Document Status, Version
Defiance The Game
This is a late review to the game Defiance. A failed attempt by Trion Worlds and Syfy to link a TV show and with a Massive Multiplayer Online Game. The game failed to capture the attention of gamers world wide, with some pointless backstory and dull character development. The TV show wasn't that bad but it didn't have anything to do with the game - at least not until season 2 when certain events in the game reflected the TV show's development. It's not even that good of a shooter but it's free-to-play now, so let's give it a whirl.
No changes to the beta test. The character creation and customisation options are extremely limited. You get to pick two humanoid characters of both genders - Humans and Irathiens. The last one is locked behind DLC. You choose between four origin stories which have no impact to the gameplay.
You get up to 3 presets for each face. The defaults are pretty ugly. Luckily you don't have to look at them for long as they're always facing away from you or have helmets on.
I went with an Irathian Female, Veteran, and a younger look with some warpaint.
That basically concludes the character creation module.
Story arc (spoiler alert)
The story starts with some scenes on board on a "Strato-Carrier" an airborne battle cruiser. The scenes place the character you've created on board as a relic hunter (Borderlands anyone?) working for a scientist / "asshole" of Von Bach Industries. You're given insight into how much the characters hate each other, and some vague pieces of lore, including the EGO cybernetic implant that's been implanted into your skull. This is also the first time you meet two characters from Syfy's Defiance TV show. They are recurring characters that will appear at different points of the story arc throughout the season 1 content.
Long story short, shit happens and you're now on the planet below. Your first instinct is to pick up a weapon and get your cybernetic implant or EGO sorted out. Your implant's AI guides you through the rest of the tutorial, who happens to be more than just an artificial interface for your implant, but an actual intelligent being with a personality of her own.
You meet Cass for the first time. Who seems to be a salvager or just some random samaritan. She helps you out of your crashed pod and guides you to the nearest military base setup by the surviving crew of the Strato-Carrier. Her personality was borderline annoying and I was hoping I could leave her after the first 15 minutes of the game. She sort of sticks around for your story missions and the game doesn't really give you any other options but to agree with everything.
The military and the VBI
Your first mission is to help the military grunts (who are useless on their own) conduct Search and Rescue. You're also thrown into battle with the local militia and wildlife. The local militia are mutant human soldiers from the Battle of Defiance. More of that lore is explained if you watched Syfy's TV show, but if you didn't then you're out of luck. After 5 hours of gameplay I still don't know what is going on.
You're then told to go find your boss from Von Bach Industries before the shitstorm. The game takes you through several story campaigns until you find this dude who appears to be critical to the story arc.
The recurring characters that make an appearance now and then...
Every now and then you'll run into Syfy's Defiance characters who are ark hunters as well. They just want to make money and offer you a job every now and then. It's intriguing but not enough to warrant long term investment to figure out their involvement.
In light of the above, this is why the game never took off. The story arc is the weakest element of the game. It's pretty pointless to force a player into a desolate world without trying to even justify why I should care to play the game. This was a subscription game initially, plus AAA title price tag!
Defiance is a bland desolate wasteland. You're not given reasons to care about the story, the lore, characters or why you should keep playing. You're expected to just go out and kill everything in sight because they are there to be killed! Most of the content is done solo. It's pretty difficult to find someone else to play with you now - especially two years after the launch. A lot of this content is designed around small groups and it can get pretty tough solo.
The zone-wide Arkfall events are probably the only thing that works in the game. This is the only time you'll see large groups of players working towards some objective and the cycle of killing is pretty fun. The disparity between players are quite noticeable especially between those with high burst damage loadouts compared to sustained damage over time. A lot of the monsters that spawn at group events are damage sponges and you need to essentially have two sets of gear - one for solo gameplay, another for group events.
There are supernatural critters from mutants to hellbugs. The cycle of killing isn't spectacular. And I think the team at Trion dropped the ball on this one. The gun feedback is weak and the animations are clunky. The combat cycle is about as clunky as The Secret World when it launched.
The background music was so irritating I turned it off after the first couple of combat engagements!
I recall complaining about the lack of social features in Defiance during the beta. At least they've added a zone-wide chat now. It's still a pretty clunky user interface especially when it was designed around the console platform. A PC game with a console interface - what were they thinking?
3 out of 5
Pros: It's free to play now. Cash shop is optional.
Cons: Clunky UI, solo game majority of the time until the occasional zone wide Arkfall.
Should you give it a try? Yes, if you don't have anything else to do. Don't really recommend long term investment as there is a distinct lack of community.