On the Vancouver morning we name up Phoenix Labs there are 87,000 individuals not taking part in Dauntless. Instead, they’re within the queue, ready to hitch the sport’s newly open beta.
“We thought on our best day there was no way we will beat 50,000 concurrent users, because that would be the second-largest game on Steam,” founder Jesse Houston tells us. “Our servers are on fire.”
“On fire in a good way,” advertising and marketing supervisor Nick Clifford interjects. “Most of us were up all night because we hilariously shattered all the forecasts we had set for ourselves. It’s a great problem to have.”
Over the next weekend, the workforce have managed to carry that queue right down to nothing – and drink “40 gallons” of espresso. But the query stays: why is Dauntless proving so in style?
If you are into Dauntless’ gear grind, we have got a variety of nice PC RPGs for you.
This is a sport about setting out into the forest to slay monsters: creatures with the our bodies of bears and the heads of owls, over-large canine with antlers, hovering bugs with snake tails, pigs coated in porcupine quills – all rendered superbly and at nice scale.
“The fantasy of you and three of your friends beating up on giant behemoths is pretty strong,” Houston says. “There’s obviously one other very good game in the market, but there are not tons like this.”
He is referring to Monster Hunter, the beloved and long-running Japanese collection with an equivalent premise. While a Monster Hunter: World PC port is looming on the horizon, the core video games have by no means been on PC – a vacuum that Phoenix Labs supposed to fill.
“Obviously Monster Hunter players are going to be our number one audience,” Clifford remembers considering. “They’re going to love this game.”
By the time Dauntless hit closed beta in September 2017, nevertheless, the studio found that they have been flawed. Their gamers weren’t into Dark Souls, for essentially the most half, or monster searching friends like Toukiden and God Eater. Instead they have been overwhelmingly flocking from Warframe, Path of Exile, and Terraria – video games that bore no relation or resemblance to Monster Hunter.
“We raised an eyebrow for a second,” Clifford says. “What we discovered was that for free-to-play on PC, the style was essential, however what was extra essential have been issues like co-op.
“Players who like free-to-play video games will play them no matter what sort of sport they’re, and level in case at this time, now we have extra individuals from the Warframe neighborhood taking part in our sport than from the Monster Hunter neighborhood.”
That sudden migration has had knock-on results for Dauntless’s design. Many of the precepts of the style that Phoenix Labs had assumed gamers would perceive have been being missed or misunderstood, making an already difficult sport more durable than supposed.
“We originally didn’t have a tutorial envisioned for our game,” Clifford says. “But what we found was that if you were brand new to the genre, you didn’t really know about things like dodges having invulnerability on them, or that crafting different weapons for different counters is super critical.”
Towards the tip of final 12 months, the studio doubled down on clarifying Dauntless’ quirks in the course of the first 5 hours of the sport. No longer is essential data buried on a wiki, within the boards, or someplace down the again of the patch notes.
Moreover, there are different and extra intriguing methods Dauntless is making the Monster Hunter method PC-friendly.
“We definitely wanted to bring a more PC gaming experience to the genre,” Houston says. “One where the rate of change and iteration can be very high, so we can keep the game very tightly balanced and have new content very rapidly. We also wanted to make it a more accessible experience – one where your role in the world matters.”
Houston’s favorite level of reference is the opening of the Gates of Ahn’qiraj in World of Warcraft over a decade in the past. A server-wide world occasion with a number of phases, it culminated in a ten-hour lengthy battle on the Scarab Wall.
“Players had a real impact in the world,” Houston reminisces. “And I want to go even further than that, where the decisions that players make have a very permanent change on how the game unfolds. I want to bring a lot more meaning and story to the experience.”
“Hopefully Dauntless is the story of your player,” Clifford provides. “And while you are one of many players, the collective you as a community will help, with feedback, drive the development of the game.”
At Boston’s PAX East in April, Phoenix Labs met three strangers garbed in feathers and fur, all wielding blunt weapons: their first neighborhood cosplayers. “We were not expecting them at all,” Clifford says. “It was super crazy and humbling at the same time.”
Shortly afterwards, the studio’s stage design workforce commemorated the occasion completely with three NPCs in Ramsgate, Dauntless’s social hub.
“Their minds were completely blown,” Clifford says. “That kind of permanence and agency in the game world is something that we want to continue for months and years to come.”