Since the NDA for Trion Worlds newest game, Defiance has been lifted as of March 22nd, I decided to share with all of you my experience in the Playstation 3 Beta test. I also had a chance to play CCP's Dust 514 in a beta test on the PS3 as well. Now many will say that they are not the same game, since Dust is a arena based co-op multiplayer game, it still carries many of the same traits as Trions' Defiance.
First, let's take a look at what Defiance does right.
Open world driving.
At first glance, you might say that the area in Defiance is small but good luck to you if you want to try to give up using one of the many vehicles that are available to tool around with. Most of the time I spend banging around, doing jumps on a Quad. One that I was given from the storyline mission.
I did manage to catch a few of the achievements for jumps and spent quite some time looking for the perfect spot to boost-jump off of for that 900 degree spin. Defiance feels like somewhat of a sandbox compared to other shooters such as Borderlands 1 and 2.
Taking risks done right: a storyline tied into a television series.
This is the first time that a game has had a television series using the same "lore" as the gameworld. There have been many attempts and fan made movies made after the Warhammer 40,000 canon, but this is a first for an MMORPG/FPS to enter in this type of joint venture. The risk is twofold: if the SyFy series take a dive it may affect the game or vice versa. If the game takes a dive, then where does leave the Defiance television series?
It’s these types of risks that new MMORPG’s refuse to take when entering the market. Part of what had made Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft so successful is that they had a fanbase dedicated to their lore before becoming an MMO. Defiance does not carry that lineage, but now has a TV series to will allow their fans to fall headlong into the background of the game. Smart move Trion.
Weapon Modding and a Nod to Hellgate: London.
If anyone remembers the original Flagship or still plays the T3Fun version of Hellgate: London, then they would remember the best part of that game was the weapon modifications. My favorite part of Hellgate was getting a new weapon and beefing it up with parts to give my character special abilities or increased stats.
Part of the crafting in Defiance ties into modifying the weapon by increasing its modification slots. There can be a total of four: stock, barrel, scope and ammo mag slots. Each addition costs resources either gathered from the game through drops or acquired as you break down other weapons.
To me it was fun and interesting trying to find that really great weapon and upgrade it. My first rule of thumb in any game is to upgrade my main weapon to the highest level, then upgrade the rest. More pain, more gain as they say.
Defiance gives you options.
At the time I didn’t have the ability to go too far into the game, only making it to EGO level of 178. But I did have the chance to play through some of the main storyline mission, do some random challenges spotted across the map and a co-op mission that placed me on an island with four other players.
As we shot and exploded our way through hordes of hell bugs, only to complete the instance that ended with a traditional boss fight against the mother hell bug. This felt much like Borderlands at this point. The instance seemed pretty straightforward and fun, but we kept getting separated, so most of the mission I was on through frontline mowing ‘em down with my grenade launcher.
More options are the Shadow War, which is PvP and also matched teams played on maps that I read are along the same vein as other multiplayer shooters such as Dust 514. The vast amount of PvE in the game will keep you playing for awhile. Trion also offers a season pass for additional content that will be released (my guess) as the TV series progresses. The season pass is $39.99 and the game right now is available for pre-order at $59.99.
A Bullet of Another Color
My experience in Dust 514 was vastly different.
Unfortunately, I feel that the graphics are above and beyond the best and the fast paced combat of Dust might leave most shooter fans in the dust (see what I did there?) However, it pales in comparison to Defiances' Arkfalls and other multiplayer shooters out there. Let’s take a look at what Dust does wrong.
This is a Pay to Win Game.
I know this sounds kind of harsh. It is a hotly debated topic within the community. One side rails against a free-to-play game that offers upgrades in their item mall or cash shop, that gives a paying players a complete advantage over non-paying players.
CCP hasn’t asked me for a dime as of yet for playing their finely crafted online shooter. But for me, if I was a dedicated player, I would have to purchase Aurum (their virtual currency bought with meatspace money) if I want to advance as effectively as other players. Yes, I do win isk for every match I play along with skill points, but more often I found myself dying to players that have paid for weapons with Aurum.
Dust 514 is much like the Call of Duty and the Modern Warfare series. It is easy to feel outclassed and outgunned as other players have played for longer have more choices of weapons and abilities. But they cannot go out and buy them from the shop day one. A player paying with Aurum will definitely do better than a player that is not.
As of right now, Defiance does not offer any items in an item mall to compare.
Tied into the EVE Universe. How?
Since my time playing Dust I have not seen any ability to get involved with my space-ship flying brothers-in-arms. Why not? Am I not progressed enough yet? Do I need to be in a mercenary corporation that takes contracts from the heavens? For now I have only been able to play in random scenarios that either ask me to 1) hack into something or 2) blow something up or 3) kill other people while my comrades do either 1 or 2 effectively or not. I feel no personal investment as I did in the Defiance beta test.
No storyline, no drama, just straight out action. And action was had since the maps feel quite small in comparison to the sandboxy feeling of Defiance. Although I did manage to make it into a few vehicles that were quickly blown up by some dude driving a tank, now I want a tank-oh wait, I have to spend Aurum for it? No thanks.
Everything is consumable.
The one thing that got me about Dust 514 was that the weapons and armor you get apart from the starter weapons are all consumable. In this case, if you walk into a map with one suit of great armor, balanced right with good gun and die, you lose that whole setup. You better have 50 or better walking into the map because chances are you are going to die a lot.
Now lets take a step back. If you buy weapons and armor with Aurum (real money), and suck like me, this can rack up quite a bill. See the water starting to swirl around the money drain? Yep, I did as well, that is why I crossed Dust off my list of games to play when in the mood to shoot someone with a sniper rifle. If you want to have fun playing with a few buddies, look to the Borderlands franchise or Black Ops II. Your wallet will thank you in the long run.
That’s how the grenade bounces.
I didn’t really go too far into detail about Defiance’s Arkfalls that function much like rifts in Rift (its rifty!) neither did I mention Dust’s “multiplayer events.” Those will come in time. I am patiently waiting for Defiance to be launched Monday April 2nd. In the meantime, I have been playing Tera with a few friends and getting shot up here and there in various other games.
For now I am going to take a pass on CCP’s Dust 514, but I will let it take up space on my PS3 hard drive. Defiance has piqued my interest and won my money at the moment. It is much more financially beneficial for me, as a gamer, to pay once to play a game like the Guild Wars 2 model. Even If I invest in content like the season pass, I would rather do that than to burn money on every death against other players with the RMT “real money advantage.”
Who Dust 514 is for:
Someone with deep pockets or the Black Ops crowd looking for a science-fiction rush.
Someone looking for an multiplayer shooter and has a science-fiction itch.
Some looking for the most visually striking shooter on the market.
Who Defiance if for:
Anyone looking for a solid online shooter experience with friends or solo and loves to party at the apocalypse.
Someone looking for a fun game that has a lot to offer and plenty of stuff to do (who also has the science-fiction itch.)
Someone who played Fallen Earth and was extremely dissapointed. Now is your time to cash in, someone got the end of the world right for a change.