Early Impressions.

#1 Edited by DonChipotle (2714 posts) -

Defiance, so far, is not a particularly great game. I don't think it's bad, but if I wasn't the kind of guy who impluse buys anything that is remotely classified as sci-fi I would not have bothered picking it up...for full price.

For those of you who do not know, Defiance is a new third person shooter MMO. What makes this 'unique' is that it is an MMO that can be played on consoles. Like DC Universe Online but also on the 360 and there is no Batman. Defiance exists in some weird world where it is technically based on a television show (that has yet to debut) but also is its own thing and characters from the show will be in the game and vice versa. I dunno. The show, from what little research I did, seems to take place in a border town and is a sci-fi western or something. The game takes place (so far, anyway) in Sausalito. Well it takes place in the Bay Area but it opens in Sausalito.

Because I am a fool I bought the 360 version. I figured if this was a console MMO why not play it on a console with a controller I am familiar playing third person shooters with. Outside of no one chatting (text or voice) it's totally playable. Left trigger aims, left bumper is power, right trigger shoots, right bumper is grenade. Simple.

Defiance is an MMO first and a third person shooter second. It is very loot-oriented as it should be. Like, say, Borderlands the game takes place in a sort of burned out wasteland (except this time it is Earth so I guess Fallout could be more appropriate) where you, as an Ark Hunter, run around doing missions, getting guns, and driving your car. You get your car/mount very early on which is great because the starting area alone is pretty damn large. You spend the first few levels fighting the skag equivalent (exploding bugs that also jump at you!) and mutant humans before having free reign to run around and do little challenges including racing because that's what MMOs need. Race mini games. Oh also you re constantly being talked to by a computer lady in white. Only she is voiced by Laura Bailey so it is like having Rise tell you to shoot things or where quests are.

There are also challenges like those that raised your Badass rank in Borderlands. Typical things like "melee x number of enemies" and the like. Just more ways to raise EGO.

I hesitate to say there are classes in Defiance. Rather there are four archetypes. Veteran, Outlaw, Engineer, and Survivor. Every 'class' has access to the exact same tree, here known as the EGO Grid. I picked the outlaw because the outfit looked the best. The only thing this did was start me off with a shotgun. So I've just stuck to shotguns. I chose the cloak EGO power so I can stealth around and shoot dudes with my shotgun that shoots three bolts of lazers at things. What I like about the EGO system is that they are geared to how you want to do things. Me I like shooting dudes in the face so picking cloak gave me access to such perks as "Critical hits (headshots) will refill some of your ammo" and "shooting dudes in the back will do more damage". It's kinda like FF12's license system where you have access to the whole board but you are locked out of shit until you get enough EGO points to unlock more parts of the grid.

The EGO thing is their level equivalent. Rather than leveling up, you get one EGO point and that will increase your power level which will let you equip higher tiers of guns.

I can make a Guild Wars 2 comparison because one of the main draws of Defiance are its Arkfall quests. Remember in Guild Wars 2 how sometimes as you were walking around there would be an event for all the players to help out with? Arkfalls are that. They are multi-tiered quests that pop up on the map. They start off fairly normally enough, shooting things with more health because it is designed for a bunch of people to do it, and they always end with a big boss fight. You don't have to accept these quests, when they happen an icon will pop up on screen pointing you to it.

It is rather cool to see a bunch of people just shooting at shit together, but this is the 360 and sometimes with all that shit going down the framerate gets...it gets dicey.

After the Arkfall ends you are rewarded based on how much you helped. In addition to Arkfalls there are just random quests that will pop when driving towards sidequests or main quests. As you are driving, Laura Bailey will say "hey there are some mutants in the area" or "hey you should help those medical people" and a little area quest will start. Totally optional.

My main gripe with the tracked quests is that you can only have accept one quest at a time. And they can be pretty spaced out in terms of where to go to get a quest so it would've been nice to, you know, be able to have more than one quest active at a time.

Another issue I have is that none of the guns (at least not yet- I am still in the starting zone) feel good to shoot. I roll with a shotgun and a pistol for the most part but neither gun feels like they do anything to enemies, probably because it is an MMO. For a gun that is supposed to wreck dudes up close, it sure does take way too many shots to kill anything other than a bug. That could easily change as I find better weapons.

On that note the shooting itself is kinda eh. It's sub Mass Effect 3 shooting and Mass Effect 3 wasn't a fantastic shooter. There isn't a cover system in Defiance, more of a "crouch behind a car but oh wait enemy bullets can still hit you oh well" system.

But all that said, I am kinda interested in digging into the game deeper. It is nothing if not ambitious. Plus it is the only other game besides Person 4 that I can pretend Laura Bailey is really in my head. Which I appreciate.

#2 Posted by Anund (881 posts) -

It's downloading now! I would have to say I am cautiously optimistic, hehe.

#3 Posted by EarlessShrimp (1632 posts) -

I just have to say Sausalito sounds delicious. One of my favorite ways to get turkey in a deli.

#4 Posted by JesterPC238 (341 posts) -

I'm thoroughly enjoying it, I've played about 4 hours of the game and I think I really like it. It's janky, sure, and the enemy ai is ocassionaly terrible, but once you start to understand how pursuits and weapon levels work with the progression system everything starts to make more sense. I'm playing on PC and playing with a 360 controller helps the shooting feel better, wasn't feeling it with mouse and keyboard. I'll probably post an impressions piece once I'm a little further in, but early impressions are pretty positive.

#5 Posted by fisk0 (3987 posts) -

The new releases stream made it look interesting enough, I think. I'm kinda considering getting the PS3 version, there's a PS+ discount on the regular edition, but there's also some digital deluxe thing there which they don't explain at all what it contains. Will probably get the PC version on some Steam sale later on.

Will be interesting to see how much we'll get of the crosspollination with the TV show, and of course, if the TV show will stay around at all (and if it's cancelled, how that'll affect the game).

#6 Posted by DonChipotle (2714 posts) -

I'm thoroughly enjoying it, I've played about 4 hours of the game and I think I really like it. It's janky, sure, and the enemy ai is ocassionaly terrible, but once you start to understand how pursuits and weapon levels work with the progression system everything starts to make more sense. I'm playing on PC and playing with a 360 controller helps the shooting feel better, wasn't feeling it with mouse and keyboard. I'll probably post an impressions piece once I'm a little further in, but early impressions are pretty positive.

Having put some more time into it I am coming around to the game. I'm enjoying it more than I was at first. I still think only being able to track one quest is annoying but I'm having fun shooting dudes with some of the new weapons I am finding.

I am eager to see how the PvP in this game is.

#7 Edited by mao16 (107 posts) -

I can safely say I've put a decent amount of time into the game (lvl250) to understand the basics. The shooting is decent though nothing great, it isn't bad however and perfectly serviceable. Note I have the pc version. On the topic of the PC version, the interface is garbage. No changes have been made to the UI and it is clearly designed for a controller. The lack of any customization options and a truly terrible chat system just makes this worse. Graphics are serviceable and do manage to maintain a high FPS at all times (have a GTX570). However there are virtually no graphics options, unless you count low, med and high as options. This might be a good game but it feels like a rushed port in every respect.

Gameplay wise as I said the guns feel varied and have a nice kick to them. The progression system feels fairly unique and is classless but I can't comment on how it holds up later on. The number of guns themselves seem fairly limited for such a loot driven game but that seems to be more in the service of balance as none of the weapons are of an order of magnitude better then others. Upgrades come in the form of status effects determined by drops and slight stat buffs in the form of attachable mods. It seems very difficult to get the exact gun you want as status effects and slight stat boosts are totally random. The only thing you can control are the mods. For example I have yet to obtain an assault rife that shoots electricity and has a -0.10 to recoil as the bonus stat. The only way to obtain weapons so far are from drops, random stuff in stores and quests. There is no auction house. Your other gear works in basically the same way. Armor is purely cosmetic.

PvE is clearly the focus of the game. Quests themselves are somewhat varied but started to get tedious/ repetitive around lvl200. Basically nothing new. The fact that you can only have one active quest at a time and need to go to a specif location to start each one, then travel to the quest location got annoying really quickly. Open quests are also here and do exactly what you expect them to. Go to a marker that shows up on the map, participate in the short objectives given with or without anyone else who happens to be in the area and get rewarded. More complex and longer versions of these open quests exist in the form of Arkfalls and require much larger groups and involve multiple events happening simultaneously (think rifts from Trion's other game Rift). PvP takes places in instances involving groups of players from around 6v6 to 64v64. There doesn't seem to be many maps. The good thing about PvP is that everyone has fairly low durability and goes down pretty quickly. Head shots from snipers can kill in one hit at full health. PvP felt good but limited in the number of maps available and seems tacked on as an afterthought. There is no territory control or reason to PvP except for exp and cash. There is also no PvP outside of said instances.

The other main draw for the game is the story. It is tied in with a TV show after all. From what I've seen the story seems fairly average. Nothing good and nothing bad. The world itself feels extremely bland. Interactions with the cast of the TV show were again, nothing special but not offensively bad. The voice acting is good for the most part but one of the main character who you end up with the most so far is terrible. Writing is again nothing special. It isn't bad but isn't good either. This doesn't bode well for the TV show.

That sums of the game, it isn't great but isn't outright bad. As a shooter there are much better options out there and for a plot driven mmo go play SWTOR it's free. As a MMO, whether you like themeparks or sandboxes there are much better options out there. For a PvE based console third person shooter mmo with an open world, well it's the only one out there. For a PC one it might be the best one ever made but that is hardly high praise. This does not feel worth $60, especially with all the promised DLC you will have to buy in the future. The fact you can also buy random weapons (for your current level) for real money in a fully priced $60 game with a $30 DLC pass on launch just stinks.

I'll keep playing since I dropped $60 on this but the only reason I did in the first place was because I wanted to support the company bringing Archeage to the west. Even then I feel disappointed.

Hopefully this first impression is full of inaccuracies, the tie-ins with the show are good and the game gets better over time but I somehow doubt that.

#8 Posted by fisk0 (3987 posts) -

@mao16: Since it's an MMO, I think we can at least hope to see UI and content improvements patched in over time, though that could be a thing that we're most likely to see in MMO's with an subscription model, which I don't think this has even as an option?

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