Defiance Beta Hands On


SyFy’s new show Defiance will start airing in April 2013. So far it looks to be a fantastic show with a beautiful blend of survival, character profile development and big flashy battles. Who doesn’t like big flashy battles? Set during the aftermath of an interspecies war held on Earth, aliens and mankind have come to co-exist to survive on the war torn planet. With no main body of government, frontier cities such as Defiance are the closest thing to a civilised economy. It’s in this war torn re-envisionment of Earth that you create your character online to join in the MMO experience that Defiance has to offer. We have all suffered that moment after watching a show where we just want more! And what better way to finish an episode than by jumping into the game on which it’s based.

Defiance is a third person shooter, with a basic ‘run-and-gun’ approach. However gameplay is mixed up a little with various weapon progression and customisable powers and abilities utilising talent trees and reward pick-ups. There are four unique base plates on which to create your character; right form the get go Defiance is showing you that you’re in the same world as what you will be seeing on TV. It wants you to feel like you’re playing in the same place and not just playing a game based on a TV show. Having created your character, the game runs you through the basic tutorial map area, but not before showing you an intro with which you bump into main characters for the beginning plot. Going through the controls on both the PC and console version of the Beta, it’s impressive the way in which both interface well with the two very different controller interfaces provided. Playing on the PC felt much less like playing a standard MMO, yet playing the console version of the game certainly felt nothing like the standard third person shooter you find on the shelf in most stores. Working as a real-time third person shooter as opposed to a numbers game, actual skill in how well you shoot will decide the victory on the battlefield. Other games have attempted to have real time combat with MMOs, but far too many slip back into the, “Press 1 for standard attack and hotkey 2 to 9 for your new abilities” such as DC Universe Online.

defiance main charctersEach character can have a primary and secondary weapon equipped and can make use of one of four base talents. These however can be inter-chained out, so while assaulting a compound with your friends may require the active cammo ‘cloak’ ability, you can always enter the menu to equip a different ability such as the extra damage and storm of bullets found with ‘overcharge’. Rather than having these as interchangeable on the go however; the forced action to enter the menu means players cant switch ‘Crysis style’ for every situation and require teamwork; a crucial aspect of any MMO game. Weapons can be personalised as much as character visuals, but rather than utilising a talent tree these are determined from pick-ups and equipment located on the map. Add in the option for different visual equipment and vehicles for fast travel, it’s easy to see where the core MMO aspect of the game lies.

Where Defiance excels however is in its mission based quests. Each ‘Arkhunter’ (player) has an ‘EGO’ implant interface which works as a HUD and directs them to the next mission. Long gone now are the days of “slaying ten rats” in the local tavern. Each mission is unique in a way that requires a good application of skill and tactics to achieve your goal, be it deactivating defences, destroying reinforcements, rescuing other troops or collecting data. Missions have a story narrative which really helps bring in a diverse gameplay which reflects the game’s co-existence as an ongoing series. Alongside these missions are challenge markers dotted around the map. Engaging in one of these challenges allows you to compete directly with other Arkhunters in a ranking leaderboard; prizes of course for great results. Perhaps the most fun is the actual Arkhunt, Meteorite strikes which bring up a red marker on the map; then Arkhunters rush and race to the location for a bit of the prize. These ‘out of the blue’ instances however do come with heavily fortified troops and are no walk in the park. But as always, greater numbers and a good mix of abilities lead to some interesting gameplay and a satisfying feeling of accomplishment.

The game did feel a little empty; of course this is to be expected in a Beta, but it somehow worked for the post apocalyptic setting. As to whether or not we’ll be seeing main cities with thousands of players standing at the gates using ‘/dance’ is yet to be seen, but so far the levels of other player interaction works well. When using the console version quick use of the D-pad allows for easy access to emotes and you can still bring up a full keyboard for the different chat channels. Of course voice chat is fully integrated and linked in with console’s party chat systems too.

defiance characters

Having given the game a good run through of the various traits, abilities and menus, I know there’s loads that I have still missed, and while I can do my utmost to catch up and investigate every single aspect, the Defiance TV show affects the game and updates weekly how the story and missions will be developing. Not only that, but players will be affecting the TV show as well; something that as a concept alone is revolutionary. No matter what happens, we’re in for an ever changing and developing story to keep us on the edge of our seats.

Defiance has definitely won me round for a pre-order purchase and I will have no trouble in getting fully stuck in with its release, only tearing away for the benefit of watching the show… oh, and work of course… I guess that’s important too! It’s brought a lot to the table for the world of gaming and while at the moment bugs here and there (no puns intended on some of the aliens) do seem to literally pop out of the ground, it’s hard to forget that this is to be expected at the Beta stage, because at the moment Defiance is already looking so groundbreaking that you forget it’s not a finished product.

Defiance the game is released 2 April 2013 and is available on Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation3 in stores and as a digital purchase online. The TV show Defiance airs on SyFy in the UK on 16 April 2013.

Copyright © 2013 MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews