Why Dauntless might be the free-to-play Monster Hunter you are looking for

Phoenix Labs’ Dauntless has managed to captivate millions of players since its open beta launched last year. The free-to-play, third-person action title is now set to make its full debut for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC sometime this month, hoping to attract even more attention thanks to its presence on consoles. While computer users may already be familiar with everything the game to offer, curious monster slayers on other hardware may want to learn more about the world, Behemoths, and combat that make Dauntless a one-of-a-kind experience. Here’s everything that they need to know before the game launches.

The Dauntless world map is huge

Dauntless

In Dauntless, humanity is forced to reside on a series of floating land masses called the Shattered Isles after a cataclysmic event suspends the world in midair. Ramsgate, pictured above, is the social hub from which players can interact with one another, accept missions, and craft gear. It’s the barrier that separates civilization from the untamed frontier, and the place where hunters can find some solace before venturing out into the wilderness. It’s common to witness sky ships fly in and out of the city’s ports, as these vessels serve explorers, merchants, artisans, and more in addition to the aforementioned slayers that one controls.

The Sheltered Frontier serves as a training grounds of sorts. While it’s free of the full-sized Behemoths that players encounter later in the game, it is home to small and mid-sized beasts like Embermanes, Gnashers, and Shrikes. The next area, the Monstrous Verge, is an archipelago that consists of two islands called Aulric’s Refuge and Iron Falls. It’s home to Aether-charged creatures like Skarns and Quillshots, all of which are a lot more challenging to topple than the Behemoths found in the Sheltered Frontier.

Dauntless‘ last three zones, the Yonder Keys, the Uncharted Reaches, and the Maelstrom, are too tumultuous for humanity to inhabit. Even experienced slayers have a hard time surviving in each location’s harsh wilderness, as powerful monsters like Koshais, Rezakiris, Shrowds, and more have the ability to abruptly put a stop to one’s adventures. Even if players do manage to avoid getting clawed to death by a Behemoth, they’ll have to deal with the Uncharted Reaches’ dense forests and the Maelstorm’s corrosive Aether if they hope to make it back to Ramsgate in one piece.

The uniqueness of the Dauntless Behemoths

Dauntless

Though Behemoths don’t actively seek out humans to fight and devour, they threaten the species through their consumption of Aether. The mysterious, glowing substance is what keeps the Shattered Isles afloat. Without it, humanity will tumble back down to the earth from which it came from. As slayers, players must ensure that Behemoths are eliminated swiftly to prevent the next cataclysm from happening. While this sounds straightforward, taking down these monsters is easier said than done.

Behemoths can wield a variety of abilities thanks to their Aether diet. Fire, electricity, frost, and more can emanate from these beasts to dish out significant damage. The creatures can also enter into enraged states, which allows them to move faster and switch up their attack patterns on the fly. Slayers can encounter over 30 Behemoth variations throughout their stay on the Shattered Isles, some of which are native to specific zones. It’s needless to say that the strongest species reside in the Maelstrom, which is said to be the birthplace of every creature that’s existed so far. Taking down an enraged Shrowd only to have another materialize steps away may break even seasoned Dauntless players.

The key to taking down Behemoths lies in reading each monster’s behavior. Being able to tell when a Shrike will toss out a tornado, for instance, is critical if you hope to counter the attack with an barrage of sword swings. Similarly to Dark Souls, timing your rolls is also important if you hope to chain together meaningful combos. Players can slice off appendages, too, if they’d like to disarm their opponents, though sometimes this can backfire and give beasts access to more powerful abilities. If the open beta serves any indication, Phoenix Labs will accomplish its goal of simulating long and intense battles with these intelligent creatures. It’ll be interesting to see what the community’s average death count will be a few months after Dauntless‘ full release.

Dauntless‘ combat is faster

Dauntless

Tracking down and vanquishing just one Behemoth can take up to 30 minutes to complete, depending on the monster and whether or not a player has cooperative partners along for the ride. Up to four players can join together and choose from five different weapons, each of which suits various playstyles. War pikes are easy to learn and can fire projectiles, hammers are slow but deal massive damage, swords are useful for slicing off appendages, chain blades are fast and fluid, and axes are great for fans who have a knack for timing. Designating weapons among your team is recommended before venturing into the wilderness, as no Behemoth is susceptible to one weapon alone.

When up against Behemoths, players must constantly keep an eye on their stamina and health gauges. If one finds that they may need a temporary boost in battle, he or she can craft buffs or customize their armor sets with modifiers. When players are successful in toppling their foes, they’ll be able to reap materials from a Behemoth’s corpse to build better gear at Ramsgate. They can gather resources from environments too, which are often large and filled with contours to keep human and monster belligerents on their toes. While you are out looking for things to pick up, you may also run into blue healing rifts that help them recover health if they’re in need.

Though Phoenix Labs did state that most fans will be able to complete the game’s main scenario, it also stated that endgame activities will be a lot more challenging to overcome. It’s likely that players will be able to pour hundreds of hours into the title, especially if daily quests manage to provide enticing rewards. These tasks bestow experience points that players can use to level up their avatars and become stronger, which is a great thing if players hope to slaughter every Behemoth he or she encounters.

While skeptics may be quick to believe that Dauntless has little chance of success given Monster Hunter World‘s popularity, the features above help differentiate Phoenix Labs’ title from its competitors. The fact that the game is free-to-play further sets it apart from the crowd, encouraging players who’ve always been curious about the genre to finally give a shot with no upfront payment needed.

It’s no surprise that Dauntless will launch on Nintendo Switch and mobile platforms later this year, as it seems poised for success no matter what hardware it’s running on. The ability to take the title anywhere offers more opportunity for it to sustain itself, after all. Given the groundwork that’s been laid so far and the game’s plans for the future, it’s possible that Dauntless will create a viable monster slaying platform that players can sink their teeth into for years to come.