A fair chunk of the spring was spent in Dauntless‘ Open Beta. I opined then that the game had come a tremendously long way from close beta, and that the last “kitchen sink” patch had done a serious job on the systems within the game. The downside with adding systems is that you have to explain them (*cough*Warframe*cough*).
In early summer Dauntless hit the Epic Game Store. Chief benefit here is cross-play. And after a few days of teaming for some runs, I have to say that is entirely a positive. Anecdotally, there’s a fair share of players from PC, XBOX and PS4 playing at any given time, making hunt matching making go ultra fast. I can recall quite a few fights in beta where you may wait 5 minutes for a solo fight… not the case here at all. The game is based around playing with people after all.
On Sept 12, the game fully launched (1.0). Launch brought a few more tweaks to the game. Fist weapons were added, and the rest of the weapons were all re-balanced. Where Hammer was king and guns were trash, the meta order seems to be fists –> guns –> dual blades –> swords –> axes –> hammers. This is almost entirely due to behemoth attack speed; enemies here are about double the speed seen in something like Monster Hunter. Slow weapons get the short end of the stick. Balancing is always a tough one, but there still is a whole lot of build variety. Certainly more balanced than in the spring.
Launch also came with some essential guidepost information. Every hunt now clearly lists what you should have in terms of offence/defence, the resistances, effects, and drop rates. No more having to alt-tab to the wiki to remember it all. It also brought load outs, making gear swaps a much better experience. Rebuilding a fire-resistant set was a massive pain, but also required to hunt something like a Hellion.
Battle pass is still there (99% cosmetic, gives a single extra drop per hunt). Still some daily hunts that cycle through. The main quest line is now ultra obvious. The town has a better layout. Interface is generally cleaner. Bounties get rid of the daily quests (e.g. kill with warpike) and allow more flexibility for the same rewards. Long and short of it, the game feels like a final release.
I’ll admit I was really unsure if Dauntless could deliver a workable and quality game, based on what I saw last fall. It was a cool prototype but there’s been a wide gap between that and release that mars a ton of “early access” titles. I’m rather astounded at what’s delivered here. Very easy to pick up and play. The incremental grind that people are always chasing. An active development team that is liked and respected by the community. A F2P model that feels both fair and transparent. I’ll be keeping this on my active play list for a long while…