It wasn’t until my third hour in the game portion of SyFy and Trion Worlds’ crossmedia project that it struck me — this is the quietest MMO launch ever.I’d run into a couple bugged quests, marvelled over the purposeful stupidity of enemies in the tutorial zone, and giggled at the ridiculous vehicle physics, but no one was laughing with me.
No one was comparing Defiance to World of Warcraft. No one was asking questions that were answered only moments before. It was so peaceful. One might expect such quiet from the largely keyboard-less PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 crowd, but I was playing on PC, and PC MMO players (myself included) are notoriously loud and boisterous in chat channels.
It was then I realised in-game chat was broken.
It’s probably a good thing that PC players weren’t able to use any sort of general chat channel, because the text contained therein would not be kind. Though developed by a company with tons of experience in the PC gaming space, all it takes is one look at the video options to see that this is not a very PC-friendly game.
Low, medium and high are the options we get, with not much difference between. There’s a custom option, but that just means you’ve got shadows, bloom or motion blur turned off. Oh, and note the monitor refresh rate. Players with monitors or televisions that run above 100Hz are crashing out of the game when opening the menu. Apparently that’s been happening since before launch. Thank goodness I misplaced my fast DVI cable.
This is a game built for consoles and ported to PC. It shows in the graphics options. It shows in the menus, optimised for a controller and confusing for a mouse and keyboard setup. Were chat not broken, it would be filled with angry PC enthusiasts having overcome the world’s shittiest game patcher (Slow. Wait, it’s fast! No, it’s slow again.) to find themselves trapped in a shoddy console port.
I’ve got a character over on the Xbox 360, and it’s not all roses and cake on the console front either. While the game controls much better with a game pad (I’ve started playing the PC version with a wired controller), frame rates are low, textures a bit muddy, and the input delay and lag is just ridiculous. During the tutorial I would shoot things and have them die seconds after I had stopped firing. Opening boxes was a matter of holding down the open button and waiting until the game realised you were doing so. It’s gotten a little better, but glitches still happen.
Defiance is a work in progress, a game designed to be constantly improved upon, just as it’ll be updated on a regular basis to coincide with content from the SyFy series, launching April 15. I’ll be playing it over the course of the next month, providing regular updates on my character progress (once I figure out how that works) and personal experience. At the end of that period I’ll write up a proper review. I’m hopeful that some of these launch problems will be addressed by then, though it’s perfectly OK if they leave chat broken forever. So peaceful.