A peek behind Dauntless’ award-winning art direction

2020 was a strong year for art in video games. At the Canadian Game Awards Far Cry New Dawn (Ubisoft), Gears 5 (The Coalition), Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Next Level Games), Cadence of Hyrule (Brace Yourself Games), and Dauntless (Phoenix Labs) all vied for the Best Art Direction award. Each game was unlike the rest, as they all presented unique art styles drawing from different and unique inspirations. At the end of the day, Dauntless came out on top as the winner.

Dauntless was created by Phoenix Labs, a Vancouver-based studio founded by Riot Games alums Jesse Houston, Sean Bender, and Robin Mayne. They were one of the first games to enable crossplay, bringing players from all systems together to hunt the Behemoths of Dauntless.

Phoenix Labs’ art style is vastly different from the other Monster Hunter type games on the market, adopting a fantasy look inspired by Disney’s Tangled. The game has evolved from its original grittier look seen in its announcement video five years ago, developing into its own beast. There are also a lot of cursory visual similarities to be found between Dauntless and Fortnite, but founder Jesse Houston dispels taking inspiration from Epic’s title (both games were in development at the same time), and jokingly says that Dauntlessdidn’t have the chance to steal their art”. Phoenix Labs promises to keep pushing the game and its art into new territory as Dauntless continues to grow.

You can play Dauntless for free on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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