“We’re big fans of Monster Hunter.”

This was one of the first things Phoenix Labs Senior Designer Chris Fox said told us on the PAX South show floor. Given that we’d just played a couple rounds of Dauntless, the PC co-op monster-hunting action game, we’d kind of figured that out for ourselves. Dauntless was revealed with a flashy trailer at the Game Awards in late 2016, and PAX South 2017 was the first time the developers showed off their in-progress creation.

On paper, Dauntless will sound familiar to many gamers. Gather some friends, go on a hunt, find your targeted creature, and attack it until it’s dead. In addition to the obvious Monster Hunter inspiration, Phoenix Labs also drew inspiration from Dark Souls and World of Warcraft. Your attack style varies depending on your weapon; there were three available in the PAX demo. “The sword is by far the fastest of the three,” Fox told us, but it’s not as powerful as the hefty axe --- though that requires patience and charging to wield its full power. The hammer offers a middle ground, making it “good for getting in and out.” There will be twice as many weapons when Dauntless goes to open beta this fall, and “sky’s the limit after that.” Personally, we preferred the fast-moving, combo-dealing sword to the slower hammer, but your mileage may vary.

Phoenix Labs

Four playable characters were created for the sake of speed at PAX, but Fox told me “everything about your character is totally customizable.” This includes gender, something we’re always glad to hear. The pre-made characters weren’t particularly memorable and were chosen for their weapons more than anything else, but creating slayers from scratch is much more appealing. “You’re not locked into any one specific role,” Fox elaborated. Getting tired of your wardrobe? You can change it up after each battle if you so desire.

At PAX, though, the developer-created characters were able to get the job done. We played with three other PAX attendees, working together as a team to find our mark and bring it down. The creatures look almost like dinosaurs, and they’re properly huge and intimidating. They also tend to move around the large maps quite a bit, so battle is never relegated to one nook. The open field map we played on was vibrant and colorful, as Phoenix Labs wanted to create a “memorable art style” that would hold up over time. As we sliced and hammered, we also helped each other up, reviving fallen teammates. “Dauntless is absolutely meant to be enjoyed with three friends,” Fox later told me, and it was this cooperative teamwork that finally led us to victory.

Phoenix Labs

We’re not sure it’d be as fun without a full group, but Dauntless was definitely enjoyable at PAX South. We only played for about 20 minutes, a far cry from the 100 hours of content that will be available when the open beta launches this fall. There’s no word on any definitive release plans post-beta, but for PC gamers craving the Monster Hunter experience on their preferred platform, it’s now only a few short months away.

Dauntless is slated to arrive on PC in 2017. You can sign up to be notified when the beta begins through the official site.