Defiance was one of those weird once-in-an-industry things that’s a little hard to believe happened if you think about it today. You’ve got a shooter, right? It’s a shooter that really wishes it was Borderlands, from the sense of humor to the randomized loot. You toss in some MMO elements, raids, instanced dungeons and so on. Then, and here’s the big twist, you tie it into a television series and put that on SyFy or whatever it’s called these days. You have the two influence each other to some degree, by which I mean you’ve got characters from the show in the game and some episodic content drops, and you’ve got Defiance. it was unique, at least, even if the game itself wasn’t all that amazing, and apparently Trion Worlds has a soft spot for it because now we’ve got a relaunch in Defiance: 2050.
“Relaunch” is an interesting thing to try and explain; it might be easier to call it a “remix.” There’s a lot of the same game as the original Defiance here. When you start up 2050 and make a new character (and you’ll need to start from the top because progress can’t be transferred), you’re playing essentially the same game with some key differences in terms of gameplay and some fairly minor graphical updates. Also I’m pretty sure the show got cancelled, so there’s that.
The most obvious of these changes would be the shift to a discrete class-based system as opposed to the original game’s freeform character development; whether this is a good or bad thing is likely going to come down to personal taste. You’ve also got standard experience-based levels now, which I’d definitely chalk up as a plus compared to the original game’s bizarre EGO Level system. It’s possible to switch classes whenever you’d like so long as you have them unlocked, though each class needs to be leveled individually; naturally, those classes are being sold for cash money and locked behind a nice, long grind otherwise.
That aside, this is still Borderlands Lite: The MMO. Loot guns, equip them, blast away at baddies, gain levels and skill points to pump up long-cooldown active skills and passives that tend to give you incremental percentage boosts. It’s decent enough gameplay, if not outstanding; some guns feel better than others, which plays a big role in the enjoyment of a shooter. Defiance does shotguns fairly well but assault rifles tend to feel a bit like peashooters, for instance. There’s also some degree of Guild Wars 2-styled cooperation going on, so you’re encouraged to launch yourself into assisting in other players’ fights and missions where possible. This even includes world events called Arkfalls where everyone’s meant to show up and zerg down a big baddie or horde of smaller baddies for loot.
Otherwise, well, it’s Defiance with some changes that most people won’t notice since there’s a solid chance they stopped playing Defiance awhile back. Guns have stats now, you can tweak them as you would with the Mystic in Diablo as well as increasing their potency by feeding them spare salvage from enemies or loot that you break down. Naturally, there’s a resource involved in this that the game’s more than happy to sell you. Apparently it runs a bit better, though I never really had performance issues with the original game, and the new take on Defiance attracted enough attention that the servers generally choked, died, and led to a weird lagtastic experience that made for some questionable rubberbanding in combat.
Don’t expect this one to blow you away, in other words. It’s entirely possible that everything changes and becomes amazing if you play to the endgame, but it’s going to take awhile to get there and see if that’s actually the case. So far, well, it’s Defiance with a different name, some more options for spending money and a class system that I enjoy but will almost certainly be divisive to others. The price is right, don’t get me wrong, and it’s worth checking this one out just to see if you like it. Still, Defiance 2050 might need a little more time in the oven (and some reports from players who make their way a little further in) before we can say for sure if it’s any good as a long-term prospect.