With Dauntless Reforged (1.5.0) just around the corner, we want to share an in-depth look at the Slayer’s Path: a new progression system launching with our update.
A New Way Forward
Most — if not all — of our work on Dauntless starts with a question we’re trying to answer.
In this case: “Where is progression falling short?”
We knew that Mastery and quests were getting people through the game, but in a very linear, pre-determined way. Slayers had to go through a particular set of steps to move forward, and unless you were looking outside the game for answers, there were few ways to anticipate what lay ahead.
Progression, then, had two big problems: visibility and agency.
When we talk about “visibility,” we’re talking about your ability to see the big picture. This is the kind of high-level view that lets you look out at something like Escalation and say, “I want to unlock that,” and know exactly what you need to get there.
With the Slayer’s Path, it’s all right there.
While Mastery had the “I want to unlock this” piece covered, it lacked both a big picture view and a clear visual connection between its challenges and rewards. “With the Slayer’s Path,” says Greg Hennessey, the system’s senior designer, “it’s all right there. I can look at the node for Escalation or a sword mod and see exactly what it costs to unlock it.”
Quests were another barrier to visibility and planning. Because progression was completely gated by quest progress, you couldn’t see very far ahead of you. This made Dauntless a very linear experience — complete quest A to get quest B.
And there was another big issue with this single progression path.
“If you were stuck on a quest, you were just blocked,” says Greg. It was too easy to get hung up on a quest requirement or stuck on a hunt, especially if it was one you didn’t enjoy to begin with.
What if you just wanted to move on? What if you wanted to set a quest aside and come back to it later? What if you wanted to focus on something else entirely?
With the Slayer’s Path, those decisions are finally yours to make.
The Slayer’s Path
The Slayer’s Path is an all-new branching progression system that lets you dictate your path through the Shattered Isles.
It is made up of two types of paths: the main path, which runs up the centre, and the side paths.
The line that runs vertically through the Slayer’s Path is what we call the main path. It is made up of 12 milestones that unlock as you earn weapon skill experience in Dauntless.
Think of it as your journey from rookie to veteran.
Each time you unlock a milestone on the main path, you also gain access to any connected side paths. These longer, branching paths are made up of nodes that can do all kinds of things — from unlocking new islands and hunt types to granting you weapon mods and useful passive bonuses.
Unlike milestones, side path nodes require more than just experience to unlock. Most will demand an investment of rams and merits, while others might ask you to complete a specific task or quest. Because you’ll only have a small amount of currency early on, you may want to carefully consider your plans. Should you unlock something that’s useful now? Or should you save up for a future node?
How and when you choose to invest in these paths is up to you.
What are merits?
Merits are a new currency used to unlock nodes on the Slayer’s Path. You can earn them by completing bounties, turning in certain quests, opening patrol chests, or conquering island events in the Hunting Grounds. Many Mastery levels now reward merits as well.
There are two types of merits in Dauntless: exploration and combat merits.
Is it possible to unlock everything on the Slayer’s Path?
Yes. With enough rams, merits, and effort, you can unlock every milestone and node on the Slayer’s Path. Just don’t expect it to happen in a weekend.
With the release of the Slayer’s Path, we’re also making big changes to the way you power up your weapons and gear.
First off: Armour and weapons will no longer progress from level 1 to 15.
In Dauntless Reforged, weapons are instead divided into tiers that determine their base power score. For instance: A Tier 1 weapon might have a base power score of 20, while a Tier 3 weapon would be closer to 60.
That means that when you craft a new weapon, it will be useful right away. Getting a schematic for a fresh sword or war pike no longer means starting over at level 1 and grinding your way up. Instead, you’ll craft a piece of gear with an appropriate power score that fits your current situation.
A weapon’s tier isn’t the only factor when it comes to power score.
In Dauntless Reforged, you’ll also gain a significant portion of power from your weapon skill level. Weapon skill level is a measure of your competence with a particular class of weapon (e.g. swords, axes). The more time you spend with a weapon, the more skilled you’ll become — and the more you’ll benefit from wielding it in the future.
How do I get weapon skill experience?
There are two main ways to earn weapon skill experience in Dauntless: Slaying Behemoths and completing bounties.
An important note: The type of weapon skill experience you earn depends on which weapon you have equipped. If you have a sword equipped when you turn in a bounty, you’ll earn sword skill experience. If you slay a Behemoth with an axe, you’ll earn axe skill experience.
What bonuses do I get from weapon skill?
Each time you gain a weapon skill level, you’ll earn a power and resistance bonus. This bonus only applies when using weapons from that weapon class, so pay attention when you’re switching loadouts — you don’t want to go up against a Heroic Behemoth with your axe skill at level 2.
How high do weapon skill levels go?
Weapon skill levels go from level 1 to level 20. … But there’s always the option to reforge.
Once you’ve reached level 20 in a weapon skill — and unlocked the Reforge node on the Slayer’s Path — you’ll be able to reforge your weapon skill.
Reforging a weapon skill compresses your aethersparks into a powerful aetherheart: an extremely rare material used to power surge weapons and armour.
We know that’s a lot of new terms all at once, so let’s take a moment to break it down.
What are aethersparks?
Aethersparks are a type of ambient aether that gathers on weapons and Slayer equipment. You can earn them from:
- Daily coin flip rewards
- Island events
- Patrol chests
- Mastery rewards
- Hunt Pass rewards
You can also purchase aethersparks from the in-game store.
What happens when I reforge a weapons skill?
Reforging causes four things to happen:
- You spend 100 aethersparks and receive an aetherheart.
- You make progress on the Empowerment branch of the Slayer’s Path. This is a late-game side path that grants passive bonuses to all weapons.
- You reset your weapon skill to level one. (This also resets your weapon skill power and resistance bonuses.)
- You gain a reforge rank in that weapon skill.
Where do I go to reforge a weapon?
Visit the Sparkforge in Ramsgate to reforge your weapon skill. You can find it near Kat and the Broken Blade pub.
What is a reforge rank?
Your reforge rank is a measure of how many times you’ve reforged a particular weapon skill. For instance, if you reforge your sword skill 15 times, you’d have a sword reforge rank of 15.
Reforge ranks are represented by a special frame that grows as you gain ranks. And yes: Other Slayers can see it.
Reforge ranks are nice, but there’s another, even bigger reason to take the plunge and reforge your weapon skill: power surging.
With the aetherheart you get from reforging, you can power surge a weapon or piece of armour to push it far beyond its normal power limits — permanently.
For example: An Ember Pike has a base power score of 20 and a +1 Evasive Fury perk. That’s good for going up against a Lesser Boreus, but not so useful if you’re trying to slice through a Frostback Pangar. However, if you use an aetherheart to power surge that weapon …
The Ember Pike goes from a base power score of 20 to an end-game appropriate 120. It also gets bonuses to its built-in perk and unique effect: Evasive Fury goes from +1 to +3 and wound damage goes from +100 to +300.
These same power, perk, and unique effect benefits apply to any weapon or armour piece you power surge.
Are all power surged weapons equal?
If you’re looking at it from a pure power score perspective: Yes. But power score isn’t the only measure of a weapon’s strength. You should also consider available cell slots, perks, unique effects, and element when you’re selecting a weapon for each hunt.
Can I power surge a legendary weapon?
Yes. Even legendary weapons will benefit from power surging.
Can I power surge armour?
Yes. Any piece of armour you craft can be power surged.
How many times can I power surge a weapon or armour piece?
How do I power surge a weapon or armour piece?
You can power surge gear from the crafting screen. Talk to the smith that manages the type of item you want to power surge. As long as you have the required materials, they’ll be happy to help you out.
Can I undo a power surge?
No. Once you’ve power surged an item, it’s power surged for good. Spend your aetherhearts wisely!
You’ve seen the Slayer’s Path. You understand reforging.
But what about the progress you’ve already made?
The short version is that your progress will carry over in the form of aetherhearts, node unlocks, and merit rewards.
The more in-depth version starts with Mastery.
First: All meaningful (i.e. gameplay-impacting) Mastery upgrades have been moved to the Slayer’s Path.
That means that any bonus or power you earned through Mastery will still be present and unlocked — it will just be on the Slayer’s Path instead of in Mastery.
You’ll also maintain any titles or cosmetic rewards earned through the Mastery system.
Is Mastery going away?
No. But it is changing.
While you’ll still be able to access Mastery through the Main Menu and work toward Mastery goals, the rewards you can earn have changed. Because we’ve moved gameplay rewards (e.g. passive bonuses, weapon specials) to the Slayer’s Path, Mastery rewards now primarily consist of currency (merits) and cores.
Will I get rewards for Mastery levels I’ve already completed?
If a Mastery reward you earned in the past has been replaced with merits or another currency, you will receive that currency when Dauntless Reforged launches.
Can I still earn Mastery titles?
Mastery titles are still awarded through the Mastery system. If you haven’t earned them, you can still do so. If you have, they’ll still be there.
Now for the trickier one: gear migration.
Weapons and armour at +15
For each weapon or piece of armour you have at +15 (maximum level), you’ll receive one aetherheart. This will let you immediately power surge those items by visiting a smith.
Having a +15 weapon will also put you at skill level 20 for that weapon class.
Weapons and armour below +15
For weapons and armour below +15, we’re using a sliding scale of “aetherheart.” Obviously we can’t give you half an aetherheart (partial hearts don’t exist), and handing out aethersparks wouldn’t work in the same way, so instead, we’ll be looking at all of your gear levels and giving you a number of aetherhearts equivalent to that effort.
Rest assured that we’re working hard to make sure that what you receive in Dauntless Reforged feels fair (and we’ll be erring on the side of generous).
Dates and Details
The Slayer’s Path launches on December 3, 2020 as part of the Dauntless Reforged update. Keep an eye on our Twitter for downtime info and other details as we draw closer to launch day.
We also have a Hunting Grounds blog coming up early next week! Check back then to learn all about our newest hunt type, gliders, island events, and more.