Feeling Defiant: A Defiance Beta Weekend Preview
This weekend marks an important turning point for Defiance as the game plays host to its first large influx of players for the beta event. As Defiance the game and the television show by the same name (that also happens to feature a town by the same name as the game and the show) edge closer to the mid-April simultaneous launch, we anticipate that these weekend events will be somewhat regular.
Whats interesting about these events is that, unlike Trions RIFT before it, we know relatively little about the game so far. Whether its part of Trions marketing strategy or an arbitrary decision made by their partners at Syfy were not entirely certain, but the fact of the matter is that Defiance hasnt really seen the kind of hype machine rollout youd expect for a triple-A product launch on this scale.
Dont get me wrong; the recent Van Bach Industries promotional site is sheer brilliance through and through, and does a better job of giving gamers a feel for a new game setting than is usually the case. However, it also neatly skips over a lot of meaningful gameplay details, such as what kinds of activities await players, or how the game and show are connected, among other things.
That leads us to the million ton hammer question of the day
What, exactly, is Defiance?
Alright, Ill admit it, thats only the one-hundred-thousand-ton hammer question. The BIG question, and one that thousands of gamers will finally get a chance to answer over the course of the beta weekend, is this: is it fun?
Since the jury is still out on that one, lets take a quick look at what we know about the game so far. Read on!
Ever since Defiance was first announced, there have been a lot of mixed signals about exactly what Trion has been building. At first the emphasis was placed heavily on a rich player-versus-environment experience, and one that could notably be experienced on both consoles and PC.
As time went on, we were given a fleeting glimpse of what that portion of the game entails, complete with plenty of bug squashing action around an arkfall (Defiances answer to RIFTs rifts). Our hands-on time during E3 last year left us with a few key building blocks to mull over and decide what the proportions being tossed into the Defiance blender would be in the launch product:
- Arkfalls are like rifts, but thats certainly not a bad thing
- Someone at Trion or SyFy really loves Starship Troopers. Again, not necessarily a bad thing.
- Vehicles could be used to squash bugs perhaps more effectively than our weapons could.
Said bugs tried to crawl up our characters nose, and I got the distinct urge to equip my giant enchanted two-handed sword to begin tanking them only this is a shooter so that wasnt really an option. Instead, I was given violent flashbacks to the backwards kiting and funky strafing combat you had to get used to while fighting with a blaster in Star Wars Galaxies.
While having player characters function like giant mob magnets works fairly well in fantasy, or more melee-centric games, it is far less fun or effective in shooters where you expect the bulk of combat to take place at range. (Theres a reason why most fantasy MMOs have things like snares, or ranged pet classes to account for the mob magnet phenomenon.)
Flash forward a few months to PAX Prime, and suddenly Defiance became a different game. Maybe the summer heat caused the game to undergo some bizarro molting process--were really not sure what sparked the major changes over the course of a few months--but the massive, open PvE game we thought Defiance was had somehow transformed into a shooter first, with whatever MMO hooks that make it in for launch being cherries on top.
While we knew from the outset that Defiance is a shooter, what we didnt expect is that Halo-esque multiplayer would end up being the main focus of the game. That was the sum total of what was shown and talked about during PAX, and if youre one of the awesome people who took the time to read through my admittedly heavily biased preview article from the event, youll know I wasnt really all that impressed.
Even more MMO recipe fun with your host, Sardu!
The Defiance recipe needed to be adjusted a fair bit given the somewhat radical turn of events, and now looks something more like this:
- May leverage some of the cooler design concepts from RIFT (but it may not)
- Aliens now have a more human face, but the Starship Troopers bug vibe may still be present (but it may not)
- Vehicles are still in the game (theyre in Halo, so it only makes sense)
- Halo seems to be a bigger influence on the game than RIFT
- Expect a cool console shooter that will (hopefully) play well on PC, and be elated if you discover theres still an MMO backbone to the whole project
The Halo franchise was used as a point of reference repeatedly during PAX, so depending on what you think of those titles that will either be a good or a bad thing. Ive never been a fan, personally, but as the saying goes, five million Elvis fans cant be wrong
Cant Get Enough of that Sugar Crisp
If all goes well this weekend, thousands of gamers will be going through Defiance withdrawl by this time next week, eager for their next sugary game play fix. Despite my tendency to squint with one eyebrow raised every time Ive seen the game up to this point, I remain quite eager to finally see exactly what this game is all about. Hopefully youll be among those joining me this weekend, but either way Ill be issuing my full report from the front lines once the beta event wraps up.