Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at 12:30 PM by Paul Izod
On Wednesday evening I was given the opportunity to get some hands on time with upcoming game Defiance.
Due to be released by Trion Worlds on 1st April, Defiance is a console MMO with a difference. Already part of a small club, being a console MMO, the game is to have a very peculiar unique selling point. Alongside the release of the game will be the premiere of a Sci-Fi TV series of the same name. The game and the show will be interlinked, with events in the show affecting the in-game story and, rumour has it, vice versa. It is the latter that holds the most intrigue, with the idea that game events will translate to the show never having been seen before.
Of course, how much this will actually be the case is still to be seen especially, as anyone familiar with Firefly will be aware, seeing as there is no guarantee the show will take off.
But all that aside, how was the game I hear you ask?
In all honesty, underwhelming.
Now, there are some important caveats to be made before I go into detail of how I felt about the title. Firstly, I’m not much of a Multiplayer fan. Yes I’ve played Warcraft and its ilk, but usually as a solo player. Multiplayer has never done it for me, so this game was always going to have an uphill struggle to impress me.
Secondly, the game is not working to its full capacity yet. The game I played was set up on a local network, not an online server, so the world was populated with at most 10 human players, all new to the game. This almost certainly affected the feel of a game whose appeal is largely based on player numbers.
So, with these factors in mind, here’s what I found the game to be like.
The gameplay itself felt rather uninspiring. Something of a mix of Borderlands, Rage and, oddly, Mass Effect, Defiance had the bearings of a game that could be good. The problem was everything felt like a diet version of what it was influenced by. The Borderlands style felt toned down and homogenised for mainstream tastes, the Rage-style motoring felt very artificial and clunky and the Mass Effect-style 3rd person shooting felt somehow detached and distanced. There was little feel or immersion in what was going on. Couple this with the fact that I drove for 20 mins and encountered precisely 2 computer-controlled enemies and it doesn’t make for a compelling experience. Now, as I said, there were a lot less players around than come release day, but you would still expect more features of the game world to interact with. The environment feels disappointingly desolate; something that could be a serious issue for a game relying on on-going player commitment.
What was potentially more concerning was the plethora of technical issues I encountered, with invisible walls preventing my progress at random points not indicate don the map, clipping issues and, at one point, my character getting stuck mid-air against the pre-noted invisible walls.
The game itself, despite the above limitations, does have a lot of potential. I can see it improving immeasurably with a decent number of players and the promise of random world events involving large numbers of players battling large enemies is worthy of optimism.
All in all I don’t see Defiance revolutionising gameplay, but it could break new ground in inter-media interaction if the tie in with the TV show bears fruit.
And all things considered, maybe that’s enough.
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