Welcome to day 2 of my Defiance Diary. After only discussing the intro area and my menu gripes in the last part, I decided I ought to actually talk about the game this time around.
I can certainly confirm this about Defiance: it’s a third person shooter. The MMO aspects like extensive customization and inventory management are definitely there, but by and large it’s going to handle like an action game. That is most certainly a positive given the half-assing that many MMOs do in terms of their combat. It gives the refreshing feeling that TERA did when I first got into that game. Your skill and actions in combat actually matter beyond pressing 5 keys on a hotbar (it’s worth noting that there is no hotbar in Defiance), and that includes precise aim, reloading at the correct times, and avoiding enemy fire.
One of the instances where that is absolutely true is in the above boss fight versus a very angry looking mutant with a very dangerous grenade launcher. Yes, I did say boss fights; it was complete with an intro cutscene and everything. This big palooka carried a big damn grenade launcher and he was deadly accurate with it. My little rifle and pistol did the job, but I had to duck and weave behind cover just to stay alive.
The accuracy and relentless nature with which this particular enemy (later known as a Mutant Grenadier, implying I’ll fight more later as regular baddies) was impressive and nerve-wracking all at once. I had to carefully time my shots between the volley of explosives hurdling toward me, to say nothing of the regular grunts with assault rifles trying to gun me down. If there are more encounters like this in Defiance, especially on a larger scale, then I am absolutely looking forward to more of this game.
Speaking of things to look forward to…
This little beauty right here. This is called the “VOT Auto-Fragger”. It is a 3-round burst fire, 15-round magazine plasma shotgun. Yes, that is as awesome as it sounds, and yes, it does perform as expected. That is to say, amazingly. The fact that a weapon that looks so cool is also so effective with such a unique ability is very satisfying.
Defiance has actually reflected Borderlands in more than one instance, and the gun design and randomization is one of them. I have been incredibly impressed with the weapon variety and random effects. I’ve seen electric, burst-fire carbines, fast-firing semi-auto sniper rifles, and a pistol that has a small magazine and low fire rate but a 4.0x multiplier on headshots instead of the regular 1.5x multiplier. Even with the seemingly standard fare of machine guns and shotguns, the plethora of random weapons and item modifications grants you the ability to customize your play style to the way you want to play and still look cool doing it.
One thing that does not look very cool, at least in the starting area, are the locations. Expect to see Copy-Paste Ruin #12 inside Ruined Town #3 often. Brown and gray are the colors most present in Defiance, and it’s a real shame because the setting is very interesting. There’s a lot of potential for cool vistas or locations and I definitely hope they come later on.
Thankfully, traversing these areas is rather diverse. In the above image, my objective is to get to a control panel and erase data on it. The control panel was up on a ledge inside of a building and I saw no ladder or staircase with which to ascend. Then it hit me: think outside the box. Or rather, on top of the box, in this particular instance.
Traversing the world is a bit more than looking for a ladder to climb, it seems. I actually had to do a bit of simple platforming to get up to where I needed to be to complete my mission objective and I can only assume this type of physical obstacle will be used more often, perhaps even to find hidden treasures as was done in The Old Republic or Guild Wars 2.
Though the locations may be drab, the way you get around is certainly not. Very early on, you get your very own off road ATV. It serves as the default mount, or at least this game’s equivalent. They are fast, agile, and get you from place to place in a hurry. They’re also very easy to summon: all you need do is press a key (default V) and the quad bike materializes before you, letting you jump on and zoom away.
Pressing sprint activates a rocket booster on the back for a limited duration, letting the already-nimble vehicles really take off at full speed, but you do lose quite a bit of maneuverability while boosting. What these boosts allow you to do, however, is take advantage of the conspicuous ramps and huge ledges.
Not pictured above: the 100 foot drop. It may not be the ATV’s intended purpose, but it performs it very well.
Speaking of performance, though, one rather glaring issue I’ve had is with mouse control and aiming. The normal mouse look controls work well enough, but it’s very clear that there is mouse acceleration in the game. This is a big no-no for basically any video game using a mouse and keyboard, but acceleration is a common and expected feature on controllers for console games.
As a result, many console-to-PC ports are plagued with poor mouse controls unless the option is given in-game to turn them off. In Defiance, it is not. This can lead to wild mouse controls when running around and very slow and very insensitive while aiming. It’s something that I’ll probably get used to, but it’s something that is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. I might be able to fix it by digging around settings files, but I shouldn’t have to.
Thankfully, the game doesn’t seem to have any major game-breaking glitches or horrible issues like most MMOs do on launch.
One problem it does have, though, is server stability. More than once I was kicked out of the server for no apparent reason only to be placed in a queue or unable to log in at all.
If these few issues are ironed out I can certainly see Defiance becoming a popular and enjoyable game. I’ve already had a good time with it so far.
Thanks for reading! Part three will be up tomorrow!