Dauntless is the PC Monster Hunter game we've all been waiting for

Dauntless was first revealed early last month with a flashy cinematic trailer, comparisons to Monster Hunter and Dark Souls, and not a whole lot else. A free-to-play co-op action game about hunting giant monsters—with developers formerly at BioWare, Riot Games, and Blizzard behind it—Dauntless quickly got me excited, but we only got to see a tiny amount of gameplay at the time. 

But leading up to PAX South this weekend, I got a chance to go hands-on with Dauntless and try to take down two of its Behemoths—an Owlbear type beast named Shrike, and an icy cross between a pangolin and a stegosaurus named Pangar. You can watch the video above to hear my full thoughts on the game, and the video below to see the full, unedited fights.

Monster Hunter in Ark: Survival Evolved

Want a taste of Monster Hunter on PC right now? Someone has made a mod that brings the game's iconic monsters into Ark: Survival Evolved... and then lets you play as them. You can learn more about the mod right here.

I was really impressed with Dauntless, even if it's still a bit early on. The combat is combo-based with dodges and a stamina meter, and learning your own moves as well as the attacks and animation tells of the Behemoths is crucial to success. I was initially skeptical of its free-to-play model, but developer Phoenix Labs assured me it wants to stay far away from paying for power—focusing more on the standard cosmetics and boosts we see in other free-to-play games—and after playing it, I really liked the idea of being able to drop in to hunt giant monsters with friends without them having to make a purchase to do so. 

The demo I played was just combat, so I don't know how the loot, crafting, or other RPG elements will manifest themselves. Those details are important to making Dauntless feel like more than just hacking at a big beast. Also absent from the demo were collectible plants and smaller creatures scattered around the levels to fight while hunting for the Behemoth, both things that would go a long way to making the game world feel less empty than it currently does. But what I played was definitely fun, and it's encouraging that Phoenix Labs plan to add features that will make me want to come back even after besting each Behemoth once.

Dauntless is due to hit open beta this year, I'm told Phoenix is shooting for roughly in the time frame of fall, and you can sign up here.