Dauntless is now available on next-gen consoles, the online RPG having grown rapidly since entering early access back in 2019. Developer Phoenix Labs has continued to expand and rework what is one of the best free-to-play games currently available.
We’ve been playing Dauntless since day one, but with this major update it’s time to go in-depth with the game again. Here’s our new generation review.
Although its inspirations are clear to see (Monster Hunter with a dash of Destiny and Dark Souls), Dauntless stands firm as its own unique multiplayer gem that combines skill-based combat with an extensive suite of character customisation options, the likes of which will have you obsessively tweaking and grinding away for hours on end.
In Dauntless you are a Slayer: a skilled hunter trawling the Shattered Isles for monstrous creatures known as Behemoths. Teaming up with other players, you’ll delve into high octane hunts that have a distinct boss battle feel to them. Much like Monster Hunter, you’ll gather resources from these formidable beasts, returning to the hub world of Ramsgate to craft and upgrade your gear.
The sheer number of customisation options available can be a little overwhelming at first, though Dauntless does a good job of easing newcomers in. Each weapon and piece of armour has its own unique stats, traits, and slots in which you place Cells to augment your gear even further.
Perhaps its biggest strength is just how straightforward the core game is. Dauntless is a very accessible action RPG that gradually ramps up in difficulty as you encounter tougher Behemoths. At the same time, advanced systems and mechanics are thrown into the mix, making character progression even more engrossing.
Dauntless is heavily combat-focused. Gameplay is fast-paced and at first glance Dauntless may appear like a mindless hack n’ slash RPG, yet there’s a level of complexity to be mined from juggling its seven weapon types and the aforementioned character customisation. Then there are the Behemoths themselves – Dauntless boasts a growing bestiary of creatures to hunt, all with unique movesets and strategies. Although easy to pick up, the combat gameplay is skill-based and will punish those who mindlessly button bash instead of knowing when to attack and when to evade.
Since last year’s Reforged update there’s been a bigger emphasis on exploration. Previously, each Behemoth encounter was self-contained with Slayers queuing to join, then disbanding at the end of a fight. Certain endgame modes follow this same formula, though your main way of playing Dauntless is by dropping into various Hunting Grounds. These are larger worlds in which Behemoths, resources, and events continually pop up, keeping you engaged instead of sandwiching gameplay between lobby and loading screens.
Phoenix Labs took a bold leap with Dauntless Reforged, breaking the game down and cleverly rearranging the pieces into a much stronger free-to-play experience. Speaking of, after dozens of hours spent hunting Behemoths, we’ve yet to spend a single penny in Dauntless. We’ve never felt strong armed into parting with real cash, though the option is there for players to purchase cosmetics and certain items. This is the kind of non-invasive monetisation other free-to-play developers should look towards – there’s such a wealth of free content on offer that we often feel guilty for not digging into our wallets.
What about those next-gen improvements for PS5? This upgraded version of the game offers 4K resolution at 60 FPS with enhanced lighting, visual effects and improved textures and environmental detail throughout. It brings even more depth and vibrance to The Shattered Isle. There are other features too, such as faster loading speeds, as well as 3D audio and DualSense support. It all adds up to a nice upgrade over the last generation, that’s for sure, though you can still play with people on the last generation.
This update is more than just a technical one, the Call to Arms update bringing with it a good chunk of added content for continuing players to enjoy. There’s a new Behemoth, Sahvyt, Phoenix Labs has reworked the Chain Blades, and there’s new quests and challenges to take on as well.