For my thoughts on the beta scroll down to the blue Heading below.
First let me say that I am an MMO fan. I can blame .hack//sign for these feelings I have towards them. I remember reading the manga when I was but a young lad thinking it would be so awesome if this were real. A few years later I learned about how computers had these amazing games on them far beyond what I had seen before. Let me date myself by saying the last computer games I had remembered playing were on floppy disks and let’s just say i never had access to the good ones.
—-Fast forward some odd numbers of years to the present.—-
So recently (march 24th) I checked my gmail for the first time in forever, and saw an email titled “You’re invited to Defiance Advance Mission Beta 3” My eyes opened wide and I did nothing but stare at my screen for a moment noticing I had 1 day to test out this ambitious way of telling a story. Soon after I realized my PS3 was sitting in front of me, I looked back at the screen and the voucher code was yelling at me to get moving. A couple of button presses later I was downloading the 6.1 gig file which over the current PSN took quite a while but shorter than my initial dl of DC Universe Online but that’s another story.
I was watching something on SYFY one day and saw the trailer for Defiance and I was instantly captivated. For a while I had been diving into what makes a story while trying to finish my first novel. The way they wanted to tell their story was through the television show, the MMO, as well as their online presence. What caught my attention was that the show will affect the game and vise-versa. They said you wouldn’t have to play the game to get the full story. That’s mainly for those who aren’t into the gaming thing. But for those who watch the show and play the game there’s going to be a totally new sense of immersion. You may start to feel like you are apart of the universe they have created, and really that is how you know you’re enjoying the story they’re telling you. We don’t know much about the universe beyond what we’ve been told in the short videos they have been releasing on http://www.youtube.com/defiance.
Off the top of my head It starts with “The War of Defiance”. Earth is being forcibly terraformed by the antagonists. The human race along with some others are forced to set aside their differences in order to keep Earth the same blue ball of life she currently is. I’d rather let the site tell you so here http://defianceworld.tumblr.com/ check that out. I haven’t yet because I just decided I’d write this first. Also check out http://www.defiance.com for more info.
For the most part I am extremely excited for the future of this story. It is not just a television show or a game, it is a story with many facets. I am anxious to start watching the show and luck willing I’ll be able to buy the game and continue what I started in the Beta that 24th of March 2013.
So, how was the beta?
First I’d like to make clear that the beta is being handled by the same company that is responsible for another MMO which is very popular, Rift. It has been said that the launch for this game was by far one of the smoothest for the scale it is. Another game they have under them is Warface which is another very anticipated game which is running the Crytek engine. But enough about them.
When I hit start I was greeted by an opening cinematic which looked “in-game” for the most part. Story right off the bat, which I loved. I wasn’t thrust into character customization right away. I got a pretty good sense of what was going on before I made my alter ego. There were 4 character types to choose from, I can’t say much for the others but I chose an Irathient machinist as my new me. It comes with a fairly powerful light machine gun. In your starting area you immediately meet Cass, and EGO. Cass a fellow Irathient and EGO you’re very own personal AI so to speak. EGO serves as your tutorial as well as an aid throughout the game. She tells you when you are near by an event in the massive world and offers little tips on what to do. Granted it was the beta so she may have been behind the action on more than one occasion, but for the most part she was fairly useful and never got on my nerves with updates on nearby time attacks, or Arkfall events, or other events i didn’t decide to take part in, there was always something to do if i decided to stray from the main story quest. They were the fairly basic MMO styled, kill these monsters, or escort this character alive but before I knew it, I found myself having done at least 10 side missions before realizing I had started on my way to the next mission in the story. Basically even though it was the beta I was surprised at the amount of things there were to do.
Enemies can quickly out number you and at many times I remember thinking, “They are definitely encouraging playing with a friend or two.” I’m not saying it was impossible to solo, it was fairly easy to come up with ways to avoid the AI’s blood lust. and get the right angle of attack on the onslaught that was mutated, heavily armed and angry. That said I like to describe myself as the anti-social gamer, I will most likely end up soloing most of the game anyway and only joining parties for the Arkfall events.
Once I got back on track with the story I found out that there was a weapon upgrading system which I just had to spend far too much time on. So basically my favourite weapon combo was a burst fire assault rifle and a high-capacity pistol. My second load out which you could switch by hitting start, triangle, circle, ( A button combo i found myself getting quite used to, switching my fighting style rather effectively during a fire fight.) was a sniper rifle and a shotgun. Each of these weapons has slots on which you can put attachments on to augment their recoil, dmg output, melee hit strength, reload speed, and accuracy. After I found out about these immediately noticed a difference in the way I engaged enemies. I didn’t have to correct my aim as much with the smg, I found myself getting closer to my enemies and using the assault rifle more than the sniper rifle. For the most part I always choose a sniper, whether with bows and arrows or guns I usually enjoy those more than being pummelled to death in cqc. Besides DUST 514, this was the only other game that I actually decided to try cqc. Having not played borderlands I’m not sure how those weapons would compare, but I loved how I could customize each gun to my play style and I actually noticed differences in them.
Another feature I found extremely useful was the dodge. A quick double tap of the circle button and pointing the left analog in a direction will have you tumble out of harms way rather effectively. I fell in love with it, especially after I had to battle an insect about 4 times as large as me and it really enjoyed a full speed tackle straight at me. And that’s another thing, whether it is an Arkfall event, or another side mission or the main missions, the mini bosses are amazing. Non of them were easy and I found myself dying quite a few times. There’s another thing, death can be expensive, so playing with at least one other person can benefit your scrip(in-game currency) count. However I never found myself in want of more money.
Another thing I am digging on is the writing. Each character had just enough personality to where you actually cared about what was going on with them. When the beta ended and I along with the other players were kicked I was in a mission with a law keeper by the name of Jon Cooper and I found myself wanting to continue the mission and find out what was going to happen to him and me next. The same with Cass, I found myself wanting her to go on that mission with Cooper and I so that we’d have a bit of a team dynamic going on. It was strange, but I guess it makes sense seeing as how the game is helping to tell the story. Honestly I would’ve been upset if I didn’t feel anything for the characters.
Now for the bad. As it was Beta glitches are expected, and they personally stated they lifted the NDA so that they could see, hear, and read about said glitches. Enemies would shoot across the screen, and disappear into the mountain sides. One actually got stuck in a building and was shooting and reloading constantly until I completed the mission. Enemies would also just appear in front of me and would glitch damage me into submission but as it’s been said Beta is Beta, so I’m hoping all the clipping, teleporting, seemingly overpowered and simple-minded AI issues are ironed out by the time of release. That said I still loved the game and the story behind it, both were still strong enough for me to not even bat an eyelash at any of those negatives, because β = β and is not equal to a final product.
On the 21st of march I received this email, http://view.email.triongames.com/?j=ff2c11757c64&m=fe9513707560027d7c&ls=fe5c16797262077d7611&l=ff5d117672&s=fe5d1570766002747012&jb=ff961174&ju=fec415727c630c7d&r=0
This to me says that they actually care about the story they are trying to tell, why else would they encourage this? It’s saying that maybe, just maybe, they are not just out to rake in some cash by selling a game based on a show. It’s quite possible that they are indeed focused on the game as an immersive story telling device. Granted it’s a 60 dollar game, but the amount of work that is going into this story of Defiance is on a massive scale. I have my doubts and reservations as this whole project is massively ambitious, but as the internets say, My body is ready.