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The Devil's Advocate: A Game for a Mood

Column By Victor Barreiro Jr. on June 07, 2013

Between Trion Worlds’ Rift and Defiance, Rift is perhaps the more technically excellent game. A few days ago, RIFT opened free access to the game for people who owned a copy of Rift. For the most part, this meant people who purchased the game previously now had access to the game’s content indefinitely, though without the game store.

RIFT has plenty of PVE and PVP to provide people with stuff to do, a relatively challenging endgame (for raiders), one of the best housing systems in an MMO to date, a means to get past the leveling hurdle faster, and a pretty deep character development system.

Why is it, then, that I prefer playing Defiance more these days?

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What Defiance Has

In asking myself that question, I had to examine a bit of what separated Defiance from Rift. For one thing, Defiance is an open-world third-person shooter. The other thing that made Defiance different was the television tie-in, where events in the show shaped the development of events within the game.

At the same time, Defiance feels like a lesser game in certain respects as it doesn’t feel as complex to strengthen a character and, well, it feels like the production values for character designs were somewhat shafted. Here’s the kicker though: imagining shooting a mutant in the face and the crown jewels, and hearing a resounding blast or thump with each spent round of ammunition is just crazily gratifying.

Perhaps that’s really it. Defiance is a game that fits a particular mood, which is that of wanting (and having) a sustained bout of stupid fun. It’s accessible and not too deep, and the auditory and visual feedback of shooting an enemy is just enjoyable long enough for weekend gaming bursts.

A Game for a Mood

The reason why I’m bringing this up today is because online gaming now has more choices for providing an avenue for short bursts of fun. Based on the icons on my PC desktop alone, I have at least 8 MMO-type games that are currently freely accessible or require only a small fee to buy the client.

Each of these games have their own strengths and weaknesses, and each of them fit a particular mood or internal need of mine. If I wanted to go to space, there’s Star Trek Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic. Smart horror? The Secret World is my ticket. Itching to use a scythe and fly on a dragon? There’s Dragon’s Prophet. One-click, hold-down-that-mouse-button "I WIN" adventuring? Time for my Trickster Rogue in Neverwinter.

Excellence Isn’t Everything

Now, there’s no particular serious moral to today’s Devil’s Advocate for sure. Today’s discussion was mostly brought about  by my wondering why I could never get into Rift, and it dawned on me that I had way too many MMOs of varying quality on my computer.

For some reason, excellence isn’t everything in this day and age of choice. With the gradual shift from maintaining  long-term adoptees to making games fun for more people in short bursts, the paradigm of online gaming is shifting as well.

I was previously resistant to it, but these days? I think I can stand to tolerate some variance in my revenue models (whether subscription, free-to-play or a hybrid) so long as the games presented to me can provide me with that thing I seek in my leisure time: a bit of crazy fun.

Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate and ArcheAge columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.


Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains the the Landmark/Everquest Next and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can also find him on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.

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