Defiance screenshot
Defiance screenshot

Like the vast majority of games that give you the opportunity to customise your character, Defiance’s beard options are rubbish. The only halfway decent/ridiculous looking one is a mutton chop combo that makes your character look like he should be drinking gin and getting into fights in a 19th century pub. Everything else is typically dull, and you can’t give your character a giant Alan Moore beard (Alpha Protocol is still the only game with decent beard options), which surely is what everyone would like to do isn’t it?

Anyway Defiance isn’t a beard simulator unfortunately. It’s a massively multiplayer third person shooter set in the universe of a new TV series coming out next week on the Syfy channel that looks a bit like Farscape crossed with Deadwood, without all the excellent swearing. It deals with a new Earth a few years from now that’s been accidentally reshaped by idiot Alien visitors that dropped their terraforming technology. This, obviously, caused all sorts of mutations in the local wildlife, leaving Earth looking and feeling alien. Insert gratuitous ‘a bit like (home town)’ joke here.

Your character is an ark hunter, someone who pilfers knackered alien ships of their technology for cash and you’re on a top secret mission under the orders of one Karl Von Bach. Given that he’s got von in his name and he’s a bit of a conceited goon, it’s a good bet he’ll be a baddy. Anyway, you can choose between a human and an Irathient, one of the alien races in the series, as well as your character’s origin, and then you’re away to shoot, loot and blow up anyone that looks at you funny. Defiance is obviously hugely ambitious (it’s been in development since 2008) but it’s hard to see anything special about it after an initial few hours.

Defiance screenshot

A lazy comparison would be to a third person Borderlands, as you make your own way around the environment, which admittedly looks pretty swell, all strange fauna and crumbled buildings, even though it’s YET ANOTHER post-apocalyptic jaunt through bandit land. You’re given objectives by the same military commander with a buzzcut that’s turned up in every game with guns and soldiers, and he’ll tell you to go and take out certain enemy factions or blow up caches or pilfer medical supplies. It’s all pretty ordinary, but not a total washout, as running around shotgunning enemies is enjoyable enough, even if they are incredibly stupid. After an hour or two you can summon a vehicle at any time, so there’s no tedious lugging about the environment. It’s not easy either, and if you play like a dunderhead you’ll get overrun quickly.

It’s early days yet, and it’ll doubtless be subject to a vigorous patching, as it definitely still has some issues to tussle through such as lost connections and occasionally dicky controls, but there may be something here, given repeated play. Everything depends on whether or not the TV show and its universe catches on too (perhaps they should have waited ‘til that was out and spruced it up a bit? Who knows). Will it be a Star Wars or a Space Precinct? A Battlestar Galactica or a Battlefield Earth? It’s all a bit up in the air for the Defiance game at the minute.

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FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

I'm at 122 hours clocked and counting (well, Raptr is doing the counting), level 1030 Ego, loving every second of it. Just a note on the swearing, you'll hear the word "shtako" a lot early on and know instantly what it replaces, but some of the human characters later on use every swear word quite openly, it's one of the reasons Defiance got rated 18 by PEGI.

One of Defiance's strengths for me is the way quests open up, you start with just one quest, doing that unlocks one Main Mission and a few more side quests, and you can do them in any order you like. Because you control how many quests you have on your map at one time you never get overwhelmed as with other MMORPGs.

You'll even discover 'Episode Quests' which involve characters from the TV show on SyFy, but those are maybe 40 or 50 quests in.

Another great thing is the classless system, you can be anything you want, and with 5 loadouts you can be everything at the same time, switch between them nearly on the fly (you have to open a menu to do it which is annoying) which eventually should mean that you should be able to cope with every eventuality whether group or solo.

I think the Ark Fall events are the most technically impressive thing so far, the last time I saw more than 30 players onscreen at the same time in any XBox 360 game was probably the Phantasy Star Universe lobby, and they weren't all shooting stuff at the same time.

My character doesn't have a beard, but she's the spitting image of Lara Croft.

So for me Defiance is exactly what I was looking for, a soloable MMORPG on a console. Here's hoping it encourages other publishers to risk it as well as the genre woefully lacking on the smaller machines.
Posted 18:32 on 12 April 2013

Game Stats

Release Date: 02/04/2013
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Genre: MMO Shooter
No. Players: 1 + Online
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 3,472 503
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