Having launched in early access before arriving on consoles just over a year ago, Dauntless has continued to grow with developer Phoenix Labs rolling out fresh content while refining its addictive Behemoth slaying gameplay. We’ve been playing Dauntless since day one and wanted to deliver an up-to-date review of this fantastic free-to-play game.
Although its inspirations are clear to see (Monster Hunter with a dash of Destiny and Dark Souls), Dauntless stands firm as its own unique multiplayer gem that combines skill-based combat with an extensive suite of character customisation options, the likes of which will have you obsessively tweaking and grinding away for hours on end.
In Dauntless you are a Slayer: a skilled hunter trawling the Shattered Isles for monstrous creatures known as Behemoths. Teaming with up to three other players, you’ll delve into high octane hunts that have a distinct boss battle feel to them. The crux here is that you’ll rerun these hunts over and over, learning how to take down each Behemoth with increasingly ruthless efficiency while harvesting materials.
Back in Ramsgate – a social hub populated by vendors and other players – you’ll use what you’ve gathered to craft and upgrade gear. At first it can be a little overwhelming with the number of options available though once you’ve eased in you’ll soon find yourself chasing that perfect gear set. Each comes equipped with traits and abilities that, when combined, offer gameplay advantages that can be mixed to create your own playstyle.
Perhaps its biggest strength is just how straightforward the core game is. Even if you’ve never touched Monster Hunter or similar action RPGs, Dauntless is very approachable and steadily ramps up the difficulty as you aim to take down bigger, more dangerous Behemoths.
Finding a match rarely takes more than half a minute, immediately dropping you into the action with as little downtime as possible. It’s easy to fire up Dauntless, queue for a random patrol, and bash out a handful of hunts in half an hour, walking away satisfied.
Dauntless is heavily combat-focused with very little exploration involved. Each hunt drops you into an arena like map with the action being contained to one or two of its floating islands. Gameplay is fast-paced and at first glance Dauntless may appear like a mindless hack n’ slash RPG yet there’s a level of complexity to be mined from juggling its seven weapon types and the aforementioned character customisation. Then there are the Behemoths themselves – Dauntless boasts a growing bestiary of beasties to hunt, all with unique movesets and strategies. Although accessible, the combat gameplay is skill-based and will punish those who mindlessly button bash instead of knowing when to attack and when to evade.
Dauntless rocks a toonish look that many have likened to Epic’s world-beating battle royale shooter, Fortnite. It’s a bold, colourful game with each Behemoth sporting a distinctive look that is then inherited by the weapons and armour pieces you can make from the materials Slayers collect from them.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Dauntless is free to download and play. Having clocked dozens of hours, we’ve never felt strong armed into parting with real cash, though the option is there for players to purchase cosmetics and certain items. This is the kind of non-invasive monetisation other free-to-play developers should look towards – there’s such a wealth of free content on offer that we often feel guilty for not digging into our wallets.