My experience with Monster Hunter style games is fairly slim (I’ve played a handful of hours here and there across a few), but interestingly enough, I feel like this is one of the core demographics for Dauntless. Despite struggling a little bit with the game’s controls (there’s nothing akin to auto-facing or tab-targeting, and there’s no breaking of attack animations), I found Dauntless much easier to grasp than the previous games of this style, which I think is one of Phoenix Lab’s goals with this game. Dauntless has a lot of the hallmarks of a monster-slaying game (e.g. monsters having no HP bar, fights are about learning the monster’s attack animations), but it’s packaged in a format that’s accessible to PC gamers who are veterans of other genres.
There’s one thing the game is currently lacking that would make it maximally accessible to players: tooltips and tutorials. The addition of these would really seal the deal, since even though the game’s systems are intuited easily enough with a bit of patience, some gamers may suffer a poor first impression by this lack of guidance. Since tutorials and tooltips are often one of the last things to be put into games, I very much hope that they will be added prior to launch.
My impressions of Dauntless in its Early Access form has been positive, but in an unusually distant manner. I appreciate how Phoenix Labs has brought the monster-slaying experience to the PC in a friendly format to PC gamers who may be new to the genre; despite the lack of tutorials and tooltips, it’s provided the gentlest learning curve I’ve personally experienced in the genre. Dauntless feels like it’s encouraging genre newbies to jump in and play, rather than erecting a bunch of barriers through opaque game systems. While I’m still not convinced that this is a genre for me, Dauntless has, at the very least, persuaded me to consider it, which is far more than any other game of this type has accomplished.
Since the game will be free-to-play when it launches in 2018 (open beta was recently moved to early 2018), there’s absolutely no reason for people interested in this type of game to not check it out. Between the writing of this article and its posting, a large update has already been applied to the game that tightens up combat and adds in a bunch of other quality-of-life improvements. Phoenix Labs has been consistently demonstrating that they're listening to their players and incorporating their feedback, truly crafting Dauntless into a game for its players. That's an excellent stance, making me excited to see how Dauntless will continue to evolve in the coming months.