I want to first start by stating: throughout this review, I will refrain from making any direct references to Monster Hunter: World (outside of this brief introduction, that is). While comparing and references games to other titles within its genre is unavoidable, and even helpful when assessing new titles, I find that the gaming community is made toxic by constant aggressive comparisons which also serve to make the industry seem stagnant, unoriginal, and even harm developing titles e.i. literally every “difficult” game with a dark narrative to Dark Souls; or, Diablo vs Torchlight (however, understandably so). I’ll save you from my ramblings now.
Dauntless has been under development for three years by game company Phoenix Labs and on May 25th they opened their doors, seemingly permanently, to players world wide. Built within the Unreal Engine 4, this beautifully stylized action-role playing game is scheduled for full release sometime later this year as a free-to-play title for PC and the developers are exploring cross-platform options.
Dauntless takes us to The Shattered Isles, an ever-changing mystical world of floating islands and psuedo-steampunk flare. The citizens of this world are relentlessly terrorized by hulking Behemoths who feed off of the land, consuming Aether, with insatiable fervor. You are a Slayer, a fearless bulwark against the terror of the Behemoths, and others like you have taken up arms into the new frontier where new, ever-dangerous, threats await Humanity.
At character creation you will have the chance to choose your lineage. The system of selecting presets for your character has been cleverly dressed while allowing you a fair degree of variety when customizing your appearance. You get the implication of a legacy system here making one wonder if they have something planned for further customization with players skills or abilities.
Moving through the tutorial, you are given the opportunity to become familiar with the controls . Nothing fancy here: a simple walk-through displaying for you the controls for movement and your basic combat abilities. The game is fairly intuitive and uses an easy to remember “dial-a-combo” system giving each of the weapons a unique feel while balancing timing, damage, and risk for each action. Each Behemoth, monstrous in size, is a tremendous threat to the lone Slayer but these creatures can be studied and their attack patterns learned creating the potential for seasoned player to flawlessly take down their prey. Overall, the controls are simple enough to be played with either a control or a keyboard in its entirety much like other over-the-shoulder action-adventure titles.
Debatably the second most important mechanic of the game: the resource gathering and crafting system allows the player to craft and upgrade their own equipment in order to establish an identity for themselves within the game. Armor and weapon upgrades come from collecting trophies (hides, scales, feathers, etc) from slain Behemoths. The models and textures for equipment are striking and each different set has a unique appearance hinting at what type of Behemoth it was crafted from. Particular sets tend to have bonus stats attached to them and can be improved to increase effectiveness or add new abilities all together. Something I noticed, however, is the lack of different armor classes for a Slayer; although, this is made less of a glaring issue due to the main defensive strategy for a Slayer being avoiding and dodging damage rather than relying on being able to tank hits. That being said, a Slayer’s weapon is their identity in this game and provides the player with a minor role during a hunt whether that be to stun/stagger the Behemoth, apply bleed damage, or knock off parts for extra damage/trophy drops. All in mind, the developers have done a wonderful job with the UI making it clear and concise.
The game relies almost entirely on an online connection and partying yourself up with other Slayers to hunt your overwhelming prey. The main hub, or the players base-of-operations, exists as a town called Ramsgate. This floating city-island doubles as a social centre where players can rest, interact, and build adventuring parties between daring excursions. As of now, the zone is lightly sprinkled with essential NPCs who give quests and/or serve as crafters and traders and was once much smaller than its current iteration. The developers have much in planned here and I look forward to Ramsgate growing into a bustling seat of Humanity for all of The Shattered Isles.
During the first day of the beta, the developers had some issues with their servers as requests sky rocketed and they worked to ensure that all players could enjoy the game at the time of their choosing. This was initially frustrating, having first launched the game and queued up somewhere over a hundred thousandth in line waiting to play. Phoenix Labs earned my respect resolving this issue quickly and before I knew it I was enjoying their heartfully crafted piece. While I have experienced some connection issues when matching with other players, these issues are far and few between and more often than not matches are started and ended within 20 minutes, just short enough to get in a good match or two between your busy life.
Ultimately, I would say that Dauntless is an up and coming title with a promising future. There is no lack of character in this game from its art style to its reaching concept and I can say that I am looking forward to the additions that the developers have in store for its dedicated community. They certainly have a few issues to iron out but they have already proven themselves responsive and dedicated to planting Dauntless’s banner in history.
Watch the skies, Slayers. It will be a turbulent journey but glory awaits.
Download Dauntless here and brave the frontier.
In case you’re interest, they have an official Wiki page (meaning the developers wrote it so everything you see there is canon to the universe).
Lastly, if you decide to play and are looking for a friend you can find me by my gamertag “younGrandon.”
Keep on keepin’ on and stay true, friends.