Defiance's first DLC adds complexity as well as content

Defiance, Trion Worlds' bombastic MMO shooter, has always seemed like a sturdy base product that was ready to be expanded. With its upcoming, first DLC pack, Trion plans to do just that.

During a hands-on demo of the DLC at E3 2013, we got a chance to tool around with some of the content's biggest new features, which look to bolster the game in a number of meaningful ways.

First up is a third playable race for characters to choose from: The gaunt, pale Castithans. If there were any mechanical differences to the class, they weren't apparent during our demo, but the aesthetic differences for the Castithans — a prominent race in the TV show's fictional, titular town — were striking. It's not just their pigmentless skin and hair tones that set them apart from the game's burlier races; all of the game's costumes have been retroactively redesigned to match the Castithans' style, with religious symbols woven into archaic, old world armor.

A four-player vehicle — complete with mounted turret — is also available to anyone who pays the DLC's $10 entry fee. It's similar to the three-player weaponized vehicle that players can find in certain Player vs. Player encounters, but can be used in the open world too. It's a bit clunkier than the game's light vehicles, keeping you from doing quite-as-rad stunts that an ATV allows. However, it makes cleaning up mobs of enemies (like the ones that swarm the game's Arkfall events) much more of a breeze, provided you can keep the car unexploded.

The vehicle comes in handy in the DLC's new sieges, which will be available both for folks who do and don't purchase the content. These sieges score the player based on their performance, rewarding them for reaching certain score tiers. The sieges send wave after wave of mobs after any players in the area, who must capture and defend a network of control points to secure victory. For each control point they lock down, more mobs will spawn, increasing the potential score players can earn.

let's call it what it is: a lightsaber

There's more strategy to sieges than just shooting for the head of your enemies. Stationary turrets are placed around each siege encounter, which can be repaired and upgraded by spending salvage — one of Defiance's precious resources — on them. It's a major expense, but every kill the turret earns gives you extra points, potentially boosting your haul at the end of the siege. Whether you recoup your salvage depends entirely on your performance.

Perhaps the biggest, most rewarding content the DLC offers are the new Volge weapons that players can unlock through the storyline included with the purchase — free players can still find them at random, too. Most of these powerful armaments feature a charging mechanic, making their shots more powerful the longer players hold down the trigger. A Volge sniper rifle, for example, fires more bolts the longer a player holds an enemy in its sights.

Also new to the game is the Castithan Blade, a melee weapon — let's call it what it is: a lightsaber — that can dispatch foes up close, or knock back a group of foes with a diving strike. It's a risky weapon to wield, but a potent one, especially when used as a secondary option alongside a longer-ranged gun. It also makes the game's Blur power (a comparatively useless ability which boosts run speed and melee damage) a much, much more viable build for your character.

Defiance's first DLC pack doesn't just add more content to the game; it adds complexity, too. The game's got simple, mindless shooting fun down pat already — if it can keep mixing up that formula with DLC like this, it could become an absolute juggernaut.

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