Dauntless, the free-to-play monster-slaying RPG, has already amassed over 6 million players. The Epic-published game launched just a week prior for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, exclusively through the Epic Games Store.
Taking cues from titles such as Monster Hunter, Dauntless takes place in a broken world ravaged by monstrous beasts known as Behemoths. Players, called Slayers, can group up with up to three teammates to hunt down these monsters and take on other quests. Slain creatures yield valuable materials used for crafting powerful weapons and equipment to tackle increasingly stronger adversaries. Perhaps Dauntless' biggest selling point is its full cross-play support and shared player progression across all versions. The game made its public debut during the 2016 Game Awards, and crystallized over the last two years thanks to playable alpha and beta trials on PC.
Developer Phoenix Labs touts that the game’s current player count has doubled the number it had during its beta. They also share that over 20 million hunts have been logged, amounting to more than 13 million Behemoths slain. That’s resulted in 15 million hours of logged playtime. The increasingly popular cross-play feature seems to be paying off. Phoenix Labs reports that 60% of hunting parties have been a melting pot of multiplatform players.
As impressive as those number are, they also tie into the big drawback currently plaguing Dauntless: its overloaded servers. So many players have flocked to the game that queue times have been reported to clock in at upwards to an hour or more. Certain periods have become so crowded that new players couldn’t enter the game until other users logged out of it. Phoenix Lab reiterates that they're still working to accommodate this flood by optimizing load times, stabilizing connectivity, and increasing the player capacity. These much-needed improvements will be vital given that Dauntless will eventually launch on Nintendo Switch and mobile platforms in the future, opening the floodgates even further.
Like Apex Legends before it, Dauntless has hit the ground running and looks like another big win for Epic and its quickly growing storefront. It must be nice to have another in-house published hit to show off alongside a growing list of third-party exclusives. However, Dauntless will live and die by how frequent and effectively Phoenix Labs updates it over time. As evidenced by Apex's recent decline in engagement, Fortnite has spoiled players into expecting new bells and whistles on a constant basis. Time will tell if Epic will push Phoenix Labs to match the rapid content pace of its premier multiplayer experience.