Escalation, a new way to slay Behemoths in Phoenix Lab’s Dauntless, was introduced in December. Players were challenged with a modified roster of Behemoths, each one deadlier than the last, even battling two at a time. Slayers fought tooth and nail to get to the ferocious Malkarion at the heart of the Maelstrom. They rallied. They fought. They won.
Now they face a new challenge. With the launch of Scorched Earth, a new Escalation is here: Blaze.
Slayers will brave a lush jungle, ascend to a violent volcano, and battle their way to the Torgadoro, a primal Behemoth that dwells within. It’s an environment completely new to the Shattered Isles, and the Torgadoro may be the largest Behemoth yet. A lot has changed with this new Escalation, so let’s dive into it, shall we?
Unlock New Powers and Battle Reimagined Foes
“We learned a ton from Shock Escalation,” says Reid Buckmaster, designer on the creature team. “We saw that some of the most unexpected combinations made for the best fights, which led us to adding Blaze variant Behemoths this time around. We wanted to further push the feeling of truly being able to run into anything.” Blaze-infused versions of Rezakiri, Gnasher, and Quillshot were all added to the game, providing new, fiery twists to the gameplay and shattering the players’ tried and true techniques. “We want to challenge them,” explains Buckmaster.
The variety doesn’t end there, though.
The decision to add a wider range of amps—special buffs that carry through entire Escalation runs—was made early on in development. “We found out which types of mods and amps players like to use and why. We used that information to try to bolster those good experiences and reduce the less impactful ones.” Amps and mods allow players to increase their hunting potential in future sessions by raising their Blaze Escalation level. “Blaze has a bigger suite of mods and amps to choose from, many of which are brand new and exclusive to this Escalation,” says Buckmaster. “We wanted to equip the player with a large toolset to tackle these new challenges.”
Go Toe to Toe with the King of Blaze
Mods, amps, and Blaze variants mix up the experience for Blaze Escalation, but the true star is the new capstone Behemoth. “Early stages of concepts had tons of different body types. All the way from worms to scorpions to really abstract creatures,” explains Kyle Disanjh, senior animator on the creature team. “The gorilla body type resonated with a lot of folks around the studio. It was something we hadn’t explored yet. This would be the first upright, bipedal Behemoth we made.” After weeks of exploration, the cocktail of ideas distilled down to the final result, and Torgadoro was born.
Like all Behemoths, Torgadoros’ emotions live in their animations, and the team worked hard to express this unique personality through their move set. “Generally for Behemoths,” continues Disanjh, “we have what’s called ‘personality animations’ that play throughout the fight. These are the moments where players see what these creatures are like. With Torgadoro we tried to embed some of these moments into their attacks, moves, and staggers, to show who they really are. For example, when staggered, Torgadoro has a brief window where the player can get some damage in, but unlike other Behemoths, they will immediately smash back in that same animation. This shows how relentless they truly are.” Another animation has Torgadoro throwing a tantrum. The beast will howl, pulling on and hitting their own face in a blind rage. Moments like these help convey the emotional range of a Behemoth, and this may be the most expressive one yet.
Another unique aspect of Torgadoro is its ability to use its surroundings. “One thing we got in that I’m excited about is environment-based animations. Previously, Behemoths haven’t interacted with their environment, but this time around there are some things we did that I hope will make memorable moments for players,” concludes Disanjh. Just a tip: If you lose track of Torgadoro, look up to the cliffs.
Explore a Never Before Seen Environment
Torgadoro’s lair is part of a unique set of islands. They’re brand-new to the Shattered Isles. “When looking at the concepts for Torgadoro and thinking about a home for it, I immediately gravitated towards a volcano caldera,” says Jen Morgan, world artist. Torgadoro’s home with its jagged rock walls and flowing lava fits its personality, while the pathway there hints at the deeper lore. “In Escalation, we really want to have the player feel a sense of progression as they get closer to their goal.” As players approach the volcano, the environment becomes more barren, foliage burned away by the lava and fire. “I thought that a jungle setting with vibrant greens would nicely contrast the bright red hues of a blaze-infused final arena. I’m happy we achieved something that feels lush and alive in contrast to the hellish volcano battle at the end. I think that contrast inherently tells the story of what’s at stake if powerful Behemoths are left unchecked.”
Each Escalation provides us with valuable lessons. As we go forward, we’re dedicated to pushing the experience forward. “We’re building on our foundations with each season,” says Buckmaster. “We’re looking to improve the feeling of the islands, the intensity of the encounters, the spectacle of the capstone Behemoths, and to do more to tie it all into Dauntless lore.”
The future isn’t just bright for Escalation, it’s bright for the entirety of Dauntless. We can’t wait to show the world what we’re working on next.
Until then, see you in the Shattered Isles, Slayers.