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Fighting computer-controlled monsters is one thing. Fighting against other players? That’s the true test of a shooter’s strengths. Any annoyances with hit-detection, controls, latency, or what have you become blatantly obvious the moment another player is the one shooting back. Being able to see just how well the shooter element works is what made us so excited to check out the PvP in Defiance, Trion’s upcoming MMO/shooter hybrid.

Defiance is as ambitious as they come. Besides attempting to be one of the first functional MMOs with a strong shooter side, it’s also going to run parallel to a SyFy original series and share events with the show on a week to week basis. We’ve already had extensive hands-on time with the game’s shooter side – enough to know that the gunplay is strong – and now we’ve played the PvP, which showed off more up-close-and-personal encounters.

We only saw one map, allowing for teams of six to go head-to-head in battle, but it did a great job of proving how strong the shooter side of Defiance is. Combat was enjoyable, feeling like a mix of Gears of War and Halo. Choosing between different classes gave us a good variety of weapons and abilities, allowing us to charge into battle as the assault class, enjoy active camo as the sharpshooter, use speed boosts to close gaps as the shotgun-wielding shock, and heal wounds or shoot grenades as the support. The kicker was that all these weapons and abilities could be combined to our heart’s desire in the class creator, though we didn’t get to experience this deep customization first-hand.

They all felt awesome (even if we favored the grenade launcher for a majority of our time playing), and knowing that we’ll eventually be able to bring our own characters into the fray made us more invested. Though we didn’t get to catch a glimpse of them during our games, Trion stated that alien soldiers will also be selectable. That said, the PvP will not be faction-on-faction. Truth be told, the shooting mechanics were so enjoyable that we’d still be interested even if it wasn’t attached to an MMO. It was that fun.

Also exciting is the promise of more. More levels, more classes, more characters, and, of course, more loot. Trion said that it’s working on 16-vs-16 matches, complete with vehicles and different objectives, ready to go for launch. The company also said there were plans to have several of these map types available by the game’s release date next year. There are also plans for experience and loot gains through PvP, rewarding players for fighting against their fellow man with awesome gear (some of which can only be earned via PvP).

We were already excited for Defiance after seeing it on several occasions, and checking out the PvP did little to quench our thirst for further information. Now all that’s left to do is see how the other half of the game – the MMO side – works, in hopes of finally seeing the big picture of what Defiance will have to offer. Trion has a history of making their mark when it comes to release dates, so you can expect the game to hit PS3, PC, and Xbox 360 in April of 2013.

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