Stay on target...
Given that console-bound MMOs have a funny way of disappearing into the ether, I half-expected meteors to rain down upon me and my fellow journalists as we spent some quality time with Trion's Defiance. I had the pleasure of getting an extended hands-on with it awhile back, and liked what I saw, but then again, people thought the same thing about True Fantasy Live Online before it fell off the edge of the planet years ago. But here we are, just weeks away from launch, and Defiance is very much alive and kicking—ready to provide space-western-themed shooter hijinx to PS3 and 360 players everywhere.
But despite its making waves as the first console MMO in recent memory, Defiance is still making its way to PC. I decided to take it for a spin to see how it stacked up to the 360 version, and unsurprisingly, it was on a whole other level. Not only did it run at a blazing framerate, but textures were sharper and lighting effects were far more pronounced.
In my original preview, I noted that the game just barely avoided looking homely, but after spending time with the PC version, I can safely say it sidesteps the visual woes of the consoles entirely. Controls feel right at home too, with fully customizable key bindings and snappy-feeling mouse aiming. It won't be giving Crysis 3 or The Witcher 2 a run for their graphical money, but it'll still be the preferred platform for anyone with a rig that can run it.
I also got a better look at the skill progression system this time around. Much like Borderlands 2, each class has an action skill that more or less defines it, but learning skills that synergize with it allows you to create a setup that suits your style best. For instance, I like getting up close and personal with shotguns, so the skill that increased my movement speed for short durations seemed ideal. That same ability allows my melee attacks to do their full damage to energy shields as well. Combined with a passive that helps recharge my ability cooldown if I score a melee kill, and I ended up with a character who could get in quick and then quickly pound fools to get my action skill ready for closing the next gap. Since any class can potentially unlock any skill, I'm sure we'll see some interesting setups.
Ultimately, though, whether or not players choose to invest their time will come down to how compelling they find the world of Defiance to be. Given that it ties in directly to the upcoming SyFy show of the same name, there's a lot of potential for players to get sucked in if they like what they see. Imagine if the brilliant Battlestar Galactica remake from a few years ago had been accompanied by a quality MMO experience... I know I wouldn't have been able to stop playing.
Having been lucky enough to catch a full screening of this new show's pilot, I'm not sure if it will reach the heights of Adama, Starbuck, and friends, but it's certainly an order of magnitude better than I expected it to be. Time will tell, but right now, there's a chance that science fiction fans will be getting both an interesting new show, and a fun game with which to further explore it come April.