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Beta Perspective: Defiance 2050 Is Hot Garbage, But Shows Promise

I meant to play and then discuss the latest episode of the Guild Wars 2 Living Story tonight, but since the game is a bit broken at the moment, I’ll talk about Defiance instead.

I’ve spent a good few hours playing the Defiance 2050 open beta this weekend, and the thought that keeps going through my mind is simple: A relaunch of a five year old game should not be breaking even worse than the original launch, even as a beta. But over the span of several hours, I’ve had my game crash, sat and watched as it became virtually unplayable due to rubberbanding and screen freezing. I’ve seen creatures just randomly despawn, watched as my vehicle refused to show up or in some cases refused to perform basic tasks like turning. Even major functions like the entire tutorial and medic ability had to be disabled during the final beta before head start because they were either broken or were causing server crashes.

But then the weekend ended and the servers became kind of stable. The turning speed of the quad is still absolute garbage and makes driving a major pain, but that’s another story.

I suppose I should get two things out of the way: First, Defiance 2050 is a remaster for the current console generations and PC players are essentially along for the ride. Second, as a gamer I effectively left Defiance for dead around the time that Alcatraz released and Trion Worlds started experimenting with those expeditions that were initially lauded as money-grubbing. It’s around this point that I wrote it off as a dead title, its game code feeling like it was held together with chewing gum and string every time I would go back and find it feeling more and more broken.

I put well over 400 hours into Defiance and had no real motivation to go back, so I’m treating Defiance 2050 as a new world in and of itself.

If you played through the original Defiance beta weekends as I did all those years ago, well Defiance 2050’s beta won’t surprise you since it’s actually the same content but five years down the road. The big mechanical changes to get used to are the inclusion of classes, and subsequent movement of the massive EGO grid into a linear list of class-specific skills. Otherwise, this game still has a mass of activities to sink your face into, be it story missions, side missions, pursuits, major arkfalls, minor arkfalls, emergencies, sieges, incursions, contracts, pvp, coop dungeons, leveling your power, leveling your class, leveling your character, leveling your weapon proficiency, leveling your vehicle proficiency, and of course the age-old tradition of trolling chat.

I’d previously committed myself to playing Defiance 2050 solely on the Xbox, since the whole thing seems redundant to play on PC with the existing version still available on the platform, however this last beta weekend was PC only so I made due with what I had. Outside of the poor server performance, it’s hard to say much about this game that I didn’t say five years ago. After a while of shooting creatures and watching the screen stutter for five to ten seconds only to come back with my character dead on the ground, Defiance 2050 felt less like a happy reintroduction to the world and more of a grim reminder of why I quit in the first place.

That said, I haven’t completely given up on Defiance and am still waiting to see if Trion can turn things around post-launch. Do I have enough faith to buy into the founder’s program? Absolutely not, but I am willing to clock in on day one and give the game a real spin.

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