If you watched last month’s Game Awards 2016 show, you may have seen the reveal trailer for a mysterious fantasy co-op game named Dauntless. This week, Polygon was able to check out Dauntless for ourselves, and we walked away impressed and eager to see more.
Openly inspired by Capcom’s popular action-RPG, grinding-heavy Monster Hunter series, Dauntless is a third-person, co-op focused experience. You meet up with friends in a hub city, pick what monster — they’re called Behemoths in this game — you want to take on and then go on hunts.
These monsters are a much bigger challenge than your average video game enemy, or even compared to bosses in other games. A single Behemoth fight in Dauntless can take 20-plus minutes and send you chasing across a huge area to keep up with the deadly creature. That’s why you’ll want to recruit friends to help, and also why you’ll want to craft the best armor and weapons possible.
Where do you get the material for crafting? From killing Behemoths of course. As with any Monster Hunter game, Dauntless’ loop focuses on taking down giant enemies so you can harvest their parts and use them to craft better weapons and armor that will allow you to take on even more powerful enemies and so on. It’s a simple but delicious formula that has led players to sink hundreds of hours into each release in Capcom’s flagship series; new developer Phoenix Labs hopes to capture that same devotion.
But who is Phoenix Labs? This new indie team of about 40 developers includes talent that has worked at BioWare, Riot Games, Blizzard and Capcom itself. The studio appears to be taking lessons from each of these places. For example, Dauntless’ simple, clean art style feels like it could have come straight out of Blizzard.
The game’s planned business model, meanwhile, borrows from Riot Games’ extremely popular League of Legends. Like that title, Dauntless will be free-to-play, and representatives from Phoenix Labs told Polygon that they view it as a platform they could continue building on for years to come, rather than rushing to do a sequel.
Whatever the future, step one is getting Dauntless out to the public. Phoenix Labs says the game is nearing the state where its ready for a closed alpha, which some fans will receive invites to. That will be followed by a beta and, finally, a “full” release on Windows PCs later this year.
You can check out two boss fights from Dauntless in the videos at the top of this story and below. The one up top shows off a fight against a very angry owl known as the Shrike, while the below video showcases a failed attempt at fighting an icy lizard creature called a Pangar. Both of these boss battles will be available for the public to play at the PAX South event in San Antonio, TX this weekend.