Is Defiance 2050 the same old Defiance with some better graphics?

Title: Defiance 2050
Platform: PC, Xbox One (reviewed), PlayStation 4
Developer: Trion Worlds
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Price: Free to play
Release date: Out now
TL;DR: A re-released MMO shooter from SyFy TV series tie-in Defiance.
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Anybody remember the SyFy series Defiance that was doing the rounds on TV in early 2013? I do; I was one of the few that enjoyed it. With a mix of space aliens and technology crossed with a western-style feel, the show was set in a dystopian future where Earth had been transformed into an almost unrecognisable planet, after experiments with alien tech had mutated the flora, fauna, and landscape into a harsh environment for humans and Votans (the alien immigrants). Combine this with years of inter-species war, the outcome created small communities in this new world, mainly the town of Defiance and its inhabitants, who we get to follow in the TV series.

Trion Worlds hooked up with SyFy to produce a game that would tie-in with the TV show, and give us an entertainment experience that was fairly unique, even touting that certain outcomes in the game may affect some storylines in the series. I’m not sure if this ever happened, but it sounded like a great marketing ploy.

Defiance the game was born and released at around the same time the TV series aired. It featured some of the series regulars in cutscenes, and quests that would give the general feeling that you were playing in the same universe, and for me, this worked well. It felt like an expanded world and gave the freedom and idea that in some way, you too could become a hero of Defiance and help to restore humanities existence on this new-Earth.

Trion’s MMO shooter was a good game for a 2013 release. It had massive multiplayer, great co-op quests, dungeons, and outdoor events. I personally had the game on both Xbox 360 and PC, easily putting in over a thousand hours. It had a large world to explore, a class system to create a style of combat that suited your playstyle, and loot galore, with weapons and equipment upgrades similar to Borderlands and the more recent Tom Clancy’s: The Division.

Defiance the TV series was cancelled in 2015 after a three-season run, but the game kept going, offering new stories and quests through the occasional content drop; in fact, it’s still going now. Trion has confirmed that the servers will still be active for the original Defiance game, even though Defiance 2050 is the new focus.

So, what is Defiance 2050? Is it a remake? Or a sequel? Well, I was kind of hoping for the latter. A sequel to Defiance really intrigued me when I first heard the news. My mind was wondering how the story would progress without the TV series accompanying it, but after some more announcements it was confirmed that Defiance 2050, would, in fact, be a remastered version of the original, complete with all DLC content and brought up to spec to be played on the latest generation of home consoles and PCs.

Okay, so now we’re all caught up with the history, is Defiance 2050 worthy of taking up your time and hard drive space? Good question. Personally, I liked the original, so jumping into Defiance 2050 was like putting on your favourite hoody. It was very comfy and familiar; I knew what to do and where to go from the start, but my personal problem was that I had done all this before. Not that replaying a game is a bad thing if you’ve really enjoyed it, as I’ve done that many times, but Defiance 2050 wasn’t wowing me this time around, and I don’t think it’s made enough changes to convert new players.

The graphics have had resolution tweaks and some sharpened textures, but only slightly; the assets look very blocky and almost identical to the original. Without even getting very far into the game, it feels dated, and although graphics aren’t what dictates the fun in a title, it can certainly be off-putting to new players.

Defiance 2050 is a free-to-play MMO co-op loot shooter, using a cash shop to fund its continued support and development. Microtransactions allow you to buy a multitude of different costumes and quality of life enhancements for your characters, like increased inventory space and modifications for your weapons. There are also some lootboxes in the game for which you can purchase keys, but I have no idea on their importance in the scheme of things, as I haven’t had the need or desire to want for anything that I can’t find in-game.

Starting out in Defiance 2050, the intro is exactly the same as the old 2013 Defiance; same cutscenes, same story, and the same tutorial quests. Ignoring the replication, though, the tutorial does a good job of explaining the movements and mechanics of combat in Defiance. But, it’s evident early on that the combat and mechanics have also not been upgraded. The AI of enemies isn’t great, since they won’t flank you or offer a massive challenge, it’s just a case of the number of enemies and a few charging foes that will run at you, causing you to roll away and get a little space.

Notable changes are the new classes and skill trees. With four classes, Assault, Assassin, Guardian (tank), and Combat Medic, plus new classes available for purchase later down the line. The smaller skill trees allow more customisation for various load-outs. For this review, I played as a Combat Medic, so that I had more sustain via my heal-bot for completing missions as a solo combatant. But the variety is there so that you can choose what suits your playstyle.

The world of Defiance has a day and night cycle, with the daytime being light and sometimes quite colourful, whilst night-time can be too dark and rather hard to see where you are going. Missions are dotted around the world map, and you can make handy waypoints to them to help you navigate your way. There are also many side-quests and main-story quests to follow, with the main quests intertwined with cutscenes to keep the story flowing.

Unfortunately for my experience of Defiance 2050, I’ve been noticing some rather severe issues with server stability. There have been crashes, glitches, and a fair bit of rubber banding from server lag, with enemy NPC’s warping around the screen whilst you try to shoot them, which is beyond frustrating. I’ve noticed however that servers have been restarted a few times and taken down for maintenance, so let’s hope that these issues can be resolved before it has a detrimental effect on the games population.

Overall, I do enjoy Defiance; it’s an update of a game I enjoyed in 2013, with a little tinkering applied to make use of more modern gaming tech. It’s still a solid shooter set in a multiplayer / co-op environment and with it being free to play, it stands a chance at having an active and busy community. The caveat to this, however, is that Trion will need to get a hold of the poor server performance if they want to keep their player base. As a returning player, I would also like to see continued content and story development, because at the moment there isn’t anything new to look forward to.

The Good

  • Solid gunplay and MMO fare.
  • TV series tie-in.
  • Includes all previously released DLC.

The Bad

  • Server lag.
  • Weak enemy AI.
  • Dated graphics.

Family Focus

ESRB: M (For Mature) and PEGI: 18. Contains some bad language and lots of gun-related violence, so not suitable for the ankle-biters.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.