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Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Recap

Jef Reahard

By popular forum-rager demand, I present to you Massively's "real" Defiance launch week impressions. I guess some folks aren't satisfied with the general contentment expressed in the diaries I posted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they need a chance to vent. So for those people: Defiance is the worst launch ever! It's worse than Anarchy Online! My pet peeves from alpha/beta haven't been fixed, and worse yet, Trion has not called me personally to apologize! Boo-hoooooooo!

Oh, you did actually come here to read some day four Defiance impressions? Good. Today's entry is going to be a recap of sorts because my brief play session last night was likely my last until the TV show's debut.

I feel sorta bad typing that because ultimately I want to like Defiance more than I do, not because I spent 60 bucks on it but because I think Trion has the makings of a title with some staying power. After 20 hours of play, though, I feel as if I've seen enough until the game matures a little bit. No forum rage required.

Defiance - Vehicle stampede
I've done a couple of major arkfalls, and aside from my running out of ammo on one of them, they were great fun and completely free of performance issues (I'm a PC player, for those of you who missed my earlier entries). I've done a couple of co-op dungeon runs, and they went off without a hitch. I can't see myself doing more of them, but that can be chalked up to my disdain for MMO mob grinding and repetition and not any sort of misstep by Trion.

I've also undertaken a lot of missioning, rampages, time trials, and the like, and these things are quite enjoyable. I'd love to see other MMO companies ape Trion here and figure out how the firm managed to meld instancing and open world technology in a seamless way that allows players in either portion of the game to see one another. I'm an immersion nut, and Defiance does a pretty spectacular job of creating it in almost every facet of gameplay.

Defiance - Delta bunker boss
I'm also a fan of Defiance's lore and am looking forward to the television show and to the MMO content updates that it will presumably drive.

Initially my impression of Defiance's aesthetic was rather favorable, and I still dig the world design and the post-apocalyptic feel of the environments. Over the course of this week, though, I've come to agree with the folks who feel the game isn't what it could and probably should be on 2013 hardware.

And look, I'm not a PC Master Race guy. I own every console released in North America since the 8-bit Nintendo, and while I prefer the PC because of the control it affords me over my gaming experience, I enjoy what consoles bring to the table as well.

Except when it comes to MMOs.

Thus far I've played DUST 514 and DC Universe Online on a console, and frankly the experiences were sub-par at best, particularly in the case of the latter, which I've also played extensively on the PC (two max-level characters, one of them highly geared). Each of these games featured archaic interfaces and limited chat functionality, both of which are integral parts of MMOs as I know and love them.

Defiance's PC version, like DCUO's, suffers mightily in the interface and chat functionality departments. While I can't prove this and neither Trion nor SOE will ever admit it, I suspect this is because the games were designed for the weaker platforms first and then adapted for the stronger one almost as an afterthought. I don't blame developers and publishers for trying to push MMOs to consoles because they'd be stupid to ignore the larger audience. But thus far the grand experiment has resulted in a watered down massively multiplayer product, and much like the gameplay transition from virtual world sandbox to linear themepark over the years, this new devolution chaps my MMO-loving arse a little bit.

Is Defiance worth your time and money, though? That depends. If you're like me and you consider 20 hours of fun worth 60 bucks, then have at it. If you're looking for a deeper MMO experience, I'd say keep one eye on Defiance, but as of this moment it's got a ways to go.

Defiance - Cass and Von Bach
The good
  • Rock-solid gunplay and shooting mechanics
  • Huge weapon selection and interesting customization system
  • Class-free progression
  • Addictive goal/pursuit/achievement system
  • Interesting Shadow War PvP mechanics
  • Immersive lore
  • Immersive open-world/instancing blend
  • Stable, playable launch-week performance in Eastern prime time (PC version)
The bad
  • Sub-par character animations
  • Repetitive missions and mission text/voiceovers
  • Consolized UI
  • Sub-par chat system
  • Segregated PC/console playerbases
Catch up on all of Jef's Defiance launch week impressions:
Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Day one
Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Day two
Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Day three
Massively's Defiance launch week diary: Recap

Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?

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