I was put into a 4-player demo of the game with three other people who had been waiting in line to try out the game. At the beginning, we were asked to pick from one of four character classes which were defined by their weapon: two-handed hammer, two-handed sword, two-handed axe, or dual swords. Our party consisted of one two-handed swordswoman, one axeman, and two dual swordmasters.
We were dropped into one of the islands with tranquil fields and forests. We picked a direction and set off, getting our bearings on the controls. After a minute or two of running around, we came across an Owlbear, which was clearly our target. Much like a Monster Hunter or Dark Souls game, we spend a good amount of time figuring out the monster’s kit. He had different attacks (e.g. a charge, a cleave, a ranged wind strike from his wings) and different modes (e.g. a raged/berserk mode where he glowed bright red for a period of time). He even flew away a couple of times and we had to go hunt him down again. Each of our characters were equipped with a limited amount of potions, but as the fight raged on, we began to wane on our supply. People began to get periodically downed, but were brought back to their feet again by a helpful teammate. Our characters also each had a special skill that charged up with our normal attacks and could be unleashed on the Owlbear. Through coordination and persistence, we eventually brought the monster down and the demo ended.
I came away from the demo feeling like Dauntless has a lot of potential. I really embrace the idea of what they’re going for (i.e. co-op monster-hunting on PC) and really like the art direction. Since it was a pre-alpha, some things were understandably rough. For example, the controls and animations could use a little smoothing out in order for them to feel a bit more natural and responsive, but I feel fairly sure that will be addressed during continued development. I’m looking forward to seeing how the game continues to grow and change over the year and I’m really hoping that it will be a gem that I want to sink countless hours into with my friends.
Dauntless is currently in pre-alpha with an open beta planned for Fall 2017. Not only will it be bringing co-op monster-hunting to the PC (a rare combination), it will be doing it with a Free-to-Play model. Jesse emphasized that it will not be a “pay-for-power” model and microtransactions will instead focus on cosmetic personalization and dye.