If you stripped Monster Hunter down to its core components and redesigned it as a free-to-play (but not pay-to-win), online-only game, you’d get something very close to Dauntless. It takes most of the best parts of Capcom’s iconic franchise and redeploys them in a way that’s accessible and fun with a whole lot less baggage. While it can lack the depth that arises from that complexity, Dauntless’s streamlined approach offers something else that more than makes up for it.
The hook is simple: you’re a slayer, and you slay big, nasty monsters called behemoths. That’s it – slaying is basically all you do. The lack of a real story beyond inconsequential blocks of text at the beginning and end of missions that foster little empathy was a bummer at first, but I quickly forgot about it. Then again, storytelling has never been the selling point in other games in this genre (such as Monster Hunter itself or God Eater) so it’s hard to say I miss it very much. Instead of being a source of lore-heavy dialogue, every NPC in Dauntless is either a vendor or questgiver in the hub town, so when you’re not customizing things in menus you’re out in the wild chopping off tails, dodging fireballs, and slaying enormous beasts. It’s very focused.