Dauntless presents a modernized, user-friendly alternative option to Monster Hunter. It might get a bit repetitive at times, but we can’t deny that the game’s core mechanics are solid and enjoyable. The settings could be better, however.
- Stable learning curve
- Uncapped frame rate
- Fast-paced fights
- Solid player progress
- Crossplay with consoles
- Not enough weapons and monsters
- Bland environments
- Quite limited options for character creator
Monster Hunter is the most successful franchise of Capcom. For that reason, the series has a lot of imitators, for example, Ragnarok Odyssey, God Eater, and Soul Sacrifice. The games have the core Monster Hunter gameplay loop and the particularly high learning curve. It’s great that developer Phoenix Labs gives a more convenient beast-slaying alternative with Dauntless, a free-to-play PC game.
Dauntless gives you the task to kill giant monsters called Behemoths, as well as to forge improved weapons and armor to fight even stronger beasts. Why are you doing this? You’re a Slayer. That’s all you need to know. If you want a profound story, you won’t find it here. Dauntless’ main interest is getting you into hunts fast.
Right after a short cinematic intro to the game world, you’re pushed into the character creator. Don’t expect lots of options to change every feature of your character’s face and body. Rather you’re offered a comparatively small number of preset faces, skin colors, and hairstyles. Even though this guarantees that you won’t generate a terrible abomination, it also kills the freedom to make a unique Slayer. But just like in Monster Hunter, your character’s look becomes somewhat irrelevant, because it will be covered in armor.
Having created the Slayer, you’ll choose one of seven possible weapons – swords, axes, war pikes, chain blades, and firearms. Some weapons are best utilized against particular enemy defenses. For example, a sword is an excellent tool for armorless behemoths, and the hammer destroys protective plating. Different weapons play and feel very differently, which enhances the combat variety. Go to the training area, and test out each weapon to find your play style.
You’ll spend lots of time in Ramsgate, the Dauntless’ hub world. While you’re there, you’ll get new gear or upgrade the equipment you already have. Getting the best gear before a hunt is essential as the monsters have particular elemental forces and vulnerabilities. Because of these changes, you’ll need a large equipment diversity to make sure that you’re ready for any battle. Creating equipment is very easy – you just visit the forge, and the smith creates items from the materials collected from killed behemoths.
Hunts are much fun: they are fast and full of action. Most monsters are huge, they can run across the area quickly. You need to learn how to dodge to win. You’ll frequently fight the identical behemoths many times while grinding for loot, so it’s good that the fights are engaging all the time. The hunts last about 10-15 minutes, which makes it a great game to play when you’re pressed for time. To compare, Monster Hunter fights can take from 30 minutes to well over an hour.
Your character achieves levels when Mastery Challenges are complete, you can find those in a list in the main menu. It involves destroying a definite amount of behemoths, attacking particular monsters’ parts, and advancing armor sets. New challenges open as you go through the game. Achieving the Mastery Challenge goals becomes a game on its own, and that’s very addictive.
Dauntless is fun during the initial 20 or so hours. Sadly, the gameplay loop finally gets boring. You go to Ramsgate, choose a mission from a quest giver, take the necessary weapons, go out and kill a behemoth, come back to Ramsgate, get new things, pick a new mission, and repeat. To be honest, Monster Hunter has the same gameplay loop. The only thing that helps that game keep its stellar pace without getting old is its bigger weapon diversity, bigger and more various creatures, and more open environments with completely different biomes.
Dauntless’ calm, sterilized environments aren’t beneficial to the game at all. What is more, the quest givers only exist to give missions through dull text boxes. Only the opportunity to team up with other players online (up to three other hunters) across each platform via crossplay, the repetitiveness of playing would be intolerable.