When I started playing this game back in 2015, it was a great game, mainly due to the sheer heart pounding action during ark fall events and incursions. The basic premise being that the mobs attack in ever increasing waves which forces you to act faster and to think about what to do to survive the event and ultimately win in terms of arkforge; which is basically the real currency in the game. Forget 'Script', Defiance's word for in-game money; it's basically worthless.
The community was good, populated by more than the usual group of actually nice people who will help, who will give out free weapons and generally just want to have fun.
Loot is unfortunately tied to what seems to be the normal 'RNG' in games these days; meaning you could score highest in an event and still come out with weapons that may be worse than what you had in the noobie starting area. Or you could score lowest and come out with a 'JP' (Jack Pot named rare gun). It was, and still is, basically a lottery. You jump into an event and fight your way through the mobs, as a gaming version of buying a lottery ticket.
I left Defiance in 2016 due to real life work commitments and came back a few weeks ago for their Armistice event. A LOT has changed.
For new players, be ready to spend real life money if you want to get the good stuff in the game. Trion has apparently taken the step a lot of braver game companies have always feared to take, i.e. 'Pay To Win'. Like most of the games in the market, Defiance has an in-game store selling items for use in the game. These used to range from cosmetics to vehicles which can be used to travel around in the game world. And yes, they did have lockboxes to be bought with real cash which may contain some nice weapons and mods.
Once purchased, you basically pray that something good will pop into your inventory. In the past not many actually bought these lockboxes since the RNG on it was so bad you would lose way more than you would win. Way, way way more.
But now Trion has gotten smart - check out the new weapons and shields which are far superior to anything currently in the game - available only if you buy it from the store. But here's the catch, you buy the lockbox and MAYBE you get the items. It's not a guarantee that you will get it; just a maybe. You would think that this was a recipe for disaster but ironically a lot of people have spent literally thousands of dollars trying to get those guns / shields. Visit their forums and you will see many boasting of how much they have spent.
This has resulted in an elitist mentality, i.e. I have the best gun so I'm the best. In the past, many who knew not to touch the lockboxes had to make do with what they had, resulting in some of the best players you have ever seen in the game. Literally someone armed with a noobie starting pistol came in No.1 on the pvp scoreboards just to prove that it wasn't the gun but the skills that wielded it.
This is no longer so. Many of the good players have moved on to other games. Others have moved in, the elitist who do not like players who cannot afford to spend cold hard cash using alts to try and get some of the guns to trade (they will train you if they see you doing so). Those who will only trade for top range items which of course can only be bought from the lockboxes.
In the 3 weeks that I have been back doing the Armistice arkfalls, my thoughts went from "OMG ! this is fubar !" to "OK it's actually a SNAFU". Where almost every single arkfall event results in a near fail. The number of times an event went smoothly can be counted on one hand in the 3 weeks since. And it is my strong suspicion that the only reason they do not fail is because the veterans went "Sigh...ok, fine. I'll use my main and finish this."
Play this game if you want but be prepared to fork out a lot of money. It may be F2P but it seems that Trion has found a way around that.
Before the trolls start in, yes you also have a chance to win those items through the game itself (earn keycodes to buy the lockboxes) but these have an even slimmer chance that those using real cash. Let's put it this way, it took me over 6 months of game time to pull a legendary grenade from the box. Some have taken over a year. As Harry asked "Do you feel lucky punk ?"