Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 04/02/13 | Genre: MMO
To tie in with the release of the new Syfy television show, Defiance, Trion has released a game of the same name that will tie into elements of the show as each episode is released. So when something happens in the show, it will change the world of the game and vice-versa for events in the game changing the show. Sounds impressive, on paper. But how does this work in a real, live, game and TV show?
The number one thing you have to worry about, when releasing a game, is 'Do I have enough content and will it hold the attention of my audience? This is where Trion went a bit awry. Defiance offers a main story line but if the player only follows this, they won't have more than a few weeks, at the most, of gameplay. There are optional side-missions available but these are very stale when compared to the main storyline and can get very repetitive and bland after a short time.
A fun diversion from the story and side missions are the co-op instances, which most all players love. Unfortunately, the number of instances that exist, at the time of this review, really isn't that impressive. And then there are the Arkfalls. These are a lot like... No, pretty much the exact equivalent of the Rifts, in Trion's more traditional MMO, Rift. In Defiance, Arkfalls are much improved over Rifts. They are a little more spread apart and there is a lot of variety between the different Arkfalls that exist.
Another gameplay element are the Shadow Wars. These are complete and utter chaos where you drop in with other queued players for War within part of the world. Sadly, though these exist to be fun fights to kill the other team, they end up being extremely boring. Why? First, it's difficult to identify friend from foe. Next, there are just so many people! It would have been nice if they would put every 4 to six players in a squad, with a color and indicator over their heads, or do something else to distinguish them from other players. This is just an excuse to have mindless PVP and it is a complete mess. Sadly, once you complete the storyline and side missions, this is all that is left to do. Trion really needed to develop more content before releasing Defiance.
Another area where Defiance falls short is the UI or User Interface. Seeing a game have a truly exceptional UI, is somewhat rare. I would have to say that Defiance takes the cake for having one of the worst. Playing through the game, you will find it hard to quit the game, bring up your inventory, find your map, equip items, sell items, see how much inventory space you have remaining, etc. This is just a mess.
But I am not done. Whoever thought of binding a menu to the Left Alt key really needs to re-think their desire to design games. In Defiance you are normally in control of where your character is looking in third-person. Wait, what's that? You hit the Left Alt key on accident, because it sits right below your 'pinky' finger and right in the middle of a big battle or some other inconvenient time, a menu comes up and your probably dead. For the love of all things that are good--please patch this horrible UI and default buttons ASAP!
As you start the game, the character customization is almost impossible to customize. If you aren't really aren't looking over every nook and cranny for the buttons to customize your character, you are going to end up with the generic, default, look that everyone else has. If you are able to locate the buttons, you will run into the next problem. The variety of elements to choose for your character isn't impressive. To make matters worse, all of the armor and items to change your look are all extremely bland and boring. To make yourself look unique and different, you will need to spend real cash. Yes, after dropping 60 bones for the title, you need to spend money in micro-transactions to make up for the lack of customization on your character.
Now, to talk about the physics... Everybody loves having no fall-damage, right? I think that I can safely say that that is a good thing. Also, nobody likes trying to dodge bullets, while looking down a scope, just to find that they fall off the the spot the were perched on, and now have no shields or are missing a big chunk of health. That's just not fun. So, Yay! Trion did this part of the game well. However, they failed miserably with the horrendous vehicle physics. Picture this: you can drive over the smallest little object with a tiny edge protruding from the ground and it will cause your vehicle to either:
(1) Bounce it's front end into the air like it hit a huge spring
(2) Your vehicle stops as if you hit a wall
This is just one example of how the vehicle physics are absolutely horrible. Instead of trying to fix these issues, players can simply despawn their vehicle and respawn another. Trion, please fix this. having a workaround to resolve the issue is lazy at best.
In summary, Defiance has amazing potential. However, Trion fell short of delivering. Given that it is an Action MMO, with no subscription fee, they have the time, and opportunity to fix the shortcomings of this game. However, they will need to do it sooner rather than later if they want to keep their player-base growing and thriving. For now, my recommendation, at this point in time, is to "Try It." Hopefully Trion fixes these issues and we can change the recommendation to "Buy It."