I wrote about my first forray into the live version of Defiance just on Tuesday. I've spend several hours with the title so far on the PC, thanks to the "Digital Deluxe" version of the game I was given for review by Trion Worlds. Over the next few weeks I'll report my findings on the game in a sort of "review diary" we're fond of calling a "Review in Progress". Each week, hopefully I'll experience something new, uncover new successes or failures within the game, all leading up to my final review later in April or early May. So without further adieu, let's break the good and bad of the first few days down.
Let's start with the part that's probably most important: Defiance is fun. I may worry it's not quite enough MMO for most MMO veterans, and not enough of a shooter for your hardcore fans of that genre, but aside from its identity crisis Defiance remains a fun game with a lot of kinks to iron out. It's a diamond in the rough, if there ever was one. I like me a good shooter, as bad as I might be on the competitive side. As single-player experiences, they're often finite in their enjoyment. As an MMO player, I've always wanted a persistent online world in which to get my itchy trigger-finger scratched. And since I'm pretty much terrible at Planetside and its sequel, there's always been a longing for a game whose primary focus is PvE and Co-Op... Defiance fits this bill nicely.
The problem that players will have with Trion's latest is that it largely lies somewhere between traditional MMO mechanics and shooter mechanics. It's not stellar at representing either, and instead winds up just "good" at both being an MMO and a shooter. Its world is big, nuanced, and fun to traverse. But what else is there to do besides kill stuff? Not much, really. Perhaps this is why Trion's backed away from the "MMO" term. Not because they were afraid of the association of Elves, but because they knew a lot of requisite systems the MMO elite crave are simply missing from the game at launch.
They had a target release they had to hit, and as such they were forced to pare down the amount of features they'd ship with (especially when you factor in three platforms releasing simultaneously). I get all that. But one thing I hope comes to Defiance is more non-combat activities. Even the races and time trials are a good start, but they're solo affairs. Why not set up an actual race course for players to partake in? A little Mad Max in Defiance? I'd buy that DLC. Housing? Crafting? I know it's not part and parcel for a shooter, but believe me when I say that eventually even the shooter folks will want more from their persistent world than action. It's the natural order of things.