Normally when I see a free download on the marketplace, I don’t get excited. I always assume, and am usually proven right, that it’s just filled with paid content. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I logged in to Dauntless. It felt like a mix between Fortnite and Monster Hunter. They’re both very different games but somehow we get to try a mix of the two.
The actual gameplay is very much like Monster Hunter. You face behemoths and as you succeed, you earn materials to craft gear that is based on them. With no health meter, you must use visual clues to get a rough idea of the damage done. It’s like Fortnite because the graphics and design are basically the same. There are seasons accompanied by a “hunter pass” that have all kinds of rewards ranging from currency to cosmetics. You level up the pass and have an option to pay to skip levels (with real money). I don’t look at it as a ripoff or anything, but a well-blended mix of two popular games.
Here’s what I liked:
A Trip to the Town — A village serves as your main hub. Here you’ll find missions, craft gear, and a place to run around doing some funny things with your friends. By funny, I mean jumping on goats; yet, now that I think of it, it’s not really all that humorous. There are some dogs you can pet if you need a comfort companion. It’s a nice, quiet time for you to hang out after a tough battle or to just explore. There’s a quest that you’re given every day to find 10 death marks, which are flags (Xur, anyone?). They’re always in random spots and grant you some hunter pass experience. I guess I just felt like it’s a very welcoming place, in which it takes a little bit to learn where everything is at.
Online With Everyone — Pegged as “the first fully cross-platform” game, Dauntless succeeds in tying the bonds between the systems. You can play with PC as well as PlayStation users. This provides an excellent amount of people to hunt with. You don’t have to worry about your friends or family not having the same system. You can choose a hunt and be thrown in with randoms, or invite certain people to your group, no matter which system (using the Epic friend list). It’s everything you’d want in an online cooperative title. I think I’m a decent hunter, but it’s sure nice to get tossed into a group with people much more skilled than me. It can allow you to complete hunts you normally wouldn’t be able to accomplish on your own. If you invite someone you know to play and they are several levels below you, you can help them and feel Godlike with your S++ ranks. Don’t have a mic? No problem, you can actually pull up a keyboard and type. I can easily say this is the most compatible cooperative online game I have ever experienced.
Fair Progress — There is a lot of quest progression needed to be done in order to unlock more behemoths to fight. While attempting and likely failing a lot, you’ll still be gaining some type of part you broke off. These will help you modify your gear so that you can slowly become more powerful. Once you’ve accomplished your max stats based on where you’re at in the game, you’ll just have to do some grinding and be smart about what you’re using. If the struggle is real, go ahead and fight easier monsters and try different gear out. The difficulty is just right, not being overly difficult but still a challenge. With the ability to play online, it can be a blessing when you have a crew that can destroy whatever you’re hunting.
Elements — Each behemoth has a property assigned to them. There are neutral ones that provide a battle where weapons don’t matter and you can use whatever you want to. Then there are elemental property-based beasts. A fire behemoth, for example, will have an obvious weakness to cold effects. Crafting freeze bombs and using ice weapons will give you an upper hand in the battle, allowing you to do massive damage. It really seems fair how it’s all set up. I enjoyed the sheer variety of weapons and armor that granted these effects. You can mix and match your gear to fit your play style, but will still need to make sure you aren’t using gear that will be weak to what you’re facing. Besides the expected elements, you’ll find two pretty unique ones. There is a dark effect and a light effect, but they seem to have a nice spin on them. The dark effect comes from an enemy that teleports you into another dimension. The light effect behemoth has awesome colorful attacks that make you feel like you’re fighting a disco ball. If elemental damage didn’t exist, Dauntless would not be as fun as it is.
Feels Endless — You could easily play for months. With 25 hours playtime (guessing), I had upgraded my gear and one weapon to level 10. There are 15 levels. There are tons of weapons and armor. With all that time spent, I only completed just one mastery, which was a specific spear. The mastery page is indeed daunting. Maybe that’s where the name derived from. Weapons aren’t as time-consuming as the behemoth cards. You must do millions of damage to them. Even if you spent every waking hour playing and completed them all, there are seasons that reset your “Hunter Pass” level. I really don’t think there’s an end to this, but this allows for a more tailored experience. You choose what you want to do because there is no probable way of actually doing it all.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Am I Wiley Coyote? — I’m sure most will agree, the lands in which you go hunting are nothing fancy. Sometimes they can feel like a maze. What’s worse is that for some reason, there are random cliffs. There is no fall damage, so you don’t always look before you leap. Flying off these cliffs doesn’t kill you, but it will make you restart normally at the spawn point. Even placing a banner doesn’t do anything to change your respawn location. I fall often, and I feel bad doing it because my team is starting a battle with a behemoth and I’m wasting valuable time trying to find them. I have been knocked off a cliff by the monster which makes more sense, but it’s still tiring to trek back. It’s not always cliffs either. Sometimes there’s a long crack in the ground that leads to the abyss. So yes, prepare to fall. Not to your doom, but to an aggravating trot back to your goal.
Glitch Hunter — Flaws happen to plague the world more than monsters do. The flaw lies in the fact there are so many glitches. It could possibly be from a type of lag. These glitches happen often, and not a day of playing went by where I hadn’t run into several instances. One of the more annoying ones relates to gathering resources or trying to heal. Holding Y to interact can lead to getting stuck at the end. It’s like a loading bar that gets stuck, and you attempt to “refresh” and it does it again. This means you’ll lose out on materials you’re trying to gather because you’ll have to just move on. Healing pools are near to the behemoth you’re facing. Unfortunately, the same glitch happens while attempting to gain life. You’ll get stuck and have to keep attempting it before it finally works. Hopefully, the monster is far away, or you’ll be dead! While not as often, it will also happen when talking to NPC characters in town. That’s quite a horrible one. There are other annoying ones too. Sometimes while in a battle, you’ll have technically been knocked down. Though you won’t realize it for a few seconds because your hunter is still running around. You go to heal, or to do an attack, then suddenly the effect gets kicked in as you stagger to the ground randomly. There are a few more, but they aren’t as frequent and I don’t want to bore you with the details.
Free with a battle pass option seems to be an increasing trend. I actually really love the idea. It allows a game to have a huge population right out of the gates. If you want, you can spend real money for cosmetic items. Having support for cross-platform play is indeed a step in the right direction as well. After spending countless hours in Monster Hunter World, I was pleased to get another title in the same genre. There are glitches and some odd and clumsy level design choices, but they can be overlooked. They are enough to make it far from perfect. Dauntless can be extremely addicting. Needing a part to upgrade or craft a weapon will make you want to “do one more hunt” before turning it off. The sheer amount of gear options and mastery levels will give you a seemingly endless objective that’s based entirely on your OCD for completion. I’m excited to see what the future holds for such an amazing concept.
Score: Highly Recommended
Dauntless was published by Epic Games Inc. and developed by Phoenix Labs on Xbox One. It was released on May 21, 2019, for FREE. A copy was obtained free of charge from the Xbox store.