If you always wanted to play Monster Hunter but didn’t want to deal with all of the meticulous planning and preparation, then Dauntless should be right up your alley. It’s free-to-play, heavy on content, and once you get past the initial grind, has a number of boss encounters that are both challenging and fun.
On its surface, Dauntless is simple, hunt monsters either solo or with a team of four. Complete various missions given by NPC’s and use the loot from each hunt to craft and upgrade weapons and armor. The game is somewhat unimpressive early on, especially with how easy and repetitive some of the bosses are, but once you’re around level 5, a competent team js required or you’re going to struggle mightily. Speed is key as they will grant you higher grades and better rewards at the end of each hunt.
Each boss has their own element and it’s highly recommended that you begin crafting gear to attack their weaknesses. Crafting itself is relatively simple, but crucial to success. Weapons all have their pros and cons, with each having their own combos and special abilities that can charged during combat. These special attacks vary based off the weapon, some may help with your overall speed, while others do high damage and may even stagger a boss depending on the impact. Completing objectives or gaining levels will net you with Cores, which act as loot boxes providing you with Cells that act as buffs.
These buffs can be stacked, which allows for greater diversity in regards to your loadouts. There is even a vendor that you can find that will combine Cells, with the only downside is that there is almost a day wait to receive your rewards. All of your gear can be fitted with Cells, which can really help when it comes to taking down some of the most challenging pursuits.
There are also various consumables that can be crafted to help during combat. Potions that buff speed, strength, and stamina are all present and are relatively cheap as it relates to resource consumption. Grenades and Air Drops can also be crafted and are really useful, if you can actually hit the boss directly. These are best used when they are staggered, otherwise their impact is dampened or you might miss your target entirely.
Bosses at first can be a tad bit underwhelming as they are pretty spongy and generally have predictable move sets. But as you progress, the attack variety begins to show and the bosses become far more relentess and this is where Dauntless shines. Bosses become enraged quickly and the diversity in their attack patterns can actually feel overwhelming if you’re under-leveled. Be prepared to be downed often if you go in underestimating your opponent. You will get humbled quickly.
While a lot of the boss designs are repetitive, most are just re-skins or larger in size, the animations are all smooth and rather impressive. Bosses do not have health bars and instead feature damage modeling to showcase your progress. Horns, claws, and tails can all be chipped off during combat and its all very satisfying to see as you continuously bombard bosses with all sorts of attacks.
Almost everything you do in Dauntless will grant experience as progression is fairly in-depth. Each weapon has their own levels and challenges for you to complete, which then provides incentive to switch up your arsenal. Bosses also have different levels of mastery and some of the objectives will require you to use armor and weapons crafted from them, which seems messed up, but also, strangely satisfying.
Free-to-play titles often heavily rely on microtransactions, but with Dauntless, there is almost no need for them. All of the microtransactions happen to be cosmetic and have no bearing on the gameplay itself, so you never have the need to purchase the season pass. With so much content and surprising diversity, Dauntless is worth a look. The grind is real, so be careful as it does take a little bit of time for the game to really open up.
Once it does however, you’ll find yourself thoroughly engaged in pursuits and patrols with friends and randoms alike. It may look like a simplified Monster Hunter, but this is a title that will easily surpass any expectations you may have.