Imagine boarding the supply ship, Stratocarrier EMS New Freedom, on a trip to brave the Bay Area you once knew for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, lush ocean scenery, and Val's Burgers. 33 years later, what was second nature to the citizens of this once blossoming metropolis has now been replaced by alien terraform lands, mutants, war and hell bugs. Welcome to the apocalyptic breeding ground known as Defiance
You are an Ark Hunter, working in a tragedy-infused world trying to make your boss and the corrupt enterprises around you happy. In this cold and cruel new world, humans and the seven species of Votan are either friend or foe, ex-Earth Republic soldiers are cannibalistic mutants, other humans have mechanically altered themselves by replacing body parts with robotic appendages, miners of Gulanite have become frantic psychopaths, and unadulterated Raiders roam the world looking for anything that isn't nailed down.
Prepare yourself to wage war on many fronts as this game is incredibly diverse. You will have four different in-game currencies that you will use to purchase everything from lockboxes filled with weapons, to buying the top tier weapons, MODs, or supplies from the vendors spread out amongst the world. There are also "bits" that you can purchase with Microsoft Points, but these are not a necessity in order to progress in the game.
After the initial cut-scene, you will choose your basic customizable features that can be found in most RPG/MMORPG games. The most important descision will be your initial choice of loadout: a Scout with a sniper rifle, an Assaulter with a trusty AR, or an Outlander with a shotgun. At first it seemed like a very minimal instance of character customisation, yet I soon realised that this portion of the game was more of a template and less about customisation. Progressing further in the game revealed you can choose to change your loadout anytime you want to cater to your style of play. Essentially, Defiance
has so many weapon combinations from 17 different classes and elemental properties that your choices are never limited.
In any RPG-style game you will have relative power setups or, in this case, your EGO. "The Environmental Guardian Online" creates a fascinating symbiotic relationship with your DNA that allows you to interact with an artificial intelligence who will help guide and notify you of missions, progress, weapons and so forth. It doesn't stop there. Your EGO is your central hub for weapon modification, perk allocation, stats, pursuits and contract information. You can spend quite a bit of time roaming through your EGO experimenting, breaking down weapons, or figuring out your next plan of attack. The EGO increased the in-game options greatly and allowed for a more in-depth look into what the game offered.
In this huge, open world, I found myself overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do or where to start. That's not a bad thing by any means. With a nice single-player campaign, episode missions that tie in to the upcoming TV series, a plethora of challenges, pursuits, and contracts at your disposal, the content is never lacking in Defiance
The controls are responsive and incredibly easy to use as they follow the model of most shooters; jump, duck, roll and aim-down your sights with ease. Driving controls are exactly what you would expect to find in any racing simulation and this translates to an awesome Sunday drive down Apocalypse Avenue in a dune buggy jumping over alien terraform. All in all, the gameplay mechanics have been done really well.
Graphically, this title will not blow you away. The visuals do an excellent job detailing the destruction with a great post-apocalyptic feel. In many aspects, due to its constant server connection, you will experience random pop-ins and screen tearing, but these faults are minor and should not hinder progress in your game. The same can also be said in regards to the sound design, as you have probably made better gun sounds in your room pretending to play cops and robbers. Vehicle sounds have been done relatively well but, if you are looking for the sweet purr of a Ferrari engine, you won't find it here. Gravel will crunch under the weight of your tires, but running into an object like a guard rail will sound more like someone banging two sheets of hardened steel in your ear.
The Campaign will take you through a great story of politics, ethics, war, friendship and deceit, but none of it weighs too heavy to the point that it becomes a jumbled mess. The story is well-told and excels more through the co-op, side-missions and episode missions. The dialogue is well-written and it doesn't take itself too seriously, which allows the player to further enjoy the story and character development. Defiance
also gives you the option of playing Team Deathmatch or Shadow War. TDM is your typical 6v6 multiplayer, which is not essentially anything new. Shadow War is huge Domination-like mode, with either a 48v48 or 64v64 setup. This chaotic game mode will allow 63 other players to use vehicles and custom loadouts to try and capture as many points as possible. Both competitive MP modes will neither make or break the game, but serve more as a home away from home so to speak, and are a welcome addition. Defiance
has some relatively easy achievements, but this game is not a quick and easy completion. All of the co-op and multiplayer maps are not available at the beginning and will require you to play through the game trying to increase your EGO in order to unlock more maps, perks, and so forth. Those looking for a quick completion should not take that approach regarding Defiance
; with achievements like Legend of Defiance
and EGOCentric Arkhunter
, this game will need some tender loving care in order to complete. For the most part, if you just play the game and embark on all that it has to offer, most of the achievements will pop in due time.
However, not all is perfect, as the game is entirely server based which means a constant online connection is needed in order to play. Furthermore, you will also need a console with more than 4GB of memory due to the roughly 10GB mandatory installation required, and constant updates that follow. During the first few days of release there was nothing but continuous server issues, from system crashes to the inability to connect to the server or friends. This also brings up another point: Trion Worlds is aware
of all server related issues, yet the game's servers are region locked for now, meaning gamers from North America will not be able to connect with gamers on European servers. It has been stated that in time this may possibly be something they will fix, but as of now, it isn't available.
At the end of the day, Defiance
is a buffet of content that will supply gamers with hundreds of hours of game time that is not only filled with a variety of gameplay, but also lots of fun. Once you embrace this war-torn world, you will be engrossed in a constantly-changing environment that is a blast to explore along with a well-thought-out story. Keep in mind that the mold for Defiance
is staged as an MMO but may not be rich enough for true MMO aficionados. Despite this lack of depth, Defiance
is a game that can be enjoyed by many different gamers, from RPG fans to shooter fans. It does a little bit of everything just well enough to be worthwhile to those intrigued by its promise.
The game was reviewed from a personal copy. The reviewer played roughly 35 hours and won 22 achievements. During the writing of this review, over 3,000 enemies have been destroyed in the process.