Dauntless, an online multiplayer game inspired by Monster Hunter that officially released earlier this week, has been slammed with matchmaking issues and server problems in its opening days, but its developers say things will get better.
After launching in alpha in 2017, Dauntless finally came out of Early Access on May 21, arriving for the first time on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in addition to PC where it is currently — you guessed it! — an Epic Games Store exclusive.
Much of it revolves around going out on hunts with other players online, fighting big monsters in real-time combat, and using the loot and experience gained to grow strong enough to take on tougher beasts. It can be a lot of fun when it’s working, but almost immediately there were problems.
// Service Issues //— Dauntless (@PlayDauntless) May 22, 2019
Servers are hurting, but we're working to get them patched up and back into shape. We'll let you know when things are running more smoothly again.
The issues continued into Thursday. “Servers are hurting, but we’re working to get them patched up and back into shape,” Phoenix Labs tweeted at 5:19AM AEST on May 23.
Dauntless was then temporarily taken offline for server maintenance before coming back an hour later with a stricter limit on how many people could play. “Good news: Servers are coming back online!” the developer said. “Less-good news: We’ve had to limit the number of people that can play at once, which means that queues will be longer (for now).”
This led to much longer wait times. At one point, an in-game timer displayed “180+ minutes” for some players. But for those in the game, it was a more stable.
Beyond connectivity issues and long wait times, Dauntless also struggled early on with player purchases not immediately showing up on their accounts, a big deal for any game but especially one that’s free-to-play and relies on a sprawling microtransaction economy.
Some players have also been encountering a bug that causes a crash, something Phoenix Lab has also acknowledged and said it is working on a fix for.
“Realistically the problems that you’re siting are kind of true of any live game and it’s not for lack of planning,” Nick Clifford, Phoenix Labs’ head of publishing, told Kotaku during a phone interview. “A lot of these problems you don’t know you have them until players show up.”
While he didn’t go into detail on the technical challenges that held Dauntless back during its first week, Clifford said that while the influx of new players alone wasn’t an issue, it exposed flaws that needed to be addressed. “Until the moment happens it’s hard to triage and solve those problems,” he said.
// Capacity Increased //— Dauntless (@PlayDauntless) May 24, 2019
We are slowly but surely increasing our capacity!
Queue times have dropped a bit, and we're continuing to work on getting them lower. Thanks for your continued patience — especially if you're waiting at 10k+.
According to a press release by Phoenix Labs, Dauntless gained 500,000 additional players on its first day of release. The studio wouldn’t specify the concurrent number of players peaked at this week, but told Kotaku it was somewhere in the five-digit range.
Following the server maintenances earlier in the week, Phoenix Labs tweeted that player capacity in the game has doubled since Thursday, something made possible in part due to Google’s data centres, which are where online matchmaking occurs.
Dauntless has cross-platform play, meaning that players can carry their characters’ progression seamlessly between PC, Xbox One and PS4, and eventually on Switch and mobile as well once it arrives on those platforms. This feature, Clifford said, was not causing the game’s problems.
While some game developers have reportedly had their attempts to implement cross-play in their games stymied by Sony, most notably in the case of Chucklefish’s Wargroove, Phoenix Labs said there were no such challenges with Dauntless.
This is possibly in part because it is published by Epic Games, whose Fortnite was the first game to have cross-play between PC, PS4 and Xbox One. “I know that Fortnite helped really make something like this happen,” Clifford said.