No matter how many games with monsters and hunters you might play, there is always a name that pops out: Monster Hunter. Capcom’s quintessential series has millions of fans worldwide and very few studios dare to pick a fight with it.
Dauntless is one of the latest entries in the genre and it seems to be doing well for itself, despite the predictable competition from Monster Hunter World. Oddly enough, the free-to-play co-op game is benefiting from the ‘Monster Hunter effect,’ as Capcom’s game opened the genre up and caused a spike in sign-ups.
Now, another monster hunting game is rearing its ugly, scale-ridden head: devCAT’s Dragon Hound, currently in development for PC using the Unreal Engine 4.
Mounted Hunter Online
DevCAT is the Korean studio best known for its acclaimed Mabinogi and Vindictus MMORPGs. The latter was praised as featuring some of the best MMO action combat pre-TERA and Black Desert Online, so it could be assumed that they would build on that. A sequel, or even a completely different game improving on Vindictus’ mechanics crossed my thoughts several times, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Instead, devCAT decided to risk it all and try something entirely new – for them, at least. Originally known as Project DH and introduced to the world during G-Star 2016, Dragon Hound holds a lot of promise while at the same time leaving a bittersweet taste. The reason for this is that Dragon Hound’s battles are all based on mounted combat, without the option to get off your mount and take a different approach to the battle.
This may be personal bias, but no matter just how tactical or mechanically advanced the mounted combat may be, being stuck with your mount all the time sounds like a cop-out. It feels as they have this hugely promising battlefield and yet you are being severely restricted in your movement. The developers say that you should see your character as a centaur, which is more than enough evidence that you will never be able to fight on foot. Hopefully the matches won’t turn into boring sessions of circling around a dragon while shooting at it.
Dragon Hound’s Game Director is keen to say that despite all the Monster Hunter comparisons, his game is more of a mix between Monster Hunter and Wargaming’s World of Tanks. As odd as it may sound, this is probably due to the use of ranged weapons and horses, making you feel like you are controlling a vehicle. A tank, so to speak.
That being said, Dragon Hound still has significant depth to it, especially when it comes to monsters. So far, there are 30 different creatures planned and while the name may give you a hint on the kind of foes that await you, it’s not all about dragons. We’ve spotted other antagonists such as a huge boar-like animal and a bizarre dragon-giraffe hybrid.
Getting Under Your Skin
Dragons are fire-breathing winged creatures with thick skin, but sometimes you will need to get under it to be successful – or at least, to pierce through it. Dragons and other creatures include internal damageable organs such as heart and lungs, weak points that don’t need to glow bright red for you to realize just how important they are. If you manage to hit these vital organs instead of aimlessly shooting around, the battle may be over sooner than you think. Obviously, it’s easier said than done.
Eyes are also noticeable weak points, so if everything plays out as expected, the creatures should have a lot more trouble finding out who and where to attack. The same goes for limbs, as a focused attack should severely limit a creature’s movement or ability to strike back. Each battle is expected to last 10 minutes on average, with larger creatures requiring around 15 minutes. It’s all very enticing on paper, but let’s see how it effectively turns out when all these features are properly implemented.
By now you are probably thinking which class to pick and what kind of weapons each one gets to use. DevCAT has decided not to include a restrictive class system, meaning that whatever your decision, you will always be able to equip the weapon that your heart desires. Dragon Hound’s arsenal is said to be comparable to the one used during World War 1, but there is clearly some thrilling steampunk imagination at work, as it is shown by the gigantic vehicle used to drag the fallen creatures and where your hunts begin. Long range weapons such as Gatling guns and shotguns evidently play a vital role in the gameplay, but you can also expect some melee weapons for those moments when you need to get up close and personal with the creatures.
It will certainly come as a big surprise to you that Dragon Hound won’t feature any PvP modes. In current days, this almost sounds like shooting yourself in the foot, but that is the plain truth. My guess is that the developers have fiddled and toyed with the idea until they decided that it wasn’t viable or that it wouldn’t add significant value to the game.
Far from considering Dragon Hound an actual MMO, they are labeling it a team-based multiplayer online game. There is no word on the maximum number of players that can participate in a raid, but there are other features such as a tower defense mode that requires a larger number of players.
Up in the Air
Intentionally or simply a remarkable coincidence, Dragon Hound seems to borrow Dauntless’ concept of the floating isles. The villages in devCAT’s game are floating and they are prone to rotation, switching positions on a weekly basis. Apparently, this was designed with the intention of creating some sort of artificial limitation to the way that players burn through content. By restricting the window of opportunity to attack certain creatures, it will delay those specific encounters for some days. If this is as linear as it was explained, we can’t say for sure, but let’s hope that there is always something to do while you wait for your next big hunt to open.
Dragon Hound is one of the few high-profile PC games coming out of South Korea’s G-Star 2018. In a sea of mobile releases, it’s always great to discover a new and exciting game that dares to think outside of the box. Considering Nexon’s penchant for western releases, we would say that Dragon Hound is highly likely to reach North America and Europe, but we are probably a couple of years away from that. In the meantime, I recommend you to keep an eye out on this one, especially if you are a fan of Monster Hunter and… World of Tanks. Because we have seen stranger things.
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