Defiance Review

Defiance is a third person shooter open world MMO that is based on the SyFy show of the same name, and is developed by Trion. Creating your character is more about what they look like and nothing to do with what skills they can use while playing. You can play as a male or female human or Irathient character, only differing in what they look like. Face and skin color are the only things that you can customize, and the starting outfit you get is based on your background. Everyone comes equipped with a shield and the same amount of health. Shield and health will both regenerate if you have not been hit by anything after a set amount of time.

Instead of the normal leveling system of other MMOs, where you go from level 1 to 50 or so, Defiance uses the EGO system that simply tracks your progression through the game. You will start at 20 and the cap is around 5000 EGO rating. Leveling your weapon and vehicle skills, completing pursuits, simply leveling your character up, and other things, will all contribute to your EGO rating. The rating itself won’t make you any stronger, though at certain ratings you will earn more inventory slots and the ability to enter co-op dungeons.

Quite possibly the only thing that doesn’t get stale about Defiance, the huge selection of weapons available to you can keep you busy deciding what is best. There are a variety of types of guns, that range from pistols and machine guns to infectors and BMGs. Each type of gun can even come in multiple different variances, such as shotguns that shoot grenades and rocket launchers that split apart after the initial blast and creating more blasts. All weapons can have randomly assigned bonuses on them, such as more melee damage or higher accuracy. The rarity of guns that you find affect them the most, since they will have more bonuses and a lot of mod slots. Weapon strength does not improve as you go through the game, and they only vary based on the bonus that are present on them. Nano effects can also be found on weapons, randomly triggered effects that apply when they hit an enemy, such as fire that does damage over time or the syphon effect that will heal you or recharge or shield.

Every time that you level up, you will gain an EGO Unit that you apply on your EGO grid. You must first choose one of four EGO powers, which are decoy, overcharge, blue, and cloak. After that, you can begin to unlock the perks that surround them. All perks are very different from one another, and rarely give passive bonuses that apply at all times. This means that different combinations of perks can create new styles of play, such as getting all the crouching perks that increase your critical damage and decreasing the damage you take will make a sniper role fitting. Each perk can be leveled up three times, and it is possible to unlock other EGO powers.

Very early in the game you will acquire your first vehicle, an ATV of some sort called a runner, and you can eventually get rollers which look more like cars. There are various models of each type of vehicle, each having a different color scheme and set of stats. Every vehicle has the ability to boost, helping you reach your destination faster. Running over enemies is possible, but hitting the larger ones will cause your vehicle to be destroyed and you without shields.

Every type of gun and vehicle will have a skill assinged to them. Simply using each weapon and vehicle in the way they’re intended will earn experience towards the next level. Every time that you level a skill up, a bonus will be applied to that category from now on. Bonuses can range from higher damage and faster reload on weapons, to more hp and faster speed on vehicles. You can only gain weapon skill experience if the gun you are using hasn’t filled its mastery bar yet.

While playing Defiance, you will accumulate currencies such as Scrip, Ark Salvage, and Key Codes. Scrip is your basic money that can be used to purchase merchandise such as weapons and vehicles. Ark Salvage is another common currency that is used in some stores but mainly to upgrade and mod your weapons. Key codes allow you to purchase Lock Boxes that contain a random assortment of weapons, and they are obtained through Arkfalls, co-op missions, and most pursuits.

Many different enemy factions within the world of Defiance exist and each have their strengths and weaknesses. Mutants are basically humans that have mutated somewhat because of the Arkfall events, and they consist of gun wielding souldiers, cleaver wielding berserkers, and large Bio-Men with chainguns and grenade launchers. Raiders are another group of humans, that have rocket launchers and riot shield users, along with their large elite the Tanker only vulnerable to his back. 99ers could be classified as humans, but they’ve modifed 80% or more of their body so they’re essentially cyborgs now, and besides gun users they also have flamethrowers, a large grenade tosser, and the goldrusher who goes into a berserk mode when his health gets low. The Dark Matter is a group of people who are highly technological, able to deploy barricades and even mechs to help their cause. Inflicted are people who were exposed to a plague and has basically turned them into zombies, with the strongest type enclosed in a protective shell. Scrappers are robots that have formed from the wreckage of the great Arks, all being large sturdy hulks that can either fly or bombard the area with blasts. Hellbugs are menacing insects with great maws that try to swarm you with their larger and larger melee warriors, though they do have flyers that shoot at you and even tentacles that will rain down mortar shots. Most enemies can come in an elite variety, which just makes them stronger than normal.

Whether you’re doing story, side, or dynamic events, they all have the same basic mission objectives. Missions typicially instruct you to go to a certain area and find data recorders, rescue people, turning off turret generators, or just simply killing everything. They might not be like the quests you get in other games such as killing X pigs or collecting Y teeth, but they can still get quite repetitive.

You will recieve special contracts from the various factions of Defiance to complete on a daily or weekly basis. They are automatically obtained and will reset when the day or week has come to an end. Daily contracts generally want you to kill a random 20 type of enemy in a specific area, and weekly contracts generally want you to kill a random 100 type of enemy in an area as well. Completing these will earn you reputation, which is also a special type of currency that allows you to buy the rarest types of weapons, as well as letting you actually see their stats before hand. There are also special titles that you can earn if you can save up 1000 reputation from each faction.

Arkfalls are the large world events that happen every once in a while. They consist of an Ark Core that has fallen and you will need to rush there to either destroy it, or the enemies that have been attracted ot it. There are different versions of Arkfalls based on the faction of enemies present, and there are generally two of each type. Smaller Arkfalls just consist of a single core, while the much larger Arkfalls have multiple cores present spread out in a large area. After destroying all the smaller ones in a major Arkfall event, a final area surrounded by multiple Ark Cores will appear along with a boss in the middle of them. When you complete either a minor or makor Arkfall event, a reward screen will appear with all the experience and money you have earned, as well as equipment.

Even though the game Defiance takes place around San Fransisco and the SyFy show takes place around the former city of St. Louis, there are a few tie-ins between the two. There are episode missions that you can complete where you will run into familiar faces, such as Josh and Irisa Nolan. Most of this content won’t always be available, only for a time after the episode airs, and a lot of the tie-ins won’t make sense to you unless you’re watching the show as well.

Other than just missions to do out in the world, you can run into a variety of Activities to complete as well. These activities will let you earn a bronze, silver, or gold trophy which will reward you accordingly. You can find time trials, hotshots, and rampages. Time trials will place you on a vehicle and you will have to follow a set course through rings and hope you can do it fast enough to earn gold. Hotshots give you a gun and you have to kill enough enemies and get a big enough combo to earn enough points before you die or run out of ammo. Rampages are like hotshots, except you pretty much have unlimited ammo and have a time limit as well to worry about, though you can still easily die.

Instead of achievements, you have pursuits to go after in Defiance. Each pursuit is a list of related objectives that you need to complete in order to finish the pursuit. The objectives can range from finding a set of data recorders, doing certain tricks in your vehicles, or completing all the different objectives during a co-op mission. Most pursuits just simply increase your EGO rating by 5, while other special ones can reward you with outfits and titles to display on your character.

At certain EGO levels or progress through the main storyline you will unlock various co-op missions that you can enter. Each one groups you with 3 other players and you must work your way through an area with a specific faction of enemies to defeat the boss at the end. Other than the special boss at the end, co-op missions are exactly like all the other missions.

All PvP will take place in matchmaking, as there is no open world PvP of any kind. There are currently three smaller maps that are either about capturing points or team death match. One very large map that allows 64 Vs 64 players is available, but because of its size you can expect the waiting period to be very long. Other than the PvP modes being the same that exist in other games, the main unique thing about them is that they use your character directly with a few minor changes. You can use the same weapons that you use out in the world, as well as perks. Your vehicle cannot be used however, though there are a few spawned vehicles that you can use.

There isn’t necessarily a start to the endgame in Defiance, since you are pretty much always doing the same thing throughout the story. Though when you are done with the main story missions, everything else can just be considered grinding. You can go around and finish all of the side missions and activities, play co-op or PvP matches with other players, complete major Arkfalls as they appear, achieve the various pursuits, do daily and weekly contracts, and level all of your weapon and vehicle skills. There is no type of progression, as everything is unlocked around 500 EGO rating, so you won’t be doing raids with other players to get stronger to do even tougher raids.

Not necessarily similar, but Defiance does feel like a mixture of a bunch of known games. The shooting and gun aspect feels a lot like Borderlands, along with the vehicles. It being open and having vehicles is a lot like Firefall as well. Random Arkfall events are like the rifts in Rift. The activities that you can find out in the world are from a lot of different open world games over the years, such as Red Faction: Guerilla.

Since the game was a console port, there is a large lack of options. The basics are all there, such as sound and key remapping, but there are simply only 3 settings for graphics. Graphics themselves don’t look too bad, but the lack of customizing them might make it hard for some people to optimize the game well for their computer. Sound and music have no complaints about them, all enemies have lines they say to each other in combat and music changes on your situation. Though actually, your EGO that talks to you can become quite repetitive at times, such as when it tells you when a weak spot on an Ark Core has opened up every 5 seconds.

A lot of the game still feels like it was made for a console, which should never exist on a game for the PC. There are only three graphical settings, and the in game UI is navigated oddly. People don’t even bother using chat in game because of all of this. You will rarely ever run into another player while playing Defiance, so you will always be doing the missions solo, with Arkfalls and co-op missions being the only times that you will see other players running around. Arkfalls are very easy to complete with the mass of players that show up, and it is simply impossible to fail them. The Arkfalls themselves have almost no variety to them, and you will end up doing the same ones over and over. The lack of real endgame content is what will turn most players away, as the only thing to do when you’re done with the main story is just grind your skills and find better guns.

Except for possibly the later story missions, pretty much everything that you can do in Defiance is easy. Co-op missions get blasted through by groups especially if someone has a BMG, Arkfalls have so many players at them that they are impossible to fail. PvP might be the only thing that you could consider to be hard since it puts you against other people that are better than you. All the missions and everything that you can complete on your own don’t take very long to accomplish. Most of the co-op missions are fairly short and will only take a little while longer to complete. Even the large Arkfall events aren’t very long, they give you a time limit of 30 minutes or so yet it is generally done in only 15 minutes.

There isn’t really anything in Defiance that is overly difficulty or having a high skill ceiling. Co-op dungeons are fairly short and groups just blast through them anyways. The large Arkfall events are beyond easy especially when you have everyone on the server in one place at once. PvP is your best bet if you want something challenging. After beating the main story missions of Defiance, you would have been unlocking a ton of side missions and activities that you can do. There are also a ton of pursuits for you to pursue, from finding all the data recorders, doing spins in the air with runners, or just completing all the co-op missions, defiance has a lot for you to do.

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