You know, if someone came up to me, handed me a weapon and told me to head out into the wilderness with three of my friends to slaughter a gigantic monster that was causing a ruckus, I’d probably feel rather daunted by the task. Fortunately for me, I am not my avatar from my hands-on time with Dauntless at E3 who did not seem even the least bit daunted by such a quest.
While the core concept of Dauntless is pretty much how I described, there’s much more under the surface. The game feature a well-rounded crafting system when it launches. But let’s be real, it’s gonna be about all the various classes of weapons that they have. There’s even more variety in the weapons including the newly announced chain blades. And of course there will be plenty of armor styles to try on for size as well.
But our demo mostly focused on the main attraction: hunting down and chopping up behemoths. Our first battle was against the angriest beaver you’ve ever seen. A large, nasty looking fella with fire in his eyes and some naturally occurring spiked armor on his topside. This beaver was not messing around and came barreling down on us.
I had chosen to take on the beave with the new chain blades weapon class and it was perfect for my style of play. Quick, ninja-like combos then get a little distance. I would try out a hammer with a shotgun built into later on in my demo, and the difference in combat strategies was noticeable. This is not going to be a game that you can just hack and slash through no matter your armor or weapon choices. Overall combat is feeling like a cross between the Monster Hunter and Dark Souls series mixed with some traditional MMO features and functions.
But back to the Beaver we were giving a serious pounding to. Behemoths have various points of weakness and will even try and escape if they feel endangered. While there’s no health meters above them, you can tell how well you’re doing by the scars that start appearing on them and a look of fatigue. And in some cases you can even lop off some body parts. For instance, we were able to lop off the Beaver’s tail and deprive it of some it’s abilities like its tail smash attack.
Once we fell the beast it was time to collect our cores and head back into the village and prepare for the next battle. Cores contain bonus rewards, such as rare items to help craft better equipment. But we didn’t see anything more about the crafting mechanics beyond a few items here and there. We mostly just beat up monsters.
Since certain armor types and weapons fare better against different creatures I decided to give the giant hammer with a shotgun a try on our second opponent, a rather large ice lizard that could freeze us in our tracks and rain down frozen spears of doom. The hammer completely change the way I approached our new opponent. Whereas before I had been a quick footed frenzy of hacks, I was now a much a slower and more precise attacker. And if wanted a little range, I could blast out a couple shotgun shells and try to take out some the creatures icey armor.
We made what felt like quick work of the lizard creature, but our next behemoth was definitely the toughest of the bunch: The mighty owlbear! Before we took on the Owlbear I had been a bit cocky, but it took a ton of teamwork and communication to make sure our team was well buffed and had the health and strength to take this guy out. His charging move was brutal and knocked us each out and one point or another in the fight, but in the end we were triumphant.
Overall, my first hands-on with Dauntless was a more enjoyable experience than I had even anticipated going into the demo. To me it’s shaping up to be the sort of game that would serve players well who are looking to get into titles like Monster Hunter but would prefer a more traditional MMO setting. Also, I think the behemoths are more colorful and there’s more of a almost cartoonish design vibe to them which might make it a little more approachable for a younger audience as well. Overall though Dauntless is shaping up to be a good time for fans of co-op adventure. You’ll probably be hearing more about it here before it goes into closed Beta in August.