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E3 2012: Defiance (Hands on)

Posted by: Chuck at 6/14/2012 5:19 PM
I'm still trying to decide if Defiance is a brilliant idea or something that was born of a late night drinking sesson.  The idea of tying the narrative of a TV show to persistent world video game is certainly inspired but implementing that vision is where things get sticky.   As someone who has developed software for the last 17 years it's mindboggling that someone would attempt to marry a television schedule to a TV show is a bit mind blowing.  When you have a bug crop up in a TV show you rewrite and reshoot the scene but when one crops up in the middle of a software project people can go without sleep until it is worked out.  You can manage some of that with tooling and great content creation tools but I’m guessing that Trion is stocking up on coffee like midwestern cities stock up on road salt for the winter.

The plot of Defiance has  aliens showing up on Earth and after a bit of a tussle an uneasy alliance is brokered.  The aliens ships though present a bit of a problem as a good chunk of them are still in orbit around Earth and occasionally fall to Earth spewing all manners of alien critters that must be eliminated.  If this sounds a bit like the rift events from Rift then you and I are on the same page.

While this event structure may be similar to Rift the actual gameplay is anything but your standard MMO.  Defiance is more of a a third person shooter than a traditional MMO  and the lack of cover means the game is very action and movement heavy.  

In addition to these multi-stage Arkfall missions the game will also have smaller missions scattered around the game.  I had a chance to check out two of these.  The first had me trying to remove alien critters from a farm without harming the livestock while the second had me trying to see how many enemies I could kill before being overwhelmed.   While not necessarily tied to the plot of the game these were fairly fun things that do add a bit to the game.  The game also has a strong social component so you'll be able to instantly compare your performance in these missions to the performance of your friends.

One of the nice touches I noticed in my 45 minutes with the game is that you can automatically summon vehicles to get around in the game with.  This means no Battlefield 3 like whining when someone rides off your vehicle.

The game will be coming out for the PC first on April 20,2013 and with releases for the PS3 and Xbox 360 at some point after that.  Each platform will have its own server/shard so there won't be any kind of cross platform gameplay.  

After playing the game for a bit I’m really interested to see how Defiance turns out as I had a lot fun with the game.  It will also be interesting to see how well the TV show and MMO play together and what the lag time is between the show and the game.  Either way it's going to good for the local coffee business.