Port Reports are a new series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Dillonator. For an up to date account of Defiance′s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
I’m gonna be straight up here, I’ve never heard of Defiance (nor Trion) before. I don’t have any comments about Trion’s past, nor their future. I come into this expecting nothing as with any MMO (as TotalBiscuit says), it will have a rough start, so it will get minor (ever so minor*) special treatment I’m expecting a good groundwork for a solid PC title even if it is a bit shaky at the moment. As an MMO, these games will evolve and improve over time. Let’s hope Defiance ages like fine wine, not like vinegar.
*Little bugs and glitches, essentially the little harmless things, will be let off. Game breaking bugs, frequent crashes and major issues will not be overlooked
First thing I want to talk about, the patcher client. Two main characteristics: very lightweight and in turn, very unhelpful. I installed the client to program files, instead of the default (and quite unorthodox) appdata folder. Because of this, the patcher refused to work and successfully start to download the game, which is a massive shame for people who don’t install games onto their primary drives (like I was planning to). Even worse, the error it gave me simply said “Patch failed,” so I had absolutely no idea what was going wrong.
After re-installing the patcher to the default directory (which was just a fluke, the support button in the patcher took you to their generic support page for all of Trion’s games), the client was right as rain and I was off downloading. Connection speeds were pretty good, hovering around 4-5MB/s at 9PM, generally the max I get on Steam around this time, so minor kudos there for decent download speeds. However, it doesn’t tell you how big the download it, so minus minor kudos.
Once in the game, you’re gonna notice a few things. Wow, the game is ugly. Like, unreasonably ugly for an MMO. Tera looked pretty good as an MMO (I say, trying to avoid anyone commenting on the game being filled with half naked ladies and pandas) and it set a new standard for me, albeit still low in comparison with regular games, but a new standard none the less.
Defiance doesn’t even have post process anti aliasing like FXAA, so it will undoubtedly drive some people insane with all the jaggies and shimmering edges. The texture quality is not great in some areas and downright terrible in others.
Look at the screen shot of my character. He has nearly no detail on his face and if you look down, it becomes apparent that his clothes are literally an extension of him with there being no separation between the black blob that is his sleeve and the tanned blob that is his arm. The game simply hides this lack of detail with an overpowering depth of field. Things that are more than 100 meters from you get blurred quite a bit. Not impressed by the downright laziness here.
Next, let’s discuss the menus, yay. The layout is usable on PC but it’s so painfully obvious you would be navigating them faster with a controller (or at least, more comfortably). The graphical settings are so limited, it can only make you sigh in disappointment. You have resolution, refresh rate and fullscreen on/off settings before you get to the main visual goodies. Now, you must be thinking “that’s a pretty firm start, it includes a separate refresh rate setting when a lot of developers simply lump it in with the resolution settings.” Oh boy, is that start going to be ruined.
One of which is motion blur.
The other is bloom.
Is this some kind of joke? Making people pay for a game where 66% of the graphical settings, a sane person would turn off? This is an MMO! Where’s the draw distance? Where’s the level of detail slider? Why on earth was overscan prioritised over these crucial elements? The level of incompetence is ridiculous. To top things all off, Defiance doesn’t even have an FOV slider. There’s quite a difference between having a lack of pretty settings and not having something as downright essential as editable field of view. The only positive that I can find is that the game runs well, easily holding 60FPS. Even then, that’s not something to be bragging about when the game looks like cardboard painted with potatoes.
Let’s move on before I blow an artery, to the controls! It has a mouse sensitivity scale with increments, so you can find the right speed for you. The game doesn’t do anything stupid with the mouse, so movements are 1 to 1 between what happens on the mouse pad and on screen. Control remapping is pretty good, having different sections for different scenarios (like driving or navigating the menus) and supports side mouse buttons. Handling your character is quite responsive, so combat never feels clunky or unfair because you’re steering a tank. No points lost, nor gained, in the controls section.
A quick skim over the gameplay, I found the bullet detection to be a bit hit and miss, with some clearly lined up shots not connecting (I played as a sniper with a bolt action, so getting a headshot was vital). This issue wasn’t consistent though and only happened thrice in the space of an hour or two. Other than that, the gun play was actually pretty good, rewarding skill and headshots.
This game holds 60FPS near constantly and the gameplay felt solid (along with relatively standard remapping). However, literally everything else in the game is either flawed, bad, or unbearable. I wanted a game that was a solid framework for building and realistically improving on, so that Defiance fans 6 months down the line can say “yeah, it had a rough start BUT they fixed all that.” Hmm, I’m not feeling too confident in that regard. Trion has your money now, what’s stopping them from half arsing the DLC and ‘technically’ fulfilling their end of the deal, leaving this mess of a game to rot? I would love to be proved wrong but it’s not looking too great. Let’s not forget that this rating actually turns a blind eye to all the minor, cosmetic bugs that I encountered. From the HUD waypoint getting stuck in one spot all the way to an entire area’s enemies getting spawned in one exact location and having 6+ foes attack you all at once. On a different note, I did have quite a bit of fun with it but I’m not here to critique the games content, there are loads of other people to do that for you.
As I said in the intro, these games evolve and improve over time, so it would only be fair to come back to this in 3 months to see if Trion has made some basic, yet major, improvements to the UI and settings.
For an up to date account of Defiance′s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.