Defiance 2050 is something of a paradox, it’s not a particularly great game, yet, at times, it is very, very good. There is a lot wrong with Defiance 2050, and I mean A LOT. There is a ton of bugs and glitches and some questionable design choices by the developers that can make the game extremely tedious and unenjoyable, yet, I found myself being drawn into the Defiance 2050 universe and I think I may have put well over a hundred hours into the game in only 3 weeks.
I’ll start this review by describing what defiance is and giving a brief overview of the game, I will then attempt to explain what drew me into the game and what it’s good points are, and there are definitely a lot of good points and enjoyable moments. I’ll use the second half of the review to dig into the murkiness of Defiance 2050, the bugs, the glitches and the poor design choices that can make certain parts of the game a frustrating and not very likable experience. And after all that I will give my final thoughts on whether Defiance 2050 is worth diving into in its current state.
What is Defiance 2050?
Essentially, Defiance 2050 is an MMO looter shooter developed by Trion Worlds. It is a port or update of a previous game called simply Defiance, that was released on PC and previous generation consoles back in 2013. Defiance 2050 has some similarities to the likes of Destiny, and I’ll probably reference Destiny a bit during this review, as there is some things in Defiance 2050 that could be likened to somethings in Destiny.
The original Defiance game released in 2013 was developed in conjunction with a sci-fi TV series of the same name, as Defiance 2050 is essentially a new version of the original game, most of the lore and characters are the same.
In Defiance 2050 you play as an Ark Hunter, a kind of mercenary type who specialises in hunting for a particular type of technology called Arktech.
Before starting the game, there are some basic options for creating your character and changing their appearance. You can also choose an in-game name. Once you get in to the game, you play through a short tutorial to get used to the basics and then you are essentially thrown in to the world of Defiance 2050.
Defiance 2050 is primarily a shooter MMO and the most important thing for a shooter is for the shooting to feel good, and in Defiance 2050 it does feel very good. There is a wide variety of weapons to loot from automatic rifles, fully automatic pistols, Light Machine Guns, shotguns, Sniper Rifles, grenade launchers and Rocket Launchers.
Similar to Destiny, there are several archetypes of each main weapon type, so there will be, for example, auto rifles with higher rates of fire than others and some which fire in bursts, similar to pulse rifles.
Each weapon can also be upgraded to increase it’s power level, and, similar to how Destiny power system works, you’re characters power is an average of your equipped weapons, grenade and shield.
You can equip two weapons at a time, and they can be any two weapons, so you can equip a shotgun and a sniper rifle if you wish to do so.
Shooting and combat with the weapons in Defiance 2050 is fairly solid, I have yet to find a weapon that I though was completely useless. Every weapon has its advantages and disadvantages and each weapon has it’s purpose depending on what type of mission you are tackling.
Sniper Rifles in Defiance 2050 feel particularly great, especially the higher damage ones which can one-shot headshot most normal enemies. Even though the game is in third person, the sniper scope zooms right in making it fairly straightforward and extremely satisfying to pick off enemies form a distance.
One thing a particularly like about the shooting in Defiance 2050 is the little sound that plays when your bullets are hitting an enemy, as well as the damage numbers popping up, it’s a really good bit of feedback to know you are hitting your enemy.
There is also vehicles in Defiance 2050 which are used to traverse the fairly sizeable open world. You start off with a fairly slow quad bike vehicle called a roller and other vehicles can be unlocked through pursuits, which are like goals or bounties. Vehicles can also be purchased from the in-game store using the in-game currency.
The vehicles are fine for the most part if you’re just getting from A to B, where the problems arise though is when you are attempting time trials. Time Trials are dotted around the world, almost like patrol missions in a way, and you have to drive through gates within a certain time to get a Gold, Silver or Bronze.
Unfortunately though, most of the vehicles have pretty terrible handling, which makes trying to even get Bronze in some Time Trials a near impossible task, not to mention there can sometimes be enemies on the track and your vehicle has a tendency to blow up upon impact with an enemy.
Gameplay, for the most part, is pretty solid and very enjoyable although there is some caveats to this. Further on the review I will highlight all the bad and buggy parts about the game which can cause an otherwise fun game to be not very fun at all.
Defiance 2050 certainly has lots of stuff to do, there’s no denying that. The main story is fairly lengthy with a ton of missions to be completed before you finally reach the end and face the main story boss.
Unfortunately though, a lot fo the missions are extremely repetitive and involve doing the same or very similar objectives over and over.
Most of the missions require you to go to a certain location in the world and either disable some thing highlighted, blow up somethings that are highlighted, or collect somethings that are highlighted. Whilst you’re doing these objectives you are generally also shooting at some enemies, then, once you have disabled or collected what ever it is, you generally have to fight some more enemies and maybe a mini-boss.
There is also quite a lot of side missions to complete as well, but again, these generally follow the same pattern as the main story missions, go somewhere, do something, shoot enemies. This usually is not an issue, I mean, a lot of video games are like this but Defiance 2050 missions are very repetitive. I swear some side missions where also story missions, or vice versa, I’m actually not entirely sure.
Due to the repetitive and cloned nature of the missions, it makes the story a rather forgettable one, not to mention that it seems to go off on a tangent from time to time.
But, despite the repetitiveness of the missions, like most things in Defiance 2050, which, on the surface shouldn’t be that great, do seem to be strangely enjoyable.
As well as main story missions and side missions, there’s plenty of other stuff to keep even the most dedicated of Ark Hunters happy.
Arkfalls are what you’ll be doing a lot of the time in Defiance 2050, whether you are at a low power level or a high power level. Arkfalls are kind of like big public events, they appear on the game world and are then faced with fending off some waves of enemies and getting some nice rewards.
Some Arkfalls are different from others. There is smaller, single Arkfalls that will reward you with some smaller rewards like salvage(used for upgrading your weapons) and there are some much larger Arkfalls, shown with a giant red circle ont he map. These bigger Arkfalls consist of several smaller Arkfalls and the culminate in a big boss fight.
Arkfalls are extremely fun, especially when there is lots of other players participating.
There is also co-op maps, which are similar to Destiny’s strikes. These co-op maps can sometimes take a fairly decent amount of time to complete, sometimes up to an hour but that is usually because the end bosses are massive bullet sponges. Something else that Trion Worlds needs to address.
Once you hit EGO level 50 in Defiance 2050 you will then have access to daily and weekly contracts which gives you even more stuff to do. Completing a certain amount of contracts gets you Ark Keys, which are used to open up Ark chests at the end of the big Arkfalls and co-op maps, netting you some sweet loot.
Defiance 2050 takes place in a kind of post-apocalyptic San Francisco Bay Area. The open world is fairly large with winding roads, buildings and outposts scattered everywhere and plenty of enemies wandering the wasteland.
The northern most part of the world map, where you will start off, is a bit more earth like, with trees, large swathes of green grassland, farms, rivers and other more recognisable features. The southern part, San Francisco, is, in parts, a bit more alien looking.
The world itself is fairly well designed and when you are travelling on a vehicle you can bypass the majority of road routes and go cross-country to get to your destination quicker if you like. Although there is a lot of very steep hills that are pretty much impossible to get over.
The world of Defiance 2050 is very much suited to the game and really does feel like an earth changed and ravaged by war and now populated by many alien races.
The massive open world, as good as it is, is let down by the instantly noticeable last-gen graphics. The open world is certainly fit for purpose and is fun to traverse, it just won’t win any awards for being pretty.
Sadly, the last-gen graphics are just one of the things that should have been improved upon when the game was re-done for current generation consoles. If you look at some videos of the previous Defiance game, released on PS3 in 2013, there are no noticeable improvements over the current game, released in 2018 on PS4.
Thankfully though, graphics aren’t everything and thanks to the addition to some collectible items, the world is just waiting to be explored.
Bugs from Hell
For every positive thing you could say about Defiance 2050, there is unfortunately, about ten negative things. The game is not bad by any means, in fact I actually think it’s rather good. But, there are a lot of things wrong with Defiance 2050 that far outweigh the positives and that’s a shame, because it really is very good in parts and has the potential to be even better.
Firstly, there are some poor design choices that can make the game particularly frustrating, especially early on when you don’t have access to high-powered gear and weapons.
As I mentioned earlier, in some missions and in the open world, there are mini-boss like enemies that are extremely tough. Two immediately spring to mind, Blacklungs and Bullwarks.
Blacklungs are large humanoid, almost human like enemies that rapidly fire out grenades from a grenade launcher. They can be extremely tough to beat, especially when playing solo. To make matters worse they have a shield that regenerates so you really have to constantly applying DPS to defeat them. This is difficult though as there attacks can sometimes be tough to dodge.
The Bullwarks are possibly even more annoying, especially if there is more than one of them to deal with. Like the black lungs the fire off their ammunition at you rapidly and they also have regenerating shields. I spent over an hour one time trying to beat two of these ED209 looking things, got there shields down to pretty much nothing and then died. By the time I respawned and got back to them, their shields had fully regenerated. I just gave up that day.
Although these types of enemies can be beaten when you are higher level and have the correct ammo type, etc, a new player who hasn’t been grinding the game constantly probably isn’t going to be a really high level, or have access to the best weapons and mods, this is compounded by the RNG nature of the loot.
It’s not just these seemingly impossible mini-bosses either, sometimes the game just throws way to many enemies at you and, like Destiny 2’s PvP meta, you just get team shot to death in seconds.
Clearly making these enemies and certain parts of the game extremely tough was design choice, not a very good though as it could lead to some players just simply giving up on the game.
It’s not just poor design choices that can turn Defiance 2050 from being truly fun one minute to being completely unbearable the next, its bugs, lots and lots of bugs.
It’s ironic that there is an enemy type called Hellbugs in the game, because some of these bugs really are from hell.
Later on in the game there are arena activities you can play, solo or part of a group. In the arena there is advanced weapons you can pick up, similar to Scorch Cannons and the valkyrie weapon from Destiny/Destiny 2. I am guessing the weapons were put in the arenas to make them a wee bit easier, only thing is you can’t use them, you can’t even pick the weapons up.
Every time, and I mean every single time, you try to pick one of these advanced weapons up you get stuck in an animation loop and you have press options or the touchpad to kick yourself out of it. The arenas can be completed solo, without the advanced weapons, but if you manage to actually make it through them you can say goodbye to your sanity.
Defiance 2050 has far too many bugs to mention, from pursuits not completing because of the game not recording kills properly, to time trails being impossible to finish because of gates not appearing and general lag which causes enemies to be unkillable and you’re vehicle unable to spawn.
There are far too many bugs to mention, just take a look at the official bug report forum to get an idea of how many bugs there are.
The really bad thing about the bus is the fact that the developer, Trion Worlds, seems to be making very little effort to fix them. The game was released on 10th July and 7 weeks later I don’t think there has been a single bug fix, yet there has been two “content” releases in the form of paid for class packs.
Although Trion has addressed the bugs somewhat on Twitter and on Twitch stream, stating that the patch was in certification and then stating they would discuss the bug fixes “in the future”, there has been no concrete information regarding any fixes, and more bugs seem to crawling out of the woodwork every day.
Despite all the bugs and glitches, despite some poor design choices than can make the game frustrating as hell, Defiance 2050 is still a pretty decent game at its core.
I can’t quite put my finger on what has been making me play defiance on a daily basis these past few weeks, maybe it’s the solid shooting and combat, maybe it’s the loot chase, maybe it’s the open world gameplay or maybe it’s just because I didn’t have anything else to play.
One thing is for sure, Defiance is a fairly good game. I would definitely recommend you at least download it (it’s free after all) and at least play through the main story missions, do some Arkfalls and some co-op maps and see how you feel once you get your power level up and get some decent weapons and gear.
For all its short comings, the bugs, the repetitive missions, Defiance 2050 is still somehow an enjoyable and fun experience with a lot of potential.
If Trion Worlds can manage to get all the bugs fixes, fix server stability and give us some nice free content to keep the game fresh and the players interested, then Defiance 2050 could well be a good free-to-play alternative to The Division or an alternative to Warframe.
If it wasn’t for the bugs I probably would have scored the game higher, maybe in a few months time Defiance 2050 will be worthy of a far more glowing review. In the meantime, it remains an enjoyable game let down by tons of bugs and some frustrating gameplay.