As I hopped back into the game, I was quickly reminded of how much I adore the graphical style. The post-apocalyptic feel mixed with some impressive special effects made me wonder (as I often do) why I even left this game in the first place. But I'm not a completely hopeless romantic, so I do remember (and was reminded of) the swarming AI that makes soloing particularly difficult. Playing in a group, however, is some of the most fun I've had in an MMO.
I created my new female Irathient Outlaw to your specifications and headed out into the world. I made my way through the Fallen-Earth-esque tutorial and was quickly released into the general population. I say that with a tinge of sarcasm but was actually surprised to see three or four other players running the same beginner missions right alongside me. Often times, these ever-expanding content behemoths are full in the newest content and dead in the starter zones, so I was happy to see a few warm bodies. But later on I regularly ran into an impressive number of players still enjoying this game.
One of the things I love the most about Defiance
is the way you interact with the world and its content. You could be riding along, heading straight for your next main mission objective, when an arkfall opens up right near you and you're joining a few dozen other players in a big old fashioned bug hunt. And when they drive off to the next one, you can't help but get caught up in the excitement and follow along.
Or a roadblock will appear in front of you and you find yourself forced to fight off a small platoon of mutants looking to ruin your happy day. Or one of the NPCs you've met along the way radios in to tell you that she's in a bind and could really use your help. You can play this game as a pure shooter, you can get heavy into the lore to follow the main plot, or you can even just set out to collect and modify the biggest and best guns in the game, which is a metagame all in itself.
I wouldn't call the game anything approaching a sandbox, but the linear progression isn't as bad as many other games because there are plenty of distractions and choices. I particularly love the way phasing works to keep the world lively and active, and map indicators let you know where the biggest action is at all times.
But before we get any further, let me explain a bit about the premise of Defiance
. Your character is an Ark Hunter who travels to the San Francisco Bay area to help put an end to the terraforming that's happening to the planet, thanks to some not-so-friendly aliens who are taking over. The futuristic, post-apocalyptic setting features insect-like creatures known as hellbugs, an army of mutants who see you as the invader, and a cast of other alien races who are sometimes on your side -- and sometimes not.
Along the way you'll meet plenty of NPCs who correlate to the Syfy TV show's plot, but you have plenty of things to kill that have nothing to do with the show. I won't spoil the story, but it branches off enough to keep you on your toes and still manages to stick to the main point: You have to stop whoever it is that's terraforming the earth.
As for my weapon focus, I've earned my starter pistol, scattergun, and sniper rifle, along with my founder pack goodies (including an assault rifle that does fire damage), so I'm happy with the damage I can do so far from non-drop weapons. I still plan to grab a light machinegun the first chance I get, but so far I've favored the assault rifle for close-to-medium combat and the BMG for its massive damage and healing ability. I just finished up the KTAM radio station mission (as of this writing), and those weapons haven't let me down yet.
As for an EGO specialization, I forgot that you're forced to choose during the tutorial, so I picked the Overcharge side. For those not familiar, here's the short version: You're introduced to four main skills in the EGO grid during the tutorial. You try each one out on dummy NPCs, then choose your favorite right then and there. My other choices were Decoy (send out a decoy hologram to distract enemies), Blur (boosts movement speed by 50%), and Cloak (makes you invisible for 15 seconds). The one I picked increases weapon damage by 10% for 10 seconds.
So now I have a few unspent EGO points like a kid in a candy store. Since you can unlock only those skills adjacent to other unlocked skills in the grid, I've listed the choices in this week's poll.%Poll-88177%
I'm also curious about how you'd like me to progress and what you'd like me to show off the most for next week. Should I experiment with the various battle types found on the map (timed missions, side missions, episode missions, etc.), focus strictly on the story (no spoilers), go for the PvP Shadow Wars, or run around sealing up arkfalls? Since there's so much to do in this game (with more available later), I plan to have a new poll each week to allow you to chose what I spend the most time on each time. I will also have a group of friends who agreed to join me, so keep that in mind.%Poll-88186%
Get those votes in by May 16th at 9 p.m. EST and I'll do your bidding this weekend. Until then!
Shawn Schuster is now permanently at the helm of Massively's Choose My Adventure with you as the co-captain. It's going to be a rough ride, so put on your seat belt! Join him every Wednesday for a reader-guided deep-dive into a new MMO every month. Farcical puns about cars and farming sold separately.