Word Play: Defiance Is Free And Just Massive Enough To Work

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor

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.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
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.

Discussion (39)

no1curr 9 years ago

Golgo28 9 years ago
have fun playing the whole 8 hours of content cause that's all the game has.Sure you can get an extra 5 hours if you pay 50 bucks for all the dlcs.I made the mistake of supporting this game when it was back in alpha/beta.Even payed 150 for the ultimate edition.the only reason it took a week to best at launch was cause the servers were so bad,you couldn't stay logged in for more then an hour.Not to mention the so called episodic content was mostly just go fetch an auto log.Then in an attempt to draw players in they nerfed everything.Now you can drive all the way to San Francisco as soon as you start the game.This game has nothing in common with eso,hell it's not even on par with a crappy asian f2 mmo.the new players will play for a week then the game will be dead again,except for a handful of trion fanboys.Seriously the game isn't even good enough to be in the category of,"I'd play it if it was free."

Merkadis 9 years ago
Ah yes, comparing it to fallout was a bit of a hype on your part, Jason.
But nevertheless.. it's good.

Uteli 9 years ago
So, the game looks promising huh? Has a bright future for sure? ^^ Alot people playing?

View 1 reply
Merkadis 9 years ago
Theres also some smaller inconveniences like limited to 2 weapon loadout slots, and inventory slots.
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.

View 1 reply
Merkadis 9 years ago
Played it, got 500+ rank atm not bad BUT.
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.

playeronesvk 9 years ago
played on closed beta and was bullshit rendering distance max 20meters around y its not fun game...

HellcatM 9 years ago
I couldn't have said it better myself. The thing I like about the game is it does instancing and grouping right. You go into a quest area and you might see a few people there doing the quest with you, not separately or having someone asking you to group.

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.

s1m007 9 years ago
This game was dead and now as free to play it is atleast alive. Defiance have a lot of problems someone mentioned the bad matchmaking, the repetetive quests and the unbalanced PvP. The DLCs are so badly thrown at the players. When you hear that the game has so much dlcs you expect a lot of content and that's not what you get. New Dlc for defiance means 2-5 new weapons and maybe a new buggy color (and you compare it to Borderlands) .In the last months the playerbase was so hideous that from all the PvP mods only 1 was playable because of the small plauerbase. The last DLC uses one of the buildings of the last story mission as something that's suppose to be NEW. After I reached 1300 rank I know everything about this game and I still like it. I just hoped Trion did better.

View 1 reply
TwoDigitScout 9 years ago
Brilliant post, well said!

GMAlonzo 9 years ago
Great game indeed

Pieareround 9 years ago
I actually bought this game for five bucks during last year's Steam Holiday Sale. I played about 30 hours, at which point I found that I'd gotten bored with both the story and the myriad side missions and dynamic events. PvP never held my attention. Here are a couple of my thoughts:

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.

Rawasa 9 years ago
This game uses a score system, every monster shot you get points, every monster killed you get points. So there is no such thing as afk-ing in major events, higher score= higher exp,money/other currency and higher rarity of weapons(minimum score= green weps, good score= blue,great score=purple or orange). also the game has great optimization i have had times where there is over 100 players in an arkfall and no lag whatsoever from explosions or gunfire and 100 players can be in an arkfall and it can still take some time to finish(atleast 15 minutes). source: bought it played it. I welcome F2P because the raids are a "little" easier now because of more players.

View 1 reply
Adrian87 9 years ago
Didn't liked my experience with Defiance in closed beta. But after seeing Michael's first look, Jason streaming it and both of you seemed to be enjoying the game, i installed it to. Haven't got into it yet (even thought that was a week ago, Factorio and State of Decay are ruining my free time), but i will definitely give it another run to. Seems to have improved a lot since i played.

Merkadis 9 years ago
To compare it to Fallout p_p are you serious? i suppose after hearing that i have to check it out myself.

-_- 9 years ago
Love how nobody is mentioning the Pay Wall for weapons you get as drops but can't use because lol DLC.

View 2 replies
LOL 9 years ago
This game is trash. Whoever said graphics are good is a fool. Graphics are major dated, gameplay its jerky and not responsive. Camera is horrible. There is no rank matching so you will get raped in pvp. Game is old and garbage. When P2P goes to F2P it is because game is dying and is crap. Don't listen to tweenagers children.

View 1 reply
Marlblanke 9 years ago
"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."

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.

DC 9 years ago
I've been playing since the F2P launch and i had tons of fun. I've ended the story missions and you can still have tons of things to do. You can also repeat the story quests, take better weapons, make co-op instances, Arkfall, etc... I found my kind of MMO :)

Ruy 9 years ago
i was excited to play when it turned F2P i even start watching the series at the same time. So far love it. The problem after a good hours of game play it gets a little boring because you repeat over and over some "events" and the quests go in the same direction... still a great game but i think it isn't super addictive.

uguran 9 years ago
its good game with borderland

jeremy 9 years ago
I have been playing this since it went Free to Play and it is a lot of fun its like borderlands with better graphics and more people and that is in no way a bad thing ;)

View 3 replies

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