Dauntless is a co-op action RPG about monster hunting

I’ve never got into a Monster Hunter game, but I love the idea of not just fighting enormous beasties, but cooking restorative meals and hanging out around campfires beeforehand. That’s what I’m hoping for from Dauntless [official site], a four-player co-op action RPG coming in 2017. There’s an announcement trailer below.

Monsters, check. Hunting, check. Pals, check. There’s crafting, in that you can forge your own weapons and armour. But I don’t see cooking. This is a shame, because while I’m bound to be bad at dodge-rolling and timing combo attacks, I bet I could make a mean broth.

Dauntless is set in a world that has been shattered, its geography being separated into floating islands. The monsters you’re fighting are Behemoths, and you’re fighting them because they’re consuming what little of the planet remains. One of the things I like about Monster Hunter is that it has a little of that Shadow of the Colossus, forlorn-about-killing-something-beautiful to it, and I wonder if the justification for killing Dauntless’s bads means it won’t create the same feelings.

The announcement press release makes explicit mention of Monster Hunter as an inspiration but also Dark Souls, and World of Warcraft. The game is being developed by Phoenix Labs, a new studio founded by former BioWare and Riot Games developers – because both those developers employ so many people that basically you can say the same about any newly founded studio.

If you want more info, you can sign up on the game’s site for a newsletter and an opportunity to get into the inevitable closed beta.


  1. Eight Rooks says:

    Definitely interested, though 1) I hope to God it’s the good kind of free-to-play (as in Path of Exile, say) and 2) while it’s pretty, it also doesn’t really seem to have the design chops of Monster Hunter and the sense that even the ridiculous 500-foot mutant lizards that breathe lightning or whatever are actual living creatures with a place in a functioning ecosystem. The God Eater games are pretty good, for example, but their monsters are plainly just random generic post-apocalyptic squiggles. These seem fairly sound, but still not that different at first glance from countless Korean/Chinese/Japanese F2P ARPGs – pretty, but not terribly distinguished. Still. Fingers crossed.

    • LexW1 says:

      I like MH’s aesthetic, but I don’t think this is worse.

      It’s just significantly different. MH actually has some really bad, dumb and tacky designs in with the good stuff, whereas this looks like it will be a more moderate design and likely more reliably good-looking, but perhaps not have the peaks of awesome. We shall see.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        I disagree. I admit it’s just based on a trailer and a bunch of stuff on their website, but again, there’s a certain D-list bootleg Disney/Pixar aesthetic that the vast majority of these games use (multiplayer-oriented F2P ARPGs with heavy grind) and what I see here looks like it’s cribbing straight from that. Sure, Monster Hunter isn’t all quality, and after a few hundred beasties it’s pretty obvious they’re running into the old “…uh, maybe make this one green, instead of blue, and shift the spikes here and here?” a lot more often, but even the dregs still tend to look as if Capcom spent some time going “Okay, where does this one live? What sort of thing does it eat? How does it behave?” etc. You can see that in a matter of seconds, whereas this stuff – Dauntless – just looks like a bunch of designers went “So… this one could look like an owl, I guess? Owls are cool, right?” It’s like a second-tier Dreamworks animated feature, I guess – plainly made by talented, dedicated professionals, but with very little to set it apart from the crowd and a whole lot of “Me too”.

        But again, I like God Eater, I feel it’s a worthy alternative to MonHun and I think plenty of the design work from that franchise is lazy mediocrity personified, so if Dauntless plays okay I’ll happily give it a shot regardless of how generic it might be.

        • Niko says:

          I like how MonHun designers sometimes take monster ideas from… unusual place. Like Barroth was inspired by a bulldozer, or Kecha Wacha makes a jet plane sound when flying. And there’s not a lot of proper dragons because they’ve decided from the beginning to avoid that tired trope and started creating wyverns (four-limbed beasts) instead.

        • Phasma Felis says:

          It looked to me like a supersized version of the classic D&D owlbear. Silly, yeah, but there’s worse things.

          I do like the kind of quiet background consistency you’re talking about, but from a world-building perspective, supernatural world-eating horrors don’t necessarily need to fit into the established ecosystem.

  2. Faults says:

    Can somebody please tell me what arcane deity I can sacrifice my firstborn to in order to get game developers to try a different goddamn art style for once?
    Or are people still genuinely excited for the 8374618374682th game with generic MOBA art direction? Oh, and that trailer looked pants. I’ll just stick with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on my old PSP. Or I’ll try and remember my password for Phantasy Star Online 2…

    • elden says:

      Do you think it looks like a “MOBA” because that’s all you play? You do realize that games have had slightly cartoon-stylized graphics before MOBAs were even invented. The art style you’re criticizing would include any game who’s requirements were: it looks like the real world but stylized to be more simplistic and easy to read. The only other options are “real world + not as simplistic (Skyrim approach)” or “it doesn’t look like the real world (e.g. wonky colors, shapes, etc.).

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Or alternatively, if you’ve looked at more than a handful of F2P games, you’d maybe concede this is really, really similar to a whole lot of existing games (or at least this trailer and early art assets are)? Colour palette, monster design (like I said above, there’s nothing natural or lifelike about them), character design – none of it strikes me as bad per se but it could be any one of a dozen identikit projects from Gamevil, Gung Ho, Nexon, etc., etc. It’s seriously not that much of a kneejerk reaction to say “Oh, jeez, same old MOBA art design again”. Not on what they’re showing here. Doesn’t mean I won’t play it, but I could understand anyone else not wanting to.

      • Faults says:

        “The only other options are “real world + not as simplistic (Skyrim approach)” or “it doesn’t look like the real world (e.g. wonky colors, shapes, etc.).”

        I sure as heck hope you’re being deliberately facetious here, but just for the sake of discussion, I’ll indulge. The idea that there’s some sliding scale from realism to abstraction in terms of art direction is completely absurd. As Eight Rooks said, the colour palette, use of shape, lighting and countless other things are broadly derivative of a whole slew of other titles released in recent years; and although you’re correct in pointing out that MOBAs did not start the trend for this particular style (my best guess is probably Warcraft 3, but I’m by no means sure), it’s now got to absolute saturation point because so many MOBAs and MMOs are just straight-up cribbing Blizzard’s art style without doing a single thing to distinguish themselves.
        Off the top of my head, there’s now Overwatch, Paladins, Heroes Of The Storm, DOTA, Battleborn, Wildstar, Agents Of Mayhem, League Of Legends, Smite, Strife, Heroes Of Newerth, Vainglory, Super Monday Night Combat, Arena Of Fate, Breakaway, Atlas Reactor, countless others, and now Dauntless, all of whom you could straight-up swap characters and environments wholesale, and they would look immediately consistent with each-other.

        Seriously, fuck this art style.

        • Niko says:

          It would be unfair to not consider “realistic” style of AAA games its own style. I won’t be able to tell the difference between Call of Duty or Battlefield game, and how many games with a similar style are there?

          • Faults says:

            Where did I say that the late-00s penchant for ‘gritty realism’ in game graphics was any less boring or derivative? Indeed the vast majority of game critics latched onto developers overusing brown, desaturation and bloom as shorthand for realism and absolutely pilloried them for it.

            On the other hand, the trend here for many games to use low texture detail, squared silhouettes, overuse of primary and secondary colours, and general aping of Blizzard’s WoW-era direction as creative shorthand shorthand for such vague buzzwords as ‘charm’, ‘character’ and ‘heart’ is generally met with uncritical praise or complete ambivalence by most.

          • Niko says:

            Oh, sorry, I’ve misunderstood. Good point!

      • Baines says:

        The very first thing I thought of was “generic MOBA art” and I don’t play MOBAs.

        There is plenty of ground between hyper realistic and complete fantasy. The style used in Dauntless is only a specific point in an infinite sliding scale, but is a style that is increasingly seen across PC MOBAs and other online PC “battle arena” games.

        • pepperfez says:

          And there’s plenty of room within complete fantasy. No game looks like Golden Age comics or Masonic allegorical art or Art Deco advertising posters or Victorian children’s books or…

          And every time I think about that I get more annoyed by generic Korean-F2P or late-Blizzard graphics.

    • thelastpointer says:

      You can sacrifice them to me.

      I can’t guarantee anything, though.

    • orionite says:

      Agreed. It looks terribly generic in the trailer. Same style, same oversized weapons, familiar objectives. I’m underhyped.

      • klops says:

        Yeah. Although I liked how they ignited their weapons before the monster’s “hands behind your back, shake head, tilt upper body forward and growl” pose that monsters just need to do.

  3. Skid says:

    Well the pitch has my interest (minus the WoW mention), but until they show actual gameplay I’ll keep hoping that Scalebound is going to be half decent (please Platinum, don’t let Microsoft screw it up). Ether that or I’ll finally get around to getting the English UI patch for Monster Hunter Online and go play on the China servers.

  4. Alevice says:

    Is there a trope about those big monster face close ups where they stretch their head forwards, do this big growl and the screen shakes/blurs while they bob their head?

    • Phasma Felis says:

      There should be.

      I’ve actually been thinking about that lately. It’s s’posed to make you think the monster is extra scary, but really it means the monster is scared of _you_. Vocalizing at an intruder is something animals do when they’d really rather not fight and just want you to leave; it means they see you as a dangerous threat, and that’s good news for you. When an animal sees prey, the usual response is to sneak up and then blitz as quickly and silently as possible. That’s a lot scarier than shrieking and puffing up like a scared cat.

  5. Hanban says:

    Well, I bought the WiiU and 3DS solely to play Monster Hunter games (and thought it was entirely worth it), so I will for sure give this a try.

    • Niko says:

      I’m the same. Apart from pre-installed games, I only have MH4U and MHGen on my 3DS. Curious to see if they’ll manage to create good fight mechanics and learning curve in Dauntless.

      • Baines says:

        Most attempts to clone Monster Hunter have been, well, shallower clones of Monster Hunter. I’ve a feeling Dauntless will fall into that same slot, a shallow clone.

  6. gwop_the_derailer says:

    Man, Monster Hunter has some great monster designs.

  7. mercyRPG says: