Defiance is a multiplatform (PS3, Xbox 360, PC) MMO third person shooter, based in the universe of the SyFy television series of the same name, which is in its first season as of the time of this writing. Invisible Gamer has reviewed the core game and now continues its look at the MMO’s content as it, as designed, evolves to connect with the TV show. This time, we look at content released between the pilot episode and the second episode, Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go.
Folks, if the prelude missions that were available at launch to prepare viewers for the pilot episode were a juicy steak with all the trimmings, then the content released in the wake of the pilot episode would generously be called “Spam.”
Shortly after the two-hour pilot aired, fans fired up the MMO in hopes of new Episode Missions, wondering how the game, set in San Francisco, would somehow tie into events in the series, which is set in St. Louis (now known as Defiance). Unfortunately, there were no new Episode Missions to be had. Instead, content was added in the form of new Emergencies and Pursuits to tie into them.
In Defiance game terms, an “Emergency” is a randomly-spawning event in the game’s world. While side missions, time trials, challenges, and such are all noted on the game’s map with specific markers to start those missions, Emergencies simply pop up and can be ignored or engaged in at will. Examples include roadblocks by enemies, random swarms of Hellbugs (see the third episode of the TV series for more of those), a hostage situation, and the like.
To tie into the pilot episode’s celebration of the Armistice that ended the Pale Wars, the new Emergencies that were added each featured a group of celebrating pilgrims, visiting the San Francisco Bay area where the final battle was fought, who were under attack by one of the game’s antagonist groups: mutants, 99ers, Dark Matter, or raiders. These were random, just like the other Emergencies in the game, but these would only exist from just after the pilot’s airing until the day of the series’ third weekly television episode.
A series of seven new data recorders (audio logs) were also scattered about the game’s landscape, featuring recordings that tied into the backstory of the Armistice itself.
To make use of these new Emergencies and data recorders, players were given a new category of Pursuits (basically to-do lists to complete in order to obtain more XP, special rewards, etc.). These new Episode Pursuits were split into two groups: Episode 1 and Episode 2. (This was assumed to mean that the game was treating the double-length pilot episode as two episodes, the same way numbering on iTunes and other digital media sites do. However, a total lack of new content between the second and third weeks of the TV series suggests that the pilot was Episode 1, and they simply front-loaded Episode 2 content before Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go actually aired.)
These new Pursuits were extremely lackluster and excessively frustrating, to the point that the official Defiance forums were flooded by angry players.
Episode 1 Pursuits: Frustrating, But Possible
Episode 1: Armistice Pursuits included Memories of Armistice (a hunt for four new data recorders to earn XP), Peacekeeper (a mission to ignite 10 new Lights of the Fallen that were added in various places in the areas north of the Golden Gate Bridge, along with three missions to protect celebratory pilgrims from enemies in those new Emergencies), Shadows of Defiance (a mission to light 10 more Lights of the Fallen, this time south of the bridge, along with completing the San Fransciso pilgrim-protection Emergency, and two goals that amounted to killing 10 enemies each of two different specific types south of the Golden Gate Bridge). Your reward, other than the four data recorders being added to your game archives, would be two new titles: “Keeper of the Northern Lights” and “Keeper of the Southern Lights.”
And, boy, did you have to earn those titles! Due to the random nature of Emergency spawns, and the fact that a new Emergency will only spawn when one in the same area has been completed, players spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) trying to complete those four requirements. On the other hand, some managed to complete them without realizing it, as each had a different name, and those names did little to make it obvious that these were the pilgrim-protection events in question. (Then again, perhaps fans were wrong. Perhaps a title like Burn, Baby, Burn just screams that it is about protecting celebratory pilgrims from disgruntled-miners-turned-killers.) The frustration boiled over until Trion Worlds provided a quick server-side update to make the spawning of these particular random Emergencies happen more frequently than others. Even then, the process could take many hours of play to have any hope of completion.
Episode 2 Pursuits: Literally Impossible
Episode 2: Most Wanted Pursuits seemed to have zero connection to the television series at all and amounted to little more than data recorder hunting and a to-do list of kills. Turning an Asset had players snagging a Lawkeeper Cap headgear item by finding three more hidden data recorders, while the Most Wanted: Contract Killer Pursuit required killing 10 of the tougher enemies from each of the four main enemy groups (with one of those Pursuits overlapping with Episode 1’s similar requirement for Shadows of Defiance), along with completing one of the game’s Contracts (Wanted: Dy’Dekusko) by playing through the Explosions 101 co-op mission. The reward for completing this Pursuit was another new title: “Giant Slayer.”
A third Episode 2 Pursuit, Most Wanted: Competitor, required winning one of each type of multiplayer match (Capture and Hold, Competitive PVP, and Shadow War), along with completing another contract (Most Wanted: Contract Killer – yes, named the same as the second Episode 2 Pursuit to make things that much more confusing and “bugged” in the game code) that requires 100 kills in competitive matches.
This is where things get even more messy. In order to complete two of these three Episode 2 Pursuits, a player must complete a Contract. However, Contracts are not available at all until players reach EGO Level 250, so newer players, especially those who jumped into the game after the pilot episode aired, either had to move very quickly through the game, or simply find themselves virtually locked out of completing those two Pursuits.
Even more distressing was the requirement for Most Wanted: Competitor that the player win one Capture and Hold match, when Capture and Hold matches do not exist yet in the game! Within the first hours of the game’s launch, Trion Worlds realized that their Capture and Hold map was flawed and easily exploitable, so they removed it from the game, which removed that entire mode from multiplayer options. The Pursuit requirement was literally impossible. Needless to say, players were livid. Fortunately for PC and Xbox 360 players, who had received a large game patch (which introduced more problems that it solved for the game as a whole), received a new update that removed that requirement from the Pursuit. That was not the case for PS3 players, however, as their larger patch was, at the time, lost in “awaiting certification” hell, which meant that the Capture and Hold requirement could not be removed. Players began contacting Trion’s support team to have the requirement manually checked off on their end, so that the reward XP could be granted after the other requirements were completed. This was not foolproof, however, as whether the support team member would happily check that item off for you or give you the runaround and claim that it was not something that could be done seemed to be entirely dependent upon which support team member the player had the fortune (or misfortune) to speak with.
One should also note that the 100 kills PVP requirement for this Pursuit is apparently bugged, as it would seem that it is possible for the requirement to be checked off well before 100 kills by completing the Most Wanted: Contract Killer Pursuit, instead of the Contract of the same name.
Wariness of the Days Ahead
And so, Defiance continues forward, as the PS3 is slated, as of this writing, to finally receive multiple patches to catch it up to the other two platforms, the television series prepares to air for its third week, and the Episode 1 and Episode 2 Pursuits (or at least the Emergencies and data recorders to complete them) are slated to disappear from the game. A great set of Episode Missions to lead into the series that raised high hopes for the promised episodic tie-in content has been followed by two weeks of frustration, disappointment, and, for many players, outright anger with Trion Worlds.
Here’s hoping that this was the hiccup, and the Episode Missions seen at the game’s launch are to be the norm. If it is the other way around, this will not end well for Defiance and its creative team.