Lightweight and cartoony free-to-play Monster Hunter-alike Dauntless has made the leap from a long open beta to cross-platform launch today. Releasing simultaneously on PC, Xbox One and PS4 (with a Switch version due later), players are free to use one account to play on all systems, and party up with people on other platforms. For us on PC, the biggest change is Phoenix Labs making the short hop onto the Epic Games Store, where Dauntless fits in quite nicely alongside the similarly styled Fortnite. Below, a launch trailer.
It's telling that the very first monster Dauntless asks players to hunt is an oversized beaver. It is admittedly the size of a large car, with a tail capable of battering someone to death, but it's not exactly the most intimidating of creatures. It also doesn't do very much damage when it hits the player, because unlike Monster Hunter, Dauntless is eager to ease players in with a minimum of pain, screaming and/or terror. Whether this sounds like a blessed relief or missing the point of monster hunting is up for debate, but that's how it works. It's a clean, polished and accessible bit of design, arguably better played with mouse and keyboard than gamepad.
Dauntless is a faster, more slight beast compared to Monster Hunter: World, and far less ferocious than the enormous previous generation of Monster Hunter games. It doesn't take too much effort to bop the monsters you're after (there are only around twenty types) and craft it into the armour and weaponry you want. It's a game where you can log on quickly, jump into a matchmade session with a handful of other players and go bother a big beaver. It's Monster Hunter for very busy people, perhaps, or those who want to play it as a pure power fantasy instead of a long, bloody climb.
While the hunts in the game are gentle compared to the competition, there's still plenty of long-term progression options. Optional objectives per monster and weapon type are tracked with their own rewards, and there's a 'Hunt Pass' seasonal progression track in the vein of Fortnite/Rocket League/Apex Legends and others. There's a free track that mostly gives more practical rewards, but players can put money down for access to a second tier, mostly cosmetic. Today's launch marks the start of today's season, which is ninja-themed. For those worried about having to pay money to enjoy Dauntless, don't be. You just won't be wearing this season's hottest looks.
Dauntless is out now and free-to-play. You can read more on the game's official page (including details on the Hunt Pass here), or grab it on the Epic Games Store. Beta players will be given the option to transfer their account over to Epic when logging in for the first time.