Defiance: Time Well Spent

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I recently gave my first impressions on the new third person, shooter MMO called Defiance. Since all of that information remains true, I would recommend you go read that first before carrying on. Done? Good, now I will regal you with stories from the tattered landscape of the San Francisco Bay area.

Once you start in Defiance you are prompted to create a character during the first cut scene of the game. After you have completed your character you are dropped into the ruins of the airship you were formerly occupying and have to make your way through the debris gathering the items you need. This first section acts as your tutorial, explaining the importance of your weapons, grenades, shield, and giving you a brief overview of your E.G.O powers.

Your ego powers are your special abilities and are sectioned into four different types. These abilities cover the basic powers you would expect to find in a shooter. You can cloak, supercharge your weapon gaining a damage bonus for a short time, an ability that lets you move very fast, and the ability to deploy a decoy hologram of yourself to distract the enemy. In addition to these four primary powers there are various perks scattered around the skill tree that allow you to do everything from loot more ammo to deal more damage to enemies from behind.

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The primary ability is paired with a selection of these perks that you unlock through gaining ego points. Ego points are given to you based on experience earned, but more about experience a bit later. There are only a limited number of perk slots open at the beginning of the game and more unlock as the game progresses. What I enjoyed about these perks is that you really feel it when they are applied to your loadout, enemies that normally would have been tougher to defeat suddenly seems easier to deal with as you take advantage of these combat bonuses.

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The loadouts in the game operate very similar to any other shooter and at a glance are recognizable to even the most casual of shooter player. The player can choose two weapons to equip, a grenade, shield, and vehicle type. They are also able to choose which ego perks they would like applied to that loadout. The setup seems to encourage experimentation as well as trial and error on the part of which perks best suit your playstyle.

One of the features I was looking forward to trying when the game launched was the weapon modding, I wasn’t sure how it would work and sadly there isn’t a tutorial on how best to use this so the interface may be a bit daunting. One recommendation I would make is to experiment with it early and often. It would also be prudent to not use your more valuable weapon mods until you are comfortable with using the system.

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The vehicle system in the game is very easy to use and facilitates the quick transition from quest to quest with very little downtime in between fire fights. Players are given a basic ATV through an early quest reward and have the option to purchase additional versions at various vendors throughout normal gameplay. There are also some made available through the cash shop but it isn’t really a big deal as the same model only in a different color is available through in game progression. The player can spawn a vehicle at any time by a simple keystroke and there is no cost involved, it makes traversing the massive environment simple and with the right vehicle downright fun. One thing I applaud the developers on is not having player collision possible, so often in any online game it becomes some player’s goal to wreck other player’s vehicles. That can have a severe negative impact on play experiences so not being able to interact or impede other player vehicles is a godsend.

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The quest line in Defiance isn’t what I would call inspired but I don’t feel that it needs to be. The best thing about open world games is the ability to explore and go where you want, and save for a fairly linear main quest line, side quests can be tackled at any point. Additional side quests do pop up from time to time as you progress the main story line. I have read some criticism of the story, dialogue, and voice acting in the game and I would agree at certain points the lines are terribly cheesy and cliche. In other moments the dialogue is on point and well polished and I found myself drawn to the characters wanting to know about their back story. After the player progresses far enough into the game, additional side quests open up that allow you to gain standing with various factions within the game adding more choice. I’ve not had the chance to fully explore this feature so I will simply say that it is there and that is a good thing.

The marketing for Defiance as most will know is that the game boasts to be connected to a television program airing on April 15th on the Syfy channel. Players will be able to interact with characters in the game and then see them on the television show. The premise is the player comes across the two title characters and will fill the gap of where they were just before the shows starts. We will have to wait and see if the interaction is any more interconnected than simply sharing a world but the premise is unique and exciting nonetheless. The producer of the show states that people won’t have to play the game to enjoy the show and vice versa. For those doing both they promise the experience will be rich and exciting.

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The game’s arkfall mechanic is an interesting dynamic event system where certain parts of the map see debris falling from the sky. During these instances any player can participate and are rewarded with various loot and xp. The events vary but most feature a multi-part event where players fight at smaller instances which lead up to the final end all battle.

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The game does have microtransactions but the level of what is available is simply cosmetic and convenient. Players are able to buy additional outfits, inventory slots, or bonuses such as xp boosts. Players are given various cosmetic items throughout normal play and the real meat of the game is the weaponry and that is all obtained through in-game progression.

No mmo launch is ever a smooth one and Defiance is no different. I have noticed very little problems with my PC copy of the game save for the occasional disconnect or some loading issues, but the Xbox version of the game in particular has been having problems. The developers are good about communicating with their community and keep us informed of what is at the top of their list and this level of communication is very good. They promise to keep pushing out regular patches to address various issues as well as adding content that won’t be locked behind a pay gate. They have stated they don’t want to segregate players from one another so with some luck and perseverance this game will only get better in time.

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It would be impossible to review any mmo as it isn’t a simple matter to play through the game, I’ve logged 23 hours into the game thus far and feel like I’ve only just skimmed the surface of the game. I applaud any game that aims to be mmo in scale while trying different interface and control than a typical mmo. I can freely admit that most mmos cannot hold my attention more than for a few hours because of the way the game plays. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys third person shooters and is looking for a new world to get lost in. I’ve only touched on the various parts of the game, in later articles I will begin to go in-depth with the various functions of the game as well as discussing the competitive multiplayer pvp.

 

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