‘Defiance’ – First Impression

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Defiance is a new, exciting union between television and gaming that will allow fans of the tv series to partake in the events of the Defiance world via a MMO game designed and maintained by Trion Worlds.

As events unfold in the television series they will directly impact and affect the world of game and vice versa.

This is the first time in history that a television show and a game will exist concurrently in a shared universe, influencing and impacting one another.

And I  recently had the opportunity to test out the beta!


The Show – debuts on the American Syfy channel on April 15th, 2013.

Developed for television by Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape), Kevin Murphy, and Michael Taylor, Defiance is set in the year 2046, Earth is fair from the world we know. Thirty years since various alien races arrived and colonised on Earth, the landscape is completely altered and terraformed beyond recognition. Arriving to the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Australia’s own Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas).

As they settle into the town – run by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with unique and interesting residents such as the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), the enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace that this border town has fought and struggled for.

The Game – debuts April 2nd, 2013.

In the game of Defiance, players take on the role of Ark Hunters (Arks are the ships that brought the aliens to Earth). Ark Hunters are specialists in survival, combat and tracking who brave the dangerous frontiers of the old world to retrieve lost relics of advanced or alien origin in return for financial bounties.

Players can search for Arks by themselves, join other players for missions or just explore the fully realized, future world of Defiance.

Custom character creation allows players to adopt a human or alien appearance for their Ark Hunter. With weapons, armour and special abilities that evolve with experience, Defiance is a gaming experience that must be played to be believed.

Defiance, the MMO game, will be available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

 

The Beta

I recently had the opportunity to partake in the Advance Mission Beta #3 for the Defiance MMO on the Xbox 360.

Included in the beta was access to -

  • The Mount Tam and Madera regions.
  • Co-op battles on Angel Island and the Cronkhite Bunker.
  • Competitive multiplayer in the Freight yard and Observatory areas.

After several initial server issues I was able to create a character and get started.

 

Character Creation -

The character creation in the Defiance beta was minimal. You could choose whether your character was human or Irathient, male or female, skin tone, as well as a basic face shape which could then be changed to a point. You could also choose from a limited amount of hairstyles but there was no option to change hair colour. Body shape/size wasn’t included.

As this was just a beta, I assume that the full game will have a greater variety of physical customisation.

You also got to choose the speciality of your character – Ex-Soldier, Outlaw, Survivalist, or Engineer. I went with Ex-Soldier.

 

Graphics/Sound -

Even though this was a beta, I have to say that I found the graphics to be more than adequate. They weren’t the best currently on the market but they still stood up to current expectations and didn’t take anything away from my ability to immerse myself in the game.

Environments were well detailed and pleasing to the eye whether it was alien flora or an old, run down building. You really felt that the environment was both familiar and alien at the same time.

Audio was decent and the voice acting was surprising- that’s to say it was a lot better than I expected.

Overall, I was very happy with the graphics and sound.

 

Gameplay -

Before we go any further I should make it known that I am NOT a fan of MMO’s. I’ve tried to play several of them (WoW, Rift, Guild Wars 2, Runes of Magic) but I’ve never found them fun to play or interesting. Some of this has to do with the fact that I’m not a big PC gamer and I don’t like the interface MMO’s have. Another aspect is that I don’t like being forced to play with others – I’m not a very social gamer (I never have my mic on when playing multiplayer). My only interest in trying out the Defiance beta was to get a taste of the world that the television series will be set in as I have been looking forward to the show for many months now. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to see how a MMO would work on a console.

So, now knowing the kind of mindset I went into the beta with I hope you can fully appreciate my next statement – Defiance is awesome!!!

Okay, so it was only a beta and it had its issues but even so, it was clear to see that this game was going to be a LOT of fun to play.

As I understand it, the weapon you start out with is dependent on your starting class. Since I chose Ex-Soldier I started out with an assault rifle, however, from very early on I was able to change and equip any weapon I came across (though I mostly stuck with my assault rifle). Weapons can also be customised. Plus, like in Borderlands 1, the more you used a particular weapon the more experienced and efficient you became at using it.

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In addition to your main weapon you also have a slot for a pistol, grenades, and your special E.G.O abilities.

E.G.O abilities are special ‘powers’ that can be unlocked and help to assist players in combat. There are four primary E.G.O abilities – Invisibility, Decoy, Overcharge, and Speed. Once an E.G.O ability has been selected you then start to gain ego points that allow you to further augment your skill set. I chose the invisibility skill set. Once chosen, additional supplementary skills unlocked i.e. an option to cause more damage when attacking an enemy from behind.

Combat was fun! How you engage your enemies is mostly up to you. You have the choice to be stealthy and flank your enemies or go rush into a fight with guns blazing. This where your E.G.O abilities really paid off as they helped determine how you would approach a combat situation. My favoured approach was to rush in and then use my E.G.O ability to turn invisible and position myself behind my enemies.

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Only a small part of the world was open to players during the beta but there were still plenty of options in regards to events (hourly Arkfall events, timed events etc) as well as the main/side quests.

When I first accessed the map, I was worried that a lot of the game would be spent running from point A to point B but thankfully the devs addressed this by granting players their own transport – a growler. Pretty much a four-wheeled, all-terrain motorbike that can be summoned at the press of a button, allowing for instant transport. Extremely useful for getting around. Better still – they could be driven ANYWHERE! Why, yes, I will just drive my growler into the command tent!
Of course, you could always run around on foot but the amount of ammo you would go through fighting off enemies along your way was painful.

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As for the controls and interface, I quickly became accustomed to the controls which felt very intuitive and well-thought out. I also liked the way they incorporated the chat function with the choice between pre-programmed chat options/actions and the ability to type messages yourself.

There was one issue I had – region locking. On the Xbox 360 you don’t have a choice of what server you play on. This caused problems for me at times as being in Australia I tended to play at off-peak times for whichever server I was on (I’m not certain if Australia was playing on the EU or US server) and that ment there were times when there just didn’t seem to be anyone else playing which made it very hard to partake in Arkfall events – I’m not the worse at shooter games but me against 80 enemies is never going to end well for me. Due to this reason, if you are considering whether to get Defiance on PC or console, I’d suggest you go with the PC version, at least that way you can select your server.
Overall, the gameplay felt fun, considered and well balanced. The quests I did were mostly enjoyable and non-repetitive.

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Based on the beta alone I would recommend fans of this type of game to definately consider purchasing the game. As someone who is usually strongly adverse to games of this nature, I can tell you that I fully intend to play this game! It’s fun, it’s solid and it’s going to be a ground-breaking game in terms of cross-entertainment story-telling.

 

I can’t wait to see what the full game is like!

 

 

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Written by Kellyann

Kel prefers roleplaying games and hopes to some day command her own spaceship.

  • http://twitter.com/Laika_one Celestial Pup

    Great preview Kel! I shall have to keep my eye on this one :3

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