Enlisting in the Shadow War
Defiance heavily emphasizes working with your fellow man, but there is a time and place for shooting your fellow man in his face. Shadow War is Defiance’s large-scale PvP offering. How large? We’re talking 64 vs 64 in an open world area. Capturing points and taking out other players ins’t your only concern. Since this is the open world, enemy AI can found wandering around as well, providing you with another target that requires your attention (and ammunition). The control points still remain your primary concern, as they will contribute to the win — kills only add to your personal points. I found Shadow War to be an entertaining mode that should appease MMO and competitive shooter fans alike.
The Transmedia Connection
Trion and SyFy have teamed up to bring one of the most intriguing connections seen in gaming. This experiment sees the game directly impacting the TV series and vice versa. Episode Missions can be found (only four at the moment) which tie in directly with the show and focus on the series’ stars Josh and Irisa. Switching between the two media formats to catch up with what’s going on in the world of Defiance has potential. However, we haven’t seen too much of this yet. Following Defiance’s TV debut, Armistice Day celebrations appeared in-game via fireworks and igniting the “Light of the Fallen”. Even data recorders and emergency type missions were added. This isn’t much to go off and I can’t yet claim that the connection will be a great success, but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on. We’ll get a better feel for the quality of this crossover once more Episode Missions make their way out and we see how much the show and game will alter each other.
Hellbugs Aren’t the Only Bugs
Defiance had a rocky launch, this we know. Confusing menus, broken chat, dropped visuals and ever-occurring maintenance kept players from fully enjoying what Defiance had to offer. A hefty patch has been released that had hoped to alleviate most of these issues, but the game still has quite a way to go. To be fair, most MMOs don’t debut in pristine condition. Defiance is no different. The potential is there; it’s just weighed down by its issues. In a genre defined by the ability to play and communicate with others, it was baffling to see a broken chat system that didn’t allow proper communication. Furthermore, the chat system is embedded in a small menu tree, making it a pain to get to and showing that this game designed with consoles in mind, where most people have a headset. Even playing the game solo didn’t help avoid the other issues. Riding on your quad can be a great deal of fun. That is, unless you hit something that failed to appear immediately. The physics on vehicles could use some work. The thud that occurs when hitting a tiny object that brings your quad or car to a complete halt became a noise I dreaded hearing. Constantly being reminded that I had a “new” Co-Op Mission available that had been unlocked long ago didn’t help the situation either. Defiance has some more work ahead of it so that it can clear this fog away and allow us to see the game for what it truly is.
Rinse and Repeat
Variety is the spice of life, and the same could be said about video games. Dealing with the same things over and over can be rather dull. Unfortunately, repetition can be found in many areas of Defiance. For starters, there is the dialogue. The side missions may be fun, but hearing the exact same dialogue for the twentieth time as you start one up is not. The same lines are spewed over and over. This may be even more true for your obnoxiously-voiced AI companion, which seems heavily inspired by Cortana, that is embedded in your EGO implant.
You’ll have to invest a good portion of time to encounter the more interesting enemies that actually require some form of tactics. One such enemy is the 99er’s Goldrusher who will switch from a ranged shooter to an enraged melee beast once his shields go down. Basically, after you get passed the early stages of seeing only Hellbugs and Raiders, you’ll find more formidable and interesting enemies. Although, the Raider Blasters can sure put you down on the ground with two explosive shots rather quickly, leaving you to decide whether you want to self-revive (assuming it isn’t in a cooldown) or extract.
Finally, I have to touch upon the Arkfalls. Yes, these battles are humongous and epic, but after so many, you’ll get tired of spewing bullets into the same rocks. It won’t take too long before you’ve seen the different types of Arkfalls and everything they have to offer. Defiance needs to shake things up and, hopefully, the upcoming Episode Missions will do just that.
Putting an End to the End Game
In many ways, Defiance lives up to the MMO genre. But in one way, one very important way, it does not. You will not find much in the form of end game content here. If you were hoping for heroic dungeons and/or raids, you’re out of luck. Trion plans on providing future content that ties in with the show and other DLC. For this reason, they did not concern themselves with end game content, which is sure to leave dedicated players unhappy. At the time of writing this, Trion has allowed the story missions to be replayed. So, if you found yourself at the finish line already, feel free to do it all again. That sounds fun, right?
Defiance is a solid MMO shooter that is at odds with itself due to some poor design choices and bugs. That being said, the spirit of the game has yet to let go of me. There’s always something pulling me back, whether it’s finding the next best gun, seeing how the TV show changes the game or just wanting to pop a few 99ers with the tight aiming system. It’s a game where you play how you want to and there are numerous options available to you in how you play and what you play. You’ll never be left with nothing to do in the world of Defiance. The main problem is that quantity does not equal quality. The story is engaging and the various game modes offer something for everyone, but the game in its current state is being held back. Trion has their work cut out for them and, with time and patches, Defiance could rise up and become an excellent MMO and a successful experiment.[Editor’s Note: Defiance was reviewed on the PC. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]