When Dauntless was first shown off early this year, the pitch was simple: Developer Phoenix Labs wanted to take what players love about “hunting action” titles such as Monster Hunter, polish the rough edges and bring it to a much bigger audience on Windows PC. As smart and straightforward as that plan seemed, it was threatened this week when Capcom unleashed a surprise announcement of Monster Hunter: World, a new Monster Hunter title for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and, yes, PC.
For its part, Phoenix Labs appears unfazed by the news. Speaking to Polygon during E3 2017, Dauntless executive producer Jesse Houston said he is “super excited” about Monster Hunter: World and not concerned with the competition.
“The more AAA products that are coming into this genre, the wider it’s going to get,” Houston said. “Historically, the hunting action community has been fairly niche in the West. I’m personally super excited that we’re going to get more than one title in the space on non-mobile platforms.”
While the Monster Hunter series began its life on the PlayStation 2 and has had one entry each on the Wii and Wii U, the series has by and large been relegated to handheld consoles such as the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo 3DS. Monster Hunter: World will be the first non-handheld multiplatform game in the series, and the first console game in the series since 2012’s Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.
Beyond welcoming more games in the genre, Houston also believes Dauntless and Monster Hunter: World are notably different in other respects.
“They’re still predominantly single-player,” Houston explained. “We’re kind of taking more of the Destiny style. We’re focused on the cooperative experience and always online.”
In Dauntless, players are technically able to take on hunts solo. However, the fights are tuned differently for that experience, and some are extremely difficult. Houston says they welcome players to attempt single-player challenges but are “unabashedly” focused on co-op gameplay.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Labs marketing manager Nick Clifford believes there may be less crossover between Dauntless’ playerbase and Monster Hunter’s than people might think.
“We asked everyone from the alpha to list some of their favorite games that they’re currently playing,” Clifford said. “Monster Hunter does come up a lot, but surprisingly it’s mostly games like Warframe and Path of Exile — other player-versus-environment co-op games.”
Like those two examples, and unlike any of the mainline Monster Hunter games, Dauntless will be free-to-play. Players will be able to pay for special emotes, fireworks, armor dye colors and other incidental, cosmetic elements, while actual gameplay and progression elements like new weapons and armor will be available only through gameplay itself.
Dauntless’ founder’s alpha will launch on Aug. 18, opening access to the game up to those who have paid $99.99 for a founder’s pack. From there, the game will move into a wider alpha and open beta later this year, eventually being fully free to play for everyone.