Dauntless E3 Impression and Interview
Guest impression written by Dwayne Tekaia-Jacobs. Pascal Tekaia also had the opportunity to talk with Phoenix Labs’ Andy Burt and Nick Clifford about the newly-announced Nintendo Switch version of the game and the new Winterhorn Skraev behemoth.
For a Dauntless veteran like me, it’s surprising how much more I can learn about the new version of everyone’s favorite owlbear. The new Winterhorn Skraev Behemoth is really, really tough. Even having a character stacked up with the works during the demo didn’t make a lick of difference. In Dauntless, it’s a bit inefficient to dodge away from the attack; what you really want to do is dodge toward or through an attack. The game encourages you to do so, giving you bonuses for it with certain equipment.
Though many rely on sight to judge enemy attacks, the new attacks that this guy comes at you with have to be felt, because you won’t be able to see them coming. The classic jump up and slam of the standard Skraev has a new twist that involves his two giant wings spread wide and sweeping wider. If not that, then watch out for his “boopable” glide which he begins off-camera. You have to learn the cadence of these attacks to avoid them altogether. And when you see this beautiful monstrosity bury its claws in the snow, stay close and roll. I don’t want to give away the super attack he uses when he’s enraged, but dealing with it is like trying to swing at a baseball in a blizzard while trying to run through knee-deep water — it’s really hard to deal with.
To sum it up this new Behemoth brings a new kind of difficulty, but it is rewarding. It calls upon the use of everything in your toolbox and some fancy footwork. Phoenix Labs has done a good job putting a new spin on the game with this Behemoth. I had tons of fun trying to beat this thing, even without ever succeeding. I want to see all you slayers in the Shattered Isles, so we can take this beastly Behemoth down.
Pascal Tekaia, RPGamer: What is the projected impact to the game’s user base when it comes out on Switch?
Andy Burt and Nick Clifford, Phoenix Labs: The Switch version will be later this year. It’s kind of hard to say, honestly. It’s all going to depend as well on how many Switch units there are in the marketplace when we launch.
I mean, we’ve seen a lot of success on [PlayStation 4 and Xbox One], but I think the install base on PS4 is pretty big, so we do have a lot of PlayStation 4 players.
PT: Was the Switch release planned right from the beginning?
PL: I think when the Switch came out, everyone at the studio was like, “It would be awesome to play Dauntless on Switch.”
We focused on Xbox and PlayStation first. We’re also working on mobile, as well. But we want to do each one, one at a time, rather than do it all at once.
PT: Mobile hasn’t happened yet, right?
PL: No. It’s still on the horizon. Mobile will come after —
PT: Will it also be cross-play compatible with the other console versions?
PL: Yeah, when Switch comes out it will be fully cross-play, cross-save, all the account linking and stuff that we have in the game right now, you’ll be able to do when the Switch comes out.
PT: So the next patch will have the new Behemoth. Anything else coming in that patch with it?
PL: Just some minor things, some bug fixes and quality-of-life improvements.
PT: No new characters at this time?
PL: No, our first major expansion is going to be early July. That will be a new game mode —
PT: Has that been announced?
PL: Yeah. It will have a new game mode and a ton of other new features as well.
PT: OK, cool. So what about Winterhorn?
PL: Oh yeah, Winterhorn. He’ll be in our next patch, I think. There’ll be a patch between the big content expansion and now, and that’s when Winterhorn will be in the game.
PT: So what makes him so unique?
PL: He’s tough as nails; he’s super challenging. We like to give players —
PT: I mean, I thought the other one we were talking about, Boreus, that sounded pretty hard already. So Winterhorn puts him to shame, huh?
PL: It’s definitely a different kind of encounter. Boreus summons minions and makes himself invulnerable, so you have to kind of balance between attacking him and attacking the mobs. We try to make sure that every encounter feels fresh and different from the others.
PT: How is the Winterhorn encounter different?
PL: He’s a dire version of Skraev. Skraev is our kind of owlbear encounter in the game. But we took a look at his design and just added a bunch of new attacks. He creates a frost totem —
His whole big thing is, obviously, he controls the power of ice. So he’ll cover the battlefield in ice mines that’ll slow you down. (Indicating the demo screen) He just dropped his totem right now which is causing the blizzard that kind of affects your vision and your ability to see. He’ll create ice walls. He’s all about inhibiting the player’s movement and vision, just making the actual encounter more difficult to navigate.
PT: What did you mean by “dire”?
PL: Every Behemoth in the game has a regular version and a dire version, which is like the harder, amped-up, more challenging version. And heroic is our end-game content; the hardest of the hard. You have to have a maximum gear score — he’ll come with the patch.
PT: About how often have you guys been introducing a new Behemoth, and will that continue?
PL: Definitely! About once every couple of months or so. New Behemoths, new weapons, new game modes, violence. We’re on our fifth season of our Hunt Pass, which rotates seasonal content in and out of the game as well. There’s always new stuff going into the game.
PT: Are you guys the ones responsible for coming up with the new Behemoths?
PL: We’re not on the Behemoth design team. One of our designers here is.
PT: I’m curious what goes into considering the next one, or this one even?
PL: Behemoths are all meant to ask questions of the players. And with each one we try to introduce something new, whether that’s something new aesthetically or some new gameplay challenge. Sometimes it begins with an idea, like Skraev, for example: “Oh, what would happen if we had a giant owl mixed with a bear?” Other times it’s a gameplay concept, like “What if we made a Behemoth that started interacting with portals and could teleport all over the place?”
PT: Has that been done yet?
PL: Yeah, one of our Behemoths’ name is Riftstalker. He harnesses this power called umbral energy and uses it to teleport not only himself across the battlefield but the players to different places as well.
PT: How many are there total at the moment?
PL: We have over fifty different encounters in the game, and that’s everything from the base version of a Behemoth to the dire version, to the heroic versions. We’re always looking to add more to the game.