Greetings, ark hunters!
It has been an exciting year for Defiance. We’ve launched the first massive co-op shooter. We’ve launched a television series. We’ve provided more updates than you can shake a stick at. (Likely the incorporeal nature of updates greatly hampers your ability to shake a stick at them. Just sayin’.)
We’re wrapping up our fifth DLC, Arktech Revolution, and it transforms the face of the game. We’re adding fifteen perks, raising the EGO cap, adding new pursuits and gear. It has been a titanic undertaking that has altered the way every single fight in the game plays out.
Now ark hunters must balance damage types with armor with spikes, stims, and grenades. Top-tier enemies require teamwork to take down, and enemies all over the game world have learned all sorts of new attacks and strategies.
Welcome to the revolution.
The Power of Promise
Defiance has a lot of expectations to live up to. It’s the first game ever to be tied so closely to a co-developed television show. The promise of two windows into one world really resonates with people and conjures images both amazing and conflicting.
A year ago, we promised to bring players massive co-op gameplay in a living world that was both familiar and alien.
The Day of Reckoning
Much like the apocalypse that destroyed future Earth, thousands of players from diverse platforms and countries descended upon our little world like a horde of ravenous hellbugs. They devoured content at a scale and speed that had to be seen to be believed. And, of course, billions of virtual bullets being fired at literally millions of virtual enemies nearly made our poor servers spit blood.
The Double Launch
We knew we’d soon face a second wave. Two weeks later, the Defiance show would premiere on Syfy, and we had to prepare for a second horde of launch players. Working round the clock and round the globe, our team savaged issues as they arose. Some solutions required hardware, some networking software, and some simply optimizing endless pages code deep in the bowels of our systems. Each day, new issues were fixed and new ones rose. As the game stabilized, we had even more promises to keep.
As the show took off, viewers and players were drawn in by the story of the post-Arkfall world. Players wanted to experience more of this for themselves, and they tore through our story content like bookworms with the munchies. Each week we gave more story and more content. New enemies with improved AI came in with Hellbug Season and the Volge Invasion. Hidden knowledge resided in data recorders which cropped up all around the world. A whole new gameplay mode, sieges, rolled in with a plague which threatened both St. Louis and San Francisco. Players worked with and against characters which crossed over between show and game: Nolan, Irisa, Rynn, and Doc Yewll.
We even launched a mini-expansion during the season which we internally named “Module 0”. It introduced a slew of new features including the main mission replay. Each week brought more stability, more updates, and more content. And it was all free with the price of admission.
Rise of the Castithans
Our first DLC, the Castithan Charge Pack, rolled out shortly after the finale of the first season of the Defiance TV series. We’d all been fascinated by the Castithans and with the culture we’d developed for them alongside David Peterson, the language and culture expert for Defiance. We wanted to offer more than just pale skins to our ark hunters, so the Castithan Charge pack was paired with a series of missions, a new weapon type, and a new gameplay mode and environment.
Meanwhile, as we promised, all DLC is accompanied by content for all of our players. Volge sieges began as the Thorn Liro bared its fangs in Paradise. This brought updated scoring and mechanics to our sieges and to our Volge enemies. The Volge had learned some new tricks. Some, but they were about to learn more.
Raiders of the Fallen Ark
Our second DLC, Arkbreaker, was focused on bringing forth an experience that players had demanded since the premier of the show: climbing into arkfalls. After seeing Nolan and Irisa climb into the arkfall to retrieve the terrasphere, players wanted to do the same.
Building off of the art style from the ark module beneath Presidio Bunker, the Trion team built a series of maps for players to climb into, fight, and pillage. More than that, though, we introduced the Volge Warmaster, Huntmaster, and drones. These all played integral parts in the Arkbreaker content, and, to this day, the Warmaster remains the hardest and most complicated boss in the game.
Like all of our DLCs, we promised to provide content updates for all our players and not just the owners of the DLC. For this, we allowed anyone to participate in events triggered by Arkbreaker owners. Any time an arkbreak starts, any ark hunter can participate. This is massive co-op.
Canadian Space Samurai?
The New Frontier is a weird place. A really weird place. Defiance has long had a Western motif, and nothing borrows with the Western genre as much as the Samurai genre. The biggest example of that were the Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven films. We wanted to capture that spirit in a DLC, and thus the 7th Legion was born.
7th Legion brought new outfits, new synergies, and new challenges. Our first three part gear synergy cropped up with the 7th Legion, as did a number of uniquely modified guns. These came in handy when facing our new open-world content.
With 7th Legion, the enemies of Paradise began to act on a scale not seen before. Incursions began cropping up in every region, and even Mt. Tam, our beginning region, fell under attack. To handle these massive co-op events, we drastically revamped the voice and text chat systems. Immediately after launch, we could see the results. People were chatting, constantly, and the coordination between our players improved drastically.
Our players longed for more and more challenging co-op content, and that came in spades with our Gunslinger Trials DLC. The Gunslinger Trials came in with three new mission lines, a slew of new world lore, and a series of grueling co-op arenas. Gunslingers faced these new challenges with a variety of unique new weapons and snazzy new outfits.
Our free content also changed the face of the game. Not only could anybody group up with DLC owners for the Gunslinger arenas, but players were also free to engage with our new scoring system throughout the game world. Finally, all weapons and strategies had something to offer for an ark hunter’s progression. Rewards were not just limited to the players who had the highest DPS or kill rate, but healers and support players could prosper as well.
Children of the Revolution
Our next DLC, Arktech Revolution is our most ambitious to date. By the time you read this, it will be live on our Alpha public test server. For the longest time, we called this update “Hard Mode” and with good reason. Our first arkfall playtest got renamed “Welcome to Murdertown, USA.” We added progression and scaling, and well, we may have tuned it a touch high.
We’ve added the ability to purchase legendary weapons in game, advanced and expert instances, and we’ve nearly drastically increased the number of enemies throughout the game. Many of them have even learned brand new attacks. Let me tell you, they have some game changers in there.
On top of that, Arktech Revolution layers much more value onto damage types and a new mechanic called “Ablative Armor.” With these two mechanics combined, players can finally make real and significant tactical decisions with their gear and loadout customizations.
The Future of Defiance
The Earth Republic and Votanis Collective are gearing up for war. Irisa’s developed inexplicable powers. Karl Von Bach is missing and presumed dead, but there are rumblings that he’s been seen beyond the bounds of Paradise.
There’s more than just story coming ahead. We’ve got a whole slew of updates coming out before and during the second season. We’re getting new enemies, new perks, new features, and the inevitable land expansion. The location has already been telegraphed to those who have been paying careful attention, but I won’t spoil that for you here.
2046 was a hard year for Earth, and 2047 is going to make it look like a cakewalk.
Creative Lead, Defiance