The Mid Point: Defiance
*This is the second entry into our run down of Defiance. This feature is mainly produced instead of a review, as MMOs take months to play through and fairly review. Opening Hours normally tracks the initial first five or so hours of the game.
My first few hours of Defiance had been rather one note. Sure the gameplay was solid, and shooting things was fun, but the quests never really changed. Most MMOs are always slow in the first few hours, but now I’m 15 hours in, and my views on Defiance have changed.
The quests simply never change. Go here, pick this thing up and go to this point. Shoot these guys, defend this NPC while shooting more guys. That’s pretty much the basic outline of every quest. Every so often a quest will throw a mini boss at the player, but they aren’t too hard to defeat. This is where Defiance truly starts to divide opinions. The repetitive nature of each side mission and story mission will make or break the players enjoyment. Playing through these quests alone is mind numbing, so numbing that I forgot what I was doing at times. The only way the quests are ever enjoyable/bearable are when they played through with a friend , or another player.
The story missions have the grace to at least allow the player to feel like they are progressing. Each story mission is accompanied by a cut scene that sets the scene and progress the overall story of Defiance (not the TV show, it acts more as lore for the universe). The cut scenes themselves range from awful to surprisingly funny. The story floats around and struggles to find any flow, thankfully it starts to take shape right around the latter missions. Side quests feel like a after thought. They have no story, no lore and feel like they are in the game to act as filler. It’s a missed opportunity for Defiance to flesh out it’s universe.
Things aren’t helped by the environment. At first the desolate wastes, sprinkled with rubble, make for a nice setting. The problem is the environments tend to fade into each other, leaving the player with a sense of deja vu. There are some nice environments within the game, even a few that look more alien than earth like, but these are far and few between. The bleak aesthetic applied to the early and mid stages of Defiance’s environments are pulled off well thanks to the visuals. While they aren’t amazing, they do mange to do the job well enough and produce some nice imagery at times. Character models are adequate but lack any real detail or polish. Oddly there are a few NPCs that look a lot more detailed than anyone, or anything else, in the game.
As time goes by, the quests really start to take their toll. Defiance offers a break from questing in the shape of its PvP. At the moment there is only one game mode, team death match, and two maps. Both maps look different but strangely feel the same to play, mostly due to their close combat nature. Shadow War offers players a much more large scale PvP experience with it’s 64 v 64 domination style rule set. Players are ported into matches set in the worlds environment in which they battle to hold points scattered across the map. Each Shadow War also contains various PvE events for players to engage in. While both PvP offerings can be fun there are some issues to be found.
There is a number of issues surrounding balancing of weapons and ego skills. Shotguns, explosives and sniper dominate PvP, resulting in the rest of the weapon types to be rather obsolete. The cloak EGO skill also present a problem. It’s sheer effectiveness leaves the other EGO skills in the dust, resulting in PvP matches becoming games of hide and seek. Shadow War is a victim of Defiance’s technical problems. The games draw distance is quite poor, this makes Shadow War’s biggest threat enemies popping out of seemingly no where. There’s also a few bugs in which players get stuck to things when jumping, resulting in cheap deaths.
Bugs and glitches are exclusive to PvP. While there is a few bugs in the early stages of the game, the sheer amount of them later on is staggering. Side quests will bug, requiring players to repeat certain objectives. The world will clip in and out, players will fall through the world, random colors will bleed into the sky, bosses will bot change their phases, it’s all very frustrating. One of the worst bugs is found during the story missions. A NPC would repeatable bug halting the mission from carrying on. Given it’s a story mission this means players can no longer progress the story or their characters (without straight up mob grinding). This story mission had to be repeated 6 time before it worked, it’s a pretty major bug.
After over 15 hours of playtime it’s became quite clear that Defiance has been rushed out. The sheer amount of bugs during the mid section content, the lack of any varied quests, the unbalanced PvP, it all screams a rushed product. The social aspects of Defiance even show a sheer lack of polish and development. The chat system barely works and ranks as one of the worst featured in any MMO. There’s numerous bugs that involve party invites not going through, or simply not working. The clan system is, as the moment, nothing but a glorified chat window. All of this can be improved upon with regular patches and content updates, hopefully some (or most) will be done swiftly…and for free.
While there is a number of negatives mentioned in this piece, Defiance has remained oddly engaging. It’s bugs produce many a frustrating moment yet the game still remains fun to play, as long as its with other players and not solo. The story is starting to hit it’s stride and new areas are just starting to become available. Expect the final entry into our Defiance experiences when we hit the 24 hour mark, and hopefully jump into Defiance’s endgame.