Defiance Beta Preview: A Perfect MMO Experience
The guys from Trion originally offered me a beta code for either the PC or the Xbox 360. Usually I go PC in these situations, seeing as I have a decent gaming computer and it’s more convenient. But for Defiance I went with the Xbox 360 version. Why? Because Trion has been marketing Defiance as an open world MMO Shooter. Unlike other online first person shooter games, where players wait in lobbies to join single match games, Defiance seemed to be a more traditional PC MMO game, and I couldn’t wait to see how that worked out on the console.
And I’m so glad that I opted for the Xbox beta event.
I’ve participated in a whole lot of different MMO betas. This one wasn’t even on a PC and I have to admit this was my smoothest experience yet. I didn’t encounter a single major bug or error, just a couple of minor visual or audio problems. There wasn’t player congestion half the time, and then zones with no soul to be encounter (like almost every other MMO in its early days). Instead there was a balance of human players everywhere I went. Defiance didn’t bombard me with questions either. At the end of a multiplayer match, or at the end of a mission I was given the chance to rate the experience on a level from 1 to 10, with an option of writing what needed to be improved.
But Trion didn’t just show off an awesome beta experience, they showed off an awesome game. The flow of everything was perfect. I flowed through the quests, which didn’t seem to have the normal MMO feel (go collect 10 of x and return back to me). I felt like I was playing a single player style of game, only reminded that this was an MMO when another player jumped in to help me with a quest objective. The storyline seemed to have a good flow of cut scenes and combat, too. Sometimes games use the cut scene too much, and pair it with a long drawn out intro. But with Defiance that’s just not the case.
But the best part of the game was the flow between PvE and PvP. If you want to play a matchmaking game it’s as simple as pressing a button or two to join a lobby. The nice thing is you’re not waiting in the lobby. Defiance takes you out of the game when your match starts, and drops you back off when it’s over. You can join a match in the middle of a mission, and come back to continue your current quest. It’s a perfect system that every modern match making game should adopt. Even games like Halo and CoD would benefit from this mechanic, but Defiance’s works better and smoother than I could have ever imagined. This single feature made me love the game so much, and I felt like Defiance appreciated my time and wanted me to enjoy as much of their game as I could.
I look for a couple of things in an online Shooter. First, customization. Games are more fun when you can tailor your character exactly the way you want them. Defiance’s perk and power system give players a huge variety of different customization options without giving players an upper hand in matchmaking. I also like to look at the leveling system, because grinding gets boring in any game. But in Definace players can level up their “Ego” in every way imaginable: matchmaking, quests, accomplishments and pursuits, or just by randomly exploring the world and killing shit. The variety in accomplishments that give you experience is huge, and makes it so players can level up the way they want to.
The combat itself might not be revolutionary, but it doesn’t need to be. Its third person perspective works fine, the controls are like any other game’s, its maps are well rounded and are balanced for both sides. The matchmaking games are based on skill, with no auto targets or high level players having a huge upper hand. There might not be anything special Trion brings to the table in terms of combat, but they did everything correctly. The gameplay was fun, and should keep players intrigued to play it as long as any other shooter. But I think that the other aspects of the game will keep player’s attention longer than other games in the Shooter genre.
Honestly the only fear I have is the micro transaction system. We didn’t have access to a full store inventory list, but depending on what’s put on there in between now and release could have an effect on the gameplay. It’s hard to get a micro transaction system to work properly. Who knows, Defiance could follow in the steps of a great system like Guild Wars 2 did. Trion didn’t release enough information on the trading system to make it a con of the game, but it is something I fear could make or break the game.
Overall I had a great experience. This was one of the first console MMOs I’ve ever played and I was surprised by how well it was done. Defiance is a game with perfect flow, a huge variety of things to do, and I foresee it having an active and dedicated fan base. Keep your eye out on this awesome new addition to the Shooter genre, coming to the PS3, Xbox 360, and the PC on April 2nd.