The premise to Dauntless is very simple.. you, a slayer – either by yourself or co-operatively with a small group.. arm yourself with a weapon type that catches your eye and take on the task of venturing out to distant islands to fight and dispose of different behemoths. Each behemoth is unique in the way it chooses to fight back and poses different challenges meant to be overcome with skill and preparation. Slaying a behemoth awards you materials that allow you to transform those spikes, tails and beaks of the fallen to fashion new weapons and armor to tackle more and more difficult breeds of behemoths.
Those weapons, armors and all manner of items – take on the attributes and appearance found in the behemoths themselves and allow you to use them to exploit different elemental or damage type weakness.. to fashion equipment to support a playstyle that just feels good to play or counter a specific behemoth’s behaviour and moveset… or most importantly.. to look gooood. While you may craft and upgrade more powerful weapons and armor. The slayer you’ve created- does not increase in power.. and any stat bonuses or armor rating act only to make the mistakes of being hit more forgiving and easier to recover from or as a tool to flex your mastery over an encounter.
Instead there is a large emphasis placed on your own skill. It is possible to clear any and everything with the default sword and armor.. as there are no guaranteed hits, although I dare anyone to try – as when you really get right down to it – all that fancy armor isn’t going to help you when an Aether Charged Bloodfire Embermane locks eyes and prepares to charge. This highlights a core tenent of Dauntless where personal skill heavily outweighs your character’s power…
And to almost think of the weapons and armor you choose to adorn yourself with.. as trophies, proof that you fought.. and won. Without fluffing up any minor features. That’s the game, that loop of hunt monsters for parts, create gear with those parts.. hunt new monsters for parts, that’s Dauntless.. and sometimes, simple is good. Today marks the release of Dauntless’ open beta. A soft release of sorts where there will be no more wipes and you’re playing for keeps now – and while I don’t want to defend any short comings of the game outright .. what I will say is this is not quite just the release of a game.. this marks the beginning of a journey. As while the game is releasing in a state that gives you more or less a complete experience.. with something akin to a beginning, middle and end – it still is better described as the start of something.. as it does lack a lot of the polish you would get with a game that was ‘done’ Dauntless takes the newly aether charged Monster Hunting genre – removes the price tag – throws it on PC and applies the constant update cycle- the as a service model- you may be more familiar with from MMORPGs, Warframe, Path of Exile or games that you see evolve, change and improve drastically, regularly, over time.
In this way – Dauntless will never be done. You aren’t paying that $0 entry fee for a fully polished experience but what is there is more than enough to kick back and have fun with some friends for hours and hours in a severely under represented game genre. Whether this means you play everyday, check it out once a month or give it even more time to develop – Ramsgate’ll be waiting for you. This in itself has always been what excited me about Dauntless – as far as genres go .. this one fits so well with the service model because there are very few big moving parts to the content and the design is incredibly modular and scalable.
The only real concerns to a hunt are – the equipment you brought in – the behemoth you chose to fight and the island the fight takes place on. All of which are variables that can be pulled from and shuffled from much larger asset pools that are easily added to- to give varied experiences where those additions don’t require a restructuring of the game. Add in that once you reach Dauntless’ end game.. or Evergame.. you’re at a point where the game rebalances itself and normalizes stat values of gear. Where because your choice of gear is based on elemental affinities, stat bonuses, active abilities.. new gear doesn’t invalidate older gear as is the case in other games utilizing heavy vertical progression.. and instead gives you options to enforce your preferred playstyle – do you focus on survivability to learn the behemoth, do you kit yourself up to support your allies and apply debuffs or have you managed to obtain an exotic item, a piece of equipment that truly embodies a behemoths essence and create a build to enhance the effect it has given you..
No matter your choice… with a more static power level.. as they add more and more ways to crank the difficulty up to 11 – where the fights get harder but you stay the same – those challenges are not gear checks – they are skill checks and best believe that learning curve kicks in against even the most seasoned gamers. So the Dauntless will grow wide not tall. Those.. minor features I brushed off before – the stuff they build around the core.. ends up being the why you hunt. Hunting for specific parts of behemoths, taking on the hardest challenges, fulfilling daily and weekly quests, completing all the armor sets, making friends and killing time, looking for the perfect outfit. All good stuff but secondary for me to being able to hit that smug Gnasher in the face with an axe. Sometimes a boss in a box is it’s own reward.
There are tons of great resources and communities already starting to form that you can get in on as they start. So in the corny words of the team over at Pheonix Labs – the developers of Dauntless. Are you ready to forge your own legend on the Shattered Isles? That is it for me, until next time, this is Fevir. Peace..
As found on Youtube