It’s been a long while since consoles got a taste of the MMO gaming world. The only true MMOs that have been released for consoles like the Xbox 360 have been games like Phantasy Star Universe (which the online part of this game was shut down last year) and Final Fantasy XI Online. There have always been online multiplayer games, but not on the MMO level.
This year we witnessed the release of a very ambitious MMO-shooter from Trion Worlds called Defiance. The game feels like a cross between Borderlands and Mad Max but has some unique elements to it. The game co-exists with a TV show of the same name that started airing on the Syfy network on April 15th. This is the first time ever that a game has been made to correlate with a TV series.
Defiance is set in the not-so-distant future, on Earth, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The world has been somewhat destroyed, though, by war. Humans and aliens (known as Votans) live, work, and fight together on this familiar, yet changed, planet.
You are thrown into this world in the role of an Ark Hunter, a gun-for-hire type that assists in finding pieces of Arktech that fall from the sky in meteor-like objects called Arkfalls. Why are you chasing down this technology? Because it’s the foremost important form of innovation and currency. Your job is to help Karl Von Bach, the CEO of Von Bach Industries (VBI), retrieve Arktech pieces that he hopes will allow him to save the entire world and become a hero to the masses.
It’s not the more original plot for a game but it does keep you a bit interested. Plus, most of the details of the story are revealed by watching the Defiance TV show. The game and the show work with each other and evolve together over time to make gamers more involved with the series.
Defiance has both PvE (player versus environment) and PvP (player versus player) elements. The PvE side leads you into completing missions relevant to the storyline of the game. These missions typically send you out to either clear out an area of enemies (such as mutant soldiers, Raiders, or Hell Bugs), going into bases to turn on equipment that will help the E-REP (Earth Republic), or gathering information or items needed for future quests.
There are also side missions and challenges that players can partake in for extra Scrip (the main currency in the game), experience, weapons, and weapon mods. These include Time Trials where you have to complete objectives in a certain time frame, Rampages where you have to kill as many enemies as you can in the allotted time without dying, or fetching intel for the E-REP or other in-game NPCs.
Sometimes completing missions can feel a bit repetitive, but overall it’s quite entertaining and fulfilling to earn more and more experience to raise your EGO rating (the primary level indicator of players in the game) and earning Scrip to purchase new items such as weapons or vehicles with.
Defiance is first and foremost a third-person shooter. It feels a lot like Borderlands when playing. The controls aren’t real tight, though. When you are first presented with some new weapons in the game it may take a little practice to get used to it. Some guns, such as certain LMGs, have a very high amount of recoil and take patience to master controlling them.
The PvP aspects of the game are fairly fun to play, too. There are 3 primary types of PvP in Defiance: Competitive Multiplayer, Shadow War, and Co-Op.
The competitive multiplayer is a pretty standard Team Deathmatch gametype with a few different maps. This can be a bit frustrating for new players, though. Players are allowed to use whatever weapons they acquire in PvE to use in this. Unfortunately, some players have already been playing a while and have acquired very rare, very powerful weapons. This makes it difficult for beginner players because, in most cases, they’ll only have basic weapons to use.
It gets quite annoying being killed quickly over and over again with over-powered rocket launchers when all you have are basic assault rifles and shotguns to make use of. Certain EGO powers are hard to combat, too. Cloak, for example, makes players nearly 100% invisible to the naked eye, allowing them to stealthily wipe you from existence before you even know what hit you.
Shadow War is basically a blend of TDM and domination gametypes. Players are separated into teams and are sent out into a large, open world to fight other players and AI enemies to take over and control objectives. This is a pretty fun PvP type in Defiance but still suffers from the same flaws as those mentioned above in relevance to the competitive multiplayer.
Co-Op sends you and a friend or group of friends (or random individuals if you decide to use the matchmaking system to form a group) out to complete co-op PvE missions. Players must first unlock these missions while playing through the traditional PvE before being able to use this feature, though.
When Defiance was first released it was quite rusty. There was tons of lag and broken missions to deal with. Those issues have since been dealt with in recent, large patches. Now, the game runs pretty smoothly.
The graphics of Defiance are certainly nothing groundbreaking or anything to write home about. They do seem to be a bit dated. And some of the animations (such as Hell Bug attacks or driving) are quite cheesy and un-eventful. But, let’s not forget that graphics DO NOT make a game. It would’ve been nice to have a bit more depth to the scenery and enemies of the world but it doesn’t ruin the game, either.
PvP needs to be balanced out a lot. It’s really not fair for new players to have to face seasoned Ark Hunters with advanced weaponry and maxed out powers/perks. Hopefully future patches and content releases will somehow fix this.
There are, as far as we know, at least 5 DLC packs planned for the game. They are available individually or can be obtained via the Defiance season pass. We’re hoping that the new content will be a bit more exciting, a lot less repetitive, and keep us wanting more.
Here are our scores for the game (as is):
Gameplay – 7/10
Graphics – 6/10
Entertainment – 6/10
Final Score – 6.3/10
If Trion Worlds manages to work out the issues in PvP matches and adds more content that is less repetitive and more fun to play we may change our review score for it. But, as is, this is the rating we felt the game deserved.
What do you think? Are you enjoying Defiance? What elements of the game would you change? What do you hope to see in future DLC for the game? Let us know by commenting below!