Banner by Ramon3110
Developer: Trion Worlds / Human Head Studios
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Worldwide Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Trophies: 1 | 3 | 6 | 40
Trophy Guide: Defiance Trophy Guide by: gyrocop
Defiance is a subscription-free third person shooter massively multiplayer online role-playing game (SFTPSMMORPG for longest game genre acronym ever!) from Trion Worlds that ties-in with the television show of the same name on SyFy. Taking place in an alien ravaged San Francisco in which the arrival of alien races has brought about a series of changes into the Earth we once knew - "terraforming" the landscape into a radically altered wasteland in which civil strife and survival take center stage in a unique take on science fiction with a more local twist. The ambition of having a TV show and video game compliment each other is something completely fresh and unique. One should only ask whether or not this is something that could even work, or would this grand experiment end up in some deep shtako?
Like most MMO titles, this one begins with you creating your character. As of now (this is an MMO so there will be future patches with additional content, among them new character races) you get to decide which gender and race you want to play as, choosing between Human or Irathian - pretty much a human with a large flat forehead, feline-like eyes, and what looks like an added bones over their brow ridge. Neither race gets any real bonus over the other so the choice is strictly cosmetic, and as you play will become an almost non-factor as most of the outfit choices cover up the majority of features. From there you get to choose between four different "origins": Outlaw, Veteran, Machinist, or Survivalist. The point of the classes, again, is strictly cosmetic, and only really affects your starting outfit. Since there are no restrictions on the game's equipment beside level, all of the character creation is fairly pointless except for the race, gender, and how long you decide to keep your original outfit.
Despite the melding of genres, Defiance is a game that plays a lot like the third person shooter titles that you might be used to. The game kicks you off with a tutorial that introduces you to your basic controls, what your enemy types are, how to read your mini-map to figure out how to travel from point-to-point without dying, and eventually to something called "EGO" (Environmental Guardian Online, and seriously that is the stupidest acronym I have ever heard) which is sort of a mixture of AI, genetic builder, and OS all in one. As your EGO activates it gives you one of four starter powers that work as your special move. These include a cloak ability, the ability to make a decoy, a super speed move (with enhanced melee damage), or the ability to increase your weapon damage for a short amount of time. Your EGO is basically going to be your be-all and end-all for everything you do in the game and what makes you special in the world of Defiance.
Shortly after the tutorial ends with a few starter missions to get your gun warm, you acquire a vehicle and you are sent out into the wild to do what you want, with the majority of the game's content available to you from the get-go. Everything you do basically adds to one of three things, which all boost your "EGO Rating": individual experience points, weapon experience points, and pursuit checklists. When you kill enemies you get experience to help you level up to get skill points (called EGO Units) to unlock new skills. There are dozens of skills to choose from, but only a few slots to equip them, each catering to your individual play style in thousands of possible configurations. While killing baddies your individual weapons gain their own experience. Each weapon has its own experience bar, and will stop giving you experience for that weapon when its bar is full. If you want to continue gaining skills for that weapon, you're going to have to go find another one to keep getting that proficiency up as each level adds a new level of mastery with that weapon. The other thing you can do to help boost your EGO is a checklist of objectives that are called "pursuits." There are dozens of categories for pursuits for everything from finding collectables in a particular area to killing a certain amount of enemy types, or even doing a 1080 degree spin with your vehicle. Pretty much everything you do in this game gives you some sort of experience to progress your individual character in some degree. As your EGO rating increases you are able to add additional skill slots, have more loadouts for your character to be specified to, and you're able to equip a wider range of weapons.
Defiance features a whopping total of 13 different weapon types, which vary from your standard fare of pistols, shotguns and sniper rifles to the more alien arsenal such as infectors (a gun that shoots bugs that can either slow down, or track your enemy as they create bugs that leap out of your foe and eat any nearby enemies, and my personal favorite) to bio-magnetic guns (BMGs) which lock-on to your foe, normally sapping away shields and health (sometimes even giving you and your allies boosted shield regeneration) as long as you keep the beam on your opponent. A few weapons like assault rifles, submachine guns, and light machine guns have only minor differences, but for the most part the options allow for a lot of variation in play styles and individual loadouts. The basic equipment screen looks a lot like something that people who've played Borderlands will be familiar with, allowing two weapons, a shield, a grenade mod, and your choice of vehicle.
A bare bones look at your equipment screen - you'll see this a lot.
The vehicles are quite fun and offer two main types - rollers and runners. Runners are like ATVs and are the quicker, more maneuverable type with very little armor or "hit and run" capabilities. Rollers are cars with armor plating, that are a little slower than runners but allow you a bit more survivability and more chances to make roadkill of the things shooting at you. In some PVP (player versus player for anybody living under a rock the last twenty years) zones and story missions you get a third rarer vehicle called a Cerberus - which is basically a three-man tank with a missile launcher in the passenger seat and a turret in the back for group vehicular mayhem.
Your main forms of currency come in many types. There is Scrip, which is your basic "gold" and used for most things like buying weapons from vendors, modding weapons, or paying a very small fee for respawning after you die. Keycodes are rewarded for completing missions, open world events, or participating in PVP and are used to buy "lockboxes" which offer you a chance to get some rare, but random, weapons. Bits are the micro-transaction currency of the game and are bought with real money to either buy boosts to give your character additional experience, scrip, or advancement in-game. Lastly there's Ark salvage which is used to remove or retrieve mods or purchase further keycodes. Juggling all of these currency types can be confusing, especially when you're trying to remember which currency works for what. It would have been nice if they just had Scrip alone and simplified things, but you're going to have to learn what each of these are as you go. It's a minor hurdle that ups the learning curve at certain junctures as you find yourself playing alien accountant from time to time.
All of these terms may sound foreign and confusing, but it's really simple to just ignore everything and shoot stuff until you level up with strangers around the world, picking up the drops (which aren't shared, so everybody gets individual loot) and enjoying yourself. There's a deeper world with many additional layers of intricacy, and if you're going to want to advance faster or deal with the more advanced portions of the game, you're going to have to learn what is what, and how you want to go about it. It's fairly simple, but at the same time it's not exactly as difficult as speaking Castithan either.
As this is an MMO, everything you do is online. If you can't be online, you can't play - simple as that. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to play with others, though. Defiance doesn't have a "claim" system on mobs, so every enemy you see, you can shoot, or twenty others can as well. That comes with its own pros and cons, especially with recent patches making it so you have to damage enemies in order to get credit for the kill count (very important in your daily and weekly contracts, which we'll get to later) as opposed to being grouped with somebody who kills the mob, or being in the general vicinity. It's a double-edged sword that often hurts you more than it helps alleviatethe potential problem of squatters, who mooch off of your efforts. Quite often you'll find people will skirt around certain enemies and only kill what's needed, which makes for some bad habits that aren't exactly neighborly to your fellow Ark hunters, especially if you're running solo.
There are certain events that are set up in-game that require your own individual skills to accomplish and these come in the forms of mini-events of three different types: races, hotshots, and rampages. Races are fairly self-explanatory in that you have a certain time to drive through rings (seriously rings?! couldn't we have like space lasers or something more sci-fi!?) in a set time limit to get experience points, scrip, and occasionally items. Hotshots are scenarios that normally involve shooting certain objects such as hellbugs (your main non-bipedal adversaries in the game) to chickens (yes, chickens - and not cool space chickens either) while trying to maintain a multiplier as you have limited ammo and time limit. Lastly, rampages are very similar to hotshots, except that you're given a particular weapon such as a rocket launcher, or some alien punching-glove thingamubober, and have to kill waves upon waves of enemies while maintaining a multiplier and surviving to the end of the time limit. All three of these events are a lot more difficult than they should be, and the set objectives are way too difficult currently (you will need a silver rating in all hotshots/rampages and gold rating as they stand now for pursuit objectives). Trion has addressed the issue, and plan on nerfing them all for the sake of a few controller's lives, because as it stands now these things suck. For the most part, I try and avoid these suckers like a hellbug make-out session when I can, but they are there for the more sadistic or adventurously boastful players.
For the sake of divvying up the content, we'll discuss the story here, although you can tackle this with a group of friends or random Ark hunters, if you choose, at any given time. The games starts you off as some paid-for-hire bodyguard for renowned weapon's designer Karl Von Bach as he seeks rare and dangerous alien technology to turn into profit. As you do various jobs for your jerky and pushy boss, you come across various other characters who open further quest lines as the game turns into a "I'll scratch your back, if you scratch mine" series of events. As you delve deeper into the terraformed version of San Francisco you unlock further areas, more quests, and discover that not everybody is exactly forthcoming with their true agendas. For the most part the story is forgettable and not exactly the most engaging affair you will find. A lot of the terms and characters of untold races pop up without much reason, and leave you with a series of strange terms that are difficult to understand without a historical explanation or perspective to let you in on what exactly is happening. As the story progresses to its climax, you're left with a nice twist or two along the way that new content will undoubtedly build off in the future, but you're going to have a hard time recalling the rest of your journey as it lacks lasting appeal or any truly standout characters.Proving that they're sadists, Trion recently patched in the ability to replay the story, and go back and do everything over again, but you're just as likely as to want to find yourself in an episode of The Twilight Zone than repeat this series of unfortunately underwhelming events.
Is that you Nathan? Nope, it's Nolan from the TV show. That's his good side.
A unique thing is that every few weeks a patch comes out to add episodic content that is relevant to what is happening on the Defiance TV show. As cool as this might sound, for the most part it's mainly just doing fetch quest pursuits, or killing a re-skinned mob to get a couple more EGO rating points. There have been a couple patches that were unique and cool with actual missions and interaction with characters from the show, but for the most part the marriage of the game and TV show giving you a joint experience has been disappointing, often being too short for something described as "massive" in its description. The episodic content is often far shorter than an episode in terms of length, and being able to wrap something in 10-20 minutes is flat-out disappointing. There was a major possibility here to make this something truly special, but Trion really dropped the ball in making this feel like anything more than filler in between major patches.
The bulk of this game is going to be done with other players working with or against you to get the spoils of the world. For the most part, teaming up with people is optional and really offers no strong bonus unless your teammate has some bit-boosts for group play. I've joined a few dozen groups mainly when helping others do objectives so that it's easier to find people if they die so you can resurrect them, but that's more of good community action than anything that really helps.
Defiance does offer multiple co-op and competitive modes that do require you to team up. These are some of the games strongest elements as they allow your individual play style to shine. They're also where having all those extra loadout slots unlocked can really help you out a ton. The co-op modes at this date and time only come in the form of the pretty straightforward name of "co-operative maps." These maps group you up with three others in a separate map (what us veteran MMO players might know as "instances") to complete a series of objectives that normally entail killing a bunch of bad guys, setting up/defusing a bomb or seven, and closing off the affair with a big bad boss fight. This mode currently has seven maps which all play to various difficulties and have very unique feels between them. As a fan of co-op (probably saying it's my favorite multiplayer element in games) I found these decent enough, with a lot of fun pursuits for each, but didn't find anything that really kept me going back as the rewards were minor in comparison to the amount of effort each map takes to beat. These should be one of the areas where you get the best loot in the game, since it takes quite a bit of time and teamwork to finish them - but you'll normally only end up with a not-so-rare weapon and a couple of keycodes for what can take more than an hour's effort.
Defiance's biggest co-op element, and probably the game's biggest selling point, is these massive, random spawning events called titled "Arkfalls," which pit hundreds of players against hordes of enemies and eventually a boss. If you're in the general vicinity on the world map, you'll get an alert when one happens and that is your cue to roll in (or run away for you big wimps!) and get yourself some major scrip. Arkfalls are also your best bet for rare loot outside of lockboxes. You'll have to take out pieces of ark that have fallen from the heavens and try to obtain its alien technology for yourself, before some enemies take it for their own. For minor Arkfalls this will normally be one location with any of the major enemy types fighting you over a time limit to see who wins. Major Arkfalls, on the other hand, offer four to five minor objectives, building up to a final one involving a major boss. These bosses are normally quite large and deadly, require many players working together to defeat. Oftentimes there will be 20-100 people simultaneously attacking an Arkfall boss at once. These are quite fun, and there is a running parse for the end results to determine who did the most damage, revived the most teammates, and got the most kills. Seeing your name atop a list of a hundred players as the biggest contributor is one of the most satisfying things in the entire game, rivaling even the best loot drops. Talk about a way to build your EGO (rating that is).
You say Arkfall, I say tumor covered rock - same difference.
The game's competitive modes come in two main types as well: competitive maps that offer a team deathmatch mode and the game's take on capture and hold. There are two maps currently for deathmatch: one slightly smaller called "Waterfront" that has you darting around storage containers on a dock, and a larger one called "Observatory" which has you running through an abandoned cliff-side science facility that is ravaged by the elements and the alien landscape. Both maps are really well done, and make it so that there's no real spot to "camp" and annoy an enemy, and doesn't leave you exposed from multiple sides. I'm not the biggest fan of PVP, but my main choice of getting my experience fills has been these maps, as they offer the most random experience as you attempt to take down people's various play styles and defeat the human element. It's strange for only being two maps, for there to be this much replayability, but the balancing is so well done that it is likely to be where you get the most fulfillment for your efforts.
The other game type, Capture and Hold, comes in two forms, the first being a map called "Freight Yard" (that until very recently was unplayable, ARGH!) that has teams attempting to, well, capture and hold three separate points. This map adds vehicles to the mix and is a real treat to play as there are numerous ways to attempt to tackle your opponents and their bases. The vehicles are a good way to cover large distances quickly but, as they stands now, are very weak in combat and often leave you exposed and an easy target. The other capture and hold map uses a portion of the world map, and offers enormous team competition in capturing three to six (could be more, I've only seen it come up to six, though) capture points, called "Shadow War." This mode is quite fun and adds multiple elements into the fold. You have to deal with the natural enemies of the map, and vehicles - which you're going to need as the distance between the capture points can take a minute to get to. Shadow War isn't as refined as Freight Yard, and often freezes up, boots you, or causes major lag spikes as you try and win this mode. There is also the fact that you need 24 people to even start a match, and it's hard a lot of times to get that many people to play the same game mode. I can only imagine months down the line how dead Shadow War is, unless it gets some major refinements in future patches. Of all the game competitive modes - which I surprisingly enjoyed more than I expected - Shadow War is the weakest and most buggy.
For an MMO, the various mode types and options are quite nice, but quickly become repetitive with the loot and money rewards being minimal, they are mainly just various leveling options. The reliance on other members to start up maps is good for now, but might be a problem a few months down the line as people move on to other games, leaving many of these elements unplayable with their hefty starting requirements. The execution works for now, but I wonder how much forethought Trion has put into the future without making the instanced zones the main focus for rewards so that people don't shy away from them when their individual pursuit requirements are met.
For a non-subscription MMO, the servers are surprisingly strong and support massive amounts of players with minimal lag. One of the most important factors of any MMO is how well the game can handle the big stuff, and aside from some issues with Shadow War, the game outperforms many other MMO titles, some of them that require payment. Hopefully the server sizes don't shrink with the passing of time, but for now this game performs well for what it offers. Sadly, from there it's a downhill slope in the technical department.
The sound and/or music oftentimes cuts out for no reason, or simply does not exist for long portions of the game. There were a few story missions in which I went to load a zone, was shown a cutscene that was supposed to prompt (because I hear the first lines of it), only to have it skip for no reason or freeze for me. The guns, when they fire, are all ridiculously loud even at the lowest settings and left me constantly fumbling with the remote control to adjust the volume as the sound was all over the place like a face full of buckshot. The only song I really remember is the horrid dubstep title track that accompanies the TV show's opening, and is used for everything from action sequences, to emotional cutscenes. The soundtrack often feels like an afterthought that was just thrown onto everything to add (bad) music to the narrative. When it comes to the character's voices, the dialogue often comes off as overly cheesy, but not purposely so, to the point that it feels like an 80's B-rated movie. There were a few story missions in which I went to load a zone, was shown a cutscene that was supposed to prompt (because I hear the first lines of it), only to have it skip for no reason or freeze for me. After a few dozen hours, I oftentimes play the game with volume on low, or with a podcast blasting in the background - that's how bad the sound is to this game. It might help if the voice chat worked, but the couple of times I ever heard anybody else - it sounded like they were blasting music themselves. Go figure.
The graphics in this game are really quite messy, choppy, and look like something from last generation. For the most part the low-res textures and copy-pasted scenery aren't too annoying, since you get used to it - I personally prefer to have an MMO that performs well, rather than one that looks pretty - but others out there who prefer looks over functionality will find numerous things to nitpick at. There are many occasions in which I played PVP and character's heads and limbs disappear spontaneously. This normally wouldn't be too bad, except that when a person is missing their head, head shots don't count! Another issue which I discovered is extremely slow loading times from time to time, in which everything becomes invisible and is untargetable, but is still able to kill me. Dozens of deaths have resulted from these issues, and it can be quite annoying for those who lack the patience to accept a cheap death, or frustrating start to a competitive match.
Don't shoot the scrappers, they might help fix this technical mess!
Patches are a regular and necessary good/evil in MMOs. Hopefully what you get from each patch is many more fixes and buffs, rather than game-breaking elements and nerfs. Sadly for Defiance, the breaks and nerfs have far outweighed the bonuses. I would say that my opinion of the elements from the first time I played this game during launch week, compared to now, is substantially less favorable as there have been so many elements taken out that I thought were fine. Defiance feels like a much weaker game today than it did then. For example, there used to be a bluish glow to ammo caches in maps so they were easy to spot. For some reason these were taken out; and even with me knowing where most ammo caches are in maps, I have a difficult time finding them without the glow. The weapons as they stand now have been altered from what they once were to various degrees, with many of the changes leaving you scratching your head. Detonators (basically grenade launchers, some of which allow for manual detonation) have been weakened marginally, and understandably so, since they offered the most power by far in the game. Shotguns, on the other hand, have taken a beating by the nerf bat so hard that you question the logic behind it - what used to kill a person in two shots to the head at point-blank range, now can be shot a half-a-dozen times on a good day and still not kill your target. A statement of boosting the light machine guns of the game has done nothing but increase the damage by 2-3% which makes the worst weapon (well, shotguns now give them a run for their money) still horrible, because the increase is too small for how weak they still are.
With every patch to date, there has been downtime to follow, to correct the damage that has happened to the game. The most recent patch created an unintended exploit that allowed for the duping of guns, and has really broken some of the PVP elements of the game as people now occasionally enter games with multiple high-tier weapons that majorly skew the competitive aspect. The Freight Yard map was introduced four times to the game in patches, only to be pulled minutes after launch because of some ridiculously obvious game-breaking factor that was overlooked. It is frustrating to look forward to content only to have it not be there a few minutes after you log in because the developers didn't properly test the content before reintroducing it.
The lack of a true end-game hurts the overall lasting appeal, as you're not exactly given any major incentive to keep playing. The higher you level, the more expensive guns are, and far more expensive they are to mod. The game basically punishes you for leveling up more than it rewards you. A low level gun, for example, is 100,000 times cheaper than a gun 2,000 levels higher, to modify or reset, at the expense of only being between 1-3% weaker than the higher level counterpart. With guns being the only real joyful thing to look for after the content runs out (or trickles out in patched installments) this causes ridiculous frustration and has turned some people to abusing the system by creating new characters and farming with them instead of focusing on one character. A serious oversite like this make you question how much long-term thought went into the initial planning of the game. I only hope that the fixes are in the works, because as it stands now once you're finished with the game, even if you love it, you're not going to want to keep advancing your character.
Often times I felt I was playing a beta version of Defiance, with so many technical mistakes. I am willing to bet all my Scrip that the show's launch caused this game to come out 3-6 months before it probably should have, and left a lot of problems that make the overall experience painfully incomplete. I can't help but wonder what a few months or possibly a subscription fee for a bigger budget could have done for the title, but for what we have now - it feels like a cheap gun that is in serious need of modding.
Defiance is not a platinum for the faint of heart. A huge grind awaits you that will have you putting hours upon hours of work, for weeks on end to attain. Most trophies will come with natural attrition, but getting your EGO rating to 2500 will take a while, especially considering most tasks boost your EGO by four, five, or ten at a time. Maxing out your reputation with the four major weapon dealers will be the thing that takes hundreds of hours as you have to wait for each daily and weekly contract to become available - in real time. Even with forking out some real cash for bit-boosts, you are talking easily 100 hours, and quite possibly double or triple that for most people. I personally have dropped just under 200 hours and still don't have this shiny platinum in my trophy case.
Defiance is a game that offers loads of content, but none of it really stands out above the rest as being special. I am not entirely sure how well the science fiction elements are implemented as this game falls into "generic shooter" syndrome for large portions of the game. The ties to the TV show are minimal, and the shared content between the two has been mostly disappointing (as of yet). With each patch, you'll find at least a few things that make you want to take a shotgun to your head (don't worry, you can survive a few shots), but at least the developers are being consistent and quick with their attempts at addressing and fixing the issues for the time being. It's difficult to know who this game is aimed at, because the lack of end-game is a turn-off to MMO fans, and the heavy RPG elements are likely to turn off people who want to just shoot stuff. With the show being renewed for a second season, I hope Trion is able to continue to support the game and build off the good things, fixing the bad, without breaking the game in the process. Despite its issues and future uncertainty, the game is a lot of fun, even if there are prettier packages out there.
A simple enough interface, and comfortable third person mechanics make this game easy to get into. Gameplay is likely to get repetitive after the first 15 hours or so, though, and people might be confused at the more in-depth mechanics such as modifying weapons, or how to spend your plethora of currency types. Even without the advanced elements, shooting stuff and picking up the drops as things die works throughout the game.
If you're buying this game to play by yourself, you've probably picked the wrong game. The story is badly written, although the end payoff does help alleviate some of the sting. You're not forced to group with people to play, so don't feel obligated to socialize if you don't want to. It's an MMO, so remember to play nice with others.
The strength of the game is its events when you have multiple people. Whether it's co-op, competitive, or just helping out somebody in need, surprisingly strong multiplayer elements make this a game that can really stroke your EGO. The only real problem being that without a properly working voice chat function, (at this time) and the quick-paced nature of the game, communication might be an issue.
The good thing is that they've found a way to have 100 people on screen, blowing stuff up with minimal slow down. The bad thing is that this is game is as ugly as a hellbug's shtako, has some of the worst sound issues I've experience this generation, and patches have a knack for breaking things that should never be broken. Often times you'll wonder if you're filling in for a beta test, because this game could have used a few more months work to not be the ugly girl at the dance with a nice personality (wait, that's not a girl, it's a Sensoth boy? my bad!).