Even with the full release of Dauntless thanks to the 1.0 update, the title is an absurdly simple game. Probably the simplest free-to-play experience to boot. I’ve even discussed it with friends and we’ve come to an agreeable solution. Dauntless 1.0 is a basic, poor man’s Monster Hunter. Now, this isn’t in itself a bad thing as the series and those like it enjoy a lot of love. It’s just there’s a noticeable lack of depth and I was wondering if I was even paying attention properly. Turns out the rest of the title is hidden behind grindy crafting and mission completions. Which no one is surprised in a video game that costs exactly zero dollars.
Dauntless takes place in a world where a cataclysmic event has torn the land to sunder. It’s even caused floating island chains to materialize. However, gravity-defying land is the least of the human population’s worries as this event also released behemoths into the world. These giant and larger than normal creatures pose a serious threat to many lives and thus Slayers are born. Hunters who brave the same repetitive lands to fell giant beasts. The corpses and body parts of these behemoths are then crafted into stronger weapons and armor. Thus, bigger and stronger creatures can be hunted. This is where the player jumps into the fray and can be customized. This feature isn’t quite skin deep, but don’t expect Bethesda levels of customizable options.
Gameplay is from a third-person perspective and if you have already read the sentence above, then you know what to expect for mechanics. This truly is basic Monster Hunter and you could honestly skip the rest of this paragraph if you’ve dabbled in that franchise. Mission structure and story beats are all tied to a series of behemoth hunts. You can gear up in the hub area and then strike it out alone or matchmake with a group for a hunt. There are different armors to collect or craft and the same goes with the weapons: swords, axes, hammers, chain blades, war pikes, repeaters, and strikers introduced with the 1.0 update. Although the interesting thing with your equipable items is that a lot are simply cosmetic. So you’ll be a little confused like I was wondering where my gear disappeared too. The transmog feature on armor and guns can alter the appearance of items in physical design and color. While your stats remain the same based on the few actual items you have equipped. These can also be enhanced with mods and cells that improve stats in a variety of typical ways. The more hunts you complete and behemoth parts you collect will, of course, net stronger and better rewards.
Dauntless does a nice job of catering to a wide set of playstyles. Most of the weapons play to a certain style and offer their own special attacks and combos. So obviously axes and swords will be slower yet stronger per hit than chain blades and strikers. The same goes for their special modifications and combos. Although I wouldn’t get too excited at the latter. Most weapons only have several move sets and even fewer uses outside dealing damage. Don’t even get me started on the repeaters which have only three functions the majority of the time. There are also health potions, stamina potions, grenades, etc. you can bring along for the hunt. These can be crafted or collected as well. Utilizing all of these in actual battle is…you guessed it…pretty basic. Button mapping is pretty standard, user interfaces are easy to understand and behemoths have a handful of attack patterns. Hell, if you equip the guns you can just circle the boss and avoid damage altogether if you play with others. Lastly, dodging does require timing and stamina bar management. This is hardly a challenging endeavor, though.
There are other “modes” to participate in except they boil down to the same thing. Patrols allow you to hunt behemoths of a certain element randomly for parts and currency and Trials are just hunts with modifiers. So your behemoth gains health on their attacks landing, those attacks dealing certain elemental damage, increased health, and what have you. While these can mix things up it rarely elevates the basic mechanics Dauntless has. The maps in which the hunts take place are entirely too similar or even the same map over and over again. Then you have to take into account that behemoths repeat the same few behaviors and can lead a twenty-minute battle just because of a large health pool. Completion times can be performed faster if helpful tips about your current adversary are followed before you launch into a game. That is if behemoths don’t freeze in place, servers don’t crash, and weapons actually render when they should.
Being a free-to-play game you best believe there are some microtransactions. Everything about Dauntless can be purchased with real money through the game’s platinum currency. Dye colors, emotes, arrival animations, skins, weapons, chests, tokens, and again basic things you’d expect for a game like this. While I didn’t research a stock market for this experience I did feel the amount of stuff you can acquire for free was acceptable. In fact, a lot of what you can craft with resources will have the best base stats. All of this might be on the friendly side of the microtransaction debacle nowadays, but it doesn’t fix any of the issues I’ve presented here.
Dauntless 1.0 PS4 Review
Overall - Not Bad - 5.5/10
Dauntless’ main problem is that it’s shallow. Even for a title in its genre. It’s mostly a single hunt of a behemoth to a single hunt of a behemoth with some basic additions and notes sprinkled in. A consequence of this is things get repetitive and stale fast. As for free-to-play experiences it won’t top Warframe and Realm Royale, but I can see this being enjoyed when there’s literally nothing else to play. And nothing else to do.
- Decent amount of playstyles to choose from
- Friendlier microtransactions than what’s going on nowadays
- Shallow mission structure
- Basic gameplay and mechanics get repetitive fast
- Stretches out game and battle length by giving behemoths high health pools instead of challenging behavior
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.