Last week I posted less-than-favorable launch day impressions of Trion Worlds' Defiance, the massively multiplayer shooter tie-in to SyFy's upcoming original series. I bemoaned the lack of PC options, criticized the silly vehicle physics and worried over its lack of general chat functionality. A week later those issues are still present, yet I've been playing voraciously whenever free time strikes. Here's why.
- I've seen the television show.Now that I've gotten a chance to watch the first episode of Defiance prior to its April 15 debut, the characters in the game make more sense. The game begins with a cameo from Grant Bowler's Joshua Nolan and Stephanie Leonidas' Irisa Nyira, introducing the player to some of the transformed world's key players before riding off to make their date with the series opener, connecting my game experience with the program, if only briefly. Now I can connect aliens and enemies with their program counterparts, so when I see an Indogene — a member of the white-skinned alien race whose hexagon-studded skin looks like bleached The Amazing Spider-Man movie costumes — I can go "Hey, there's an Indogene." That's important. It would be more important if the show were good, but more on that later.
Hey there's an Indogene.
- I've Learned to Love the Driving. Once I let go of my preconceived notions about how a car or quad should drive, traversing a terraformed Northern California on four wheels became a joy. Since then I've started participating in public Arkfall events — open world raids that anyone and everyone can join — without ever leaving my vehicle. I just ram the enemies and objectives with my quad, and regularly end up in the top damage dealers list when the event is done.
- Other People are a Pleasant Surprise. The chat system has been tweaked somewhat, but it's still not up to proper MMO standards. The game needs an always-on chat box. It has four lines that fade rather quickly. That's bad. It's also kind of great, because you never know when you'll be given a mission, drive to the location and discover three or four other players already there, tearing up the objectives for you. It's like playing group roulette, only without having to talk to people. Who needs it?
- The Story and Characters Carry Me Along. The third-person shooting action is solid, but the missions you're sent on are very repetitive. There are people to save, objectives to complete and points to defend, each beat punctuated by a fresh wave of enemies. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm an integral member of an NPC team attempting to assemble a weapon of mass destruction. There's my boss, the arrogant billionaire weapons developer. The cowboy lawman, tough-as-nails but with a heart of gold. There's a quirky, flirty alien girl with a knack for hacking, a brutish alien mechanics that looks like a Tank Girl kangaroo-man rip-off and hey, there's even an Indogene. Sometimes these folks team up with me in solo story missions. The news reports released afterwards never mention me by name, but I don't mind.
- Gigantic mechs and drama. I do not get to ride in one, but they are there, massive and downright deadly.Progressing from the outskirts of town to the heart of what was once San Francisco signals a marked increase in battle drama. The odds are stacked against you, the enemies are much more powerful, and the spectacle is exquisite. The same old missions aren't quite the same when there's a 30-story robotic time limit zeroing in on your location.
I would gladly show you some of these things I speak of, but the computer I've been playing the game on is, as you read this, on its way in for repair. Just imagine a really cool giant robot. No, cooler than that.
Defiance the game still needs a lot of work if it wants to have a lasting presence in the MMO space, but it's got plenty of potential. Right now it's less an MMO and more a single-player game with online capabilities, but it'll get there. Hopefully there'll still be a show around for it to be based off of when it does.
Tune in next week for part two, the first post-show post, which isn't as confusing as it seems.