The lights are on
What is the EGO system?
The EGO system is something that Von Bach Industries builds. It’s a fairly new technology. It’s essentially an AI that’s implanted within your body, and it gives you multiple things. It’s sort of how we explain the HUD. Basically, the HUD is coming from this EGO, but it also can impart, as you bond with it over time, it can also impart powers onto you, and those are the powers you probably experienced within the game. But it’s not a widespread technology. I mean, even though all the players will have it, because they all work for Von Bach, it’s not a widespread thing in the world. It’s a very unique technology, but it also a communication device so people can contact you. That’s how we do some of the missions. And the EGO can make you situationally aware. For example, she’ll tell you when an arc fall is close, or maybe when a Shadow War is going, or that kind of stuff. So it’s essentially a sentient AI that’s been implanted.
What kind of weapons can players expect to encounter in the game? How important is gear to the game’s concept?
Gear is very important. We try to support all sorts of gameplay styles for our weapons, and our powers, so we have sniper rifles, shotguns, automatic weapons, but we have some other more unique ones like a grenade launcher that sticks to things and you can detonate it when you want to. We have another one called the BMG, which is essentially a chain lightning gun, so you hit a target with it and it will chain to other enemy targets around it. But it also has a secondary fire which will actually heal players, and not just friends or people in your group, it will heal anybody that you’re aimed at. So it plays a great role as a support weapon because we wanted to be able to have people enjoy the game without being the best shooter player in the world.
So we put a lot of support abilities like that. We have tons of different grenade types, whether they’re bounce grenades or sticky grenades, or stun grenades. There’s many more than that, and then we build hundreds of variations off of each type.
How about character progression? How does the game approach leveling?
It’s called the EGO rating. Over time by doing missions, doing side missions, competing in arc falls, Shadow War, emergencies, all that stuff, the score will be going up. And as the score does go up you will be getting more perk points. The perk grid is basically where you get your powers and then branching off the powers gives you improvements – you’re better at shooting stuff from behind, better at shooting stuff from below, when your shield drops you can run faster. All these kind of things stem off the base powers. You’ll be able to keep upgrading those and getting more and more of those so you’ll have more options, and basically more tactical options. But also the guns themselves improve. Basically you either will add an elemental effect to it, or another slight effect, like now that you’ve progressed this far in this weapon type, you have less recoil, faster reload, bigger clip, all that kind of stuff. And even on top of that you can modify the weapon itself so you can find parts that you can stick on the weapon which visually show up, but also modify stats.
It’s not like your typical massive online game where it’s this very, very steep leveling curve. It’s much more shallow, and the reason we did that was we wanted players to constantly be able to play with or against each other, and be competitive.
So an early EGO rating player, you could still stand a chance against somebody who’s got a character that’s more advanced?
Absolutely. Particularly if you’re more skilled. If they can twitch better than the other guy, yeah, the chances are they’ll take ‘em down.
Talk to me a little bit about the end game for Defiance.
A lot of it right now is our co-op matches. They are essentially instances, and you can redo those in part. And those are very story driven missions that you go in with groups. It’s also the ongoing access to the Shadow War and the progression you have there, and the arc falls, and the emergencies, and you can redo what we call encounters so, when you were doing some of those missions you would come into a space and you’d see these tips on top. You can redo those over, and over, and over again. So you’re not locked out from doing that content as you go. And plus, all the show stuff that we’re doing, all of the downloadable content that we’re doing, all of that plays into end game replayability.
Would you say the Shadow War is kind of the central PVP conceit of the game?
It’s the overworld one. I also should have mentioned we do have arena based player-versus-player as well.
In terms of the organized PVE stuff, you said, did you call them cooperative maps? Is that what they’re called?
Yes, that’s what they’re called, and it’s essentially a four-player instance that you go through, and they’re very story driven. They can be very difficult depending on what EGO rating you’re at, and you can redo those to your heart’s content to get new rewards every time.
You wouldn’t have to wait until your EGO rating hits a certain point or something like that?
We do unlock them based on EGO rating.
[Next up: How is Defiance monetized, and how does the MMO work on different platforms?]
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