Defiance hopes to be the world's first successful transmedia experience. It's not just a game, but an ambitious massively multiplayer cross-platform shooter that's directly tied to a SyFy Network TV show of the same name. Trion Worlds (Rift) and SyFy Network teamed up to bring fans both a game and a TV show built together from the ground up, essentially creating their own genre and a whole new way to experience entertainment.
Imagine you're watching the beginning of Defiance (the show) and two characters holding an ancient relic are being run out of town in a high-speed motorcycle chase. You may not know exactly who these characters are, why they're running, or what the mysterious relic they're holding is, but if you had played the Defiance video game that interconnects with the TV show, you'd have gone on quests with these characters and learned all of the backstory leading up to the events that started the show. It's something that's never been done before, and if Trion Worlds and SyFy can pull it off, it'll be quite amazing.
Defiance takes place 35 years in our future on Earth after an alien race called the Votans crashed down. When they find out they aren't welcome, they begin a war with the humans in order to take the Earth for themselves. After years of war, the Votans and humans reach a compromise and realize that unfortunately, thanks to the Votans' alien technologies, the Earth has now transformed into an alien planet, and it's up your characters to survive its mysteries.
Players will be able to choose whether they want to be on the Votan side or the Human side of things, and each faction will offer varying storylines. The game takes place in San Francisco, but the show will be set in St. Louis. Familiar places in the Bay Area, like highways and other landmarks such as the the Golden Gate Bridge, are recognizable and come to life beautifully in the game.
Defiance (the game) is slightly stylized but is definitely more Mass Effect than World of Warcraft. As the game's a third-person shooter, your HUD displays your health bar, ammo, weapons, and grenades rather than spells or abilities. The gameplay was extremely fluid, and as we changed from gun to gun the game was responsive, which was important considering we were taking out hundreds of hellbugs during an Arkfall Event.
Arkfall Events are world changing events that are strongly reminiscent of Rifts from Trion's own Rift. Huge plant-like things creep up on the ground in random areas of a map, and it's up to players to take them out before they overtake the area completely. Players can team up for these events, and after you take out a few smaller packs, a larger one spawns.
The largest hellbug we saw was the size of a five-story building. It was absolutely massive, and took us almost our entire demo to bring it down with about 15 people constantly shooting it. During the fight, the Hellbug would spawn miniature hellbugs, and it would also spit ooze at players which dealt massive damage.
Sometimes the Hellbugs would drop different types of guns as loot. We picked up a few, but the most impressive was the Votan sniper rifle. If you charged it up long enough, it would blast the enemy for a huge amount of damage, rather than if you had just shot it off as soon as you aimed down the scope. For the Arkfall Hellbug, we had to shoot it in specific places in order to bring it down, so the sniper rifle was a perfect choice since we could aim for a long time and take the perfect shot at our target. Luckily, if we did happen to die, there were sweet 4x4s to ride back to the fight on.
Our demo with Defiance was on the short side, but we got a good feel for the game in that amount of time. It plays like a responsive, fluid third-person shooter, but it has persistent MMO elements and an innovative style as well. Things will always be changing in Defiance based on the TV show, so it'll be exciting to see how this "super-product" evolves in the future.
Defiance, the game and the show, will be out in April 2013 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.