Trion’s Defiance beta weekend for PC and Console began today, and with it the NDA dropped. Graev and I have been playing on the PC and Console versions all day to get a feel for the game and decide if Defiance is a game we want to pick up when it launches in just a few short weeks.
Since this is a beta test, and we do not have a finalized copy of the game, we can’t really give Defiance a fair review yet. I know I’ve formed some definite first impressions, though, and I want to share what Graev and I have begun to think overall about the game.
Defiance handles beautifully on the PC. My very first reaction was in response to the controls and the fluidity of movement. Nothing’s better than a game that just ‘feels good’. On the PC, the graphics are really, really good. I remarked immediately to Graev and my friends that I wish games like Planetside 2, Battlefield 3, and even Borderlands handled this well. My PC sustained exactly 60 FPS with no drops on what I assume are the max settings. I was also unaware of any latency lag in the PC version.
The Xbox 360 console version is slightly different. I feel like the graphics aren’t quiet as good as the PC, and I was having some frame rate issues. I also noticed a fair bit of screen tearing and slowdown with menus. At one point Graev asked me to go watch the videos we saw last week of the console version because the console beta we have now doesn’t look quite as good. Also, the console version might be a different build since feedback popups appear after finishing missions.
Graev and I are also a little disappointed by the latency issues plaguing the console version. At one point it was so unplayable that we just logged off. Trion announced via Twitter that they are working hard to resolve those latency issues. Worth noting about the console version is how few people I saw playing compared to the PC version. PC version had people everywhere, but the console version felt like a ghost town. There are a number of reasons why that could be the case, though.
Gameplay has been very, very mission-centric so far. Lots of ‘go to this location and kill’, ‘defend x’, ‘find and retrieve’, and ‘interact with an objective’ missions. At times I felt like I was being lead around around a bit too much. I would really like to just find a nice area of the map and kill difficult mobs like the good old days of EverQuest pulling. The closest thing I found to staying in one spot and killing bugs was this mini-event I stumbled upon to protect some kind of objective or something. I liked having to fight waves of bugs.
To best classify what Defiance gameplay is like, I’d have to say it most resembles Borderlands 2 if you could have a ton of players doing the missions and all playing together at once in that game. Playing really does feel like coop on a massive scale. Lots of people running around making the game feel busy and ‘online’. Defiance uses lots of instancing and phasing to accommodate all the player, which is a little disappointing. I like games where I know there’s one version of the world. If my friend is on Tranquility Path and I go to meet him, I don’t want to get there just to realize he’s in another instance of the area.
My biggest disappointment is with the PvP because I am not a fan of matchmaking and queuing for instanced battles. If you like battlegrounds and instanced objective-based PvP, especially with shooting mechanics, then Defiance has the PvP for you. I prefer more of a connection to the world. The Shadow War, which I thought would be true open-world, is really just a big instanced battleground. I participated in a couple 48 vs. 48 objective taking battles that felt a little fraggy for my liking. Basically you queue up for a Shadow War, and when it ‘pops’ you get teleported to the match. The match takes place in a real region of the world, but it’s an instanced/phased versed. Teams are randomly assigned since there are no real factions in teh game, so you’re just fighting the sake of shooting each other and winning points.
Overall, I think the game has potential as an action shooter with RPG elements. Some of the missions/quests are fun, and others are typical themepark, but I think the real fun will be had with a group of people clearing out a dungeon (whatever they are called). I want to somehow get into one before I pass judgment on the game’s PvE coop content. The PvP is a letdown for me in terms of style, but for the type of gameplay it provides, it pulls it off well.
Graev and I really want to explore the console version more when it is working properly, and get to do more of the content. We’ll bring you more of our Defiance impressions soon.