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PAX EAST: Dauntless demo


“We make games because we love them, and believe that people are the ends, not the means.” These are the words boldly stated on the website for the developer and publisher Pheonix Labs. The San Fransisco and Vancouver based studio certainly made a strong impression on me with the playable demo of Dauntless. Dauntless was on the first big game I played at PAX EAST and certainly held a strong presence among the masses present at the convention. I didn’t know too much about Dauntless until I played it, and I cam away eagerly awaiting this free-to-play monster hunting game.

They saw that the monster-hunting genre wasn’t getting the appeal that it deserved, save for games such as Monster Hunter and Tokiden. Seeing this, they got together to create an experience with a focus on monster-hunting, but to make it more accessible for players. The team believed in bringing various players together in an inclusive environment, where skill level or familiarity with video games was not important, and instead, the willingness to try and play the game was more than welcomed.  Dauntless was created and released into open beta, with many hundreds of thousands of players actively engaged. With the announcement that the game was being released soon, and making its way to every platform possible, including mobile phones, I had an opportunity to play the game myself. 

For my demo, we were tasked with eliminating a Behemoth, which are the names of the monsters in the game. The monster that we were tasked with hunting was a fiery salamander, using fire and glands filled with lava to scorch the land and any poor creature. I was tasked with working with up to three additional players. There were multiple classes to choose from and very colorfully-designed characters to choose from.  By some wild surprise, we all chose the same class, the Repeater class, an armored soldier uses a pair of blasters that can operate at long and close range to deliver damage to targets. Only one person chose a different class, the chain breakers, a fierce vixen warrior that dual wields axes. 

We quickly were dropped onto a battlefield, which was a floating island deep in the sky. We split up and surveyed the area, hunting the target. After a few moments of searching, I spotted movement and confirmed the salamander’s location. Launching a flare, we all intervened and engaged in active combat. Despite being a large, slow-moving creature, The Behemoth was not going to be an easy fight. The Behemoth would charge, set fields a flame, and launch molten rock from its undersides towards the player.

Using the Repeater class was fun and felt right. With the dual-wielding pistols, I was able to charge my pistols and attack with ferocity, while also providing a damage boost for my allies. The one player who chose the Chain Breaker class got up close and personal with the beast, swinging and slashing her way through the creature’s hide. As I played, I was enjoying myself, but I do wish I could have switched to a different class, just so then I could see what exactly how each class fares differently in the hunt. The use of The Repeater class was wise, as we were able to keep our distance from the beast’s attacks. however, we did go down and were struck with damaging attacks. Fortunately, I had a good team to help me back up.

At one point, the beast disappeared and we aggressively tried to search for him s the timer ticked down to mission timeout. As we searched, we soon spotted The Behemoth engaged with another player. Rushing to assist, we sent volleys of laser fire and cold, chiseled steel into the beast. At this point, the creature became more aggressive, lobbying more liquid fire our way. Around this time, I discovered that my character could send support buffs for healing, as well as additional damage. using this to our advantage, the team took turns healing each other and giving additional damage tot he creature. At the fifteen minute mark, we received the all-clear that we had finally slain the beast. The Behemoth rung its death knell and fell to the floor. Dauntless was fantastic! it was gripping, exciting, and tremendous gameplay experience. For the short time I played, I experienced solid teamwork, a vibrant world, and gripping combat.

Following my demo, I got a moment to chat with members of the Dauntless team. I was pleased to learn that as a free-to-play game, microtransactions would be relegated to cosmetic items and not to the core gameplay experience. The team for Dauntless believes in universal play and they are working hard to make Dauntless a truly cross-platform title. the dream is to have player progression and accessibility on every platform possible, meaning that every player on PC, console, and even mobile can play Dauntless. This begins with the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game, slated to release soon. The team will then release a mobile version and a Nintendo Switch version sometime down the line. It remains to be seen as PlayStation 4 has been adamant not to allow cross-platform play, except with PC audiences. However, I am confident their vision will come into fruition. Pheonix Labs clearly have a strong, bold goal in mind and based upon what I played, they are going to achieve that.

Dauntless is currently in open beta on PC and can be downloaded right now for free. Dauntless will be available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One soon, with a Nintendo Switch and mobile port arriving in late 2019 or early 2020.

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