I’ve been trawling through the “free to play” category on the Switch e-shop, just to try some things out.
I started out with Spellbreak, in which you play a wizard running through an arena where you need to find equipment that will make you more powerful. With that equipment you can attack other players (or bots) to ‘banish’ them and take their loot. Meanwhile, a storm steadily closes in, so all remaining players are forced towards the same spot. It’s the umpteenth iteration of a battle royale game — PUBG started the craze and Fortnite really popularized it with their free-to-play variant of the same concept.
The first game I played, I actually won! Turns out that your first game is always against bots, so that you can get a taste of the gameplay, and the feeling you’re actually good at this! Good move on the part of the makers, but as more and more real players got mixed in with the groups I played against, my ranking dropped considerably! I’m really bad at aiming projectile weapons, and with people jumping and flying around, it just doesn’t work for me. (I also never learned to play with a keyboard & mouse, and so pretty much every first person shooter is off-limits to me. And yes, I played this with a controller, but I never got good at aiming in the first place.)
The monetising was all aimed at cosmetic items and emotes and stuff like that — not essential to win — obviously, because who would play a game where the person who spends the most simply wins?behem
It’s just not my game, and so I uninstalled it after a few rounds. I don’t think I enjoy competitive multiplayer games like that.
This week, I installed Dauntless. In that game, you hunt ‘behemoths’, big monsters that have something to do with how the world shattered into separate ‘islands’ or something like that. I haven’t even bothered to read up on all of the background, which I’m sure is pretty deep but not really needed when playing.
Apparently it’s like Monster Hunter in that you, eh, hunt monsters. By attacking particular pieces of the behemoth (like its tail or legs) you can ‘harvest’ parts of the monsters, which you can then use to craft weapons or armour that is infused with the power of that monster. And of course, if you crafted an ice weapon, that’s pretty powerful against a fire monster, and vice versa. There are different types of weapons with their own specialities, and through quests and bounties you can earn things to improve your equipment, etc. There’s a lot to do, and there are various game modes that offer you different challenges — though in the end it all comes down to slaughtering an un-ending parade of monsters!
The game can be played alone, but the best experience is to work together with other players. I don’t have voice chat enabled and while there are emotes and phrases for in chat, nobody has time for those during a hunt: while you’re fiddling with your controls, the Embermane you’re fighting might be charging towards you! I do think it’ll be a lot of fun to play with friends, but since I don’t know anyone who does, I’m just a rando in a party of rando’s. Kind of liberating that you do not need to coordinate with someone else which hunt you’ll be going to do, too. I am not a stellar player though: my personal rating is almost always (far) below the rating of the team as a whole, though I do have my moments. Instead, I try to revive other players as often as I can, because that’s a better contribution towards the team goal than attacking myself. 😉
And this being a cooperative game, it’s not cheating if you spend real money to get better items in the game. So there are players who have sunk quite some cash into the game and have better tools and weapons — and that’s fine, because you’re not playing against them anyway. The monetising is at times rather “in your face”, but it’s absent during a hunt, so it doesn’t bother me much.
I’m not sure how long my obsession with it will last, but it’s certainly fun to fulfill missions or set your own goals and to hunt some monsters.