As voted upon last week, I've been trying out a bit of everything I could get my hands on, from Incursions to Arkfalls and the main storyline to random side quests.
EGO point spending
Bloodlust was my first EGO point expense (in accordance with your votes last week), but I gathered 21 more EGO points while waiting for the polls to finish up, so I went ahead and spent the rest this weekend. My currently equipped EGO perks (besides Bloodlust) are as follows:
- Overload: While Overcharge is active, you reload faster
- Fortitude: Health increase (maxed out)
- Cellular Armor: You take less damage (maxed out)
- Regeneration: Constant bonus health regeneration (maxed out)
- Killing Spree: On a kill, extend the duration of the active EGO Power.
From here, I plan to start working my way down to the Cloak and Blur sides of the grid. I maxed out my main EGO power (Overcharge), so I now have an additional 30% damage bonus when active. I can certainly tell a difference from before and after spending these accrued points. Further EGO perk slots will open up at levels 800 and 1000. My goal is to hit 1000 by the end of this series.
This is where the game really differs from other top MMO shooters. In something like PlanetSide 2, you have that nonstop action, but you also have no real story. In Defiance, the story is very well written and you can literally "beat the game" in story mode. But Trion has been so on-the-ball with new story content that it's a challenge to keep up with as much as the studio is cranking out through DLC packs. I won't spoil anything in the main storyline, but it's probably no surprise that you eventually meet up with the stars of the Syfy TV show and help them with a few missions, too.
Very much like quests in a title from Rockstar Games, the side quests in Defiance can be quite distracting -- in a good way. There you are, heading toward your next objective, when a soldier calls out to you from just beyond a ridge to ask for your help. His squadmates are down, and he can't hold off these hellbugs much longer! These side quests are usually cut-and-dried, but they generate XP and mix up the gameplay quite a bit, so they're a welcome distraction.
This is my favorite part of the game so far. In an incursion, you're essentially chasing a little nuclear fallout icon across the map, running from point to point clearing out the bad guy mutants as they spawn. These can get crazy busy with players, making the earlier parts of the whole incursion go by much too quickly.
Think of it as the opening of a rift in Trion's other active MMORPG, RIFT, where players head to that area on the map to kill everything coming out of the giant hole in the sky. You're doing that with probably 30 to 40 other players at a time, but the enemies are cleared out so quickly that it's mainly a race to get to the next area to kill something before again racing to the next one. The final stage is a giant showdown in which you must guard control points from the increasingly difficult waves of mutants.
I realized at one point that this final stage is a lot like a tower defense game. There are players camped out on top of large boulders where the creatures spawn, shooting sticky bombs to hold them in place, while other players are applying damage-over-time effects (like fire) and others are blasting away with whatever heavy damage weapons they have at their disposal. The crazy thing is, even with all of these high-quality weapons effects flooding the screen, the lag isn't really as bad as you'd imagine.
That's not to say there isn't any lag, but I think Trion deals with it in a way that makes sense. Even though there are dozens and dozens of players right alongside you firing away at the same baddies as you, those players may sometimes disappear from your phase as the server load increases. So your play experience isn't hampered with lag, but you might just feel a little more lonely from time to time. When the big battle ends and the weapon effects have stopped, you'll see all players around you again. That took some getting used to (OMG where did everyone go? Am I still in the right place?), but it's the lesser of the latency evils, I think.
At the end of the final stage, a leaderboard pops up to show you your rank among the other players on the same incursion.
I used to really like Arkfalls, but they're a bit boring after your sixth or seventh one. Like rifts, these arkfalls appear suddenly, and it's up to you and a handful of other players to kill everything coming out. Rinse, repeat.
Oh, the stress! What's funny is I think the high-pressure nature of Incursions actually prepared me for these timed missions, but they're pretty much as you'd expect: kill a bunch of stuff within a certain time limit.
This week, I tried my hand at every weapon I could find. There are the normal guns you'd expect to find in a sci-fi shooter, like shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, and sniper rifles, but I really enjoyed the ones that were a bit different, like injector guns and BMGs (Bio-Magnetic Gun).
My favorite so far is the grenade launcher with detonators. You basically launch a full mag (6-8) sticky grenades and then press R to watch them explode. They're especially fun during incursions with large waves of enemies grouped together.
My second favorite gun so far is the BMG. There are variations (as with all guns in this game), but in general, you use the gun to either shoot a beam of energy (bio-magnetic) that saps the enemy's health (or shield) by holding down the left mouse button or heal nearby allies by holding down the right mouse button. I'm also a big fan of the submachine gun just because of the sheer amount of damage it can do. Sure, its rate of fire is not exactly efficient, but it's a fun little gun when used correctly.
Another one of the great things about this game is that you will find more weapons than you'll ever know what to do with. And beyond that, you can modify the crap out of these weapons to be even more advanced or specialized to your playstyle. That sounds like a good idea until you find an even better weapon a few minutes later as a drop. That's why I compare that part of the game to Borderlands. Sometimes that choice is frustrating, but juggling those weapons is a fun little metagame all in itself.
I didn't get to spend much time in Shadow Wars as they popped up infrequently, and when I did join, I always seemed to catch it at the tail end, so it was basically just shooting other players at that point. I can dabble more this week.
Defiance is one of those games that makes me wonder why more people aren't playing. It seems busy enough where it matters (group play and PvP), but the rest of the huge open world is lonely. I understand that it takes a certain type of player to enjoy the game (true of every single other MMO, I guess), but Defiance offers a welcome variety of choices that I don't think many people realize.
The lag issue is beyond annoying during peak times, but it's not a regular problem any other time. As I mentioned in my Incursion thoughts, I'd rather experience the phasing of players than experience the game as a slideshow. Although constantly getting dismounted from my vehicle is a hassle, that's about the extent of it.
Now that I've found my guns of choice and I have my perks situated, I'm interested in sampling the rest of what the game has to offer. I plan to run through more co-op maps tonight with friends, and I'll probably try more Incursions, but I'd like you to vote on something new for next week. So get those votes in and let me know what you'd like me to focus on for my last week in Defiance. The poll will close on Friday night at 9 p.m. EDT, at which point I'll do my best to hit my level 1000 goal. Come cheer Massivina on!
|Shadow Wars (PvP)||37 (21.9%)|
|Challenges (Time trials, Hot Shot, Rampage, etc)||8 (4.7%)|
|Main Story||62 (36.7%)|
Shawn Schuster is now permanently at the helm of Massively's Choose My Adventure with you as the co-captain. It's going to be a rough ride, so put on your seat belt! Join him every Wednesday for a reader-guided deep-dive into a new MMO every month. Farcical puns about cars and farming sold separately.