Dauntless: A Look at the Closed Beta
In 2016, Phoenix Labs began development on their first game. With a team heavily inspired by the Monster Hunter franchise, Dauntless began to take shape as an action RPG in which players, or Slayers as their characters are known, set out across the Shattered Isles to hunt down the Behemoths that began to appear after a world-shattering event.
The closed beta for Dauntless began in Sept. 2017, moving out of its alpha phase and allowing players to join into the hunt through purchasing one of the founders packs, each tier coming with its own set of unique rewards for players. Here’s a look at what players can expect now and in the future with Dauntless.
The basic concept behind Dauntless is simple: find the Behemoth that is causing trouble and put it down. Slayers can currently choose between five different weapons. The axe, hammer, war pike, sword, and chain blades each have their own unique play style and situational usefulness. For example, the hammer is a slow, swinging weapon that is used to deliver massive single-hits that can knock off parts of a Behemoth, where as the chain blades and war pike are much more focused on constant damage-per-second (DPS) and can open-up wounds and weak spots on the enemies during battle. While a Slayer can always bring their preferred weapon into battle, different battles may be more fitted to one weapon or another, depending on the Behemoths armor or speed.
Gathering and crafting also plays a huge part in Dauntless. Currently in the game, consumable items—such as defensive drafts or healing items—cannot be bought and must be created by gathering various items found throughout the Shattered Isles. The rarity and amount of materials required to craft a consumable is based on how powerful they are. Each area of the game houses different types of rare material, whereas common ingredients can be found within all the locations.
Of course, the game would not be complete without the ability to craft awesome weapons and armor from parts of the Behemoths that Slayers take down. Each monster has its own unique set of armor based on the appearance of the creature, as well as skills, buffs or resistances that the Behemoth had. Each weapon type also has a variant based on the Behemoth it comes from, and it usually comes with the same elemental damage as the monster. Also, each piece of equipment can be upgraded several stages using the same parts that the weapon was built from.
Currently, Dauntless has fourteen different Behemoths that Slayers can take on. Each Behemoth has its own unique set of attacks and defenses and are divided up in separate tiers, one through five. As Slayers progress through the game they will gain experience and level up. While leveling doesn’t increase the Slayer’s base stats, it does dictate which tier of quests can be taken on. Each time a new tier is reached the new Behemoths become available to hunt, and the weapons and armor sets based on these new enemies become available in the shops.
Though different tier Behemoths range in elemental type and power, several of the monsters may have a different name as a re-skinned model of an earlier behemoth. For example, the Shrike is a tier one and two Behemoth that very closely resembles an Owlbear. This monster uses its wings to fly around the map, charging at its opponents and using its massive wings to conjure up small tornadoes to knock back its enemies. In tier three, hunters will confront the Skraev. This Behemoth has the same model as the Shrike, re-skinned with a blue hue and the addition of ice elemental powers that can freeze its enemies in place.
While I was skeptical at first about this encounter being too similar to its lesser cousin, I found that the added attacks and elemental powers changed up the fight just enough to make it feel fresh, and the added difficulty forced a change-up in strategy with a new variable to have to account for. While I really hope the future will be presented with more unique models for Behemoths, this is a solid way to easily add additional content to the game.
Dauntless does have a party and guild system attached to the game, though it is still very much a bare bones structure. You can add and remove fellow Slayers to a friends list, but it currently has no way to tell if the player is online or not. Even when trying to contact someone in the chat, the game does not have an automated response to let you know that someone is currently offline, making it difficult to form consistent parties. The game does have a guild system where players can personalize a guild title and invite players under one banner. Like the basic social functions, it is currently a bare bones system, but Phoenix Labs has stressed the importance of this feature to the game and has updated its community consistently with features and ideas they will be integrating at a later date.
The matchmaking system in the game has so far been very easy to work with. Once a Slayer has begun a quest from the main city, they will be taken to a loading screen with a five-minute timer. During this time, other Slayers will auto join while looking for the same quest. Players can only join into a quest if they have reached the required tier of the quest, easily allowing similarly ranked players to join into parties together. While not being anything special in a matchmaking system, due to the difficulty curve of the game and the need for a full party’s participation in higher-tier quests, it is necessary for the feature to be working correctly within the game.
Dauntless has come a long way and still has a long way to go. The game is still clearly in the beta stages but does not try to cover it up from the player. Placeholder screens and “coming soon” banners can be found throughout menus in the UI and store. Phoenix Labs has so far done a fantastic job of keeping its community in the loop of development and shown initiative in taking player feedback when needed. If on the fence about buying the founder’s pack to get into the closed beta, the open beta for the game begins on May 24, and anyone with an account can participate in the game. Dauntless has a ton of potential, and I cannot wait to see what will come in the future.