Try It Tuesday: Dauntless

Since approximately a quarter of the world’s population — according to the sky-high queue numbers — was attempting to log in to Dauntless’ open beta this past weekend, I thought I would do the same. Seemed like an attractive title done by some ex-Blizzard folks, so why not? And never underestimate the draw of free-to-play, even in the grand year of 2018.

I have not understood the whole “monster hunter” genre nor partaken up to this point. If I am correct, it’s essentially “Raid Boss: The Game” where all you do is fight a mega-boss… and then another… and then another. With a whole lot of action combat and some expected crafting along the way. It’s like an MMO if you stripped it down to some of its lesser interesting parts.

After giving Dauntless a few hours, I am sure that I still don’t quite get the appeal of these games. I was bored, antsy, and ready to be done with it.

Character creation was fine. Adequate. In a really weird move, you initially have to pick out two pre-created “ancestors” and then mold the resulting blend of the two. No matter who I picked I ended up with a severe-looking and somewhat off-putting character. At least I could amuse myself by putting facial hair on women. Yes, I am 10 years old.

The visuals and especially the characters reminded me of a slightly less good-looking Landmark. If nothing else, I miss that game for its style. Really grooved on all of that.

There weren’t any classes from which to choose, so I got the default sword and eventually changed over to chain blades. Right now there are five weapon types, so I guess five “classes.” Seems kind of thin to me. Would have loved a machine gun or bombs or something. Going toe-to-toe with giant monsters seems kind of suicidal to me.

As far as I could ascertain, the basic gameplay loop is this: You accept a mission to kill a giant behemoth and then are ported to a floating island containing just one of these. You and your few silent player friends run around picking flowers and trying to find the boss, sending up a flare when one of you does. Then you engage in a boss fight that lasts shy of forever. It’s not helped by the fact that there is no on-screen indicator (that I could tell) informing you of how much life the boss has left. You just slash and cut and watch damage numbers go by, occasionally taking a breather to quaff a potion.

The combat, which is definitely the meat and the potatoes, is mostly fluid and involves some combos on your part and a variety of moves on the boss’. Everything’s controlled by mouse, so you only have a light and heavy attack and have to do them in a certain pattern to trigger a combo. I was horrible at this, but what did it matter? Slash slash, guy’s going to die one day anyway.

The combination of action combat, a boss with no health meter, and very simple moves (with no special abilities like what I would get in an MMO) quickly turned me off to the whole process. If I’m going to be clicking this much, I might as well be playing Diablo or something else that pays off with a lot more loot.

Between missions you head back to Ramsgate, the main town hub. It’s quite attractive (I can’t really fault the game’s style and design) but there was no life to it. People just ran in, got missions and did crafting, and ported back out for the next mission.

Maybe there’s something more to these types of games that I’m not getting. Maybe it’s just not the kind of game for me. I can accept that. But no matter what, Dauntless was not successful in piquing my interest or retaining me as a future player.

5 thoughts on “Try It Tuesday: Dauntless

  1. Belghast May 29, 2018 / 9:10 am

    I feel like… the Monster Hunter genre may just not be for your. I have issues with some of the things Dauntless is doing but the mechanical loop is pretty much exactly the same as a Monster Hunter game. Find a monster, fight a monster, get its parts… craft interesting gear… so you can take down bigger monsters. The gear however just gives you more wiggle room… and in truth in a Monster Hunter game you could in theory if you were good enough take down every monster with the starter gear. Sorta like Dark Souls it is a game about learning how to read the monster’s attacks and then reacting appropriately. It is a cool feeling when you realize it is you that are getting better… not necessarily the gear that you are wearing.

    All of that said, this is a genre that I think you either like or don’t. I always sat on the edge of the genre and it wasn’t really until Monster Hunter World that I really feel deeply into the chasm. Sorta like FFXIV is just not your game, this might also just not be your game.

  2. bhagpuss May 29, 2018 / 11:38 am

    I haven’t played any of this subgenre but I’ve read a lot of accounts by people who have – not least Belghast. It seems to be very much a game of skill, where the attraction is learning to play to the best of your ability. I can easily see the appeal of that but I don’t think I’ll be trying it out for size, all the same. I’m not personally big on skill. Given a choice between luck and skill I’d always rather be lucky than good. I’ll leave it to the people that like it and just enjoy reading about their adventures, I think.

  3. Asmiroth May 29, 2018 / 2:59 pm

    It would be unfair to generalize a genre by one game. Sort of like comparing Marvel Heroes to Diablo 3. One was much more complex than the other. Doesn’t mean you won’t like the genre mind you. There’s very little meaningful story, and a lot of repetition (like an old school MMO I guess).

    MHW is a much different beast than Dauntless. There’s likely more complexity in the MHW tutorial than in all of Dauntless.

  4. Jeromai May 29, 2018 / 10:47 pm

    For what it’s worth I’m personally enjoying Dauntless, if not the two minute wait/load time between hunts. I’ve always wanted to get into Monster Hunter games but got scared off by the complexity and unavailability on non-console devices. Dauntless is a lower learning investment (not to mention, zero cost) stepping stone while waiting for Monster Hunter World.

    That is not to say that there isn’t a great deal to absorb already for someone newer to the genre. I got the basic hang of the sword and dodging animations through solo hunts on the Gnashers, then promptly had my arse handed to me three times over trying to solo the Shrike. (I grouped on the Embemane and found it interesting, if a little unfair on the poor lowbie behemoth beset by two hammers and two sword guys.)

    Try as I might, I couldn’t get good enough in a day to take on the Shrike with a sword. I was dodging most things (thank you, GW2 training) but kept getting caught out by the timing of the Shrike’s death from above style pounce. Grouping was a possible option, but one I wanted to leave for the last resort. On a whim, I swapped to a hammer, intending to try to learn it with a random Patrol and got the Shrike. (Ack! And me with barely any clue how to best operate a hammer beyond “I think I’m supposed to thump it on its head and stuffs.”)

    Turns out it does a fair bit of thumpy damage and playing carefully, I pushed the Shrike into two retreats (one better than me with a sword) and got a solo kill on it. That was fun and rewarding.

    There’s still so much to learn and do. I skimmed a video of a sword wielder disrupting the Shrike’s charge by sticking his sword up in its path, but have no idea how to execute that at my current level. More weapons, more higher tier differently skinned beasties with presumably different attacks and elemental damage concepts to grasp, and presumably more higher level tactics for group and solo to come. I really like the invulnerability frame dodge concept – reminds me of GW2 with more dodges but with more attacks one also has to avoid.

    Long term-wise, I dunno, but I think it’s a pretty fun learning experience in the short term.

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