Usually, at these shows, Trion's booth is categorically about Rift and End of Nations. But this year, there was a new game in the mix: Defiance, the third-person MMO shooter that has the full support and backing of the SyFy network with a tie-in television series set in the same universe and sharing the same lore. Essentially, a big bad alien race has set the world asunder, and while the show takes place in St. Louis, the game will be based in San Francisco, or what remains of it. From what little bit I was able to see during our appointment at E3, fans of co-op shooter gameplay that always wanted a persistent RPG-like world to get their frag on in will be very pleased with what Defiance has to offer.
The first thing I noticed is just how much improved visuals are in this build (running on PC, Xbox, and PS3 depending on where you played) over the first ever footage we had the pleasure of unveiling back at PAX East. The lighting, particle effects, and overall polish of the game's look is just darker, grittier, but somehow more vibrant and fitting of a game with this setting. I watched as a fellow press-type amigo took control of a character. He immediately hopped on an ATV and rocketed off across a massive warzone with towns, NPC-controlled stations, alien-infested caves and more. Earthen wildlife can be seen giving way to alien fauna, and you get a real sense for how hostile the intruders to the Bay area really are.
I asked Trion about the character, and was surprised to learn that Defiance is a classless game. You'll gain levels and earn XP, but you don't pick a class. The game's diverse cache of weapons will help determine your role (healing guns siphon health from enemies to you and your teammates for instance). But more importantly, you'll get skill points to deck out your character in whatever way you see fit. Spend it on stealth abilities, movement abilities, AOE damage skills, and so forth. But there are some crazy guns that can completely change your role in battle as well. My personal favorite was the Incubator: a weapon that fires alien eggs which stick to enemies, and as you fire more shots they pile up on him, growing, until they burst and the hatchlings attack the already injured foe beneath the rotten vitriolic sacks of otherworldly goop.
There are dungeons for team-based encounters, referred to simply as "co-op maps" here, and loot is mostly cosmetic based, with the stats and bonuses coming from mods you slot into your equipment. You can dress your guy up however you want, independent from your stats this way.
The gameplay itself seems very open and adhoc in terms of grouping, much like Rift and its public events. Missions aren't about kill 10 this, but instead happen organically as you explore and stumble upon locations. There are also huge public events, Defiance's own version of Rifts, called Arkfalls that have multiple phases as the aliens start invading areas on the map and dozens of players come together to fight them off. It's all very much an open world FPS, reminiscent of what a Red Faction MMO might be like. In short: it's looking absolutely stellar and I can't wait to see more.