It’s always nice to see how a promising game like Dauntless progresses over time. I checked it out at last year’s show and was not blown away, but a year of growth and iteration has made it a much improved experience, as I discovered at this year’s PAX East, where I also had a chance to speak to the developer, Phoenix Labs.
Dauntless players enter the science-fantasy universe of the Shattered Isles and take up the mantle of the Slayers, brave warriors tasked with ensuring humanity’s survival against the Behemoths, ferocious beasts hungry to drain the very essence from the world. Slayers join up with other players and take down Behemoths together, bringing their spoils to the main city hub to craft new weapons and armor.
The game from Phoenix Labs is all about exploration and encounters with the Behemoths. As they progress the Slayers get new items, armor, and weapons to battle future larger Behemoths as they are revealed. The gameplay itself takes a third-person view, with your character being picked at the beginning and equipped with specific devastating weapon types. To switch up the gameplay there are also a number of equippable limited-use items players can take up.
I had a chance to play a round with some other players at PAX East and had a blast. I picked a character with a very cool looking Pike and was dropped into the map with the other players. The first task was to find the Behemoth (which we chose as the Shrike at the start of the round) and then engage it. One of the players found the creature and sent up a Flare to signal the team.
Once the creature is located the battle can start.In this four-player co-op experience each player uses their skills and abilities to take down the creature and support each other. Our team had to constantly work together to distract the Shrike, heal each other, and deal damage. It is easy to just try to keep landing strikes, but careful consideration of health and buffs is required to be successful. In the end we took down the Shrike in good time with all team members contributing.
The look and feel of Dauntless has come a long way since last year. It was faster and much more visually appealing. The characters have a new weight to their actions, which thus feel more visceral. The designs of the creatures, characters, and world are also very distinctive and add greatly to the experience.
It was great meeting with the Dauntless team, whose booth at PAX East was at capacity for the length of the four-day show. They shared some great news: after being in Closed Beta for some time, with over 100,000 players trying out the title, Dauntless will finally go into Open Beta May 24. An additional 700,000 have applied for the upcoming Open Beta.
Once more people have access to the game Phoenix Labs will be able to show off its vision. The Open Beta will be available as a free-to-play experience with an in-game store supported by a variety of cosmetic and vanity items. Phoenix Labs assured me that there are no paywalls or pay-to-win mechanics in the Dauntless experience, and will be no form of purchasable loot boxes.
Dauntless was a lot of fun to experience with others, and the Open Beta finally launching on May 24 will be a great boost to the in-game population. The title oozes with personality and over the last year has gone a long way towards making me excited to experience more of this game.