The fine folks at Phoenix Labs aren’t bringing Dauntless to Steam; instead, they’re heading to the Epic Store as planned. We can all speculate about lots of back-and-forth potential reasons why, but I was fortunate enough to get a few moments to discuss the decision with the development staff at this past weekend’s PAX East. And the rationale comes down to a very simple principle, one inherited from Fortnite without being limited to it. To wit: Phoenix Labs wants that crossplay.
Not just a little crossplay, either. Epic Games has clearly managed to make the cross-play principle work for its biggest online title, and Dauntless is aiming to provide the same experience by giving you both cross-platform play and access. You can sit downstairs on your PlayStation 4, play for a while, then turn off the console, head upstairs to your PC, and pick up right where you left off without a problem. That’s something that Epic already has in place, and it makes the choice of storefronts and associated partnership a no-brainer.
The console launch is also planned to serve as the game’s launch, but at the same time not the sort of launch that rolls over into version 1.0. While the team definitely feels that the game is pushing at the boundaries of that big whole number, the assumption is that it’s possible for the game to reach the launch state without hitting 1.0 and being wholly complete. Call it a soft launch, if you’d prefer.
Of course, more platforms also means jutting up against Monster Hunter World, but the staff isn’t actually bothered by that comparison. Most of the people on the team, unsurprisingly, are fans of the Monster Hunter franchise. The Monster Hunter World team seems to be fond of Dauntless. If anything, there’s a sense that the visibility of each title helps the other one, and it pushes both of them to do their own thing.
And it’s not just a matter of both titles being identical save for the backdrop. The team views Monster Hunter World as a more single-player title with online options, while Dauntless is closer to the inverse; as a result, upticks in interest in Capcom’s title often seem to produce upticks of interest in Dauntless as well. Both games are carving out their own niche.
It’s even possible that there could be some sort of crossover event between the titles, although nothing is even close to being planned thus far. As the game approaches that fabled launch date, the focus is on polishing up systems and improving gameplay in advance of the launch. From there on out, however, the studio plans to keep up communication with the players and find out both what the fans want and what’s a viable path forward to make for a better experience. It turns out that there’s a lot of life in the game, the genre, and the community.
We’d like to thank the team on the show floor for taking the time to answer some questions and share insights about the game.