Dauntless on Nintendo Switch Feels on Par with Other Console Versions, Despite Visual Downgrades
The Behemoth-slaying game Dauntless is just as you'd want it to be on Nintendo Switch, albeit with lower-quality textures and some hitches.
I often get into popular multiplayer games out of peer pressure; once upon a time, that fad game amongst my friend group was Overwatch. We’d later transition to Destiny 2, then Fortnite, then Apex Legends. Now, along with millions of others, we’re in our Dauntless phase. The Monster Hunter-like from Phoenix Labs and supported by Epic Games was the one I had the least knowledge of going in, but Dauntless quickly grabbed me with its art style and social gameplay.
This excitement waned slightly, however, sometime after I created my character and went through the tutorial. As I entered the hub world of Ramsgate on the PlayStation 4 version, I was greeted with a fairly rough frame rate. Maybe you can chalk it up to it being launch week at the time but despite my fun with the game, Dauntless on console never seemed like a technical…behemoth, let’s say.
Imagine my surprise learning that a Nintendo Switch version of Dauntless was in development, with more concrete details coming during E3 2019. I got to play this port in the Nintendo section on the E3 2019 show floor, smack-dab between the Treehouse stream set and the Luigi’s Mansion 3 hotel. The folks from Phoenix Labs on the floor were fairly confident talking about the port, which left me optimistic. For better or worse, Dauntless on the Switch is an experience roughly equal to that on the other consoles.
For those Switch owners who haven’t played Dauntless on other platforms yet, the game can be described as a social online monster hunting game. As mentioned, you’ll be based in a hub world called Ramsgate, where you’ll take quests, craft armor and weapons, and shop for resources. You’ll then go on hunts in teams of four Slayers, taking down the monsters called “Behemoths.”
Probably the neatest feature that Dauntless had on its public launch was the inclusion of not just cross-play but cross-progression. With Epic Games having a stake in the project, it utilizes Epic Accounts for a very similar cross-platform experience as Fortnite. It’s all part of the “One Dauntless” initiative from the developers, so as someone who’s enjoyed my time with the game thus far, the prospect of playing this game with my friends as I’m in the comfort of my own bed with my Switch in handheld mode was very appealing.
I didn’t get to try Dauntless in handheld mode at E3, with the demo stations using TVs. We were able to play multiplayer matches with the adjacent players at the demo station, choosing between two different Behemoths to fight against: the Charrogg for “Initiate Slayers” and the Skarn for “Veteran Players.” I opted to fight the Skarn, despite my not-so-fond memories stumbling against it in my first play sessions of the game.
The first and not-so-surprising observation I had was that the game looked less detailed on the Switch. Character models and textures were blurrier and environmental features (i.e. ground textures and background foliage) were a bit more basic. Still, the game ran at basically the same 30 frames-per-second that I experienced from the PS4 version. It took a small hit, but it still very much looked like the same Dauntless that I had already been playing.
In terms of gameplay, there is absolutely nothing new to add on to assuming you’ve already played Dauntless. I rocked a pair of Chain Blades, my preferred type of weapon at the time of playing the game. For the uninitiated, each type of weapon plays differently from one another, with their own light and heavy attacks and their own unique special attacks. You can have various weapons with all different types of elemental properties, adding an element of strategy in choosing your weapons when facing different kinds of Behemoths.
This gameplay session went over rather smoothly. There was nothing to indicate that playing Dauntless on the Switch would be an inferior experience to that of the PS4 or Xbox One versions. My only concern was that the UI would not look as good in handheld. At least with Fortnite, all of the HUD elements adapted well to the Switch or were even made larger. Talking to producer Chris Fox at E3, he seemed fairly certain that my concerns would be quelled, saying that the UI looked rather fine in handheld mode.
I’ll have to take Fox’s word for it for the time being, but I believed him when he discussed how the Switch version would have full parity with the other versions, at least in terms of content. You don’t even have to look any further than the fact that Phoenix Labs even has something called the “One Dauntless” initiative. With the game already proven to have seamless cross-progression and cross-play, I can imagine myself playing the game on PS4 for long sessions and on Switch at the end of the day in a more relaxed position and environment.
This version will fully keep up with the content update of the other versions, with Fox mentioning a July expansion. I also asked Fox if the game is well-suited towards the Switch audiences who play primarily in handheld, and mainly in short bursts. For that, the new Challenge Trials coming to the game would be a perfect such fit. Additionally, Iron Galaxy Studios is providing support for the Switch port of Dauntless. Bringing the game to the hybrid platform has provided some technical lessons that Fox says will help Pheonix Labs as they continue to work on the game across all other platforms.
It’s fun to watch Dauntless continue to evolve, and whether they’re designed with the Switch in mind or not, Fox promises that the development teams are working to build a “larger suite of experiences” for the game. Unfortunately, with still plenty of work to be done, there isn’t a solid release date for Dauntless on Nintendo Switch. Owners of the platform can definitely look forward to it this year, with Fox saying that it will be released PS4closer to the end of 2019.
Be sure to revisit our Dauntless review from Jordan Boyd, DualShockers’ resident Dauntless fan.