Dauntless just launched for the Nintendo Switch, and with it comes brand new content for all platforms tied to Escalation, a new type of sequential hunt featuring arena-like fights against two Behemoths at once and powerful modified Behemoths. Malkarion is at the top of the Escalation food-chain, but actually figuring how to get to the fight with this new Shock Behemoth isn’t so straightforward or easy.
We spoke with Dauntless design director Hunter Howe on exactly how to unlock Escalation and Malkarion, complete with helpful tips. Also, don’t miss this new gameplay video of Malkarion just below!
What is Escalation in Dauntless?
Escalation is a new type of hunt in Dauntless accessible the same way as a Pursuit or a Patrol, but instead of a single fight it throws Slayers into a series of four sequential arena-type battles against varying Behemoths (five if you unlock Malkarion). These procedurally generated challenges can include modified Behemoths (like a Stormclaw but with the Frost element) or even two Behemoths at once.
In between rounds, nothing – not consumables nor health – are automatically replenished. However, each round, one of three amps (pulled from an expanding “deck”) can be applied. These amps are helpful buffs that remain for the rest of the Escalation run, and can range from pure boons like a Flask refill to reckless modifiers that make you deal and take more damage.
The more you do Escalation, the more talent points you’ll earn to invest in this season’s talent tree, which can power up your amps, allowing for more reliable help as you progress. This is also how you’ll unlock rewards, like Malkarion’s cosmetic Ultra Armour. For more on Escalation, check out the official Dauntless Escalation page.
Howe specifically worked on developing Escalation and said the Dauntless team was inspired by rougelikes.
“Things like Slay the Spire or a Risk of Rain, all of them are great experiences that are based on that same sort of premise,” Howe Explained. “So we want to continue to explore that space and build onto it ‘cause we really like where it’s going.”
How to Unlock Escalation in Dauntless
Phoenix Labs really wanted a lot of players to be able to come in and play Escalation as soon as possible, including fresh-faced Nintendo Switch players, so Escalation isn’t hidden very deep within Dauntless.
Once you get access to Dire Patrols and have a gear score around 350 – Howe says this will probably take a new Slayer five to ten hours if they try to blitz through the campaign – you’ll unlock the easy mode for Escalation, which lets you climb Escalation Levels 1-13. This is basically when the “training wheels” of Dauntless are removed, Howe said.
Look out for a quest called “Things Have Escalated” to gain access to the 1-13 Escalation queue, and then “King of the Hill” to unlock for more difficult 10-50 Escalation queue – where Malkarion will show up.
How to Unlock Malkarion in Dauntless
Malkarion, the new shock Behemoth, is basically the end goal of the inaugural season of Escalation. Defeating this Behemoth will allow you to forge the best legendary shock weapons in Dauntless. These weapons not only have a special, once-per-kill legendary ability, but Malkarion’s legendary weapons can also use weapon bonds to equip the perks of other shock weapons. Plus, their two Cell Slots aren’t beholden to any one type. Basically, it’s meant to be an end-all-be-all Shock weapon, so fighting Malkarion enough before it’s cycled out for a new season should be high up on any Slayer’s goal list. Here’s a step-by-step method to unlock Malkarion, as provided by Howe himself.
These steps are for a new player, so if you’re a seasoned Behemoth Slayer, skip to Step 4.
Unlock Escalation by progressing to Dire Behemoths in Dauntless’ campaign.
Progress to Escalation level five, and get your weapon and armor level each to 450 or above – this unlocks Escalation’s “Hard” difficulty.
Because 450 is the minimum gear requirement, consider upgrading your gear further before continuing in Escalation’s Hard queue for a less difficult time.
Grind the hard difficulty of Escalation. Doing Escalation repeatedly will reward more Talent Points to unlock more amp upgrades and other perks on this season’s talent tree, making you disproportionately more powerful for this season of Escalation. This will make it easier to get a high score reliably!
Do well enough to achieve Escalation Level 40 – then, Malkarion will appear as a boss at the end of each four-round Escalation, as long as that level is maintained. This is why unlocking powerful amps on this season’s talent tree is so important – getting to Escalation Level 40 each time is no easy feat. Good luck!
Dauntless Escalation Tips
With its erratic movement patterns, powerful attacks, and new mounting mechanic to figure-out while facing it, Malkarion definitely isn’t an easy-peasy fight. The climb to get to it isn’t a walk in the park, either, so Howe offered some tips for Escalation to help Slayers out.
“Defensive things [in Escalation] are more relevant, or more relevant certainly than players are used to in Dauntless.”
Taking damage and dying a bunch will be the biggest factor that hurts Escalation scores and keeps you from getting to Malkarion.
Instead of building a full DPS (Damage per Second) set, consider sprinkling in some Boreus gear to increase your survivability, health regen, etc.
Iceborne is a great survivability skill.
Don’t feel bad about picking defensive Amps.
Amps that refresh your Tonics and also give your Tonics a Bulwark effect are very effective.
Use resources, like Tonics, carefully.
Above all, you have to make it to the end without dying for the best score.
Check out the video review for Dauntless above!
As for Malkarion, take advantage of the new mounting mechanics, make sure your gear is up-to-par, and good luck. For more on Dauntless and the most recent Nintendo Direct, read the full round-up of everything announced during Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase. Also, don’t miss our Dauntless review.
Casey DeFreitas is an Editor at IGN who loves monster hunting, slaying, and catching. Catch her on Twitter @ShinyCaseyD.