You’ve probably already heard lots of people comparing Dauntless to games like Monster Hunter and Dark Souls so before we look at the game in more detail, let’s clarify exactly what it is. The Developer, Phoenix Labs, has stated that Dauntless is a co-op action RPG however, it also mixes in some MMO elements. So, while you’ll be heading off to fight Behemoths, you’ll also be doing things like crafting, forging weapons and exploring the world – which is a cluster of islands called the Shattered Isles.
From what we’ve seen of the game so far, players will congregate in Ramsgate, which is like the social hub where you’ll meet others and prepare before missions. While there are no classes in the game, you’ll still have to create your owner character (or Slayer, as they’re referred to in this game) and you’ll be able to customise their armour, weapons and abilities. So, the weapons will have their own unique stats and abilities and you’ll be able to upgrade these by defeating Behemoths and collecting various materials from across the islands. This means that if you see another player with something cool, like a rad piece of armour or a sick weapon, then they’ve got it because they earnt it.
So, let’s talk about the Behemoths in the game. At the preview event, we played as a group of four and we had to take down three different Behemoths. These aren’t just bigger versions of standard mobs, fighting against these creatures feels like you are battling proper bosses. Each of them has a really unique design, a lot like the bosses you’d see in a game like Dark Souls and beating them was actually quite difficult. The combat system should be familiar to those who are used to playing action games. You won’t be button-mashing here as there is a decent amount of depth to the combat, and there are lots of ways that you can coordinate with the rest of your team too. Taking down a Behemoth is no easy task – it feels rewarding when you and your team manage to do it.
The reason why it’s not easy task is because the Behemoths do not have a health bar. At first, it may seem quite difficult to judge how much health it has left, but then wounds will begin to appear on the creature’s body to show that it’s hurt. At one point in our first fight, the Behemoth flew away and we had to track it down again. It then became enraged which took us into another phase in the fight.
The Quillshot, then proved to be very different from the first Behemoth. Rather than flying around, this creature would send out spikes from its back. We were advised to cut off its tail – we’re not sure if you gain any extra rewards for this, but this did make the Behemoth more sluggish and easier to attack.
The final Behemoth, an Alpha Pangar, was a lot tougher to fight against. Its movements are difficult to predict so it’s no surprise we struggled with this one. The Alpha Pangar was relentless, showing no signs of remorse as most of our team was down. That’s the beauty of Dauntless, you are forced to learn from your mistakes and try again.
We didn’t get a chance to play through any of the standard MMORPG bits that you’d expect. The generic ‘collect ten Goretusk Livers’ quests don’t need to be shown off because any developer can make something like that. The hard part of developing any MMORPG is getting the combat right, and that’s exactly what Phoenix Labs have done. Dauntless doesn’t feel like an MMO, it feels like an action game.
After previewing Dauntless, we were both really surprised by how much we enjoyed it. This game is free-to-play and usually that means that it’s either going to be pay-to-win or just awful, but Dauntless is doing a great job at breaking those connotations. After meeting a couple of the guys at Phoenix Labs and playing the game for about an hour, we’re eager to see what else they have in store.
The team working on Dauntless is made up of experienced devs that have worked for bigger companies like Riot Games, so we’re confident that they know exactly how to construct a strong free-to-play model. Before LoL arrived, you could count the number of good F2P games on one hand. The fact that Phoenix Labs are dead set on making their money through the sale of cosmetic items as opposed to a pay-to-win model is exactly what we want to hear.
We aren’t the type of people to be interested in MMOs, but this is the first one we’ve ever played that we’ve actually been excited about. So, we recommend that you check it out. The Founder’s Alpha launches on August 18th so pop that in your diary! This isn’t the last you’ll hear of this game, it has the potential to become the next big thing.