Defiance: Free-to-Play | I Played That

Game Profile: Defiance

  • Genre: Borderlands MMO. Or Firefall if it worked and had content (3rd-person shooter MMO)
  • Developer: Trion Worlds
  • Publisher: Trion Worlds
  • Service Requirements: Online connection, Trion Glyph account
  • Available For: PC, PS3 (goes free July15), Xb360 (free date TBA)
  • ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
  • Amount Completed: About 30 hours. EGO level 500ish.
  • Played On: PC 


    Personal Bias:

    None. I don’t know the show this is based on. I’m not familiar with Trion Worlds.

    In a Nutshell:

    Online open world run-n-gun shooter full of random folks wielding randomly generated guns in a constant stream of spontaneous events.

    Released in 2013 as a retail MMO product with no subscription as a marketing tie-in to the SyFy television show of the same name, it debuted with the problems typical to online game launches such as an aimless design and a dearth of content. Fast forward two years and Defiance jam packed full of missions, public quests, co-op/competitive instances, and drops the price tag to boot.


  • Fair free-to-play. Cash shop transactions include cosmetics, boosts, inventory space, and traditional DLC chapters. Starting inventory will feel cramped to compulsive collectors, but is adequate for enjoying the game.
  • A real shooter, not an action MMO. No rows of timer-based buttons or hit rolls. Defiance plays just like what you’d expect in an offline shooter.
  • Emergent gameplay anywhere. More than just public events await you in the wasteland. Most of the main missions take place in the open-world where passing players can seamlessly wander in to join the fight and reap the rewards.
  • Wide world of weapons. While not as exhaustive as something like Borderlands or Diablo, there is a large number of guns that have random modifiers to things like rate of fire or recoil. Elemental modifiers are in place and guns can be further modified by adding gem-style clips, scopes, or stocks. My favorites include a chain lightning style beam that doubles as a heal gun and an automatic shotgun that fires grenades.
  • Buggies! Everyone gets a summonable ATV mount. These are a blast to drive and jump off of hills thanks to the game’s full physics model.
  • B-move shlock. Made up sci-fi swearing, aliens that are simply face paint, and a John Carpenter-ish soundtrack evokes a strong 80’s feel that’s perfect for video games.
  • Surprisingly good cutscenes and voice acting. While the story quality varies from confusing to forgettable, the main mission cutscenes are much better than you’d expect.
  • Novel character advancement. No classes, an open passive skill tree (a la Path of Exile), and a Elder Scrolls’ learn-by-doing’ approach makes upgrading your toon rewarding and stress free.



  • Just shooting. If you’re looking for MMO tropes like crafting, flower picking, or player housing, keep walking.
  • All in one costumes. The endgame of any MMO is the tailor shop. Defiance’s only costume options are the full suit and a hat.
  • No attempt at world building. Something bad happened to the San Francisco bay area. Everything is all busted up and there are giant bugs and alien plants. There also seems to be humanoid aliens running all the politics. Why? I have no idea and the game isn’t telling.
  • No melee weapon options or progression.
  • Can only equip two guns at a time.
  • Messy menus


    Final Words:

    It is surprisingly easy to loose a couple hours running with the Zerg from event to event across Defiance’s world. Controls are tight, weapons feel distinct, and the game’s graphics are handsome, if not particularly groundbreaking. The siren’s call of new loot is as alluring as ever. Moreover, a class-free character development system means you’ll never box your build in a corner.

    After being underwhelmed during a free trial at launch, I was delighted to see that Defiance has evolved into a complete game that is an absolute blast to play. Even better, it dropped the price down to zero. I can’t see any reason for someone looking for a quick action fix not to give it a try.



    1. 'Lose'. :P

      The game makes more sense if you watch the first couple of episodes of the show. It's reasonably fun itself, but has a bit of a nasty problem with time-limited things... there are episode story missions that are only available for a limited time, and then gone.

      The reason for the wrecked world is that an alien war came to Earth, the ships got shot down and trashed the environment (The show is set in a wrecked St. Louis, with the Arch in the background) with things such as the big bugs and 'razor rain', fragments of ships falling at terminal velocity.

      Once you've seen the first couple, for the game you don't really need to see any more episode. The bugs are generic 'shoot them in the shiny parts for massive damage', and every one of the aliens are 'humand'. "Human and..." Although in this case it's more 'asshole and'... Red haired assholes, albino assholes, assholes with bubblewrap for skin, and human assholes.

      You can actually buy Dodge Chargers in the game, too; they're the real thing, licensed from Dodge. But aside from being slightly faster and able to carry a passenger, there's no real difference between them and the 4x4s you get free.

      Was an ok game, although I quit playing for a while; I bought it when it first came out, played for a while and had some fun, then quit playing for a while and it went free to play, and apparently it's rebalanced, everything takes FOREVER to die now...

    2. I did actually go an watch a few episodes of the show recently. Suprisingly, there are still a ton of questions about the setting. Seems like the writers just kinda thew everything on the wall all at once. Reminds me of high school fan fic :)

      The Charger thing is hilarious! At least it fits better than most product placements. Although it seems highly unlikely that the Dodge Charger would be the last car running after the apocalypse, lol.

      I like the fact stuff gets a second chance these days. I remember being fond of a stupid car-based MMO shooter (Auto Assault?) that folded pretty quickly. Dozens of people spent thousands of hours to make that thing and now it's just gone forever.