50 MMOs in 50 Days #11: Defiance

Last played: 2014
Experience: Extensive

My opinion of Defiance hasn’t really changed much since my write-up a couple months ago. It’s free-to-play, easy to jump into, and there’s lots to do. If you like freeform, open-world PvE shooter action, it’ll scratch that itch.

But for some reason, I haven’t found myself playing it much over the past month. It might be just the typical cycle of MMOs, how you rush into a new game and then get tired of it rather quickly or how something else new distracts you. I wouldn’t say I’m bored of Defiance, but every time I think “What do I want to play tonight?” the answer just isn’t coming up “Defiance.”

Maybe it’s the fact that the show, which used to be free on Hulu, now isn’t, so I haven’t seen the past five episodes. (The F2P switch coincided with the second season’s debut.) [EDIT: It looks like they’re coming back up, albeit on a one-month delay.] That’s definitely put a damper on my enthusiasm for the franchise as a whole, which, after a rocky start, was turning into something reasonably good.

Defiance 2014-06-10 16-30-11-17I think the one thing that makes Defiance “less” than other dynamic-event heavy games, like Rift or Guild Wars 2, is how “stationary” the content is. In those other two games, you can seek out stuff or, sometimes, stuff comes to you, whether in the form of a bunch of monsters strolling into town or crossing paths with an escort event. Sometimes there’s a time limit to at least give you some sense of urgency.

That’s not how Defiance works. Quests are strewn all over the map, and while there are multiple storylines, and there’s enough to do that you can just set out in a direction and find something, that “something” will be neatly self-contained in a small area. There’s no feeling of “if I don’t deal with this, bad things will happen.” That’s a bit of a niggling point in what’s otherwise a pretty good game, but I wonder if that’s a major reason why, for all the content that’s in the game, it still feels a little dry. It is, basically, talk to the quest giver, go to a place, kill stuff, and get a reward – the same as what you get in any MMO. It just feels more open and non-linear.

I’ve dabbled a little in PvP and group instances, too, and they seem… fine? Not revolutionary, but they seem to play well, though I’ve heard some people grousing about high-level PvP balance.

Defiance the game had to meet the deadlines of Defiance the show’s launch in 2013, and I’d wager that was a tough job for Trion Worlds. I’ll bet that they would have liked another few months to “spice up” the quest content to make it a little more like Rift. As it is, it’s still a good game that fills a niche that very few MMOs do.

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3 Responses to 50 MMOs in 50 Days #11: Defiance

  1. I know the feeling. I struggled to find a good place to watch my shows, too. But then I found http://projectfree.tv/ I know this seems like a spam, but it’s not x D They have just about every show you could think of.

  2. I’m a pretty big fan of Defiance the show. A bit of a rocky start, as you said, but I’ve really enjoyed the second season so far.

    I’m a little more ambivalent on the game. I’m not the biggest shooter fan, and the gameplay feels rather thin. I like the story content a lot, but once I ran out of that, I found I had a lot of trouble maintaining my interest. The side missions are tedious, and the dynamic events, while fun, aren’t something I care to make a steady diet of.

    I will say it’s got to be one of the best examples of free to play out there. I don’t even know what the restrictions on free players are; they’re so subtle I never noticed any of them, though I assume there must be some.

    • jasonwinter says:

      It was operating so long with such a low buy-in ($5 to $10) and no sub, that it’s probably not surprising the paid aspects are so subtle. I’m with you, I don’t know what if anything the paywall is either.

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