- The sword rework arrives on July 30.
- Expect more depth, new combos, and greater adaptability.
- New sword mods will replace pre-1.3.3 mods.
Is the Sword “Easy Mode”?
We built the original sword to be a jack of all trades. A reliable, simple weapon that even a new Slayer could pick up and swing. And it was that. But as Dauntless expanded and other weapons deepened in complexity, the sword just couldn’t seem to keep up.
As a few of you called out on the Dauntless subreddit: “The sword is decent at everything, but great at nothing.”
It was the okayest weapon.
Part of the challenge is that every Slayer starts with the sword.
That meant that the original sword’s middle-of-the-road qualities made sense. It was a weapon that didn’t require a ton of skill or time to master — which was great for a rookie running Kat’s first few quests. But what about a sword main who’s 50 hunts deep?
“The sword had a lot of things it did that were very similar,” says game designer Dan “Dibs” Gibson. “There was no ‘it excels at this’ or ‘it excels at that.’ It was basically a solved puzzle.”
Once you figured out the optimal sword combo, that was it. You would get into position, spam the Good Combo, and weave in your special when your meter was full. There was a Way to Play Sword, and it was easy, and it could even be dull.
[The sword] was basically a solved puzzle.
But there was still the new player problem. If we converted the sword into a technically complicated, 10-combo spreadsheet of a weapon, no one would make it past their first Lesser Gnasher.
Which brings us to the question at the core of the sword rework: How do you create a fun, complex weapon that won’t overwhelm a brand-new player?
The First Attempt
The sword that is launching later this week is not the result of our first attempt.
In fact, our first experiment recreated many of the problems with the original sword. It was too middle-of-the-road, too button-mashy, and even more “easy mode” than the sword it was supposed to be replacing.
“We went so hard at new player experience that we made a kit that was button-mash-optimal,” says Dibs. “The skill ceiling was at the floor.”
It wasn’t even that this sword was “unfun.” If you were a new player, you might enjoy a handful of button-mashing hunts. But again, there was no room for real growth. No way to show off your skills. Why bother learning your way around a weapon when spamming would get you the exact same result?
“We completely canned the original rework.”
Striking a Balance
The spammer sword was scrapped, but we were still stuck with the new player / veteran player problem. How could we create a weapon that was simple enough for a rookie to use, but complex enough to reward long-term mastery?
The experience we’re trying to create is a constant situation assessment. Every second, you’re looking at the tools in your kit and making decisions.
Many meetings and design doc edits later, we landed on an answer we thought could work: a situational sword kit. This flexible kit would still allow players to get some benefit from button mashing, but would offer a far greater benefit to skilled players who learned to adapt their choices to specific combat situations.
“The experience we’re trying to create is a constant situation assessment,” says Dibs. “Every second, you’re looking at the tools in your kit and making decisions: ‘This time I want to dash, this time I want to AoE.’”
We also knew (again, we do read your comments!) that players were worried we’d build a “prescriptive kit” — one that required you to move through a specific set of combos in order to maximize damage. We’re happy to report that the sword is very much not that.
While there is a certain level of structure to the sword’s gameplay (build Valour –> spend Valour), there’s also plenty of room to move within that structure. Which means you’ll need to do more than just cycle the same three combos to make the most of this reforged weapon.
The reforged sword is built around 3 main components: core combos (which generate Valour), Valour combos (which cost Valour), and special meter (which lets you execute your currently-equipped special move).
Core combos are simple, 3-hit combos that generate Valour. They’re easy to execute, but don’t deliver a ton of payout in terms of damage.
Frenzied Blade (Light-Light-Light) is a lightweight combo with zero stamina cost. Gain: 1 Valour.
Sundering Blade (Heavy-Heavy-Heavy) is slower, heavier, and costs some stamina to execute, but has the potential to interrupt Behemoths. Gain: 2 Valour.
For both core combos, you’ll want to make sure you land that last hit — it’s the one that determines whether or not you get your Valour.
Valour combos spend Valour to execute powerful moves. This is where the new sword’s adaptability really starts to shine. Once you’ve built up enough Valour, do you spend it on a powerful strike? Do you take advantage of a stagger and drop a damaging AoE? Or do you close the distance with a dash and launch into a second combo?
You can only hold 6 Valour at a time, so when you spend it — and how you get it back — is all part of the larger combat equation.
Here are the four Valour combos you’ll be working with:
Crescent Strike (Light-Light-Heavy): A powerful strike with high, reliable damage. Cost: 3 Valour.
Resounding Echo (Heavy-Light-Heavy): Plunge your sword into the ground, leaving behind an AoE pool that ticks damage over time. Cost: 3 Valour.
Bladerush (Hold Light): A medium-range dash and slash attack. Cost: 3 Valour.
Bladesurge (Hold Heavy): Launch a ranged projectile from your sword that can interrupt Behemoths. Cost: 3 Valour.
We’ve carried the special meter over from the original sword system, with one major change: Instead of landing single hits to fill your meter, you’ll need to land full combos. That means connecting with the last hit of either a core or Valour combo.
On the bright side, landing combos while your special is active will now extend the duration of that special. No Perpetual Bladecore mod required.
Finally, we’ve adjusted certain aspects of existing sword specials to make them work with the new Valour system.
Valiant Overdrive: Dash no longer has a cooldown, but it does cost Valour. Fortunately for you, you’ll be generating Valour over time as long as you remain in Overdrive.
Ardent Cyclone: This special generates Valour over time and deals more damage than previously. You’ll also be unstaggerable while it’s active.
Avenging Overdrive: Successful parries now generate Valour.
Our old mods didn’t work with the new sword, so we ended up building 5 new sword mods. And yes: Any mods you earned (via Mastery) or purchased (via Lady Luck) will be replaced, for free, with their brand-new counterparts; you won’t need to do any extra legwork to get them.
Charged Swordfocus: Instead of dealing damage over time, Resounding Echo deals damage once after it expires and deals more total damage.
Recursive Hilt: Dealing damage with Bladerush restores stamina and generates Valour over a short period of time.
Mending Bladecore: Each Valour gained or spent restores health.
Keen Edge: After the Bladesurge projectile travels a short distance, the damage is increased.
Dynamic Bladecore: After using any Valour combo, your next Valour combo within a period of time deals bonus damage.
When Can I Play It?
The Dauntless sword rework launches Thursday, July 30 as part of our 1.3.3 update.
Don’t forget to visit the Training Grounds to get some practice in before your first real hunt. You can get there by pulling up the Hunt screen and selecting “Training Grounds.”