What the Heck is Dauntless

936 words.

Over the Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. everyone was talking about Dauntless, or more accurately, talking about the queues that made it impossible to play Dauntless.

It made me wonder: What the heck is Dauntless?

Well, it’s a co-op action RPG coming to PC in 2018. And I guess that’s all we need to know to create hordes of stampeding fans hyped with excitement about it. Or at least, that’s what their web site would lead us to believe, because the only other clue we get before the big red “Download Game” button is: “Battle ferocious Behemoths, craft powerful weapons, and forge your legend in the Shattered Isles.”

So battles, crafting, and … legending? Sounds pretty thin to me. Only two of those is an actual game activity, and only one of those two sounds interesting to me. Hint: It’s not the crafting. Even if I was really into crafting in games, which I sometimes am, it’s never the main thing I’m interested in.

I start the installation. The first thing I notice is the rather optimistic way that they default to installing their game inside a folder with their company name, as if they are planning to make hit after hit game, and there will be so many in a few years that they will all need to be organized into a sub-folder.

I know, I know, everyone does this, and in fact, it’s the default way that most installers are configured. It’s more indicative of them thinking less than thinking more. It just strikes me as funny on this day, and I’m trying to write an entertaining post here.

The InstallShield process is just the first of many installation tasks, as we’ve all come to expect from every game ever. It installs a launcher, which immediately updates itself, and then asks for my login credentials. It won’t let me start installing the game until I create an account. It’s business 101: ABC. Always Be Collecting people’s email addresses and forcing them to create accounts on your random, unknown service.

At least we know their marketing department is filled with professionals, even if we don’t know a thing about their game yet.

I’m strongly tempted to abort this launcher and end this post here, but it is an Open Beta, after all. A free game! I’m not terribly interested in playing any game right now, but still, it’s free, so I click the microscopically tiny “Create Account” link and my web browser opens, because nobody ever lets you create an account directly in their game launcher, even though that would be super convenient for me, the user you are trying to impress here.

The web site asks me to enter the usual information: Name, email, and password. It also asks me for my birthday so they can absolve themselves of any legal responsibility for showing kids anything like nudity or violence or general chat from other players. Oddly, it also asks me for the name of a referring user, something I can’t remember ever seeing before. It seems like a leftover relic from when the game was probably in Closed Beta, something they’ve just forgotten to remove from the web page, and I leave it blank.

I have no earthly clue where this “display name” is going to be displayed, so I pick one that I usually use for message boards, which is unlikely to be recognized. I hope that’s not my character name. I apply my standard password-creation mental template to come up with a unique password for this site and use my typical game-related email. I’m careful, as I always am, to enter a fake birthday so as not to give out VITALLY IMPORTANT PII to some random game company that statistically will probably be bankrupt or sold off in two years. I agree to the terms of service, politely decline the newsletter, declare my humanity, and submit to their dominance.

I go back to the launcher and enter my new account information, and now I’m allowed to download the game. Puzzlingly, it tells me the game requires 18GB of space but the download is only 5GB. That’s either some pretty great compression for assets that should already be compressed, a big mistake, or just random nonsense they threw in there just to show me some numbers.

It’s also decided to download the game into a sub-directory way underneath the sub-directories that it’s already made. Okay, whatever. In 2018, I do not expect any game companies to employ developers who know anything about how to efficiently utilize hard drive space or properly name directories. Game companies don’t really write games anymore, they mostly just throw models and textures into game engines written by third-party developers. I click the Install button.

I wait. If I ever think to actually launch the game to play it, I’ll write more.

UPDATE: I did play for about 20 minutes Tuesday night, but I was not impressed enough to write a whole new post. It looks like what would happen if Blizzard made a Dark Souls game. I hope that’s an original joke but it’s entirely possible I stole that comparison from someone else. I would concur with Syp’s assessment-he managed to stick with it even longer than I did. I thought the mouse/keyboard controls and “fluidity” were awful, and it felt like I was running and fighting while hip-deep in mud, as compared with other action RPG games I’ve played. (It’s a game that should use a controller, but I gave up on controller during character creation because the menu navigation was unpleasant with controller.)

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