Coming next April, Defiance is a massively multiplayer third-person shooter set to tie in with an upcoming SyFy TV series of the same name. We sat down and got some quality hands-on time with the game to check out how well we fared against the monstrous alien menace now infesting the Bay Area. It's a true action title, so we certainly didn't have to wait long before gunning down a variety of alien types and some humanoid enemies that were a more conventional threat.
With neither the game nor the TV series yet released, it is hard to gauge how well the two will be tied together, but they are touted to take place in the same world and interlink with each other. For instance, in the TV show, an event may occur that has repercussions in the game world and vice versa. The two will launch simultaneously next year, so either way, the extent of how well together the two are tied will only be apparent once they're both available.
The game plays much more like an action game than the MMO moniker would normally imply, with your ability to move around and shoot much as if you were playing any other third-person shooter. You have the ability to melee enemies; it devastates humanoids but only tickles some of the aliens you'll face, but any enemy doesn't do too well when you are putting bullets into them. We started off just using an assault rifle backed up with a grenade launcher to fill out the two available weapon slots, but we also tried out an exotic assortment of sniper rifles and shotguns. Other weapons exist in the game, but in our limited time, we didn't get to utilize them. Every weapon has its own stats, so even though one assault rifle may have higher damage, it may have higher recoil, whereas another may have a scope. It means that with the game's large assortment of guns, there is always room for getting a better weapon than the ones you currently have.
Every player has the ability to spawn a vehicle to get around the game world more quickly, with the demo build allowing us to spawn quads to navigate the landscape. Before long, we encountered the beginnings of our first event, which, in the same vein as Rift, consisted of some aliens spawning near a central structure that must have been destroyed before the players could make their way to the next phase of the event. Once at the final phase, the players had to all work together to take down a massive alien creature, complete with crushing arms and acid spit. Should a player take one too many hits, he/she drops to the ground and can respawn at a nearby point or be revived by any friendly player in the area.
You can also accept quests from glowing quest points, complete with fully voiced characters giving you information on your objective. In our quest, we had to assault an area to obtain some medical supplies and turn them in, all the while blasting away at the enemies. Successful completion of the quest awarded some experience as well as two different forms of currency, although the developers were not able to expand much on what the currency was or how the leveling structure was going to work.
Ultimately, our time with Defiance raised just as many questions as it answered, but so far, the game seems to have some promise. Its gameplay fits well into the void left by Tabula Rasa's departure, but this time, the game is backed with a solid premise and tied to an upcoming TV show. Assuming both the TV show and the game get a solid start, there is the potential for some interesting crossover for the fans who follow both. With our limited exposure to the gameplay, it is too soon to tell what the end result is going to be. For now, keep an eye out for news on Defiance as it — and the show — gets closer to the projected release of April 2013.
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