Developer: Trion Worlds / Publisher: Trion Worlds / Release Date: April 2, 2013 / Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC / ESRB: Mature [Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence]
For all the alien hostilities and the overwhelming expansiveness of its open world, Defiance is actually a very welcoming game. The off-center third-person view and traditional action game controls make Trion World’s new IP coming to 360, PS3, and PC very user friendly. But if features other intriguing elements, aside from transmedia function in connection to the SyFy show of the same name.
In light of negative public reaction over microtransactions, Defiance’s MMO action model feels refreshing in the context of a console game release. It goes the Guild Wars route, where the only financial commitment is the one-time retail boxed game purchase. All future updates are free. It’s especially ambitious when you think about what Trion has planned, including content updates related to new episodes of the SyFy show.
To Trion’s credit, Defiance feels like a large enough playground primed for new content. Having played through a few demos, we still haven’t fully explored the entire map, set primarily in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. One of the game’s conveniences is the option of summoning an ATV out of thin air to make accessible the rolling hills of Northern California. The future setting gives the developers the creative freedom to place alien vegetation and numerous military outposts to stumble across as you explore.
Fighting bugs in intense third-person shootouts was unsurprisingly reminiscent of similar sci-fi games like Red Faction: Armageddon and Gears of War. The premise of an alien war offers many objectives, both in mainline assignments and optional ones. Goals could be anything from disarming bombs on critical structures to uploading data in the middle of a gun battle. Some of the non-story activities include checkpoint races and facing off against enemy swarms. Along with a leveling system, Defiance offers an expansive laundry list of challenges from getting 10 assault rifle kills to completing your first PvP objective.
Like most MMOs, the customization options go beyond how your character looks. The skill tree is large but manageable enough to cater to you play style. The tutorial does a great job of introducing you to different kinds of abilities that you can unlock, including optic camouflage and a motion blur effect to confuse enemies. In one playtest we settled on an offensive boost ability, which greatly enhanced ranged weapon firepower as well as the effectiveness of melee kills.
Considering Trion’s experience in MMO gaming, it should be no surprise that Defiance offers access to its various modes with impressive fluidity. Without taking you out of your current session, a few d-pad commands are all it takes to start a PvP match or a PvE boss fight.
In a way, it’s almost too fluid since PvP matches occupy the same map that you would otherwise be playing solo. So even if you opted not to join a PvP conflict, you can still run into such a match in your travels and get subjected to friendly and unfriendly fire. These battles are a handful since they also features alien NPCs on both sides.
While the SyFy show appears to demonstrate a low-rent aesthetic, the game feels more complete with sufficient features that many gamers could enjoy the world without watching the show. It should also be noted that while the console versions were solid, the PC version was visually superior, especially in framerate. Whatever your preference, Defiance will be available on all three platforms on April 2.