I’ve been playing the Defiance game beta since closed beta invites began being sent out, as of last weekend the NDA regarding the game was lifted and I’m not able to talk about what I saw and the impressions I got from playing the game.
The first thing that impressed me from one closed beta section to the next is how the game has improved graphically. I wouldn’t classify these graphics as cutting edge or anything like that but hi fidelity graphics have never been a big seller for me. While I love beautiful games, they don’t need to look “real” in order for me to enjoy them. What I look for in game graphics is that they fit the world they’re creating. Defiance has definitely sold me in this area. The opening of the game has you running through wreckage of a large airship, there are parts of the ship all around as well as fire and cleaved ground. What really impressed me was the change from one of the earlier builds I played to last weekends build. The air was now filled with floating bits of ash and debris with a smoke blackened sky that really amps up the atmosphere of the game. I really felt like I was running through wreckage this time and I found myself often stopping to take in the scenery.
Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I LOVE customizing characters, it isn’t as big of a concern in first person games, but give me the option to play in third person and I am a full on fashionista. It isn’t so much that I care about fashion it’s that I want to see my characters reflecting their personality. One of my biggest likes about Defiance is the starting character appearances, it used to be quite common to put your character in fairly lame looking starting armor in what I would assume to be a carrot on a stick to get you grinding so you could get out of your ridiculous outfit. Defiance starts the player looking like a regular badass with the option to change your kit as you go. This also goes for weapons.
The weapon you start with is dependent on your starting class. Players can choose from Ex-Soldier, Outlaw, Survivalist, and Engineer. In my time with the beta I was only able to try out the soldier and engineer classes but the soldier starts with an assault rifles and the engineer starts with an LMG. From the very early parts of the beta players are able to change up the weapons they equip and use. You have a slot for a pistol, main weapon, grenades, and then your special E.G.O abilities. The weapons themselves can be customized but I was unable to try that particular function out for myself.
I feel like the Defiance team took inspiration from the Mass Effect franchise in how weapons and abilities work together and this is not a bad thing at all. When you engage your enemies you are given some choice on how to approach the situation. You can be stealthy and flank around to attack from another side or go head long into the fight guns a blazing. Your E.G.O abilities can play a large role in how you approach combat in the game and feel fully fleshed out without having too many options that players get bogged down. There are four primary E.G.O abilities, Invisibility, decoy, overcharge, and a speed boost ability. Once you choose an ability you gain ego points which allow you to further augment your skill set. My particular choice was the invisibility ability. Once chosen I was then able to unlock additional supplementary skills such as doing more damage from behind.
Only a small part of the game world was open to players during the beta, but there were plenty of options as to how you get around in the game. Players have the option to hoof it, or they can use a vehicle to get around. Players are set in a destroyed San Francisco and its outlying areas, all around you see signs of a normal life now overgrown with vegetation and in ruin.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this MMO is that it is tied to an original television show on the SYFY channel. The devs have said these two worlds will interact and create a deeper immersion for players and it will be interesting to see it pan out. Overall I enjoyed this game considerably and look forward to the games release. It provides the massive scale of traditional MMOs but puts the full control of the character back into the hands of the player. If you’re smart how you approach things you can take down overpowered enemies even if your level indicates that isn’t possible. Defiance launches in April alongside it’s show and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.