Tag Archives: MMORPG

Neverwinter review – part three

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You made it to part three of our massive Neverwinter review! Congratulations adventurer, have an extra 1,000xp as a reward. So what’s coming up in part three? We’ll be looking at professions (everyone needs one, right?), the in-game crafting system that’s based on your profession, the economy of Neverwinter and the Auction House. We’ll also be giving you our final verdict and score.

If you haven’t read parts one and two of our Neverwinter review, I suggest doing so before proceeding further. Part one is found here and part two here.

If you’ve played any RPG in the past, you’ll be familiar with Professions and crafting. In MMORPG’s professions not only act as a way to create yourself decent armour and weapons (or gear if you prefer) but also a way to earn money in-game. In Neverwinter the system works exactly the same and professions provide a way to make/customize armour, earn currency, items, and experience. Neverwinter’s system is slightly different to other MMORPGs but it won’t take long to adjust.

Professions are unlocked at level 10 and the immediate difference is that you won’t be performing crafting tasks yourself. Instead you’ll be hiring Craftsmen and sending them out to perform tasks on your behalf leaving you free to continue adventuring. Unlike most titles, you are also able to dabble in every profession available. A single craftsman for each profession can be acquired. These tasks take up a certain amount of time ranging from five seconds to upwards of 18 hours depending upon the complexity of what you need. You do have the option to speed this up by spending Astral Diamonds, one of the games many in-game currencies.

Professions Window

The majority of tasks will require you to use a number of different resources to complete them. These resources are consumable items that can be obtained through earlier tasks but mainly by using Skills and Resource Kits while dungeon delving or exploring one of the many regions within the game. In addition to resources you’ll also need a selection of different tools. By using tools of a good quality the resulting output of the task will be a much greater reward. The same can be said when assigning Craftsmen, if you have Craftsmen who are more experienced, make sure you use them for tasks with better rewards, they’ll also reduce the time it takes to perform the task. Both craftsmen and tools are known as Assets, neither of which are consumed when performing tasks.

If you are familiar with the likes of World of Warcraft, you’ll know that you are limited to one profession and one task at any time. In Neverwinter you don’t need to speak to ‘trainers’ to learn new professions and you can perform multiple tasks at once. You have nine slots for performing tasks and each slot can have a task related to a different profession as long as you have the required assets. This is a welcome change allowing more casual MMO players get involved.

There are nine professions to choose from; Alchemy, Artificing, Jewelcrafting, Leadership, Leatherworking, Mailsmithing, Platesmithing, Tailoring, Weaponsmithing. Leatherworking as an example, concentrates on creating armour for Hunter Rangers, Trickster Rogues, and Scourge Warlocks whereas Leadership will put you in charge of directing Mercenaries in performing tasks which upon completing you’ll be rewarded with gold, items, experience and additional Astral Diamonds. It’s worth investing time into your professions, as they become a valuable source of income during your time with Neverwinter.

Neverwinter contains a number of different currency types, but as you start off there will be three specific currencies you will encounter most frequently; Zen, Astral Diamonds and Gold (including Silver & Copper) GOLD (and Silver and Copper).

Zen is the currency obtained by spending real money, and can only be used while browsing the in-game Zen store. Many people are against models that include purchasing currency, but it has allowed for Neverwinter to be released as a free-to-play model, and as mentioned in part one of my review, the majority of items available for purchase in the Zen store can also be obtained by playing the game. The exception to this rule is a number of ‘service’ items that will enhance your Neverwinter experience such as additional character slots, and renaming a character. Zen points can also be obtained via Astral Diamonds on the Zen Astral Diamond Exchange.

Auction House in game
Auction House in-game

Astral Diamonds are the primary currency in Neverwinter and the one you’ll be wanting to stock up on. It’s with Astral Diamonds you have the greatest freedom to buy high-end questing gear. Astral Diamonds themselves can be earned through NPC quests and missions, invoking and praying to your deity daily, the Leadership profession and completing daily dungeons and Skirmishes. Astral Diamonds can be used to purchase almost anything, from consumables to high-end gear, among other things. If you are looking to buy simple consumables like health potions and the like, it’s Gold you’ll be wanting to use. Gold (inc. Silver & Copper) is the in-game currency for consumables, such as healing and other potions, companions, mounts, etc. It is considered by many to be the role-playing currency as it is found through the game frequently and often by accident.

Learning a profession in World of Warcraft made me a lot of in-game gold, especially during Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Crafting items from high-end, valuable and rare materials and selling in the player driven Auction House made me very rich, well my character at least. Neverwinter has an Auction house as you can expect and it works in very much the same way as all MMO Auction Houses. The Auction House provides a way for players to offer goods for sale to other players and is a key part of the game economy. All purchases on the Auction House are paid for with Astral Diamonds, not Gold. When you list an item on the Auction house you’ll be able to set the starting price for bidding but also a ‘Buy Now’ price too. Don’t forget that the Auction House will take a 10% cut of the money made after each successful sale. Once sold you head off to a Postal Courier and collect your Astral Diamonds – this is the same if you are buying items from the Auction House, you would visit a Postal Courier to collect your purchase. The Auction House is a fantastic way of getting your hands on equipment, vanity items and more much earlier in the game as long as you can afford it. And don’t forget to sell your goods on there.

And there we have it – we’ve covered all the basics you need to know to get started inNeverwinter. But what did we think of it when all is said and done?Neverwinter has a bunch of shortcomings including some framerate issues, however if you’ve never played an MMO and like the idea of exploring one from your sofa and Xbox One without the need for a gaming PC, thenNeverwinter is a great introduction. For those of you that do take the plunge (and let’s be honest, it is free so why wouldn’t you?), you’ll discover an enjoyable and rewarding adventure that albeit the under par graphics, will keep your attention and ensure you come back for more.

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Neverwinter review – part two

Neverwinter

Welcome back to our three-part Neverwinter review. If you landed here without first reading part one of our review, then I suggest clicking this link! In this second part I’ll be taking you through the more complex gameplay modes including general questing, skirmishes, dungeons and of course PvP. Sit back my adventuring friend, grab an ale from the barkeep and let’s begin.

Neverwinter starts off by introducing you to questing in a similar way as all other RPG’s and MMORPG’s alike. In the case of Neverwinter, your character is washed ashore after the ship you were sailing on was destroyed during the attack upon the city. You wake up, find some basic equipment and get to helping the Neverwinter Guards mop up the last of the attackers. This introductory quest line will push you towards the city itself and ultimately the main social hub of the game; Protectors Enclave. These initial quests introduce you nicely to the progression system within the game.

Neverwinter 1

Your primary goal in an MMORPG is of course the development of your character. You can play through the game a number of times, as different classes and/or races therefore experiencing ever so slightly different quests, but guaranteed you’ll be doing it to make that character the best it can be. Obtain the highest level equipment or win that legendary mount you saw another player dash on. Neverwinter features the same character progression system in which players earn experience points for their actions as other traditional RPG’s. Questing in and around Neverwinter will see you in combat with monsters and completing quests for NPCs, either alone or in groups of friends (maybe even in a Guild – but more on that in part three).

General questing will take place in Adventure Zones, the first being Protectors Enclave, which to begin with only has a small number of ‘Go visit this NPC for advice’ style quests. Adventure Zones are then broken down into groups of neighbourhoods and instances, or non-persistent zones. For example, Blacklake District and Tower District – two of the first Adventure Zones you’ll explore before reaching level 20 – are both part of the extended city of Neverwinter. As I’ve said before and will likely say many times over, Neverwinter is a typical MMO in style so many of the simpler quests involve killing a certain number of enemies, collecting certain objects and items, searching for missing NPC’s or delving into caves and mines in search of materials for the NPC quest giver.

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Adventure zones are persistent, meaning that separate instances of the zone are not created for each individual group. Instances as they are known, are kept for dungeons. Whilst this does mean you’ll be completing the same quests as others around you, Neverwinter’s respawn times for enemies and items have been sped up in comparison to that of World of Warcraft. This means you won’t spend 10 minutes waiting for your target to reappear after being killed by another player.

All the Adventure Zones have a recommended level. For instance Blacklake District, being the first of many full zones to explore, is recommended for players between level 6 and 9 whereas the Tower District is aimed at players between level 9 and 15. Characters who enter an Adventure Zone below the minimum suggested level will receive a warning before entering, but will still be able to enter. Just don’t expect to get very far unless you’re with a group of friends working together. The higher level zones will be marked red on the World Map.

Each new Adventure Zone comes with a playable Skirmish, a game mode I’ve not previously experienced in an MMO. Skirmishes are PvE (or player vs environment) instances. Each Skirmish is balanced for a team of five players with a minimum and maximum level cap. It sounds very much like the same mechanic as Dungeon Delves, however the difference here is that the Skirmishes are normally very short in duration and nine times out of ten, involve staying in a fixed area defeating wave after wave of enemies. There is the chance to pick up some good loot and the end chest reward is normally a decent piece of equipment which you’ll need to roll on. There are three types of Skirmishes in Neverwinter; the first is a standard Skirmish that forms part of the quest line you may be working through. For example, during the opening quest line in Blacklake District you’ll be called upon to help defeat a priest of the God Ghaunadaur who is summoning the undead from the bottom of the lake. You and four others will then fight three waves of undead monsters before finally confronting the priest, working together to take him down.

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The second type is a Call to Arms Skirmish, an enhanced limited time version of a normal skirmish that will allow any player between level 6 and 60 to queue and take part. These events have much improved equipment and loot available as rewards, including rare pets, mounts and themed weapons. Interestingly enough, the Call to Arms Skirmish automatically scales enemy damage given and received as appropriate to each character, meaning if you do end up with a level 6 player in your party, they’ll be just as useful as your level 60 Trickster Rogue. Finally there is a third type of Skirmish which I’ve yet to experience in the Xbox One version of Neverwinter. This is the Event Skirmish linked to calendar events in-game. Hopefully we’ll see some of these in the not so distant future.

Those familiar with MMORPG’s will likely be wanting to know more about Dungeon Delves, Neverwinter’s equivalent to World of Warcraft’s dungeon instances. As with the Skirmishes these private instances are balanced for groups of 5 players again with a minimum and maximum level. There are two key differences between Skirmishes and Dungeon Delves. The first is that Dungeon Delves involve exploring a location whether it be a dungeon, castle or tower. The other is that there is normally a number of bosses compared to just one. As with the Skirmishes there are also three types of Dungeon Delves; the first being a standard private instance, which are similar to Skirmishes tied into a quest line. You’ll need to meet the level requirements, but standard dungeons allow you to enter at any time with any number of players in tow. Epic Dungeon Delves however are a lot stricter. You have to use the game queue system, which will ensure your group is made up of five players that are made up of a Tank, Healer and three DPS (see review part one for explanation), the group leader will be picked at random and you need to have a minimum equipment score.

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There are then the Dungeon Delves that are only available through events linked to the in-game event calendar. Completing a Dungeon Delve during an event unlocks an additional treasure chest for each party member when you successfully complete the dungeon. This chest holds high-end equipment for your character and other rare and epic items you can either use of sell in the Auction House; more on that in part three. A lot of the high-end equipment you’ll be wanting to collect for your character will only be purchasable using a currency known as Seals. There are a number of Seals in Neverwinter starting with the Seal of the Lion. These can be collected from all three different types of instances, saved and then used to buy that new dagger or sword you need with the extra +250 damage. As you progress through the game and increase your own level you will encounter new types of Seals that are redeemable for better equipment. So far I have seen five types of Seals in the Xbox One version of Neverwinter. The PC version has seven.

Congratulations Adventurer, you now know enough to get out there and start questing in Neverwinter. So what’s coming up in part three? We’ll be looking at professions (everyone needs one, right?), the in-game crafting system that’s based on your profession, the economy of Neverwinter and the Auction House. We’ll also be giving you our final verdict and score. So don’t get lost out there. We’ll keep your chair warm and look forward to seeing you back here for another Ale!

Neverwinter review – part one

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Finally the time has come for the heroes of Neverwinter to rise up on Xbox One. Neverwinter is a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) free-to-play MMORPG or massively multiplayer online role-playing game for those unfamiliar with the term. If you’ve never heard of this, think World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. Developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World, it was released back in June 2013 for Windows PC and March 31st this year for Xbox One. Based in the fictional Forgotten Realms city of Neverwinter, Neverwinter is a standalone game and not part of the previous PC series Neverwinter Nights.

Being what I would call a typical MMORPG, there is an awful lot to cover in a review so I’ll be breaking our review down into three parts. The first, the one you are reading, will look at the setting, races, classes and in-game currency model. The second and third parts of the review will look at some of the more in-depth game play mechanics including the detailed profession and crafting system, the economy including the Auction House and various currencies (excluding Zen) and banking. We’ll also take a look at Guilds, Skirmishes, Dungeons and much more. These will all be released over the next few days.

Moving on, let’s start by dealing with the elephant in the room which is the free-to-play model the game has adopted. Being a cynical person, I always cringe when thinking about any MMO that states it will be free-to-play but to be fair, it’s not as bad as I originally thought. The game itself is completely free to download and play (an active Xbox Live subscription is required). You can play for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so on and so forth. Never a charge.

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The game makes profit through the sale of in-game currency called Zen. This is used for purchasing a number of items in-game from booster packs, armour, weapons, companions, mounts and more. What is nice about this system however is everything available through the Zen store is also available to players that don’t want to spend real money, they’ll just need to play through the game and work a little harder for it. If you’ve ever played a Perfect World game before, you’ll be more than familiar with the Zen currency. You can earn Astral Diamonds by completing normal missions and in-game activities. These Astral Diamonds can then be used to purchase items in the game or exchanged for Zen on the Astral Diamond Exchange.

As with most MMORPGs the gameplay revolves around playing as a character you create. This character is leveled up throughout your time playing in a large open world. Neverwinter has a strong storyline, which weaves together different events and happenings in the open world. Most of the action takes place in instanced areas which can be open outdoor locations, dungeons, caves, sewers, crypts etc. There are other large open world locations where players compete with each other for contests and spawning monsters. However, Protector’s Enclave – the starting area where most of the earlier events take place – is a safe area without any enemies. It is here you’ll learn the basics of the game as well as find various vendors and class specific NPC’s who will set your missions and objectives.

There are a total of seven classes to pick from; Control Wizard, Devoted Cleric, Great Weapon Fighter, Guardian Fighter,  Hunter Ranger, Scrouge Warlock and Trickster Rouge. Each class has two Paragon Paths you can progress down once your character has obtained a high enough level. The Control Wizard for example can choose from Master of Flame or Spellstorm Wizard whereas the Trickster Rogue can follow either the Master Infiltrator or Whisperknife path. The progression tree for each class is extremely large and varied meaning other player characters you bump into will be slightly different based on their play style. Each class has a role to play. As with the likes of World of Warcraft, your class will either be suited to a Tank, DPS or Healer. A Tank’s responsibility in dungeons is to control the onscreen enemies and gain their attention to allow the DPS (damage per second) players to deal large amounts of damage. The healers hold back providing not just healing for the Tank and DPS, but also area affect spells which will benefit the players but also hinder the enemies.

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In addition to nine classes there are nine playable races in Neverwinter. You can pick from Human, Half-Orc, Wood Elf, Sun Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Half-Elf, Tiefling, and Drow. Compared to the PC version, the Xbox One release has a couple of races missing from this line up including Dragonborn (playable via purchasing an in-game booster pack using Zen) and Menzoberranzan Renegade. Your class of choice comes with unique traits and abilities. For instance I chose a Half-Elf which gave me two racial abilities including increased stats and ability points. Each race is different so it is well worth spending time reading through each one in turn to find your favourite.

The game’s setting takes place in a time when the city of Neverwinter is plunged into chaos after the disappearance of the last Lord of Neverwinter. In the aftermath of the Spellplague and a Primordial Fire Elemental almost destroying Neverwinter, as seen in the novel Gauntlgrym, the remaining citizens form factions and struggle for dominance over the populace as the dead begin to rise and attack the city they once called home. For those not familiar the Dungeons and Dragons universe, the game’s setting can seem very complex and overbearing, however there are a number of books, scrolls, logs and other items dotted throughout the playable regions to help explain the history and lore.

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Reading these items will help you towards unlocking and achieving the 48 Xbox One Achievements totalling 1,000 gamer score. This is however in addition to the 100’s, yes HUNDREDS, of achievements available in-game for completing a variety of tasks. Again for those of you familiar with World of Warcraft, these achievements are very similar in nature and can be gained from doing things like raising a profession to a certain level, completing a side quest, finishing a dungeon, partaking in an event or killing a set number of enemies. Some of these in-game achievements come with rewards in the form of Rare or Epic items or Titles that your character can proudly display while exploring the open world. Currently my level 23 Trickster Rogue is proudly displaying the ‘Orc Slayer’ title having recently ditched my previous title of ‘Hero of Blacklake’ which was gained during one of the introductory quest lines.

So ends part one of our Neverwinter for Xbox One review. Part Two is coming up in the week and we’ll be taking a look at the various gameplay modes Neverwinter has to offer including questing, campaigns, PVP, dungeons and skirmishes. I’ll be streaming some Neverwinter gameplay throughout the week so make sure you are following me (@KrisWB) for alerts. Thanks for reading and see you in Part Two.

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Final Fantasy XI servers shutting down March 2016

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Square Enix has announced that the online servers for Final Fantasy XI on the Xbox 360 will be coming to an end in early 2016.

The popular MMORPG launched back in 2006 on the Xbox 360 and launched to a relatively popular reception from both critics and players.

The game has consistently received content updates to keep its monthly paying subscribers entertained. If you’re looking for one last ‘hoorah’ you’ll be pleased to hear that the final Rhapsodies of Vana’diel scenario will be launching in May, which will hopefully keep players busy until its unfortunate closure next year.

Don’t be to sad though, the PC servers will still be available! It’s just the console servers being disconnected.

Neverwinter closed beta keys are being distributed

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The Neverwinter closed beta test began on Feb 5 and keys to access the beta are still going out – I received mine last night! The ‘free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG’ only runs for three days so if you’ve got a code redeem it quickly – there’s not much time left to experience one of the first “premium free-to-play titles” headed to Xbox One.

Once you’ve taken your first steps in Neverwinter’s universe, make sure you pop over to the official Xbox One Neverwinter forums to leave your feedback or report any bugs that you’ve encountered.

While it may be flaunted as “free-to-play”, Neverwinter has a variety of ‘booster’ packs that can be purchased – although I wouldn’t advise buying anything and expecting it to work in the beta!

The Elder Scrolls Online: Fact sheet

Elder Scrolls Online Feature Image

 

Bethesda Studios have released a new fact sheet in preparation for the release of The Elder Scrolls Online, the most highly anticipated MMO of 2014. It doesn’t reveal anything new, but check it out below with a new screenshot thrown in for good measure.

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Release Date: Spring 2014
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing

Description – The Elder Scrolls Online is the latest chapter of the award-winning franchise – and will bring the legendary experience online for the first time. Whether you play with your friends or adventure alone, the game’s innovative combat system allows you to focus on action and tactics, not the UI. Use any weapon or armor at any time and customize your abilities to play the way you want as you uncover the mysteries of Tamriel and seek heroic quests on your own terms. Explore the far reaches of Skyrim, the mysterious lands of Morrowind, the sprawling metropolis of Daggerfall and beyond. The choices you make, from the alliance you join to the battles you fight, will shape your destiny and the world of Tamriel.

Story – The Elder Scrolls Online is set roughly 1,000 years before the events in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and the coming of the Dragonborn, and just before the rise of Tiber Septim, the first Emperor of Tamriel. Three Alliances have emerged across the continent, each struggling for supremacy over the land. As these great powers battle one another for control of the Imperial City – and with it all of Tamriel – darker forces are moving to destroy the world.

Key Features – The Elder Scrolls. Online. After 20 years of best-selling, award-winning fantasy role-playing games, the Elder Scrolls series goes online. Experience this epic adventure on your own or together with your friends, guild mates, and thousands of alliance members. Explore dangerous caves and dungeons, embark upon adventurous quests across Tamriel, and engage in massive player versus player battles, where the victors reap the spoils of war.

The Elder Scrolls Online Skyrim

Play the Way You Like – With an enhanced Elder Scrolls combat system, engage in real-time targeting and strategic attacks and blocks. Use any weapon or wear any armor at any time, no matter what type of character you play and develop your own style with deep character customization and abilities.

A Connected Game World – With ESO’s Megaserver technology you no longer choose a server, but instead play in one connected world. The game automatically places you with friends, guild mates, people you’ve encountered before, and other like-minded players. Simply jump in and begin your adventure.

Your Quest to Save Tamriel – A stolen soul. An undead army rising. A quest to recover that which is uniquely yours. Explore the hidden secrets of Tamriel at your own pace using the game’s compass to guide you to areas of interest. Save the world from the evil machinations of the Daedric Prince Molag Bal and his henchman, the first necromancer, the Prince of Worms, Mannimarco.”

Elder Scrolls Online Release Date

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Why couldn’t they give us a Xbox One image?!?

So today Matt Firor; Game Director on The Elder Scrolls Online took to the official ESO website to deliver the following message:

We long ago promised that as soon as a version of the game is ready, we will launch it. So we’re happy to announce that the game will launch worldwide for PC and Mac players on Friday, April 4, 2014, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One fans will see the game arriving on consoles in June 2014.

So yes that’s right we console gamers have to wait a couple of months, but to be honest I am cool with that. This is one of the reasons I purchased my Xbox One, this is the game I have been dreaming about and looking forward since the announcement.

Firor went on to talk about the massive success of the BETA currently in progress:

As some of you know, we’ve been in beta testing for about a year now, leading up to our most recent test in late November where we had over 300,000 people in the game over a 48 hour period. We’ve had approximately 4 million people sign up for beta and that number continues to grow. We hope that just about every one of you who have signed up for beta will get an invitation to play sometime between now and the weeks before launch. These tests are very important, not only for gameplay feedback, but also to test our infrastructure. Beta tests can sometimes be a little rough when we are testing some systems for the first time with large numbers of players. So thank you to all who have participated for your understanding and support. It is very much appreciated.

To commemorate the announcement, Bethesda has released a new gameplay trailer titled ‘War in Cyrodiil’ which focuses on the PVP aspect of The Elder Scrolls Online.

June 2014 will see me disappear from ThisisXbox, be declared MIA from work and completely vanish from social media. June 2014 I say goodbye to Bournemouth, United Kingdom and hello to the world of Tamriel.

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Keep your eyes open on TiX over the coming months for more news and updates in the build up to release date.

 

Defiance Review

Defiance LogoYou may have heard of Defiance before. A new science fiction show debuting on the SyFy network is bound to turn some heads. Usually any game tying in with a TV show or movie is doomed from the get-go. However, Defiance is a fully fledged third-person MMORPG. This has piqued the interest of many as it is also a third-person shooter. Can Trion Worlds’ second MMO become a mainstay in a genre that already has millions committed to their respective titles? Let’s read on and find out.

The place is Earth. The year, 2046. Earth has been forever changed by the arrival of different alien races. The land has been scavenged to all hell and resembles nothing more than a desolate wasteland. War has changed Earth, and not for the better. More of the story becomes apparent as the plot of the TV show will actually change the storyline in-game. It has been said that your actions in-game will actually have the ability to change the plot of the show itself. That still remains to be seen, but it does sound pretty nifty.

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Now immediately upon booting the game, you are asked to install the game to the hard-drive. This was confusing at first as I already installed it to the hard-drive via the dashboard. Confusion, be damned. We got it done in a record 17 minutes! The game then demanded that I search for patches and install them. This is inherent with MMOs and expected so no biggie. Another 19 minutes go by and I’m ready to play the game. No? Oh, another patch. So 10 minutes go by and I’m into the gameplay. No, I’m not (there is a slight pattern forming here). So four patches later and approximately an hour gone by, I was ready to jump into the vast world of an MMORPG for the first time.

The very first thing to mention about the game is the bad connectivity. Random disconnections and server downtime comes in abundance here. Trion Worlds have been extremely vigilant in their efforts to correct the situation. They’ve even sent out emails with extra in game incentives and an apology to their faithful consumers. Scenery pops in and out as well as the players and weapons like an old PS One game that hasn’t quite loaded yet. The frame-rate is as erratic as Kanye West at an awards show. Although, despite all of its problems, Defiance is not a bad game.

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You’ll start off at a character creation screen where you will choose all the defining features of your ‘Arkhunter’. After choosing your look, race, and traits, you will set off into the wasteland that Earth has become. Right into a tutorial! The game plays quite well in comparison to other MMOs. Judging this game against other shooters will make you notice that Defiance just doesn’t stack up, however. Enemy AI is as gormless as anything. They will spend a lot of their time ignoring the fact that you are even running up their backside firing rounds off like nobody’s business.  The lack of any kind of cover based gameplay does make some of the missions a trial. But if you happen to be in the vicinity of any other human players in the world, it won’t be a problem at all for you.

The missions in the game are abundant. A large campaign will certainly keep you busy for a good few days. However, all missions consist of “go here, shoot this, press this”. There is literally no deviation in that process whatsoever. The side missions are plentiful, although these lack just as much diversity as the main missions. There are survival challenges in which you will be forced to use a specific weapon type. There are also time-trial race missions in which you must make your way through various checkpoints and beat the time to your destination. Random events can pop up, however. Most of them demanding that you rescue civilians that have carelessly gotten themselves surrounded by wretched alien hordes.

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There are these things called ‘Arkfalls’. Randomly generated missions that only appear at a certain time. Again, these don’t vary at all. A giant red icon will appear on the world map, and every human controlled player in the area will be dashing towards the event. This means excessive lagging, dropped frame-rates, and an annoying amount of people driving around in circles to pick up the free XP. The majority of these will see you and dozens upon dozens of other chipping away at a giant bug’s health for up to 10 minutes until a giant explosion sends him packing. Yet again, no variation and no sense of any unique gameplay whatsoever.

There are some competitive modes that will keep the game fresh for those who will become tired of constantly performing the same menial tasks over and over again. There are deathmatches on a decent amount of separate maps. Then there is also Shadow War. It is almost a domination type game-mode that takes place on the game’s main map.  Neither is all that captivating as again, the game just doesn’t stand up to other shooters on the market in the slightest.  Although there is a nice little piece of innovation that other games can learn from. Whilst you sit in the lobby waiting for the matchmaking to do its thing, you are actually still on the main game map playing just as you were. It will transport you into the competitive modes once the lobby fills. When the matches are finished, you will be transported to the last checkpoint you were at on the main map.

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Getting around war-torn San Francisco can become a chore even with a large variety of vehicles at hand. The controls are stiff and clunky when driving. It’s not like a GTA game where driving is a chore until you get used to it. It is just flat out bad. You might even find yourself using your various fast travels rather than opting to drive.

The ranking system in game doesn’t work like other MMOs. Heck, it doesn’t even work like other RPGs. You will earn EGO for each mission and task that you complete. EGO is an alien implant that allows you to see your hud as well as use your special abilities. Special abilities like invisibility and using decoys would be useful. However, they’re just not necessary at all. Unless you are doing a mission yourself, enemies will largely ignore you if you pick your spots. You can just mow them down without a care in the world for the most part. Defiance is not very good at all at explaining the game to you. You get weapon mods right from the start of the game. However, you won’t be told that you can’t use these mods until you’re a higher level. You either need to be told by someone else who has figured it out, or randomly find out that it finally works much later in the game.

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Defiance is a game that has a hell of a lot to do. Albeit unvaried and with almost no sense of accomplishment.  It is however nice to see a company pushing boundaries and bringing the first real free-to-play MMORPG to consoles. It’s not the best MMO, but the constant patching leaves plenty of room for improvement. The gameplay is barebones and could use a little work on hit detection and frame dropping. The connectivity issues will continue to be a huge problem for a while. However, Trion Worlds has assured their fans that they are painstakingly working on the issue.

I do have one major gripe with the game. For all the effort that you go through to level up your character and upgrade your weapons and abilities, your character is never yours. There’s no defining characteristic that makes people think “hey, it’s that guy”.  Every event and mission you do is awash with a sea of green and brown camo. Hell, the only reason I could spot my friends on the battlefield is because their names are highlighted with blinding neon green. MMOs are supposed to be about defining yourself. It’s the reason people become so enamoured with them.

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For all the negativity shrouding this review, I bear no ill thoughts about Defiance. It will continue to get better. A season pass totaling at 3200 Microsoft points almost guarantees that. This was a tough game to review. The game is hilariously bad, and then all of a sudden it’s not. I guess it all comes down to one thing. I had fun when playing Defiance. This in the end is what gaming is all about. For a first console outing on the MMO plane, Trion Worlds show that they have a lot to learn, but they are definitely on the right track.

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