Defiance: First Thoughts

So I’ve played the Defiance beta (or at least the early parts) and since my personal experience dictates that gamers usually decide if they like a game within the first two hours, if not sooner, let’s take a look at the ups and downs.

Firstly, it was fairly smooth. I have a slightly subpar system myself when it comes to gaming power, but Defiance performed very nicely, especially considering the crazy mobs of players running around. The cinematics were sharp and lag-free, which is a good sign, and I felt that the responsiveness was fine.  The intro sequence was good for acclimating the player to the basic game aspects, controls, and mechanics that will be predominant throughout the rest of the game. For a game that has sold itself as one half of a storyline in a story-heavy setting, I felt that the progression through the plot was excellently done. I was never at a loss and I never wondered why I was doing what I was doing. The chaos of the early areas quickly gave way to a more sedate distribution of population, and once the game began sending me across the map on dedicated missions, it never felt crowded. Defiance also has done one outstanding thing that made me very happy: After three or four basic quests in the main world map that had my character running across sweeping areas and feeling very small, I was immediately presented with a basic ATV for transit. I’ve never gotten a mount so soon in an MMO and it was wonderful. Games should do this more.

The bad? Defiance is unforgiving to the solo player. It’s conceivable I just picked the worst soloing build possible (more on that later) or that I’m a terrible FPS player (very possible) but after moving on from areas where about seven thousand other Ark Hunters were working on the same quests and therefore pulling my ass out of the fire every three seconds, I was being chain-killed and slow-roasted by the NPC enemy forces. Over and over and over.

And my character build? Defiance has very little in the way of explanation when it comes to the mechanics of the game itself. The quests are not hard to follow, and you can certainly feel the story pulling you in deeper, but when it comes time to upgrade your skills, perks, and weaponry, it’s a total crapshoot. It starts at the character creation screen, where you’re given options for several different class archetypes with no explanation of strengths, weaknesses, playstyle tips, or really even an indication as to whether the choices are anything but cosmetic. This worsens as the game progresses, leaving the player to try and figure out the intricacies of the system in between getting horrifically mauled by mutants and hellbugs. Throw us a bone, Trion.

I’ll certainly give Defiance a chance. Given a bit more knowledge of the system (or a group of allies to help me along) it seems like it could be serious fun. At this point, I’d score it 6.5-7 out of 10.

What are your thoughts? Has Defiance lived up to its hype? Did you have a beta experience to share?And are you going to watch the series premiere on SyFy (hint: I totally am!)?

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