The idea of transmedia has been slow to find traction, but if there’s a great example of how combining mediums can be used effectively, it may be the upcoming MMO and SyFy television series, Defiance. We got a chance to preview the game last week at E3.
On one hand, Defiance is a show starring Grant Bowler and Dexter’s Julie Benz as Joshua Nolan and Amanda Rosewater, respectively, but the property will also include an MMO playable on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first – Defiance will not be playable cross-platform as demonstrated last year. When you’ve come to terms with that unfortunate bit of information, Defiance is still worth following, not just because of its televised integration but because it looks to be a solid third-person shooter MMO in a fully realized future.
Defiance takes place in the not-so-distant future when an alien race known as the Voltans has begun a war with Earth after being refused solace. The Voltans terraform the Earth, making it almost unrecognizable in a number of locations, and when the war ends, the human race must live on a virtually unknown planet. The TV series will follow Joshua Nolan as he returns to his hometown, Defiance, and protects what has essentially become a refugee camp.
The game will take place concurrently with the show, intersecting with the program’s characters to progress the story and reflect changes to the world. In the MMO, however, you’ll play as an Ark Hunter, attempting to rid the world of the Voltan threat. The alien race came to our world in vehicles known as Arks, but these vessels, broken apart, now orbit the Earth in a ring of debris, sporadically crashing into our terraformed land. Events known as Arkfalls will occur, during which multiple Ark Hunters can band together to destroy these bits of alien technology.
As your Ark Hunter, shooting controls feel responsive, whether you’re participating in an Arkfall or playing one of the game’s many other missions. How you take on these objectives is up to the player, whether they prefer to clear out an area and then tackle a challenge or balance combat and, for example, a collection mission simultaneously. Parcels of information will be revealed about the world and story during the missions, giving you a more clearly defined idea of how the Voltan threat has altered our world.
In addressing an MMO staple, Defiance does not regard mounts in the same capacity as most in the genre. Players will be able to use vehicles from the start, a small ATV available during the demo, making traversal around the large area available much easier. Weaponry will be influenced by Voltan technology, and with gunplay working so well up close and afar, it will be intriguing to see the game’s final arsenal.
The main hook for me at least is the possibilities of crossover between the game and show. The game will start out with Joshua’s presence intact, but as the game takes place in San Francisco and the show in St. Louis, I’m curious to see just how much of a connection will exist. Publisher Trion Worlds is still keeping the extent of influence a secret for the moment, but it has let slip that the outcomes of major battles in the game could affect how future episodes and seasons are written. Regardless, the promise of one form influencing the other, though, is too intriguing to pass up, and a strong third-person shooter feels like icing on the cake.
Look forward to exploring this exciting experiment in the MMO and television world in April of next year.