was first revealed early last month with a , 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.
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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.