Defiance

I may have mentioned elsewhere, or may at some point
mention, or possibly gripe incessantly about how I hate MMOs. It’s something
that I’m kind of infamous for amongst my gaming circles. It was with great
hesitation, then, that I approached Defiance, a recent post-apocalyptic MMORPG
from Trion Worlds.
I’m a huge fan of the Fallout series from way back when, but
I’ve played Fallout 3 and New Vegas to the point of which I just don’t want to
go back anymore. I’ve spent that much time in the DC and Mojave wastelands that
I just can’t go back in anymore, and the old games sadly haven’t aged well (and
barely run on modern systems). I’m also a fan of the Borderlands series, with
over 1500 hours between the two games and their various DLC campaigns, so when
I heard there was an MMO that was “like Borderlands on Earth” and
“like Fallout with Aliens” I had to at least take a look.
This wouldn’t be the first time I’d been let down by an MMO
with an interesting aesthetic, though. Fallen Earth was suitably action driven,
with direct control with your mouse instead of point and click, but it felt
weak and empty in the gameplay department. Secret World was a fantastic world
to poke around, but it had that same control and interface MMOs have been using
since WoW took over the market. Same with Old Republic (when all I wanted was
KOTOR 3!), but that’s another story.
Steam recently had a free weekend for Defiance, which was
mysteriously 2 days shorter than the usual Thursday-to-Monday deal, but I gave
it a shot. My first big problem with MMOs was notably absent (possibly thanks
to Steam and its stringent update policy), as there was no staggeringly huge
patch to download. Setup was easy enough, and I was surprised to learn that not
only did you have direct control over your character (like in a 3rd person
action game), but the PC version also supports gamepads, with a very clever,
very familiar control scheme. Anyone that’s played Borderlands will be right at
home with these controls.
Eight hours and two cramped hands later, I realized just how
long I’d been playing this game, and just how much it felt like the last time
I’d spent this long in the wasteland. The controls are tight, the shooting is
satisfactory, character movement feels fluid and natural, and the color palette
is pleasingly diverse. I was even able to pull a strategy in that I’d used in
several other games, as I’d picked a cloak as a power and the game was generous
with the double-barreled shotguns. I even had fun gathering with two dozen
other players around a piece of fallen debris wiping out armies of raiders or
giant bugs.
The setting isn’t terribly original, but the back-story (if
you’re paying attention to it) at least sets it up differently than most
post-apocalyptic wastelands. Also, bonus if you’re watching the show, you at
least know who these two recurring characters are, and are kinda flattered when
one of them keeps hyping you up as a badass to the local NPCs.
Like with any MMO, we have to talk business model: Defiance
is a one-time, upfront purchase with no monthly fees. There is a cash shop I’m
not terribly happy with, but I only got about 12-13 hours into the game. Most
of what I saw in the cash shops were rare and powerful weapons, and bigger,
faster vehicles. Like the Dodge Charger. The branded, just-like-in-real-life,
only Mad-Maxed-out Dodge Charger. I can’t say if these weapons, vehicles, and
costumes are available from just playing the game, but I’d found 5 or 6 purple
items, and about six outfits and hats from the 12-13 hours I spent, plus enough
in-game currency (scrip) to buy an upgraded quad-bike.
Defiance was $41.99 this weekend on Steam, usually at
$59.99. If I hadn’t been short on scratch from having moved, I probably would
have broken and bought it. As it is, I’m setting the game aside after spending
more time on it than a lot of games in my inventory, and will come back to it
when the price has dropped. If you’re looking for a more action-oriented online
experience, and you’re willing to drop full-price on a game that you’ll probably
get your money’s worth on, Defiance might be for you.

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