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E3 2012: Do Shooter MMOs Ruin Team-Play?

By
Posted on June 6, 2012 AT 06:03pm

The Big Question: It has aliens, space marines, and quad bikes—what more could you want?

Defiance is a strange beast. It plays out as a traditional MMO, there are quests, loot and plenty of beasties, but that’s where the similarities stop. Shooters are set-up as team based affairs – one team is good the other evil – the team with the most kills wins. But can this translate to 1000s of players in an open world?

On paper the game seems to tick all of the boxes and should have enough traditional features to hold MMO fan’s attention. But if you look underneath the game appears to be a very solo affair. This is a major problem with shooters trying to act like MMOs. The mentality of the genre is to play alone and look after your own back; this was obvious while playing Defiance.

The game isn’t set-up to promote team play. A group of players join in a massive boss battle and then ignore each other, concentrating on keeping themselves alive instead of helping teammates in trouble. Tunnel vision sets in quickly, I’ll admit it even hit me. Plus it’s not easy to heal or support team mates as there’s currently only one weapon that can heal and it seriously gimps your offense.

The major issue with shooter MMOs is that they can offer too much customization, and without specific classes the game quickly becomes a free-for-all. If there are no classes then nobody in the fight knows their role, this leads to people falling back into self-preservation mode. An easy way to rectify this situation would be to put in class options and not allow for freedom of choice. Sure, it would take something away from the game, but it would give players more purpose in these dynamic events that they are trying to pull off.

These events are similar to Rift’s rifts and should become massive battles against giant bosses similar to the previously mentioned MMO. However, in reality due to the classless nature of Defiance the battles quickly break down into free-for-alls as players get split up. With no roles to differentiate people it becomes an average shooter.

It’s a nice idea on paper, and the game looks beautiful, however the lack of a class system could seriously damage this game. Hopefully the team can find a way to give more purpose to players when in teams. If not then the game is doomed to be lost in the crowd of MMOs.

Can third person shooters survive in the MMO space? Can classless MMOs work? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Matthew Bennett, Associate Editor
Matthew Bennett finally got his big break with EGM three years ago, following years of volunteer work for various sites. An ability to go many hours without sleep and a quick wit make him ideal for his role as associate editor at EGMNOW.com. He often thinks back to the days when the very idea of this career seemed like nothing but an impossible dream. Follow him on Twitter @mattyjb89. Meet the rest of the crew.

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