Slay Behemoths for free this month.
Dauntless is being released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC through the Epic Games store on May 21. Originally, Dauntless was set to launch on consoles in April, but was pushed back to Summer. The free-to-play action-RPG is set to release on Nintendo Switch and mobile later this year.
Though Dauntless has received major updates in preparation for the console release, the brand new character customization system launching on May 21 is especially noteworthy. It’s a lot more involved than the ancestry system currently in place. This new customization menu can be accessed at any time, too, giving existing players a chance to change up their look. Check out the video of the new character creator below we captured during our hands-on demo with the new Dauntless build on the Xbox One X.
First revealed during the 2016 Game Awards, Dauntless has been in open beta on PC since May 2018, and is inspired by games like Monster Hunter, Dark Souls, and World of Warcraft. Dauntless fits the bill as a cooperative monster slaying action-RPG, and has a gameplay loop Monster Hunter fans will be pretty familiar with.
It goes like this: slay Behemoths, craft cool stuff, slay stronger Behemoths, repeat. With six unique weapon types, a growing roster of Behemoths to slay, and a rotating Hunt Pass with changing rewards and tasks, there is plenty to keep busy with during the gameplay flow.
Dauntless has also been constantly updated in response to player feedback and behaviors since its closed alpha test back in 2017.
“It’s changed night and day since we first showed it to [IGN],” said Andy Burt, Phoenix Labs PR manager. “There’s a lot more meat on the bone than probably what you saw last year, or a couple of years back.”
Most recently, Phoenix Labs prepared a “massive” patch in preparation for Dauntless’s console launch, but rather than hold it, they pushed it to the PC build in April to start collecting feedback. The patch notes on Dauntless’s main site list the estimated number of changes as more than 6,000.
Included in these changes are three new systems. The Mastery system adds rewards and achievements to just about every activity available in Dauntless. There is a unique Mastery card attached to each Behemoth and weapon. For example, dealing 100, 1,000, then 10,000 damage with the Axe will unlock new Axe attacks at each milestone, according to Phoenix Labs’ director of marketing Nick Clifford.
The campaign and crafting progression also received a massive rework, inspired by player feedback and behavior, and frustrations that rose because of these actions.
“We found that as players played through progression, they would only hunt very, very specific Behemoths,” Burt said.
Because of this, for example, matchmaking for a Pangar hunt would only take about two seconds, but Embermane would take a full five minutes.
“The Pangar Set provided you with very good bonuses for certain parts of Dauntless, so people put him on farm and would play him over and over and over again,” Burt explained.
To avoid the uneven queue times and repetitive farming, Clifford said they went back and revisited all of the crafting requirements for all of the units. About 70 percent of the components needed for a piece of gear can come from a group of Behemoths instead of a single target now, and only the last bit requires Behemoth-specific materials.
“So if you need fire resistance gear, you matchmake against one of the many fire Behemoths we have in the game. That way players are focusing more on playing together and not waiting in five minute queue timers to fight a very specific Behemoth,” said Clifford. You can see the full, extensive patch notes on the official Dauntless blog.
One thing to note is though Dauntless is free-to-play, it is not pay to win, and no portion of Dauntless is locked behind a paywall.
“If you see someone strolling through town with big bad-ass armor on them, they earned it. They didn’t buy their way into it. You definitely have to complete the hunts to unlock the items,” Clifford said.
Only items like dye, used to color armor; transmogs (essentially skins) for armor and weapons, and other cosmetics are available to purchase. None of these are locked inside paid-for, randomized loot boxes, and the shop is priced transparently.
The customization offered by the dozens of dyes and skins available is impressive, and though many are purchasable, some are rewarded only to those who can slay certain, powerful Behemoths. After the Dye Rework launching soon with patch 0.8.0, there will be a third dye region, increasing the customizability even further.
Along with a shop of individual items, Dauntless also introduced the Hunt Pass feature last December. Hunt Pass seasons rotate every six to eight weeks, and at console launch on May 21, Hunt Pass Season 5: will begin, transforming Dauntless’s hub into a Moon Blossom Festival, decorated with cherry blossoms.
The Hunt Pass challenges players to complete certain tasks to earn cosmetic rewards, and has a basic and Elite track, with 50 levels of content across both. The Elite track costs $10 to participate in, but if completed, rewards that amount of premium currency.
Sound familiar? It should, if you’ve ever played Fortnite.
“I would be lying if I said [the Hunt Pass] wasn’t [inspired by Fortnite],” Clifford admitted. “When we started talking with [Epic Games] late last year, they shared some insight with us that their Battle Pass was great for player value and player retention. So we experimented with it a bit and lo and behold, yes it was, it was an awesome way for us to roll out a cosmetic items, and give players a reason to come back kind of week over week, month over month.”
Phoenix Labs said Dauntless already has about 3 million players in open beta, and expects to triple that number at launch when it comes to consoles and the Epic Games Store this month.
But while it is launching on consoles, Burt doesn’t consider it an “official launch.” He said:
“We found with PC that when we did early access and got feedback early on, it just led to a much better product overall. So we kind of want to get console out the door and see what people think and allow ourselves some time to iterate on it before we call it launched officially.”
Though developer Phoenix Labs revealed its “One Dauntless” initiative, which would provide cross-platform play, progression and account management across all devices during the 2018 Game Awards, it is unknown if these capabilities will be available at launch on May 21. However, during our hands-on, cross-play between PC and Xbox One worked well.
For more on Dauntless, see how Monster Hunter World helped grow Dauntless’s player base.
Casey DeFreitas is an Editor at IGN and loves slaying and catching monsters of all sorts. Catch her on Twitter @ShinyCaseyD.