Dauntless

In the Shadow of Monsters: Dauntless

I spent more time playing Dauntless when it dawned on me. This is an actual beta. No, not the normal, pay for 95% complete game so we can test and do some minor things but grab millions of dollars before it goes free to play beta, but an actual, game is barely done and things are broken beta. More like an alpha compared to what betas are called these days. Throwing in a gamma for good measure.The Influences of the Monster Hunter series are all around. The slight pause on a hit mid swing to add emphasis and oompf. The advancement of armor, weapons and Monster types. You can clearly tell that the designers were iterating on the Monster Hunter franchise which hadn’t clicked in the Western world. It was  great idea and a great premise. After spending a good chunk of time in the game in the state it is in I am nervous it won’t ever really launch in any meaningful way – or by the time it does, Monster Hunter is already reigning so big and supreme (as it already is) that there is little reason to go to Dauntless. They have an uphill climb.

A bar that you can’t enter. You can’t jump and all the tables are blocking entranceways. Good use of social space

I’m not blaming them as designers or an impassioned product but they are just so far off of anything reaching a semblance of what MHW already provides and they are  a small team with  a smaller budget – doing in essence the same kind of thing. I am sure it can carve out it’s own niche but the basics are so far off that right now that if I were to take a fair guess, it’s a long way away from being anything substantial. I like the art and premise but it’s not even close to what I am reading and watching in MHW.

My list of deficiencies are pretty simple at this stage, and all fixable!

  • Low soloability. If you die, you get booted back to the city. And the things you can solo don’t provide you with meaningful progression – so there is no path to farm the items you need to improve to fight the harder monsters. The items you need to get better are at the same level you are at, not a step down. If I could farm and improve in a solo manner it would be great, but even then the matchmaking has it’s own, game breaking issues.
  • Matchmaking isn’t great for two reasons. One, they have limited access, which I guess makes sense to make sure the hardware and software can keep up. But it is a double kick in the shins because you can’t do anything while waiting for matchmaking. You stare at your loadout screen for 5 minutes, then it forces you into a solo hunt. Which, as my first point points out, isn’t that much fun. Let me run around the city and explore while Matchmaking is doing its thing. Let me talk to people. Let me stay in the world.

I got a new jacket! Swanky.

  • Very linear. Kill a mob type to get the items to craft its specific gear to get strong enough to kill the slightly harder mob type to get the slightly better items to craft the slightly better gear to get strong enough to kill an even slightly harder mob type to get the even slightly better items…..
  • The story stinks a bit. The goal is to protect your city from these monsters. BUT every monster is on a floating island that you can’t get to without a flying machine. They are stuck on tiny, little floating islands with no way to get off. If it was a proper planet or continent I would get it, but really we are just embarking out to hunt caged animals who have nowhere to run.  Like a Lion safari hunt where they feed the prey tainted meat beforehand. There is no urgency or real threat that is apparent
  • No jumping. You feel so glued to the ground that it is painful. Especially since you fly in.

All of the things that are exciting to me about MHW (which I HAVEN’T played, since it is not on PC) is not in Dauntless. At least not yet. There is a good base here to build off of which is good news, but ultimately it’s not in a state you can really enjoy right now unless you are very invested and committed to the dev team and what you hope they can produce in the future. I do wish them well, and I will check back in with patches to see how it is coming along. They are also very active communicators and I do believe they are doing their best with the resources they have. I do appreciate the honest use of the word ‘beta’ for sure and with word that Open Beta is coming “soon” in 2018 I suspected it would be in a more finished state. Looking forward to the next patch to see how far and fast they can move the needle.

Unfortunately – if MHW is king of jungle then Dauntless is a mouse. Let’s hope Aesop was right.

You Zig, I Zag.

It feels like the gaming and blogging world is playing one thing and I am doing the opposite. Far from being a hipster but it just feels like when the community is going one way I am going the other. There is nothing wrong with that I just can’t relate to the common experiences in Blognation right now. Many people are playing (or back playing) World of Warcraft with the pre-order up and new races to play new alts with. I can’t be bothered right now. I suspect I will at some point but I am too busy leveling characters in EQ2.

With most of the world playing Overwatch I was smitten with Paladins (until they imploded) and I only played Fortnite for the PVE part of “Save the World”, not for the far more popular and populated Battle Royale mode. I suspect much of you are just nodding your head saying “yeah well, we have been trying to tell you you are out of touch” but that is just age, of course. Mine, not yours. Get off my lawn.

Which leads me to my next grand experiment. In a world utterly captivated by Monster Hunter World I am trying the Dauntless camp.

This wasn’t done fully on purpose. I have been humming and hawwing over Monster Hunter World but do not want to compete with my 12  year old for PS4 time. I do prefer my gaming on PC and that version isn’t out for a long time. I checked into Dauntless Reddit, knowing that it was nearing Open Beta and learned a quick, easy tip there. Keys are currently free through a promotion with a streamer (Light it Up Dan!) if you subscribe. The subscription fee is $4.99 (much cheaper than buying one from the Dauntless website) BUT you can also get a free subscription with Amazon Prime – of which I am one – so I ended up getting my key free. It was easy – you link Amazon to Twitch, subscribe to Lightitupdan, type in !keys in the chat, go to his Discord, connect your Twitch to Discord, and a moderator sends you a key in chat. Took me all of 10 minutes (after the hour it took for Discord to refresh the connection to Twitch) and finally I was a Monster Hunter  Slayer!

The tutorial drops you in with a base “training” sword and an immediate quest to collect some items and kill a Rogue beast – the name I already forget. The art style is very Star Wars the Old Republic. Character creation was kind of fun – you pick a Mom and a Dad from some presets and then use a slider to represent which one you look more like post gene-merge. You can still then personalize, but found it fun seeing the hint of features between the two parental units. The graphics are very crisp and clean and the forest felt alive.

Combat was.. slow. I think that is the best word. You hit a button, your character reacts quickly but the act of swinging a big sword takes time. You can’t stop or dodge mid-swing and you really have to understand the Monster Beast’s tells otherwise he is hitting you and interrupting your big, prepared swings. I didn’t love the delay but I do realize it is part of that specific weapon. Killing the Beast wasn’t too hard but I definitely couldn’t see a health bar or any obvious visual clues that he was hurting. We were just fighting, I got low, ran away until I could sort out how to use a potion, came back, worked on my timing for hits and dodging and then he was just dead all of a sudden. Victoire!!

The city was alive and plenty of quest givers and crafters to help you upgrade your weapons and armors. I explored around a bit and even had a couple of lootbox style items to open in a nearby machine. Since this game will be Free to Play there will be a loot box mechanic at some point. I was always in love with the idea of the Pike weapon and sure enough I had one in inventory (one of each weapon, actually) so I equipped it, upgraded a few things, and decided to go on another hunt – still solo, although groups are recommended.

I wasn’t able to pick which Beast to go for – an NPC mentioned to me to go practice against a similar difficulty challenged monster but in the area I found to pick a hunt I only had one option and several beasts were listed there. I picked it anyway to go see what I could solo / sort through and ran into this turtle-like fire creature. It was really interesting when I first approached it – it didn’t attack, but stayed focused on me and as I moved closer it slowly backed off. Timid to attack me but aware I was there and worried of my intentions. When I got too close he did attack.

It was a good fight. I keep forgetting to check my health and there weren’t any obvious warnings and I ended up dying and getting dumped out of the zone for a failed hunt. I am not sure if I was able to keep the items I had found around the forest or not.

It was fun. It does not have nearly the content or world building that exists in Monster Hunter World – at least not the parts I have read about or experienced on my first play through. I did get a bit of killing giant beasts out of my system and will play it a bit more for sure. If you are holding off on MHW until the PC launch and have Amazon Prime then you really have nothing to lose (and no word how many keys LightitupDan has or how long he is giving them away) so go grab one, and check it out, if slaughtering innocent creatures floats your boat. (That’s a whole separate post!)

*final, interesting note. My Nvidia Experience allows you to take screenshots of games (and videos, but i normally just use screenshots) and it automatically saves the screenshots in a folder of the same name, and names each picture starting with the name of the game. For some reason Dauntless is tagged “Archon” in both of those instances. I wonder if that is a name of the build?