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Video Game / Dauntless

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From left to right: Shrike, Drask, Embermane and Pangar.

Dauntless is a free-to-play multiplayer Action RPG monster-hunting video game by Phoenix Labs. The game tasks players with protecting the humans living in the Shattered Isles, a fantastical world made up of countless Floating Continents due to an ancient world-shattering catastrophe, from Aether-devouring giant beasts called Behemoths.

Dauntless is a shining example of skill-based Difficult, but Awesome gameplay, in keeping with its monster-hunting genre. Every Behemoth has a wide arsenal of heavy-hitting but subtly (or not-so-subtly) telegraphed attacks, and players will need to learn to recognize those subtle cues and dodge the attacks before they happen if they are to survive a Behemoth encounter. Once a Behemoth has been slain, it will drop its assorted body parts which can be used to craft new and improved armor and weapons.

If this all sounds familiar, chances are you've played or heard of this game's main source of inspiration, Monster Hunter.

After an extended Early Access period, during which the game launched on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via the Epic Games Store on May 21, 2019, Dauntless entered 1.0 on September 26th of the same year, with a Nintendo Switch port arriving on December 10th. All versions of the game so far support crossplay, meaning you can play with other Slayers who are playing the game on another console. Your progress also carries over across versions.


  • Action Commands: The Hammer has several related to the fact it has a cannon integrated into it. By hitting the special attack button shortly after landing a hit, slayers can load a single shot into the weapon's magazine. Alternately, they can tap the heavy attack to fire a shot for more damage, similar to a Final Fantasy gunblade. Hitting the heavy attack at the end of a combo instead empties the magazine completely in one massive blast.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Like God Eater and Toukiden, a few of the melee weapons share the same archetype that Monster Hunter started:
    • The Sword combines aspects of both the Sword and Shield and the Long Sword, being the Jack of All Stats, but is closer towards the latter visually
    • The Axe replaces the Great Sword visually, being a charging weapon that deals heavy burst damage.
    • The Hammer, like its inspiration, has shorter range to mitigate its higher sustained damage.
    • The Chain Blades are quick weapons that favor all around speed and mobility over power, like the dual blades. The inverse of this are the Aether Strikers which behave more like the Tonfas in Monster Hunter: Frontier G.
    • The War Pike works a lot like the Insect Glaive, being a polearm with a secondary rifle built in.
    • Averted with primary ranged weaponry, as prior to introducing the Ostian Repeaters, there wasn't any primary ones, inverting how God Eater had everyone having ranged weapons (except for certain NPC characters). That being said, they behave like the Bowguns in Monster Hunter in the 3rd Generation, being that you can customize them.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Dauntless is quite generous with some of its loot and item systems, both in terms of avoiding grinding and accusations of cash-grabbing. The offerings in its store are a little on the steeper side compared to some games, but it tries hard to avoid Allegedly Free Game - most of what the store offers is cosmetic or relatively easily obtained through gameplay.
    • The axe's Grim Onslaught special involves throwing the axe and then manually retrieving it. If you manage to throw the axe clear off the island, it'll fall back to where you are currently standing. If you fail to collect the axe for about 30 seconds, it'll teleport straight back to your hands. This prevents unwinnable situations where the axe has landed inside a wall or in an otherwise unreachable spot.
  • Boss Game: Each Hunt pitches 1-4 Slayers against a single Behemoth (or two Behemoths in every other Escalation round), and plays out like a boss fight. There are some other hostile critters summoned by the Behemoths or added as Trial or Escalation modifiers, but there are no extra rewards for defeating anything not a Behemoth.
  • Boss Rush: The Escalation mode has you go toe-to-toe with a gauntlet of Behemoths (including a Dual Boss fight every other encounter), each fight separated by islands. The better you do, the higher your Escalation Level increases and the harder things get, but you can choose one of three random perks after slaying a Behemoth. Make it to Level 40, and you can take on a special Behemoth at the top of the island chain.
  • Bullfight Boss: More than a couple of behemoths have this kind of style to their tactics. The Embermane especially.
  • Chasing Your Tail: Without good timing to interrupt charges or a competent Hammer or Strikers user to inflict Stagger damage, Hunts will tend to turn into this — even the largest Behemoths, save Valomyr and Agarus, are quite agile for their size.
  • Circling Birdies: When a behemoth is close to being staggered, swirling stars appear above its head like a dizzy cartoon character. The circle of stars will break when the Behemoth is successfully staggered.
  • Critical Annoyance: Reaching 100% Danger (making you unable to revive teammates) also changes the music track to one with slow and intense percussion completely unlike any of the other behemoth themes. For some players, it can be potentially distracting and make a bad situation even worse.
  • Comet of Doom: Floating masses of rock are easily destroyed when they come in contact with each other, like how asteroids break apart when colliding in space. The Umbral Deeps are seen as a colossal threat to the Slayers not because of the Behemoths within (which are still very dangerous, mind), but because they are on course to slam right into Ramsgate. A quest late in the Void Runners Hunt Pass involved securing and cleaning up a device meant to evacuate the people, since the impact cannot be averted.
  • Counter-Attack: The Avenging Overdrive ability for the Sword grants a super mode that allows the wielder to counter Behemoth melee attacks; it can even interrupt them with proper timing.
  • Damage Typing: There are four damage types: Basic, Part, Stagger, and Wound. Each type has color-coded damage numbers to help you determine which is which.
    • Basic (grey) damage is exactly what it sounds like; damage straight to the Behemoth's health pool. Basic damage can only be dealt by hitting the body, or by hitting Broken parts, and only Basic damage depletes the Behemoth's actual health pool.
    • Part (yellow) damage is inflicted to Parts, natch. Inflicting enough will break that Part, which will drop loot specific to that Part. A few Behemoths (like Skarn and Quillshot) have special breakable parts that replenish after retreating or entering Enraged mode (rock armor and quills, in the case of the mentioned) and still drop loot.
    • Stagger (blue) damage is typically only inflicted by hits to the head, and is only really inflicted in considerable amounts by the Axe, Hammer, and Sword. Hit a Behemoth enough and they'll fall over Stunned.
    • Wound (red) damage can only be applied to Unbroken Parts; passing a certain threshold of Wound damage on a part will cause other slashing weapons to deal extra Part damage.
  • Deadly Dodging:
    • The Hammer's specialty. On top of stamina-based dodges, hammer wielders can fire the integrated cannon to dodge whilst also creating a damaging area behind them. This is called blast dodging, and hitting a behemoth with it can stun/interrupt them.
    • The Umbral Deeps mod "Shadow Dodge" causes the Slayer to discharge explosive umbral aether when dodging through a Behemoth's attack, and can interrupt certain attacks when doing this.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Skarn is all about rocks. Plated in thick stone slabs that it manipulates with its consumed aether, Skarn is a gigantic pain in the ass to fight without a hammer or strikers user around; unsurprisingly, slashing and piercing weapons aren't very good against solid rock.
  • Doomed Hometown:
    • The Ramsgate locals had to say goodbye to their hometown when the Umbral Deeps appeared, and Arkan Drew managed to activate the Portal Driver in time to evacuate the city before impact. It was clear from the cutscene that the old Ramsgate was lost forever, so they were left with no other options than to build a new Ramsgate. This serves as the in-universe justification for the devs' revamp of the city.
    • Some Arbourhome Farslayers were seen in the new Ramsgate during the Relics and Ruin Hunt Pass despite only Xelya representing their faction before then. It was revealed near the end of the Farslayer's Fall Hunt Pass that rampant terra aether gave rise to Agarus and corrupted Behemoths, rendering their home settlement uninhabitable.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Most Behemoths are imbued with one of six elemental Aether types. All three pairs of elements (Blaze and Frost, Shock and Terra, and Radiant and Umbral) are weak to each other, and using an opposing-element weapon on an elemental Behemoth will cause more damage. Likewise, it's best to wear armour with an element matching that of Behemoth you're fighting, as it can drastically reduce the damage you take from their attacks.
  • Green Rocks: Archonite, an aether-infused rock/mineral that is the favoured food of Behemoths and essential to Slayers for the crafting of weapons and armour. The volume of Archonite within an island also determines its altitude; the island of Sandrian's Stone has dropped precipitously due to Behemoths devouring its Archonite.
  • Hand Cannon: The Ostian Repeaters are around the size of a sawn-off shotgun, and you can Dual Wield them.
  • Healing Potion: You always have five of these per hunt. You can also craft other various types of Potion to do things like improve the damage you deal, improve your stamina recovery, and so on.
  • Hub City: Ramsgate is a popular spot for Slayers and the folks who make stuff for them due to its status as the last city standing between humanity and the untamed frontier, and it's where you'll be spending your downtime between hunts. There's plenty to do, like open Cores to gain new Cells, craft or upgrade weapons and armor, take on new quests, pet dogs, etc.
  • Item Crafting: Mandatory to progress, in the form of crafting and upgrading weapons or armour; all made from bits you hack off the Behemoths you fight. You can also craft various potions and "pylons" that provide benefits to you and your team respectively.
  • Irony: The only purely ranged weapon class in the game, the Ostian Repeaters, work best in close range, where the behemoths are most likely to hit you with their melee attacks, and your damage is highest and most consistent.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Many of the Behemoths resemble monstrously oversized hybrids of real animals.
    • The Gnasher slightly resembles an oversized beaver due to its buck-toothed face and massive, flattened tail, but a common attack in its moveset is rolling up into a ball and trying to hurt the player with its spiky back and scale-plated tail, calling to mind a pangolin. It's no coincidence that one of its variants is called the Pangar.
    • The Shrike (and its variant, the Skraev) is a very obvious homage to the Owlbear monster of Dungeons & Dragons, possessing the head, voice and wing-feathers of an owl mounted to the body of an oversized bear. It is mostly incapable of flight, but can use the wings fused to its bear arms to glide at the player or perform an aerial slam attack.
  • Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: You can expect to fall off (or be knocked off) an island into the Sky Below every so often, but you'll be returned to terra firma close to where you fell with absolutely no damage.
  • Notice This: Gatherable plants tend to stand out at a distance due to their colouration, and have a subtle "sheen" effect when you're close to them.
  • Rank Inflation: Upon completing a hunt, your performance is noted by a personal rating and an overall team rating. Factors include damage dealt, parts broken, damage taken, staggers/interrupts inflicted, allies revived, and so on. The highest possible rank is S++.
  • Shock and Awe: Drask, Nayzaga, and Stormclaw, but Drask especially. This big ol' Lightning Lizard unleashes a devastating lightning bolt as their signature attack, and will Ride the Lightning when it flees. When a Drask enrages, though? They'll fire three bolts in a burst.
  • Shows Damage: Gashes and scars appear on a behemoth as it becomes more damaged, helping you gauge its health/the "health" of its parts. They'll glow with aether up until the associated part is broken too; once that occurs, the scars will turn a dull fleshy colour.
  • Socketed Equipment: Weapons and armour come with 1-2 slots of varying types, into which you can install Cells. Cells can grant buffs such as a chance for double damage, an increase to your health stat, a flat amount of wound damage on hits, or a percentage increase in break damage, and so on. Thankfully, they can easily be replaced, rather than requiring special equipment.
  • Status Effects: Burn, Freeze, Shock, and several more. Their exact effects vary slightly depending on whether the target is a Behemoth or Slayer.
    • Burn is a simple Damage Over Time debuff, caused by fire-based weapons and behemoths. It's quite deadly to players, but can be extinguished if you take time to Stop, Drop, and Roll; dodging removes part of the debuff timer.
    • Freeze is a slow on behemoths, or a paralyze on slayers. A frozen behemoth simply moves and acts slower, whilst a frozen slayer cannot move or attack at all. They can be freed by smashing the ice around them.
    • Shock is an interrupt on behemoths, or No Item Use for You on slayers; a Shocked slayer can't use any items or interact prompts whatsoever. That means no self-healing and no reviving allies, which can be a death sentence. A Shocked Behemoth, meanwhile, falls over as if it was stunned by regular Stagger damage.
    • Terra damage on Behemoths will cause them to radiate green orbs that heal any Slayer that touches them.
    • Umbral damage on slayers results in a potent damage-over-time effect, inability to sprint, and inability to use special attacks. Luckily, it can be cured by damaging any Behemoth; Karma Breaker makes it a non-issue for Strikers, whereas other weapons must damage it directly.
  • Tennis Boss: A couple of Behemoths have projectiles that can be knocked back at them with well-timed swings, particularly Stormclaw.
  • Trash the Set: The Void Runners Hunt Pass was the final Hunt Pass set in the first iteration of Ramsgate, as a quest that appeared near its end involved purging the Portal Driver of corruption so it could be used to evacuate the city's inhabitants before the Umbral Deeps could smash into it. The redesign of Ramsgate was a consequence of the old one's utter destruction.
  • Turns Red: Behemoths periodically become enraged throughout a battle, switching to a different and generally more dangerous set of attacks. There are several pieces of gear and infusion cells that let you do more damage against enraged behemoths.
    • Some Behemoths also have a secondary mode known as "Aether-charged", where they power up in the element they're strongest in - and yes, this can stack with Enraged.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Unless using chainblades, all dodges take the form of combat rolls. Unless you're on fire, then rolling makes a lot more sense.
  • Variable Mix: Each behemoth has their own signature music which shifts in intensity as they become enraged or aether-charged, the timings of which can vary due to stuns and part breaks.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Slayers facing certain Behemoths for the first time tend to get blindsided by unexpectedly different mechanics:
    • The Embermane is far more mobile than any behemoth before it, frequently running away and then back to the slayers without pausing very often. It's fairly easy to interrupt its charges with the right weapons, but it's a long and wearisome battle otherwise.
    • The Drask is a literal Lightning Bruiser that utilizes its long tail in big, sweeping attacks without much downtime. Severing the tail makes the fight quite a bit easier, but there aren't many safe angles to approach from before that happens. It's also the last behemoth you must fight before moving onto the next island and some major gear upgrades.
    • The Hellion generates massive amounts of lava on top of still having the Pangar's dangerous tail and forward attacks. Veterans shouldn't find it much more difficult than the Pangar, but finding approaches without stepping on magma can be challenging.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: Currently, seven to differentiate the playable classes: Swords, Hammers, Chainblades, Axes, Warpikes, Ostian Repeaters, and Aether Strikers.
    • Sword - Cool Sword: Solid all-rounders, Swords are primarily Slashing weapons and can deal decent amounts of Stagger damage too. They're not very flashy, but being a Jack of All Trades weapon can be handy too. Their unique mechanic is that their light attacks build up aether charge that can be unleashed to create a Sword Beam and grant a short bonus to attack speed.
    • Hammer: Hammers are particularly good at doing Stagger damage on strikes to the head or load-bearing limbs. They also have a built-in cannon for short-range attacks and Rocket Jumping. Hammers are surprisingly mobile for being one of the heaviest weapons.
    • Chainblades - Epic Flail + Sinister Scythe = Improbable Weapon User: Chainblades are fast and swooshy, with longer ranged strikes. They also allow the user to make short-range Flash Steps as part of their dodges. Extremely mobile, as users can kick backwards or use their blades to reel themselves in towards Behemoths.
    • Axe: Slow and powerful Slashing weapons, Axes are possibly the least mobile of all the weapons but can unleash devastating Charged Attack combos and build up stacking damage bonuses, letting them dish out a lot of damage.
    • Warpike - A challenging teamplay weapon, inflicting "aether wounds" on the behemoth's various body parts for teammates to do enhanced damage. They also double as Boom Sticks; striking behemoths generates aether charge that increases the pike's damage but can also be converted into projectiles (of which you can store up to three) that can be used to inflict hefty amounts of Break damage. The catch? Getting hit by Behemoths drains some of your built-up aether charge, and pikes are stamina-hungry too. Using a pike is a constant balancing act.
    • Ostian Repeaters - Guns Akimbo: One of the most mobile options available in the game presently, these allow you to pelt behemoths from any range, though the game gives you substantial bonuses and boosts to your skills and damage if you reload within close range of them. Their key feature are being Design-It-Yourself Equipment, slayers able to switch parts to whatever suits their needs best, from the damage output of their shots, to the nature of the buffs they can deploy, to the traps they can set out for their foes. One of its main drawbacks is significantly reduced damage at long range and the inability to sprint when the weapon is in the user's hands.
    • Aether Strikers - Power Fist: The Aether Strikers are fist-attached weapons, good for staggering Behemoths, then punching them into oblivion with three combos, each of which charges a specific Mantra when completed. With each Mantra you have, you gain the ability to activate a new Technique. One Mantra gives you a buff to your attack speed, two grants you a forward punch that applies a damage-over-time debuff to a Behemoth upon contact, and the one you get for all three allows you to use a powerful third Technique that deals extra damage if one or both of the previous Techniques are active (especially both). But act fast— your Mantra charges are on a timer, and if it ticks down all the way, you'll lose them. The timer can be reset by completing another combo or punching through a Behemoth with the Surge ability, available after charging a Mantra or activating a Technique.
  • World in the Sky: Dauntless takes place on the Shattered Isles, a collection of floating landmasses suspended over an abyss that the Isles' residents call the Sky Below; things got this way after a disastrous event dubbed the Upheaval destroyed the old world. The entire reason these islands float in the first place is because of Aether, so you can see why Behemoths snacking on the stuff would be a problem.