Over the past year or two I've read a couple of books and watched a couple of films that personally I think would make epic video games.
Defiance Review: The Average MMO
When I first heard of Defiance it immediately had my attention. A futuristic post-apocalyptic MMO Shooter? Awesome! Wait, it’s an MMO on both consoles and computers? Even better! And it’s going to come out with a show? Sure, why not! I couldn’t wait to do a Defiance review. There were a lot of good ideas going into Trion’s new game, but how well did these ideas manifest themselves? Some of them turned out great, and others not so great. In the end, most of them lied somewhere in the middle.
The single best part of Defiance is its flow. If you stumble upon a quest that’s half way completed by other players, you can still jump in and help for a reward. The same thing happens if you do damage to an enemy, but someone else gets the killing shot. It’s easy to log in and find something to do as soon as your game loads. This flowing gameplay is also apparent when you sign up for a matchmaking game. Instead of waiting in a lobby, you continue to play in the PvE world until your deathmatch game is ready. Then, as soon as your game is done, you’re transported right back to the PvE world and continue on your way. This emphasis on flow is important to me as a gamer, and it feels like Trion is considerate of my time and patience.
Defiance’s solid setting sounds like the perfect video game world. It’s a fun and interesting world to jump into. A solid tutorial level and a user friendly interface are two small aspects that are overlooked in most video game reviews, but Defiance did a great job with both of them, which helped immerse me into the game even faster.
Another aspect of the game I liked is it’s Ego customization. The skill tree allows players to really customize their character without throwing the game off balance. All too often MMOs seem to have game breaking builds that everyone quickly adopts. But in both PvE and in matchmaking, I saw a variety of different weapons, abilities, and skills being used. Defiance is a game based on skill, not just on who has the best build or the strongest weapon, and it’s refreshing to see this kind of balance on the MMO scale.
But a game with good flow and balance isn’t enough for it to excel. While these are very important aspects, they usually make a game with a solid foundation go from a 9 to a 10. Sadly, Defiance doesn’t really have that foundation, and these positive aspects can only carry the game so far.
There’s a lot to do in Defiance, but it seems to get repetitive quickly. The quests aren’t bad, but they’re nothing to brag about. The matchmaking is fun, but there’s almost no variety in maps or game types. The main quest story is interesting, but not engaging. Honestly, the game is just another MMO, not bringing enough new content or ideas to the table. And in the MMO world, being average doesn’t equate to an average rating, because MMOs rely on players to build upon the game’s community. And if there are better MMOs to be played, then the community dies out fast.
I think Defiance could easily become an 8 or 9 in my book if they just had a little more to offer. And I have hope, seeing as they’ve promised DLC and map packs in the near future. The problem is, I don’t want to sink more money into a game just to make it worth the MMO grind. It would have been better for Trion to release the DLC at the game’s launch, to get more players interested in the dynamic and the cool idea of Defiance’s world and mechanics.
Don’t get me wrong, Defiance is not at all a bad game. I had a great time building my character, and improving my Ego rating. But I don’t see this as being a game worth grinding for. There are other MMOs and shooters that I’d rather be spending my time playing. And it’s not hard for me to make the switch because after 20 hours of gameplay, I’m already finding Defiance a little stale.
This review was written after over 20 hours of gameplay, performed both on the Xbox 360 and PC.