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Defiance Preview

by Diogo Miguel December 13, 2012

There are a few MMO(Massive Multi-player Online video-game) video-games out there, but they are all exclusive to PC. Perhaps that is why Trion Worlds’ latest offer Defiance stands out, since it is also being released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Defiance is set in a post apocalyptic world where the characters must fight for survival.

Unsurprisingly, Defiance has a character customisation process like other similar video-games. However, the process for creating a character is very straight forward in comparison to these other video-games. It doesn’t mean that the customisation options are limited. There is a wide range of options that even allow the player to give a character scars and face paint.

The last step in creating a character consists of picking a class. It’s refreshing to see a developer who doesn’t resort to using typical class naming conventions such as a warrior. Instead it focuses on a few well described classes. Each of these covers a particular play style that will surely suit a specific type of gamer. The survivalist class for example is more appropriate for someone who prefers sneaking around.

Each of the classes comes with one unique skill. Those that choose the survivalist class can make use of an invisibility cloak. These skills require a certain amount of time to recharge after being used. An easy way to ensure that players don’t end up relying too much on skills.

The area that the player can explore is quite impressive. It would take ages for the character to get to the next objective. Fortunately Trion has made it possible to make a vehicle appear at any moment. It certainly makes the sightseeing much more pleasant. This also means that Defiance is less at risk of becoming repetitive, since it’s not making players constantly walk back and forth.

The main way to play Defiance is by accepting missions. A character called Varus initially gives the player missions to fulfil. It’s all part of the grand design since helping Varus means finding out more about what is going on in Defiance.

One of the first missions players need to complete involves liberating a nearby work plant. The beauty in this is that there is more than one way to accomplish this. Skilled players could scout the area and take out enemies from the comfort of the hillside, by making use of long range weapons. Hot heads can storm through the front gate and go to town with a powerful weapon, such as a machine gun.

It’s not recommended to go face a group of enemies without knowing what to expect though. Combat is challenging for anyone that tries to face a large group of enemies at the same time. It is always best to take out one or two enemies at a time. Perhaps this is also to do with the choice of class, since the survivalist class chosen for the play session, works better as a stealth character.

Fortunately the player can revive a character once. It’s a helpful way of making sure new players can get used to the controls. Dying again will simply return the character to a near checkpoint, which makes for a less frustrating experience. Not that it’s that difficult to get used to the controls, since it plays like a typical third person shooter.

Combat consists of using a variety of guns and other equipment to take down a group of enemies. There are many skills and items to buy, which should help improve the odds of surviving each fight. In fact, there are so many skills to choose from that it should provide players with the tools to go about playing Defiance as they like. Obviously, it’s necessary to first level up and complete objectives, before being able to unlock more skills.

There isn’t a lot of variety in the enemies fought earlier on. Screen shots depict a few enemies that didn’t make an appearance during the play session though. Their fighting strategies seem to change depending on the player’s fighting style. They are also very tough and will require some skill to take down. Their unique design does make up for the limited types of enemies. The Hellbug creatures in particular are very interesting. One Hellbug encountered on a bridge put up a hell of a fight and it took some determination to defeat it.

Mission aren’t just about defeating enemies and liberating places. Another story mission involved freeing key personnel and protecting them from an enemy faction. The dreaded escort mission that has frustrated players in other video-games. Trion manages to get away with it though and it’s all because of a clever twist. The player can heal any fallen characters being escorted. It’s still somewhat irritating to have to kill enemies and constantly revive them. However, it’s not the same as having to start all over again, if one of them takes too much damage.

There are plenty of side missions to find around the land. One side mission involves driving the character vehicle through a set of rings within a set amount of time. There are various side missions scattered around the world map. These provide a welcome break from all the fighting. These side missions seem like a perfect opportunity to include leader boards for best times and so on. It certainly looks like the sort of video-game that will keep players occupied for a long time.

What is so wonderful though is that it is possible to do missions simultaneously. This is particularly beneficial with timed missions which appear when the player is nearby. One such timed mission involved taking out Hellbug creatures that were storming a hill.

This Hellbug mission is a joint effort between online players. It’s very simple for players to come together in Defiance. They can either join a session and help out with missions. It’s also possible to play other group based missions, such as the timed Hellbug Uprising challenge.

Being able to work as a team feels satisfying. Specially when the team consists of different classes, since the party can benefit from each of their unique skills. Such comradeship is not often seen on console multi-player video-games. Defiance also offers a variety of more competitive modes, such as Shadow Wars, where the player joins a faction.

The story for Defiance will tie in with the upcoming SyFy TV show. The idea of a world where both humans and aliens must work together to ensure their survival, seems like an interesting twist on a classic sci-fi formula. It’s certainly promising to think how it will all work out. Specially with such talented people as Julie Benz being cast on the Defiance TV show. If Trion can make effective use of characters from the show and their stories within the Defiance video-game world, then it will surely end up being an essential purchase for fans.

A map is an essential tool when there is so much to explore. Fortunately the map in Defiance is both helpful and provides clear paths for the player to follow. This makes it extremely straightforward to get to the location of any mission. The world that Trion wants players to explore is full of different environments. It’s definitely another incentive to keep playing and seeing all the different locations.

Sometimes it felt like Defiance is overloading the player with too much information at once. However, it’s safe to say that it all makes sense once it is put to practise. Defiance has so much to offer that it wasn’t even possible to experience everything that was on offer during the play session.

It’s this sense of freedom that makes Defiance so approachable, since it feels like there is always something going on at any point. If anything, these few hours with Defiance shows that Trion Worlds is committed to developing a product that is focused on bringing players together. It’s definitely worth paying attention to Defiance in the next few months, leading to its launch at some point in April.

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