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Dauntless (PS4/XB1/Switch [soon]/PC/Mobile [soon]) - "You Slay Me"

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Dauntless is a free-to-play, Unreal Engine 4-powered action RPG from Phoenix Labs, a developer in Canada made up of several industry veterans from various other studios (including BioWare and Riot Games). Its gameplay is heavily inspired by Capcom's Monster Hunter games, so if you don't have enough money to get your hands on Monster Hunter World, this should ease the pain until you do.

The game takes place on the Shattered Isles, floating landmasses that are all that remain of the world after an event known as the Upheaval. A substance known as Aether permeates these islands, which the people living there use for their devices. Unfortunately, they're not the only ones interested in it-- giant beasts named Behemoths regularly snack on the stuff to gain power, and it's throwing the islands out of whack. What's more, they've been getting bolder lately, having been sighted closer and closer to places where humans have settled down... and they don't give a crap about trampling them underfoot just to get their fix. As you can imagine, the humans don't appreciate their continued existence being threatened, so a select few choose to pick up a weapon and do something about it. These brave souls (or stupid, depending on your viewpoint) are known as Slayers, and it's their job to regularly set out from the town of Ramsgate on airships and put a stop to the beasts before they wreak havoc. You start out as a rookie Slayer, thrust into action and slowly learning the ropes so you can build your legend. Best be careful, because Slayers are humanity's only hope against the Behemoths, and if they can't get the job done, the Behemoths will rampage unchecked, the Aether-less Isles will fall into the Sky Below, and it'll be time to wave goodbye to everyone you know and love while you still can. So, you know, no pressure.

Fortunately, you're not alone (though it's possible to go solo); you can team up with up to three other Slayers in co-op battles to trim the Behemoth horde with all manner of weaponry from swords to war pikes, and each of them have different combo moves and abilities. And boy, will you be needing all the help you can get-- Behemoths are willing to fight tooth and claw to the very end in order to defend themselves. There's a good variety of them, too, like the Gnasher, the biggest beaver you'll ever see with a huge tail to smack you around with; the Shrike, the unholy love-child of an owl and a bear; the Skarn, a scaled creature that uses the earth around it as body armor and a weapon; and many, many more. What's worse, some Behemoths have different variations, each bringing new attacks and effects to the table. And when (not if, when) you've pissed them off enough for them to turn red, watch out-- Enraged Behemoths are really formidable, with further changes to their attacks that you'll have to watch out for. Even worse, some Behemoths can enter an Aether Charged state that grants them even more changes to their patterns, and sometimes, they can enter both forms at the same time. You'll have to be very careful if you want any hope of taking these things down; should your team take too much punishment, the Danger Meter (that triangle in the upper-right corner of the screen) will rise to 100%, revives will go out the window (minus your self-revive charges), the Behemoth will deal more damage, and if there's not even a single Slayer left standing, you'll be forced to retreat.

There's no health bar for Behemoths, but open wounds and scars do begin to cover their body over the course of a battle, so you'll have to judge how close the beast is to keeling over yourself. This is the same for each different part of a Behemoth which, when damaged enough, will cause them to stagger and drop an item that can be picked up (in some cases, damaging a part will remove certain attacks from a Behemoth's arsenal, but cause them to use new ones). Some body parts drop different items. And when you've finally felled the thing, you can use these items to create new, better weapons and armor. Over time, you'll also accumulate Cells, which can be used to enhance your inventory further with special effects. This is the basic loop of the game-- set out, find a Behemoth, kill it, make weapons and armor from its body, enhance them, rinse, repeat. Certain Behemoths have elemental attacks, strengths, and weaknesses, all of which you'll have to adapt for if you want to live to see another day. Of course, there's more to life than slaying Behemoths-- there are also many gatherable herbs and metals scattered around the islands that can be used to make new items and potions to aid you in battle. As your legend grows, you gain Mastery Levels, netting you weapon mods and specials, Cells, titles, and more. And soon enough, you'll be taking on Dire, Heroic, and Heroic+-brand Behemoths, harder variants that'll really test your skills. A Slayer's work is never done. Not until every last Behemoth has been wiped clean from the face of the Isles.

The game released on May 21st for PS4, Xbox One, and PC via the Epic Games Store (yes, I know everyone hates that store, but I think this game is worth dealing with it), with Switch and mobile versions on the way. The current versions of the game support cross-play, and your progress is transferred across consoles if you link your Epic Games account with your console accounts. And if you're concerned about pay-to-win options, don't be-- Phoenix Labs refuses to let players pay for weapons and armor. You'll have to earn your legend, not buy it-- just the way it should be. The devs also regularly update the game with bug fixes and new features, some of which might outdate this post a bit. You can follow along not just on the social media accounts (Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | InstagramTwitch | Reddit | Discord), but on the Dauntless Roadmap, which is updated to show what Phoenix Labs is currently working on. And if you're having trouble slaying, you can consult the Dauntless Wiki.

Clear skies, Slayers.

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