Dauntless is a generous new free-to-play riff on Monster Hunter which has already eaten the best part of a week for me. For a while, though, it looked like the most charismatic monster I would be hunting was the little silhouette guy who turns up whenever the game is loading. I fell in love a bit: the feet are big and plodding, the head is bowed in something that looks like defeat or too much self-knowledge. The tail almost drags on the ground. I didn’t want to hunt this monster. I wanted to make sure it had its favourite scarf to hand and a good book to read. It was certainly a bit more likable than the game’s early level beasts, which appeared to be seemingly interchangeable lizards and dragons.
Then I met Shrike. And everything was new again.
How can I describe Shrike? Imagine you are a terrible person and you fed an owl steroids for several years, and you made it watch violent 1980s action movies all night and you maybe made it sleep in a tank filled with plutonium so it got all weird and radioactive. If you’re picturing a giant muscular owl with a wingspan the length of a Routemaster and eyes that sometimes glow: that’s Shrike.