Dauntless (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 03.01.2020

Review for Dauntless on Nintendo Switch

There's a trend in critique, professional or otherwise, to "go easy" on free media and free content. If a consumer isn't putting in their own financial investment into a product, it only makes sense they'd let certain things slide. Price can greatly affect how much a consumer enjoys something, especially when that "something" often costs… well, a lot in their preferred medium. Free video games are all the more appealing in that regard. At the same time, price only affects how much one enjoys a game, and not said title's actual quality. Just because it's free, doesn't mean it's good, as seen in Dauntless, on the Switch.

Although development of Dauntless was handled by Phoenix Games, publisher Epic Games' fingerprints coat the title from head to toe. In this case, that's not a bad thing. Aesthetically, everything looks like a more grounded version of Fortnite. Character models are soft, but enemy design tends to be vicious. The world is vibrant, but the colour palette is cooler, contrasting with Fortnite's visual warmth and abundance of greenery. Epic Games' presence have also ensured crossplay between the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. That alone is a massive boon for the community, ensuring that there will always be some semblance of activity in-game, even if everyone is scattered across four separate systems.

Screenshot for Dauntless on Nintendo Switch

Unfortunately, it's worth noting that the online community is already dwindling even with crossplay; and while docked performance is fine enough, playing undocked is another matter entirely. In general, the title will stutter and lag quite aggressively at the Ramsgate, the central hub. This is to be expected to some extent as players from all over will be going about their business, but performance issues are just inherent when playing on an undocked Switch.

Aside from the graphics taking a noticeable (and jarring) hit, Dauntless just runs considerably worse handheld. Stuttering, lag, and frame drops are too prevalent for the Switch port to be anything but the absolute worst version of the game. Even then, though, the core experience isn't particularly impressive. While the visual style heavily resembles Fortnite, the gameplay rips off Monster Hunter almost 1:1. It would be embarrassing if Monster Hunter wasn't so much better. Instead, it's just sad. Combat boils down into button mashing almost immediately, failing to meaningfully capitalize on dodging or skills.

Screenshot for Dauntless on Nintendo Switch

Behemoths ("monsters") also notably lack stamina. In Monster Hunter, combat is a give-and-take where the tide often turns between the player and the monsters they're hunting. It's part of the natural gameplay loop and keeps the action dynamic. Players can actively exhaust monsters and it's a viable strategy. Without stamina, enemies would be able to fight back with no rhyme or reason. If Dauntless's Behemoths have stamina, it's hard to tell.

Stamina isn't a necessary component of the action genre, however, and lacking stamina could very well be Phoenix Games' way of emphasizing faster paced combat as opposed to Monster Hunter. Without stamina, players can more easily weave in and out of combos. The title is home to half a dozen unique weapons and a light and heavy attack, so it's perfectly natural to expect that, if nothing else, players will be able to pull off some decent tricks. That doesn't end up being the case.

Screenshot for Dauntless on Nintendo Switch

Because Behemoths are health sponges with erratic move sets, and no discernible attack patterns, the act of fighting loses its lustre painfully fast. Combos are slow and sluggish, like in Monster Hunter, but devoid of the mechanical depth to make use of a slow paced gameplay loop… unlike Monster Hunter. Really, though, the main problem comes down to Behemoth design. While they're for the most part visually interesting, boss design never goes beyond the basics when it comes to Behemoths. They have their set moves which they seemingly spew out at random, but there's no "arc" to any given Behemoth fight.

In a genre where the most memorable moments come from wearing a boss down over the course of 20 minutes, this is just unforgivable. It certainly doesn't help matters that boss arenas are almost always just open fields scored to some of the blandest video game music this generation. The average Behemoth encounter is just a disaster on a presentation level. Is Dauntless worth playing? No. Not on Switch, barely on any other platform. It's free, which certainly has its appeal, but every single system the title is on also features a Monster Hunter more deserving of your time. As an "evolving game," Dauntless is sure to change with time, but the foundation is weak enough where the writing is already on the wall.

Screenshot for Dauntless on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Uninteresting and uninspired, Dauntless is certainly impressive in its own right, but as far as actual gameplay goes, what's present fails to engage beyond the surface level. Perhaps that'll be enough for most who download the free title, but between aesthetically resembling Fortnite and aping Monster Hunter's combat wholesale, Phoenix Games has failed to contribute anything truly novel to the experience. Dauntless is as derivative as they come, and while that lack of price tag may be appealing, there are much better games to spend one's time (and even money) on. Go play Monster Hunter instead.

Also known as

Dauntless

Developer

Phoenix Games

Publisher

Epic Games

Genre

Action

Players

4

Online enabled

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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