all felt different and good, although I feel that the Axe and Hammer could use a slight damage buff or have their special abilities have more oomph. I also feel that they need more weapons. Having come from a Monster Hunter Background, the ability to have someone in the party with ranged DPS-ing the monster as you get in its face to distract it helps. Having a heavy shield class like Monster Hunters Lancer would add in even more mechanics and allow for more variety and possibly more monster mechanics. I’ll mention Lanterns here: while not a weapon they are a neat addition to Dauntless that I feel adds a uniqueness to the game and helps make it their own. Lanterns can be crafted and can do a few different things. Like an aura that heals over time or one that gives back stamina.
About those Behemoths. So far, I’ve noticed three different types of each Behemoth available. A rogue one, a normal one and then an "Oh god it hurts!" one. Each with a different skin. The mechanics in the fights felt good and solid so far. Dodging is key as a Slayer, or timing the use of a health pot or lantern. You can chop off tails, destroy sacs, break beaks and claws. With some weapons being better at it than others. I’d like to see more diversity and maybe an elite monster or three with tactics that you need to be in a group where everyone is communicating. But so far, the Behemoths felt like good solid monsters to fight. One thing I would like to see is lesser monsters in the map area. At the moment, there are rams you can one shot and get some loot from, but having more roaming critters in the map that are not one hit one kill for mats and such would add more to the game. It'd give you something to kill before rushing the Behemoth.
It must be said that the grind is real in Dauntless. Which I expect and am OK with. You want that new set of armor, time to grind that particular Behemoth, same with weapons. The crafting in Dauntless feels what I would expect it to be. With options to craft potions, armor, weapons, and lanterns. I hope that they add food later, buffs from that always felt good to have in Monster Hunter would add another layer to Dauntless.
Let’s bottom line Dauntless, shall we?
It’s a fun game, especially if you don’t mind a game that you will grind in to get what you want. Yes, it’s Alpha, but I feel more can be done. Adding more weapon types and more monsters especially little pack creatures would help add diversity and possibly add the ability to make some Behemoth battles more intense/tactical maybe even needing at least one person in the group to play a specific loadout. Is it maybe unfair that I compare this game so much to Monster Hunter which has years of experience in its various games and more player feedback? Maybe. But in the end, the Dev team has to understand that they are on a time clock. The day Monster Hunter World releases will be a telling day to how much player-base Dauntless still has. Having a Dev Team that listens, works with the community, adds more content and is transparent about what they are doing will lead Dauntless to a bright future. I’ve seen already the Devs be active on social media, in their forums and supportive of streamers. Also, let’s be honest, it’s pretty damn fun.