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PC Game Preview: Defiance

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Defiance is a MMORPG tie-in with the Syfy TV show of the same name that has yet to launch. It does not take place in the same location as the series, instead being based around the post invasion/apocalypse Bay Area of San Francisco. There are claims that what happens in the MMO might have influence on the plot of the TV show, but we shall see how much influence players have over the show itself.

I spent much of last weekend in the final beta weekend which should be release quality as the game comes out next week. The NDA has been listed to consider this a preview/review of the beta for the game.

I have played the main story of the game until the end of what is available, and it is okay, despite the annoying dialogue. Side missions are decent at first, if unimaginative, but soon the same ones are repeated with more enemies. World events are tedious and dull and not that rewarding. After the second time you and your colleagues empty all your ammo into some giant bug while fighting off smaller ones, you do wonder what the point of it all is.

Veterans of MMOs and modern videogames will see a lot that is familiar here. Think of this as a mash-up of Borderlands 2 (if it were third person), Earthrise (the average and now defunct MMO) and APB (with its lame combat). In fact at times the game feels like Earthrise with a fresh lick of graphics on the top.  The two weapon limit (meaning you have to go into inventory to get another gun if you run out of ammo) and the simplistic clunky PC controls do hint at a console-focused game.

The game looks quite good and runs fairly well. Or, it does until you watch cutscenes that are dated and almost laughably bad. Lips barely move and faces show no emotion. I only had a couple of crashes, mostly likely due to a server restart and a glitch, which is a positive sign. The interface is quite clunky and needs a bit of getting used to. For one thing, why have they hid “exit game” in the settings?

The combat in Defiance is as clunky as in APB and Earthrise. I have found the easiest way to actually kill things is with an area effect weapon. Even with sights, most of the guns in the game are ineffectual except up close. And don’t even consider melee combat unless you are really desperate as it is appalling. So, as with The Secret World, anti-bug combat mostly entails missing with a gun and having to deal with a monster in your face quickly with nothing but the butt of a gun with which to hit it. As you go up in the levels, weapons can be acquired–as with Borderlands–with effects like fire, lighting, and acid. Combat against the various raiders dotted across the landscape can be fun at times, while the combat against the giants bugs gets annoying quickly. There is a story-based mission with the Sheriff–sorry, Lawgiver–to San Quentin that is quite entertaining. NPCs do have a habit of rushing into battle and getting themselves taken down in order to drag you into the middle of it to get them back on their feet.

The driving in this game is laughable, and you will do a great deal of it. In fact, there is an achievement for driving enough. The basic vehicle, which thankfully you get right away, is a quad bike that has the turning circle of an old cadillac and handles just as poorly. I would tell you about the car that you can buy, but it never actually worked for me as it was bugged out. Fortunately, you can fast travel to a few places, but there is a great deal of real estate between them.

All of this is pretty standard for your average free to play MMO. Unfortunately, this isn’t free to play with them expecting you to pay $60 for the basic version and $99 for Deluxe version. Not only that, but the game will have a microtransaction shop in it to gouge users for even more. The shop contains things like XP and loot boosts for individual, group or clan. It also contains a variety of gear and vehicles. Granted, you can earn in-game currency to buy most of them, but it seems a bit much after paying so much for the game.

Interestingly enough, Defiance is running a “pre-order” bonus scam scheme on Steam to get additional goodies for those who pre-order and sucker their friends to do it too. The game hasn’t even reached its first threshold yet and the game is release a week from tomorrow.

I genuinely found myself looking forward to playing this title to see how lame things could get. It, at times, is a hilariously bad in implementation. The made up cuss words from one of the main characters is so daft it is almost endearing.

As a sci-fi fan and writer I hope the TV show is not as average as this game. As it stands now, Defiance is looking like it will be a rather expensive (for game company and purchaser alike) flop into mediocrity. Maybe give this a look six months in and see where it is going.

Defiance is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence. This game can also be found on:  PS3 Xbox 360.

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About Marty Dodge

  • Dissapointed

    NOOOOOOOOOO!! But totally not surprised. Expected even. But I had that little bit of hope, ya know…..

  • Console Player

    Hello, your review seems very common with most PC players who get to play MMO’s alot. However for us console players this game looks and plays great. You are right the shooting mechanics are better on a controller. They need to change the driving a little but once played for a while you get used to it. I like many hope the bugs arent a massive problem once the game is released and lets be fair microsoft wont let the bugs last for long because they keep a tight ship on the xbox. So please spare a thought for us console numpties as we have been crying out for a game like this

  • As I said in the review if it were FTP (or even much lower price) then I would recommend it. But at $60 it just doesn’t live up to the snuff.

    CP: I am aware of that and that is why I only review PC games. Console and PC, despite what some companies try to make of it, are vastly different platforms with different wants, needs and variables.

  • Console Player

    Oh don’t get me wrong Marty I agree with your review in some ways as it shows the harsh truths in the games flaws. This game needs a lot of work before it can match up to other, more successful MMO’s. I think Sony and Microsoft probably had a little too much input which was always going to spoil the result for PC players.

  • Sometimes you wonder why they bothered with a PC version at all. Be interesting to see if one of my colleagues reviews it on a console and what he or she thinks of it.

  • DarthDiggler

    “I spent much of last weekend in the final beta weekend which should be release quality as the game comes out next week.”

    The version you played isn’t what we will play on Launch Day.

  • Can you be sure of that? I have heard that before of the last “big weekend in a beta” then the game comes out and all the bugs are still there. I sincerely hope you are right however.

  • DarthDiggler

    I thought your review was a little rough, I was playing on PS3 and I didn’t nearly have the problems with Aiming that you did. Using different guns helps out a lot. It doesn’t seem like you even touched on the crafting system.

    Overall when you are grouped up with buds this game is a blast. Kind of Borderlands with a Warhawk look to it.

  • Oh I used the crafting system quite a bit. It was clunky on the PC and no intuitive.

  • I’ve taken a lot of flack for basically saying the same thing – this game is mediocre. Although I enjoyed the shooting (and there is a lot of it), the rest just isn’t memorable at all.

    I’ve played my share of MMO’s (including TRION’s Rift – a much better game), so I think those who are finding it enjoyable are excited about playing an MMO on a console. And that is a very cool aspect, but having played it on the PS3, I still expected better.

  • Griffin Manning

    The game looks like it was rushed to meet the TV show’s schedule. It’s too bad that it isn’t anything special when compared to games like Borderlands (which I recommend!)

  • I can think of one great F2P game that is fun, clever and has good combat. It is called City of Steam.

  • Jay Starkson

    Marty, the beta build is almost 3 months old, as it had to go through publisher certification. The alpha version is much more polished, and there are a lot of things missing in the beta. Loot and other rewards were turned off for arkfalls, they increased the frequency and difficulty of them as well. Rent the game for a week and see if the final version will change your mind.

  • You can’t rent a PC game alas and this review was of the PC game not the console version.

  • Dokkodo

    From what I’ve heard the beta build is 3 months old FOR PS3 because Sony making the companies jump through loopholes. The PC version on the other hand, is not 3 months old it is up to date and likely going to be what is released.

    One thing I think you should’ve mentioned when talking about their gouging cash shop…you get a very limited inventory(no banks in the beta either, probably will be in launch) and to extend your inventory you have to pay real cash.

  • Console Player

    Hello Dokkodo, The beta for everyone is 3 months old not just PS3 (as you can guess microsoft are just as pissy when it comes to loopholes).

    Secondly you can increase your inventory without using real money people so dont be worried about that. For starters one of the arkfall code unlocks gives you an additional 2 slots straight off the bat.

  • I had those codes and I found myself running out of inventory space very quickly indeed. The micro-transaction shop on a S60 game (or a $100 for deluxe version) is just chiseling especially at launch.

  • Michael

    “I genuinely found myself looking forward to playing this title to see how lame things could get.”

    Gee, that’s a really open-minded comment for a reviewer. You simply come off as yet another PC elistist who hates and demeans console gamers. I played PC games for over 15 years before the first Xbox, and still play now, but your review is for a very different game than I played for about 20 hours of the beta.

    The beta had some rough edges, but I believe it has a lot of potential. At least I didn’t play with an obvious built-in prejudice.

  • Er what? That is no built-in prejudice. I played it quite a bit from the moment it went live on Friday until Sunday evening. When I played it on Sunday and admitted to myself that I was seeing to see what other daft stuff I could find. I didn’t have that attitude going into that is just my critical view of the game after playing it most of the day Saturday and Friday evening.

    This is a PC review and this game is an below-average quality MMO that is expensive. There is quite a bit of choice on the PC (inc. F2P) and there is no way it is worth $60. It might as well be worth it on a console I have no experience to speak to that, but I am not qualifying my PC review to save the feelings of MMO-seeking console readers.

  • Here are a couple more observations about the game on my YouTube channel

  • Spraynard

    First of all, the beta was a 3 month old build of the game, so we’ll be getting a much more polished version on April 2nd. Second, I think this guy is judging the game against other PC mmo’s and not based on its own merits. I played the beta on Xbox and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t wait for the final game to come out. I felt that the driving mechanic was super fun, and the fact that there are things like checkpoint races really bring something new to the MMO table. If you play I on the PC, maybe use a controller for more precision controlls instead of the mouse and keyboard. It seems to me that PC players may not appreciate the fact that this game is cross platform, meaning that it may not hold up graphically compared to what they’re seeing from other RPGs, but the fact remains that this is a highly ambitious project that is attempting to pull off a new form of cross-media entertainment. I for one am extremely excited to play the full game, and also for the show (which has a large part of the team that worked on Battlestar Galactica, so it should be good) since they will interact with one another. I personally wouldn’t listen to this biased and overly critical “preview review” for a second. Give it a shot, if only to experience a game that is doing something unique and original that could change the face of console gaming.

  • Um Spraynard the PC was not three-months old. It was current from what I have been told. The console version is however three months old.

    This is a PC review not a console one and thus it is entirely appropriate to compare it to the other MMOs on the PC.

  • Common Sense

    If the reviewer took the time to read other articles he would know the version he played was no where near the final version, hell if he only checked his emails every so often he would know as Trion Worlds sent details about it to everyone in the beta.

    But alas, time and effort are nowhere to be seen, unfortunately typical for a middling site.

  • This is called a preview not a review because it is a pre-release. Still doesn’t change the fact the game is way too expensive for what you get & that there are better MMOs on the PC that are a far cheaper.

  • ToasttsaoT

    I like making fun of things that are unfinished.

    I mean the other day, I was SOOOO pissed.
    I was driving, and the road was being paved. So there were parts that were paved, and others that weren’t. I found my drive to be overall unemployable because I had to deal with a little bit of a smooth ride, followed by a bumpy one. I am upset that the road isn’t all smooth.

    Good preview, i would like to hear a “perfect” beta preview.

    If you can find on.

  • Alex

    Writing a review on an old beta client, the game play is limited (ark fall rewards removed for example) not all side quests are available, and we’re basically stress testing. Seems like a good time to write a review!

  • Um its not a review it is a preview hence the title.

  • Giohunter

    disagree with this view completely the game is fun fluid the driving is great not chunky but dont forget its called a beta for a reason and yes i eas in the pc beta nothing like earth rise how you can compare the two is laughable they like chalk and cheese great game in beta just hope it even better on release only time will tell and i dont see it as a console port at all

  • InfiniteDevil

    Ive been playing beta and alpha on pc for 4 months now. and I can say this. your claim combat is clunky compaired to 90% of the third person shooters out there. its not any more clunky then those. IT just takes times to get use to. as for my I dont use AOE weapons. assalt rifle and sniper rifle and I usualy drop the elite Hell bug warriors in about half a clip of my assalt rifle. Most mobs in this game there is a gimik to killing them, weak spots. for most buggs its theres 2 place. the mouth or underbelly(when you can hit it.) or the ass end of mob. youll hear a distict sound when you shoot in the weak spot YES you will miss alot till you get use to the perspective of the game as it will effect hte angle of your shots. including when you take cover.

    Vehicles move about the same as most do in ATV off road furry. dramatic turning gets you no where. while subtle movements will rule to day. unless your in the air on a quad bike cause then the stunts require dramatic movements to pull off. and Yes there is rewards and achivments for pulling off 180s, 360s, even 720+, highest i have personly managed to pull of is 720.

    If your looking for a game with a cover mechanic built into it like Mass effect 2 or 3, or ghost recon, You wont find it here. Defiance’s mob mechanic is ment to keep you on your toes keep you moving keep you engaged in battle. Mobs will even come after you if you sit still in one spot to long during ArkFalls.

    Now the Beta, ALL the beta as stated by the Defiance Development Team and CEO in emails to anyone who beta tested stated that ALL BETAS where pre determined and use the Initial Beta test build and only tweaking things to push people to test what they needed to test. SO what you played. its in the game. but its tuned down in some areas and tuned up in others.

  • Mr. Bojangles

    You sound like a horrible critic. You have done little to no research into the game before you have gone off bashing it. Yes, the UI is awful and definitely just a console port, but the game plays well, and has plenty of variety. They’ve stated the “beta weekend” event was from a build that is months old and that they have other much more up to date builds that they are using as their main testing platform. You sir, are an awful reviewer, and what is a big problem to the game industry.

  • So you think it is worth $60 more than the current (or soon to launch) bunch of F2P games? And it has a cash-shop as well just like F2P games.

  • TC

    There are negatives to this game, but this review sounds more like it was written by a kid with a bias towards some other game he plays.

    The combat in this game is fun, and the vehicles drive just fine. Its not a racing game.

    The interface does suck. And my only worry about the game is it might be too repetitive due to fighting so many crabs. Although I only played in the last beta, so I have no idea what the rest of the game world is like.

    I have no plans to buy their season pass, and most likely will not spend money in their shop. This game is overpriced at $60.

  • I have no bias for or against any game, especially not any MMO since I don’t play any regularily. I am just stating an opinion, an opinion of a game reviewer for 20 years and a video gamer for 25+.

  • MMaker

    Qiute a lame preview considering you only played the beta.

  • phxbadash

    I definitely take issue with a few things in this preview. first the 2 weapon limit. This is not some console specific issue but happens quite often in newer shooters on pc as well. This is really not that much of an issue later on anyways because you quickly open up a 2nd and then 3rd loadout slot which you can build to be situation specific. You should unlock this 2nd slot within a few hours of playing which seriously makes me wonder how long you actually played. The next point is where you stated that you just unload ammo into monsters until you run out. Well if you are shooting smart then you should have plenty of ammo to last for an entire arkfall. Trion even goes so far as to highlight weak spots. I can often get near the top of the damage ratings using mostly a bolt action sniper rifle that has about 50 shots. The last one I’d have to say stood out to me was the quad control and turning. yes if you try and turn at full speed it can’t turn sharp but that’s what the powerslide’s are for. I actually found the quad to be the most fun vehicle to drive as you could pull off some pretty fun jumps on the terrain. if you had to go long distances the rollers are better though.

  • TurmoilX

    The negative responses to this post are downright irritating, for many reasons. First of all, he can only review (or preview in this case) the game as provided to him. None of you can determine what the game will be like when released April 2nd, as it sounds like many of you are defending content that has yet to be presented. And you claim the OP to be biased? Pot, meet kettle. Second, this console vs PC garbage has got to stop. The OP clearly states he is a PC gamer and only reviewing the PC version. As another PC gamer, his opinion applies to me more than it would you. We have many great MMO’s on our platform and I’d prefer not to waste much time on ones that are merely average. So yes, he can (and should) compare this MMO to others on our platform. Finally, I find it almost mind boggling that Trion would show such bug-riddled software up until the day of launch. Both from a development and marketing point of view. The entire process feels rushed, and it will show in the game if that’s the case.

  • Narq

    I pretty much agree with your review. It’s not an awful game. It’s just that we already have all of this in the games that are out now. My biggest issue with Defiance is that it doesn’t know if it’s an MMORPG or an MMOFPS. Trion needs to pick one and make it better than everything else out there.

  • Support from day 1

    I was lucky enough to start in the alpha and play every time there was an opportunity. Console or PC, the game is going to get a razzing in about an hour (when the reviews start to pop out.) We really didn’t have much hope for this game in this house but it was different enough to give it a shred. We were told the final build was pretty much the last beta weekend and YES, some of the bugs still exists.

    Sinking ship, don’t buy. Ambitious title but destined to fail. Sorry guys.

  • hiiooo

    Good review. The truth hurts.

  • hiiooo

    Excuse me: preview

  • I guess the console version is just as lame. Angry Joe is not impressed.