"Dauntless is Monster Hunter for people who fear grind", said Edwin Evans-Thirlwell when he wrote about Dauntless last year. Hey! That describes me! After years spent smiling and nodding while people told me about how absorbing Capcom's previous games were, I was confident I'd get sucked into the same dino-trouserfying loop with Monster Hunter: World earlier this year. I was not, and bounced off the game after a few hours spent repeatedly fighting the same beasties in battles that dragged rather than thrilled.
Perhaps I'll have more fun in Dauntless's free open beta, which kicked off last night. It sounds reductive to call it a cartoony, simplified Monster Hunter that nevertheless tries to match it almost note for note - but that's definitely the vibe I'm getting from this trailer.
A dash of steampunk? Check. Big ol' dinosaurs? Check. Encouragement to take down those dinosaurs in groups of up to four? Check. Varied weapons, each supporting a different playstyle? Check. A story that's vaguely about dinosaurs upsetting a (ugh) natural balance as a justification for slaughtering the poor things? Check check check.
That's not entirely fair, as those dinos aren't really dinos and apparently they also want to go and kill everyone living in a frontier town called Ramsgate. Here's another trailer that expands on all that.
It's also not entirely fair of me to be snide about a game that I can actually get behind. I'm sure some will bemoan the comparable lack of depth, but forming a merry hunting party without stopping to worry about oils and potion stockpiles definitely appeals to me. Edwin said much the same thing:
"Perhaps above all else, Dauntless feels a lot less grindy than Monster Hunter, though hooked up to the same compulsion loop of sallying boldly forth, killing outsized critters, harvesting their organs and transforming them into gear. The inventory is a lot gentler on the forebrain and you’ll spend less time managing it, with simple category slots and no apparent carry limit. You’ll want to farm maps and lesser mobs for crafting materials, but Phoenix Labs is keen that players spend more time tussling with the behemoths than picking off goats and wolves."
Hopping into the open beta won't cost you a penny, nor will the final version of the game. Developers Phoenix Labs have said they're restricting the icky fingers of monetisation to cosmetics, which will be lovely if true.