Defiance Review

Defiance – new sci-fi realm with great potential.

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efiance is finally here, the long-awaited Sci-Fi Action Third Person Action MMRORPG from Trion Worlds. It is one of the first MMOs to be ever released on the same day on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 alongside the PC version.

Defiance tries to justify itself with fresh ideas, interesting game mechanics, different character progression, micro-transactions and being more story driven than most previous MMO games. So how do all these new ideas blend together and what kind of experience do they create?

Visual Style and Sound:

Defiance is a new action third-person MMORPG so the presentation must be particularly good in order to be impressed by the overall feel of the universe. Majority of MMO games are centered around elves, dwarves and humans. However, Defiance is a Sci-Fi MMO, so this makes things a bit more intriguing already.

There are not that many Sci-Fi MMOs that are that popular with the exception of Star Wars: The Old Republic, although everyone knows Star Wars, so there is actually no new universe there. Trion Worlds did an excellent job with their dark-fantasy MMO Rift. It had a beautiful unique art-style and looked gorgeous on high-end PCs. So it’s highly exciting to see them go the Sci-Fi route this time around and what they can do.

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Defiance in my opinion has a remarkably unique look and feel to it. It’s not a drop-dead gorgeous game, but when it’s running on full settings at maximum frame-rate without hitches, it looks beautiful and believable. Defiance has a significant world to explore and there will be more to come as  the game continues to evolve and gets free content patches. Overall I am happy with the graphics quality of the game. It looks crisp and clean and good enough for today’s MMO standards.

The voice acting and the narrative story is also a delightful touch, characters are interesting, but some of them can be a bit annoying. The sound of bullets and laser can probably use a bit more work, but it didn’t bother me that much during gameplay.

The music in the game is kind of interesting, its a mix of techno and a bit of dub-step and it also continually loops almost every time you enter into a fight. It clearly adds a good immersion to the combat but sometimes can get a bit over-played.

Enemies in the World:

Throughout my experience in Defiance, I ventured through grassy and hilly areas, military bases and even small towns that you have to save from the horrific Hellbugs and Raiders gang members.

The enemy variety so far seems lacking, majority of the time I was just encountering the same mutants for the beginning portion of the game that lasted a good three to four hours. The mutants are the first type of enemies you will come across in the world of Defiance. Mutants are also divided into different classes such as melee mutants, rifleman, heavy large mutants with machine-guns and grenade launchers and of course shotgun officers.

As you continue playing the game, you will eventually encounter the Hellbugs. Hellbugs are also broken up into different enemy divisions such as the small ones that try to jump on you and bite you, bigger ones that hit you in the face with their pincers, flying bugs that shoot-out dangerously but are easier to kill and the monstrous ones that are extremely large and require multiple people to take down.

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Raiders are typical humanoid gang-members that threaten innocent people and of course raid towns and military bases. Raiders are basically the street gangsters and robbers of Defiance in a nutshell.

Overall Presentation:

I think Defiance has a well-defined universe that has a beautiful future ahead of it when it comes to the world itself. The developers have crafted an interesting visual style, an interesting story and believable characters. I personally can’t wait to see what they will add to the table as the game’s story-line progresses and content patches are released.

The game now is almost a month old, and its still a baby, I cannot even imagine what will happen to the game in the next year or two. I remembered when Rift came out and how it didn’t have a lot of content at the time. Now, however, it’s a completely different beast and just has so much more now than it ever did. I have faith in Trion World, and we will see what will happen as the game lives on.

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The Leveling System:

The game’s leveling is based off the Ego that you earn every-time you level up. The higher your ego is, the more points you can spend to upgrade your character’s abilities through the Ego Grid. The Grid has 4 main powers that you can spec into at the beginning of the game.

The four powers are Blur, Invisibility, Decoy and Charge and each one is unique and has its own set of advantages. For example, when the player activates the Blur ability he/she can move a lot quicker to get closer to an enemy to get a quick melee hit in or a shotgun shot in the face. The player may also use it to get away from a gun-fight or escape from a dangerous situation when the health is low, and the shield is down.

The Decoy power lets players send out a dummy of themselves to distract an enemy and trick them into shooting the fake target to either kill them or get away from the fight. Overcharge ability allows players to overcharge their gun for a major hit. This ability is more useful for players who want to be more offensive with their weapons and use offense as the best defense in every situation. Then the Invisibility power will let players go invisible and sneak up on other players during PvP or combat, or escape from a near-death situation.

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As you play the game and level up, you will start gaining more Ego points that will allow you to branch off from your main power into smaller skills that act as perks that you can later equip for bonuses. I picked Blur as my main power and Blur branches of into passive skills that include some sort of survival bonuses or damage boosts after killing an enemy with a melee attacks.

At the beginning, it doesn’t make a lot of difference, but as you go through the game and things start to get tougher that’s where the choices you make will undoubtedly start to matter between life and death during combat. Is this a good system? To be honest, I don’t truly know, but I like it and I think it’s fun, different and something that will require a lot of experimentation. MMOs are tricky in that regard, and it usually takes a particularly long time to see if this kind of stuff can certainly work for the game or not in the long run, so its hard to judge right now.

Progression:

Progressing in Defiance is lacking. MMOs are usually addicting because of character and gear progression, however, I didn’t feel that with Defiance. The loot in the game is strange while there are many different type of guns to collect there is no actual gear to wear. You will not be looking for helmets, gloves, pants or any sort of clothing whatsoever, all of clothing that you get is cosmetic gear that you can earn from achieving different goals in the game through the Pursuit system.

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Guns are the only type of loot that the game has while that kind of makes sense for third-person shooting action game, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for an MMO genre because MMOs were and still are always about finding that new piece of loot that makes your character +1 better. This makes the game feel as if it’s a single-player experience with new guns to collect that are not that much different. The more you use the gun the more experience points it will earn and eventually it will start leveling up. It’s an interesting system, but then that kind of breaks the point of finding new guns.

Why would anyone try to find new guns if they can just level up the one they have? Sad part is I had the same gun for a long time since the start of the game, and when I got a new one it didn’t feel much different, and it wasn’t that much useful either.

The Pursuit system in Defiance is nice and addicting. There are a ton of goals to achieve, that range from main questing, challenges, exploring all areas and so on. Completing these goals will actually reward players with cosmetic things like imposing looking outfits or new vehicles that they can drive in the world.

Traversing the world in Defiance is fun. The vehicles range from different type of ATVs and cars that can either be bought through vendors for a lot of scrap (scrap is the money currency in Defiance) or unlocked through Pursuits. It won’t be that long before you get your first vehicle. In the world of Defiance, the distances between missions are usually long and require a lot of traveling.

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Overall, I would say that Defiance has half of the progression correct and the other half incorrect. The Pursuit system is a good design for rewarding the elite players with plenty of cosmetic stuff and virtual achievements. However, the progression in terms of actual loot is not well-designed and feels boring.

Questing and Combat:

If you have played any other MMO games then questing in Defiance will be no different for the most part. The game is divided into different types of quests such as the story-line quests, side-quests and challenges. The story-line quests are the most fun and the best that the game has to offer. They are full of in-game cinematics, dialogue and voice acting, however, the best part is that they’re fun and not super repetitive, unlike the game’s side-quests.

The side-quests consist of telling players to go to a specific location, repair a generator and fight off enemies. The main issue with that is that those quests repeat way too much and instead of repairing a generator you may have to turn on three switches instead, which in reality are exactly same thing and nothing different.

After completing over 25 side-quests, I lost interest; instead I just started to focus on the story or the challenge missions that are more fun. Challenge missions are repeatable, and they can range from killing a ton of enemies within a certain amount of time to score a bronze, silver or gold medal to all the way to racing through checkpoints in your awesome ATV.

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The game also has something called Arkfalls. There are major and minor Arkfalls in the game as you go through phases you eventually face a boss that require a lot of players to take down. Players come in from different parts of the map to kill the monstrous Hellbug or fight off a mutant invasion. Doing this together is a lot of fun, especially with friends or people you may know. Seeing random players join the party is also interesting, because it makes the world feel alive and that you’re not the only one involved in the game.

The combat in Defiance is real-time and feels great for the most part. Its designed well enough to feel like a fast paced action game, and it gives a good break from the old-fashioned MMO combat.

However, the combat is not without its issues due to the horrible A.I in the game. The A.I. in the game is so dumb that most of the time the enemies either stand still to get shot or don’t even move away from grenades when they’re right next to them. It’s hard to die in Defiance, because of how silly the A.I. is, however, when there is a pack of enemies it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and killed.

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The death system in Defiance is too forgiving in my opinion. The first time your health reaches zero, you have a chance to do self-recovery and get back up into the action right away. Meanwhile, if you die again, you will res-pawn instantly not too far from where you originally got killed. Its also possible for another player to revive you if you do not wish to re-spawn.

The only penalty that players get from dying is a loss of scrap and that’s it. This death system basically destroys the entire challenge in the game. I personally do not like this system, and I think the game needs to tweak the penalty after they die.

Co-op Play:

In Defiance players can participate in special cooperative missions which are essentially the same thing as a dungeon from other MMO games. As you and your buddies level up by playing the game at a natural pace, you will eventually start unlocking co-operative missions. Once you have unlocked these missions, you may queue up for whichever mission you want to do.

One of the missions I did was called ‘Liberate the Lost’. In this mission, me and three other players were tasked with cleaning out some sort of military building full of mutants. The pace felt decent, and the combat was challenging, (expect when the A.I acted dumb) once we have reached the end of the mission we were tasked with killing a boss. The boss surprisingly was hard to kill, and it took us a few tries before we managed to take him down.

The cooperative missions are fun to do, and they’re well designed. I recommend you participate in them, especially if you have buddies that you enjoy gaming with.

PVP System:

PvP in Defiance is quite fun. The game provides battleground-like matches where players participate in team death-match battles. There were two different playable maps, Waterfront and Observatory. Waterfront is 6 versus 6; meanwhile Observatory is a bigger map and supports up to 16 players in 8 versus 8. The PvP combat itself feel great, its fast-paced, hit detection works fine, lag was none-existent, and it felt as if you were playing an online third-person competitive multiplayer title.

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Defiance PvP also offers something called Shadow War. Shadow War is equivalent of Battlefield 3’s Conquest mode where players are pitted in large scale 64 versus 64 open-world battles for zone capture and land control. I think I had the most fun playing Shadow War because it makes the game feel much more open and immersive as opposed to your standard battlegrounds that are instanced.

For example, I spawned with a sniper rifle and went up a hill near a capture point and was guarding it against the opposing team from a distance. Its fascinating to get this level of freedom in an MMO game.

However, PvP is not without its issues due to some abilities being overpowered such as invisibility and guns that infest players with some sort of alien goo that spawns bugs after the player dies. I am not surprised that there are some balancing problems, this is a new game and PvP will always be changing and evolving. I personally think the PvP in its current state just needs a few balancing tweaks, and it will be better, but its acceptable as of now.

Defiance_Screen18Conclusion:

Trion World has definitely put a lot of thought and effort into designing this brand new Sci-Fi MMO, and I personally think the game has a lot of potential. MMO games are really hard to judge, especially when they first launch due to the amount of bugs, server issues and lack of content. However, Trion World had proved before that they can do a highly good job when it comes to improving games and they did that with their first MMO game called Rift.

I think Defiance has a vast future ahead of it, all it needs is time and feedback for a year or so and this game will be a lot better than it is today. Thanks to the game’s attractive art-style, fun story-line quests, addicting Pursuit/Achievement system, and Ego Points leveling system makes the game unique and lets it stand out from other MMOs.

This game was reviewed on the PC.

The Good

Fun combat, nice art-style and overall feel, has a lot of potential in the future, great driving mechanics, leveling system is interesting and different, Arkfalls are great, No monthly fee, Micro-transactions feel non-existent and the game is not pay-to-win.

The bad

A.I is really dumb, some weapons sound really dinky when they fire, side-quests can get repetitive, progression/gear is kind of lacking, death system is too forgiving.

FINAL VERDICT

Defiance is a new Sci-Fi MMO that is different and yet similar to other MMOs. The game has great potential, but currently lacks good character progression and has A.I issues that need to be addressed. However, Trion Worlds have put a lot of effort and thought into this and you should give it a shot.


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