Defiance preview - Hands-on with the MMOFPS half of the MMOFPS/TV show hybrid
Trion's plans for Defiance are crazy. Totally nuts. Insane. Batty. Cuckoo. Mad as a March hare. Mental. Psycho. "All aboard! Next stop, crazytown!"
You get the picture.
The MMO developer is creating a game that's going to tie in, directly, with a live-action television show on Syfy. It's going to launch around the same time, include some of the same characters and events. If there's a solar storm in the TV show, there will be a solar storm in the game at the same time. If a character is assassinated in the show, there will be a funeral for them in the game. Some characters will leave the location of the show and travel to the location of the game - and then, a few weeks later, they'll arrive, just on time. It's absurdly ambitious, and there are a million things that could go wrong, but that hasn't stopped us from getting excited for the possibilities. And after getting hands-on time with the game at E3, we were happy to see that Trion is holding up its side of the bargain.
Our time with Trion’s Defiance was short, but it didn’t take
long to see everything we needed to see about the MMO/TV show hybrid – it’s
essentially Gears of War meets Rift. The large, open world reminds us of Trion’s
other MMO, complete with a public events, and the combat feels on par with
other third-person shooters.
Generally, when MMO is slapped onto any other genre, the
general gameplay suffers, but we didn’t feel that way with Defiance. On the
contrary – we were actually surprised by how tight the combat was. This wasn’t
MMO combat with guns, it was gunplay in an MMO. On smaller enemies we were
still just spraying bullets until they exploded (in yucky green puffs of goo),
but on larger enemies we were aiming at specific parts of their body, shooting
inside their mouths to do additional damage.
This was jacked up a few hundred percent more when we faced
a giant boss at the end of a zone event. A massive beast spawned out of the
ground with huge, powerful legs that flailed and slammed down whenever we got
close. Only by destroying yellow, glowing sacks of puss were we able to disable
their extremities, causing the actual enemy to come out of its massive shell
for an actual showdown. The boss itself was much smaller than the exoskeleton
we’d been fighting, but it was still a few times our size. We rolled around,
dodging its attacks and firing at weak points until we’d taken it down. It wasn’t
the most exhilarating shooter experience we’d ever had, but it was definitely a
fun one, and the idea of fighting a similar boss with a few hundred friends
sounds like a fine time.
After defeating the boss we jumped on an ATV and rode towards the coast. There, we saw a dock filled with enemies, but these weren't the same bugs we had been battling before. Instead, these were humanoid foes that required a different strategy to fight. Again, it wasn't really any better than other shooters we'd played, but it was good to see some variety of gameplay styles, as we'd likely get bored blowing up bugs all day.
There's a pretty good chance the entire Defiance experiment could be a disaster. There are so many moving parts, any of which could give out and cause the synergy between the shows to shatter. It's also slated for launch on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 all at the same time, which has yet to actually be accomplished with an MMO. But now that we've played Defiance, there's one thing we know: if anything breaks or goes wrong, it won't have been the game's fault.
We'll know how it all holds together next April, when both the game and the TV show launch.