By Michael Fontanini / September 17th, 2018
|Release Date||July 10th, 2018|
|Genre||Adventure, Free to Play, MMO|
In the world of Defiance 2050, it was twenty years ago that the cataclysmic Arkfall event took place, leaving millions of Votans dead and terraforming the Earth into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You are an Ark hunter, but the large ship you were traveling in has unexpectedly crash landed. You quickly discover that many have perished, now just bodies in the aftermath of the crash. You must find out where your boss, Karl Von Bach, is at and whether or not he survived. He had an ark-core, which is very powerful and must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands! Can you get to the bottom of things, and how long can you last in this ravaged world?
Defiance 2050 is a free-to-play science fiction MMO, with a third-person shooter perspective. The world is littered with hostile foes who will attack you on sight, such as the pesky raiders and the hellbugs. You’ll find mission markers scattered around, with more unlocking as you progress. There are main missions and side missions, in addition to other mini-game activities like time trial race courses. Most missions involve battling enemies, collecting items, or interacting with a series of targets (like terminals) that are often protected by hostiles.
You can traverse the world on foot, but you also have a vehicle that you can spawn in front of you at will by pressing the V key. It’s not that speedy, but it’s much faster than travel by foot! There are several vehicle types in the game as well, and the more you use one, the more your character’s skill with that vehicle type increases.
You’ll get plenty of weapons as you carry out the many missions that await you. For the many weapons you won’t want to use, you can sell them or scrap them for parts to use for enhancing other weapons. Your character also has skill levels with different types of guns, just like with the vehicles.
Unfortunately you can’t carry infinite ammo with which to dispatch every jerk who crosses your path, but you’ll find ammo crates scattered around the world. You can interact with them at any time to refill your ammo stockpile. You’ll also find places where you can sell weapons you don’t want, and of course buy goods as well.
The game starts with a basic tutorial mission, but overall it doesn’t teach new players the ropes that well. After that, you’re pretty much on your own. There is a help screen, but its not as useful as it should be. (Some descriptions are very short and lack important details.) The bulk of Defiance 2050‘s gameplay is doing quests or spending time traveling from one quest to the next. As you progress, the game increasingly makes you travel long distances between quests. It starts to feel like you’re spending entirely too much time driving around rather than doing something interesting at times.
The gameplay can be fun in the heat of battle. However, sometimes there’s too much going on and the player is up against too many enemies all at once. Sometimes this is helped if another player happens to be doing the same mission or killing enemies in the area just for kicks. For an MMO, you don’t see other players as often as you might expect. Another problem is server lag, which means that you will have many times where you’re shooting at an enemy and it suddenly moves as the game catches up after a bout of server lag. As you can imagine, that can be rather irritating, especially if it happens a lot in a short time span. This seems to be a common issue reported by players.
When faced with a large numbers of foes, you’ll need to make great use of whatever cover is available to you. If you get hit too much, you’ll need to stay in cover for a bit until your shield regenerates or you’ll risk dying. Check points are not always placed well in Defiance 2050, so sometimes you’ll have to drive a ways to get back to the mission you were working on, which is a little annoying (especially when you die multiple times).
In addition to actual missions, side missions, and mini games, there are also completely optional tasks all over the world. Any time you encounter a raider blockade, you can kill all hostiles there to clear the area. Other completely optional tasks include saving tied up soldiers at some of these blockades, or in other places, rescuing people from hellbugs, or collecting some pheromone samples from hellbug nesting sites. These non-mission tasks don’t reward you with much other than some XP, and maybe a weapon might drop. As for the mini games, the time trial courses in particular are bad. For some reason, they give you a different vehicle than your normal one, which would be fine except that this one handles like a brick for no reason.
It should also be noted that once you clear a main mission or side mission, you can usually go back to the location where the mission takes place and play through the objectives again just for the heck of it. You don’t need to accept the mission again to do this, and in fact you can’t anyway since the mission markers disappear from the world once you clear them.
You’ll want to be careful venturing into hostile areas, as both raiders and hellbugs have some much more dangerous types of units. Others are just plain annoying, like the short guys that run around with flamethrowers, or the heavily shielded guys with multi-shot grenade/sticky grenade launchers. Their shields completely regenerate after about two seconds if you stop shooting them, which is very annoying. You can’t damage them at all while their shields are up, and it can be time consuming to take them down!
One other gameplay issue is that the side missions quickly start to feel a bit stale. There aren’t many different types, and the description text for them could use more creativity, as they start to feel too rehashed.
The game’s visuals are pretty good, though they’re not cutting edge. They get the job done pretty well and that’s all that really matters. The GUI has some design flaws though. It’s needlessly clunky in some areas. For example, it takes multiple clicks in completely different areas of the screen to equip a different gun. This is because you have to select the weapon slot you want to change at the top of the screen, then click the confirmation button way back down at the lower-left corner of the screen. It’s even clunkier if you want to change your non-active load out, as this requires flipping back and forth between subscreens first, before switching the weapon.
The sound effects department has a similar issue, as many of the side quests reuse the exact same voice clip over and over. It feels a bit silly when the character giving you a mission keeps saying exactly the same thing for numerous missions, sometimes even feeling slightly out of context with the mission in question. They could definitely use more variety in the voice clips that play when you take side missions. Other than that, the sound effects aren’t bad at all and do their job in the rest of the game. Some of the music tracks are pretty good, too. My favorite one really sets the sense of tension and foreboding in certain battles when it plays.
Defiance 2050 can be a fun game, and you can team up with friends to take down the baddies. Some battles can be irritating if you’re going it alone, though. The game also has some optional team-oriented missions (called instances) that you can only do with a party of multiple players. There are matchmaking locations scattered throughout the world, and instance quests take place in an instance of a dungeon or location separate from the overworld. If two teams were playing the same instance mission at the same time, they would not see each other, as they are both in their own instance of that mission’s level. I’ve got about 30 hours in the game at this point, with my character a couple levels shy of level 50.
The game world doesn’t really come alive as much as it could. Side missions in particular start to become a matter of rinse and repeat, with some bizarrely sending you back to fight at a location that you just recently cleared out in a previous mission or side mission. There are enough places in the world that this shouldn’t be necessary. Defiance 2050 is essentially a remake of the original Defiance on a new engine, including the missions that were themed around the TV series that aired on the Syfy channel before it got cancelled. Defiance 2050 is available as a free-to-play game on Steam, and via Trion Worlds’ own launcher, called Glyph. There are of course in-app purchases as well. Do you have enough bravado to take on hellbugs, raiders, or even both at the same time to save the world?
Review copy provided by publisher.
DefianceDefiance 2050Trion Worlds