E3 2011: Trion Worlds talks Defiance

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E3 2011: Trion Worlds talks Defiance
Straight from E3, we have some brand-new information on the upcoming project Defiance from Trion Worlds and Syfy. Three members of Trion Worlds got up on stage to demo the game and answer questions from the audience (which included our own Rubi Bayer), and there's a wealth of new information to cover, so let's dive in, shall we? Follow on past the cut for all the Defiance goodness you could ask for.

Defiance is a persistent, open-world shooter MMORPG (POWSMMORPG... just kidding) that ties into the upcoming Defiance TV show from Syfy. The setting is a near-future earth where aliens have begun to terraform the planet, resulting in a surreal mix of Earth and alien flora and fauna. The game will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area, while the TV show will take place in and around St. Louis. The game has all the trademarks of an MMORPG, such as a variety of weapons and armor and a plethora of abilities for players to use

Gameplay-wise, it's very much a console shooter that any Halo or Borderlands player should be instantly familiar with. Unlike combat in previous MMO shooters such as Tabula Rasa and PlanetSide, combat here is very much skill-based and doesn't rely on the roll of invisible dice to determine hits, misses, and damage. Your aiming ability will be your best friend, as it alone determines your combat potency, and yes, headshots do count. When asked whether allowances would be made for players not at home in twitch-based shooters, Trion replied simply that if you can't aim, it's gonna be hard for you. However, there do seem to be plans in the works for support roles that will be able to provide aid to their teammates without engaging directly in combat. Defiance will launch (supposedly simultaneously) on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, and while all players across all platforms will receive the same gameplay experience (with small exceptions, such as the PC getting its own UI), there will be no cross-platform play, so if you want to play with friends, be sure you all get it for the same platform.

The game is mission- and story-based, and players will automatically receive missions through headsets built into their armor. There's no need to actively form a party, as all players in the vicinity will receive the mission, which they can then cooperate on. Existing alongside the story-driven missions are emergencies and other dynamic events. One example included a large-scale event in which alien terraforming equipment dropped to earth from orbit; it was up to the players in the area to destroy this equipment (for valuable rewards, of course) before it could cause any further damage to the Earth's landscape. This event was said to be akin to a console shooter boss fight, as the terraforming equipment has a variety of "arms" that players must shoot in their weak points while fending off a variety of alien defenders.

What makes Defiance truly unique among shooters is its tie-in with the Syfy Defiance TV series. This isn't your average movie-game tie-in in which the two are completely independent of one another or the game is a sequel to the show. With Defiance, the game and the TV show exist in the same universe on the same timeline and will directly influence one another. For instance, when a TV plot event that affects the entire Defiance universe takes place, players of the game will see the effects of that event. Conversely, when players cause a huge, world-altering event in the game, the aftermath of that event will be seen on the TV show and perhaps remarked upon by the show's characters. There could even be instances when characters from the show will travel to San Francisco, allowing players in the game to interact with them and undertake missions with them, which the characters will talk about on the show once they're safely back in St. Louis. Perhaps the most exciting prospect for the competitive types in the audience is the fact that accomplished players -- such as those who are high on the leaderboards or who have had the most impact in the game -- could receive mention on the TV show as the characters sit about in a bar, remarking on current events. However, Trion -- knowing the online gaming crowd as it does -- is going to be careful to ensure that players can't grief the TV show. Sorry, griefers, but no gunning down the show's main characters for you.

The audience at the presentation had a variety of questions to ask, but unfortunately a good many of them were met with the dreaded "We're not ready to talk about that yet." Of these poor, ignored questions was one on the prospect of PvP. Earlier in the presentation, the developers mentioned the chance of running across another group of players and either asking them to team up or perhaps taking a few pot-shots at them. So while the developers aren't currently ready to talk about PvP in its entirety, it's clear that it will exist in some capacity. After all, the devs said Defiance is a shooter, so of course there's competitive play. Vehicles are another matter that couldn't be remarked upon, but really, what's a good shooter without rolling across the landscape in a massive war machine with a few buddies?

That's about all the information we were able to glean from Trion's presentation, but we hope it's enough to sate your appetites while we anxiously await more information on this groundbreaking foray into cross-media entertainment. And if it's not... well, there's just no pleasing you, is there? Just go watch the trailer again or something!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 6-9, bringing you all the best news from E3 2011. Whether you're dying to know more about Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!
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