Dauntless is a free-to-play online RPG where you step into the boots of a Slayer, a powerful warrior who explores the Shattered Isles searching for Behemoths, large monsters that put up a heck of fight and leave behind valuable loot used in the game’s deep crafting system. The game was in PC open beta for roughly a year with more than three-million Slayers registered, and now the developers are ready to invite millions more gamers to the Shattered Isles when Dauntless arrives on PS4, Xbox One, and the The Epic Games Store on May 21.
Think of Dauntless as a mix between Monster Hunter and Destiny. The game kicks off with a robust character creation system where you customize your Slayer’s appearance; hair, eyes, lips, ears, etc. The attention to detail also carries over to armor. In fact, each piece of armor has two dye regions, allowing you to dream up a limitless number of colorful designs for your gear.
You then (literally) crash land onto the Shattered Isles after plummeting from a Slayer airship. You quickly wind up in Ramsgate, the game’s social hub. While in this place, you’ll see and potentially interact with 30-40 players (friends, guild mates) at one time. Additionally, you can craft gear/consumables like health potions and grenades, purchase upgrades, and accept missions.
Similar to The Tower in Destiny, you’re free to hang out in Ramsgate as long as you’d like. The core of Dauntless, though, involves setting off through the Shattered Isles with up to three other Slayers to defeat those aforementioned Behemoths, the first of which is a land creature called the Gnasher. This fight serves as the tutorial mission that introduces you to the intricacies of battle. You’ll soon learn that combat in Dauntless is strategic, in a similar vein to Dark Souls and Sekiro. Mindlessly hack away and you’ll lose. Spot enemy weaknesses and think tactically, and you’ll stand a better chance in the fight.
Take the Gnasher, for example. Similar to other Behemoths, you can damage and even remove some of its body parts to take away not only the creature’s hit points, but also its advantage in battle. The Gnasher attacks with its tail, so severing the tail removes it as an offensive option; lopping off body parts also increases the amount of crafting items you’ll receive after killing a Behemoth. Additionally, you can get more crafting components from breaking the Gnasher’s teeth and claws; other monsters have things like breakable horns and tusks.
Behemoths also have unique weapons and armor. There are four pieces of Gnasher gear to wear, for example. You can put all of it on at one time, or switch things up with other pieces of armor earned in the field.
It’s important to note that Behemoths do not have visual health bars, and battles may last upwards of 20 minutes. Battles are also timed, so if you fail to kill a Behemoth within the time limit, you start over. On top of that, there’s no on-screen map, and Behemoths will sometimes flee the fight, forcing you and your squad to split up in order to find your target. Since there’s no map to look at, you must make note of any visual cues within the world; think birds and other animals fleeing.
Considering all the battles you’ll experience in Dauntless, it’s important to have plenty of weapons at your disposal. That said, the game has the following six weapon classes: Swords, Hammers, Chain Blades, Axes, War Pikes, and Repeaters (dual pistols). Every weapon class comes with several dozen variations. Furthermore, each weapon has a primary, secondary, and special attack, and you can mix button presses to pull off combos.
Your success in combat is dependent on your understanding of the key elements in Dauntless. These include Fire, Frost, Shock, Terra (rocks/vines), Umbral (dark), and Radiant (light). Each behemoth has an elemental affiliation, so the trick is to use the element that has an advantage over the creature’s. One of the Behemoths in Dauntless, Skarn, is a Terra type, so you’ll want a Shock weapon because Shock beats Terra.
Finally, every Slayer in the game receives a lantern, a magical item that imbues you with a powerful ability. This includes firing lightning bolts, dropping landmines, and teleporting around the battlefield, among others.
Now, similar to other free-to-play games, Dauntless comes with in-game currency, but the game is not pay-to-win, and you can experience the core game loop without spending money. In fact, the vast majority of items in the store are cosmetics, emotes, dyes for your armor, and seasonal items. No loot boxes!
With a variety of behemoths to defeat, limitless customization, and the ability to transfer accounts between the different platforms, Dauntless appears to have much to offer. Check out the game with some friends when Phoenix Labs releases it on May 21, complete with the new Season 5 content, the Hidden Blades. If you don't want to wait, you can play Dauntless for free right now!