Word Play: Defiance Is Free And Just Massive Enough To Work
Defiance is what The Elder Scrolls Online should have been. That might seem like an odd comparison to make, but hear me out.
In my mind, the fundamental flaw of ESO was what was supposed to be its strength, and the strength of many other massively multiplayer games: There are tons of people for you to play with, quest with, and generally kill stuff with. But ESO is based on the Elder Scrolls single-player games, where you're a lone hero and everything depends on you. If there's a monster to be killed, you have to kill it. Alone, or maybe with the help of a henchman.
In ESO, however, everything is multiplied by about a million. Go to a cave full of beasties and there's already a dozen people running around killing everything. Hope you can tag the end boss! A Dark Anchor spawns? Everybody run to that spot and spam your skills in a mad frenzy to try and kill everything!
It's been my thought for a while that MMOs have overemphasized the first “M” a bit too much in recent years, that they still think it's 1999 and we're all just going gaga over the fact that we can play a game online and with hundreds of other people! I've played plenty of “open world dynamic event”-type games, from Rift to Guild Wars 2, and there's a limit as to how massive those games can be before they just devolve into a giant zergfest with 50 or more other players where it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you're somewhere around the enemies and spamming your buttons – provided your computer can handle rendering all those special effects. I'm not an “all you other players, get off my lawn, I want to solo my MMO,” kind of guy, but I think it comes down to a basic question: MMO games can involve a hundred players doing something at a time – but should they?
Which brings me back to Defiance. I don't know if it's because of how spread out the area is or how its server architecture works – or, cynically, maybe the servers are just that low in population – but, in my opinion, it's got the perfect amount of “massive” to go with my “multiplayer online.” When I'm sent out on a mission, I'll often encounter one or two other players in the same area to help me, and that's just the right amount for fending off a few waves of mutant enemies. Even the big dynamic events are reasonably populated, with around 10-20 players fighting off swarms of hellbugs and other nasties. The fact that we use guns and aren't shooting fireballs or cosmic rays or whatever probably also helps make the battlefield feel less cluttered. And no matter what, you still have to aim your guns, so there's no tab-locking onto a target and pressing auto-attack to win.
I only sampled the PvP just because I was having so much fun doing the open-world content and missions. I played briefly in the Defiance beta, and I can recall the map seeming relatively empty of points of interest. The game was probably rushed to make its deadline last year, to coincide with the debut of the show. A extra year has been good for development, to the point that I almost feel overwhelmed by the number of icons on my map telling me where to go. Do I continue with the main mission? Do a side quest? Time trial? Arkfall? An icursion? What's that?
It's not Elder Scrolls Online, but given its post-apocalyptic gunplay feel, it feels to me like an MMO based on another Bethesda product. If there was a Fallout Online, I'd want it to be rather like Defiance. You can just cruise around the map and find stuff to do without even trying, and that, to me, is the essence of an open-world game.
Is Defiance perfect? No. Enemy AI is fair to middling, but the game throws enough of them at you that you at least won't feel like it's a cakewalk. There could also stand to be better tutorials and a more robust new player experience. I've enjoyed my 10 hours or so in the game, but it's possible that I'll get bored with it or it'll feel repetitive later on after clearing out a camp of mutant soldiers for the umpteenth time.
For now, at least, I'm enjoying myself. And since it's free-to-play, it's not costing me anything to have that fun. If you want an open-world, dynamic-event game without the headaches of overpopulation, give it a shot.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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But nevertheless.. it's good.
I haven't figured yet whether all mentioned above can be unlocked for free in some way or not.. so far doesn't look it, but i'll continue looking, who knows.
It's p2w atm.. why? heres why:
DLC's. They lock some skills, some weapons, some content, and tier 4 gear chests.
Thats quite a lot of limitations, trion need to remove this bullshit and make it truly free.
The auto group in quest system is awesome and the thing I loved in the beta and I love now. I'm playing with a friend and we go around doing quests together, but when we hit some quests we see people in there with us and at that point their in our group. When the quest is done we go our own way and the group is disbanded. Its the way MMO's should be. Its funny, I was doing one of the quests where you're shooting hordes of monsters. I saw my friend in the distance and he couldn't see me and that's how the questing system works. When you go in, if the quest can handle 4 people you only see 4 people and any more people get their own instance. Also yes you'll get a bunch of baddies but there is an end. Most MMO's they just keep spawning while you're in the area, Defiance you there is an end to the spawning and you're done with the quest.
I really hope more MMO's pick this up. I know Defiance has taken its blows and its not perfect but so far its the most fun MMO I've played. I really get bored of having to beat people and get the first...or last hit of the monster I have to kill to get credit and if I don't I have to wait till it respawns to try again. Its never ending and Defiance does get that right.
The one thing I wish they would have fixed in from the beta is when you finish a mission you get that big screen that tells you your stats. Sometimes there are baddies still there so if you don't exit the screen quick enough you will get killed. It should be you get a notice and you can click a key when you're in a safe zone to get that message. Or it could be part of when you hit control to get more options.
Also I find the trade system a little more difficult than it should be. To many button presses to trade and to many to accept trade.
There are a few more but they're minor compared to the issues I have with other MMO's.
1. I don't regret purchasing it. At $5 for 30 hours of gameplay, I absolutely got my money's worth.
2. As yet, I don't plan on going back - the patch size alone was enough to disincentivize me.
3. If I do go back, at least I have some rewards waiting for me, being that I bought it. Plus, those rewards are not cut down at all even though I got the game at a discount price.
4. When it comes to sci-fi themed, PvE centric, dynamic open world shooters, I still prefer FireFall. And being that it's (finally) launching "soon," I expect to have a lot more content to get into in the near future.
Funny. This is exactly my experience with Major Arkfalls and Sieges. So many people that I can just equip a grenade launcher, fire at random and cash in on the xp and items at the end of the event.