Dauntless wears its influences very much on its sleeve. One look at the game and you’ll quickly think of Monster Hunter and other, similar action-RPG franchises. But while the game has taken inspiration from that series and others like it, the game stands by itself and offers some fresh takes on the classically styled gameplay. Yes, you’ll run through a large open environment with a few other players as you hunt down giant behemoths, and you’ll take them on with swords and other fantastical weapons, along with unique powers. But beyond that the game feels fresh and special all on its own, and my time with the game made me think this might be one of the few free-to-play titles that really snags my interest.
You can check out my gameplay session below, which admittedly isn’t the greatest. I make no claim to being a master gamer, and it took me awhile to settle into the rhythm of Dauntless. Once I did though, the action flowed readily and pleasantly. Tracking down the giant beast that was our quarry only took a few minutes, but in that exploration we all had a great time. We communicated our direction, offered advice, and ultimately one of our group located the mighty Shrike, a winged beast that was said to be an easy target for us newbies.
When they did they fired off the custom PAX flair we’d been provided with and we all congregated at the creature’s nest. Quick attacks and heavy attacks were my main weaponry, as I’d chosen the pre-set swordsman class. In the final game characters won’t really have a class, you’ll just deck them out with whatever gear and abilities you want, but these helped for the demo. When I’d done enough damage I could fire off a ranged energy attack that dealt some extra damage.
Dauntless Gameplay Preview
That’s the core of the Dauntless gameplay cycle, with additions here and there such as collecting items and dealing with a scared behemoth. As we did damage to the creature it showed on the outside, with cuts and scrapes appearing the more we hurt him. After awhile he would flee and we’d have to track him down once again, calling out directions to each other, in case they got lost. A few of these rounds and we had taken him down, scoring the highest ranking for our team; apparently my teammates were good enough to cover for my own faults.
This all sounds a lot like Monster Hunter, and the team at Dauntless likely take that as a compliment. However, as someone who never got into Capcom’s massive series, Dauntless felt like something that could hold my interest. The game wasn’t as slow, with my movement and attacks landing as I expected, rather than after some animation delay. We were also able to dive right into the action, though this could be an aspect of the demo. The final game seems more focused on this idea though, with the team promising dozens of behemoths to take on, and the prospect of endless more added later on via free DLC.
There are things to pay for though, but the team is clear that this will not be a loot box filled, pay-to-win title. “Phoenix Labs has ensured there are no paywalls or pay to win mechanics in the Dauntless experience, and players will not be able to purchase any form of loot boxes,” the open beta announcement said. Dauntless will be playable for all on May 24th via that open beta, so check it out, and be sure to watch my PAX East 2018 gameplay session above.