Dauntless (Switch) Review – Sometimes The Big Screen is Better

Dauntless Switch Review

Sprinting forth into the great wild, with enormous sword in hand and sturdy helmet resting on your head, is there anything more thrilling than galavanting across floating islands to hunt and defeat gargantuan monsters hell-bent on your utter destruction? What about being able to save your people at the same time while on the go? Phoenix Labs’ free to play hunting game, Dauntless, has made its way onto the Nintendo Switch, making it one of the few games fully compatible with cross-play and cross-save across all platforms, but how does the game hold up on the hybrid console?

We have reviewed Dauntless before on other platforms and I am happy to say that the initial experience is going to be just as you remember it. In fact, I would say I had even less issues with lag and frame rate drops than on the more powerful PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Wandering the city, interacting with the NPCs to get quests and buy gear, it all functions just as well on the Switch as it does elsewhere. Connecting your account from other consoles is equally as painless so you never have to restart, you can continue to move forward through the game. Hunting and defeating monsters is just the same as you remember it, preserving the gameplay from the other consoles to deliver the same experience you know and love.


More Than Monsters are out of Control

I mostly played the game using the system in handheld mode to test out the Joy-Cons, as their shorter joysticks can often cause issues with accuracy and fine-tuned controls. Will it maintains its simple and easy control scheme, playing as the gunslinger becomes exceedingly difficult as the range of motion is severely reduced to the point of near frustration when attempting to target specific parts of the monster in question. This is of course greatly rectified with the use of a Pro-Controller, but it also lead me to understand one glaring flaw about Dauntless’ inclusion on the Switch: It simply is not meant for portable use. It isn’t a question of capability as the console can handle the game like a pro, but the inherent design of the Joy-Cons coupled with the extenuating drain on the battery make this very difficult to play off the dock. I found that one hunt drained roughly 10% of my battery, not including time spent in the hub world. That means for 12 minutes of gameplay I lose 1/10th of a full charge. The fact this is also an online-only game means you need to have a strong connection to the wifi as well which makes your window of play even smaller.

While these in and of themselves are not detrimental to the game for what it is, it does limit the ingenuity the Switch brings to gaming. Dauntless is best played when docked, but this then draws the question of why get it on Switch? True you could play a short hunt here or there with friends on the go, but it doesn’t feel like a strong enough draw to bring it to the hybrid console. For those who don’t have a Pro-Controller, the Joy-Cons may feel a bit clunky to use should you prefer playing at a range, but given the fact the other consoles will offer the same experience with their standard controller, I didn’t really see an overwhelmingly compelling reason to play solely on Switch.

dauntless feature

Phoenix Labs has built Dauntless to be the same game for all gamers. That has been their mission from the start and in that they have absolutely succeeded. The game plays great and it is a fun experience to work together and slay giant monsters, however the technological limitations of the Switch in its innovative handheld or tabletop mode feel like a hindrance to the experience, and those who may only have a Switch Lite may easily be put off from investing in this game as they won’t be able to play for long. Hunts are still incredibly fun to prepare for with armor and weapon types to gain the advantage over elemental monsters, the controls feel natural, and the game progress can be grindy but in a manageable way that makes me keep coming back for a few hours at a time. There is always another reward just around the corner for a little bit of effort and that is the best way to manage a free-to-play game. It really is an exciting experience as we outlined in our previous review, and if you do have a Pro-Controller than by all means please pick up this game and start playing immediately because it is a fantastic experience, however attempting to play this off the dock will leave you forced to play in short bursts at best due to its incredible drain on the battery.

*Dauntless on Switch was provided by the publisher*

The Good

  • Great Hunting Experience
  • Runs Incredibly Smooth
  • Crossplay/ Cross-save

The Bad

  • Joy-Con Joysticks Too Short
  • Huge Battery Drain