In August, I said I couldn't recommend Dauntless (opens in new tab), developer Phoenix Labs' free-to-play monster-hunting action RPG. I also said it might be worth another look after a few big updates. As previously reported, it finally got one in October, when it left loot boxes behind (opens in new tab). This Friday, December 8, it's getting another big update with the 'Sharpen Your Skills' patch, which seems to make huge improvements to multiple systems.
A new weapon, the war pike, headlines the update. Something of a rocket spear, the war pike can deal wide slashes or piercing thrusts which charge a meter used to fire explosive long-range shots. It also introduces piercing damage, one of three new damage types coming in Sharpen Your Skills.
Piercing damage can be used to weaken a behemoth's limbs, leaving them vulnerable to cutting damage from weapons like the sword and chain blades, which can sever body parts. Oppositely, the blunt damage dealt by hammers can be used to break a behemoth's shell and expose its more vulnerable flesh.
These damage types are especially relevant when fighting a Skarn, one of the two new behemoths included in the patch. The tortoise-like Skarn is covered in rocky armor, which you have to break before you can deal much damage. The other new monster, the Kharabak, is an agile insect equipped with long-range scythes.
New behemoths means new gear, but there are also some other additions coming to equipment, the most promising being the 'cell system.' The rub is: weapons and armor will have cell sockets which can be used to fine-tune their abilities. Charrog armor and Rezakiri weapons are also incoming, and lots of gear has been updated to remove placeholder assets.
Finally, crafting and progression are getting an overhaul. Region hunts, which allow players to group up and hunt multiple monsters in a given region, are the main addition and were designed to reduce the time it takes to find a group. By completing region hunts, you can "earn the opportunity to select [specific] behemoths" to chase specific components. Daily and weekly hunts with bonus rewards are also coming, with hunt modifiers slated for a later update.
Shortly after Sharpen Your Skills releases, the Frostfall winter event will begin, bringing seasonal items and unique challenges. New character creation options will release alongside the event, including beards.
At first blush, Sharpen Your Skills addresses many of the issues I and other players had with Dauntless, affirming that it's certainly one to watch.