“Bullets are a chump’s racket. Any mook can rain death with lead and plasma, but only an ark hunter can use arktech to win a fight.”
—Raizar Zandijur, VBI Contract Representative to the Earth Republic
With the introduction of the Arkbreaker DLC, the action in Defiance changed forever. We discovered, through gameplay and through player feedback, that we could do more to keep a dynamic player-action-driven feel to our combats. Additionally, we wanted to periodically interrupt the usual power fantasy with moments of desperation. To accomplish this, we’ve introduced stims and spikes and revamped the way grenades work in game, making action more varied, frenetic, and fun.
In many ways, stims are the simplest of our new ark hunter gear. Stims allow ark hunters to gain an instant boost to their performance. The danger and difficulty in stims is the difficult choice as to which one to equip at any given time. Choosing to be able to heal yourself fully means that you’ve denied yourself a chance to restore your EGO power or resist knockback and hit harder. The best ark hunter must balance stim usage with play style, changing according to the nuances of the fight that lies ahead.
Grenades are now an object in short supply in the New Frontier. Ark hunters may equip a single stack of five grenades and throw them in more rapid succession. To balance out the power of being able to rain fiery death down on your foes, ark hunters must now pick up more grenades to resupply. This can be done by prying them from the cold, dead hands of your enemies or by purchasing them from vendors. This gameplay change makes grenades more deadly but also more precious: an ark hunter must seriously think about the precise moment to throw for maximum damage.
Spikes are the most dynamic of the new ark hunter tools. When placed, spikes create an area which benefits all allied ark hunters within it, thus transforming the battlefield into a series of places of power and no-man’s-lands. Ark hunters congregate around these pillars of power which grant them super-human durability or damage or even unlimited ammunition. This creates islands of violence and battle lines which would not exist without the decisions of the ark hunters.
The enemies respond in kind to spike deployment by sending more firepower at the high concentrations of ark hunters. This presents a danger to the spike itself: if it is destroyed prematurely, its benefits will end, which can leave the ark hunters in a tight spot. Ark hunters must work together to strategically place spikes as well as protect them in order to gain the ultimate upper hand.
Scarcity and Improv
Ark hunters constantly ride the dagger’s edge between life and death: the addition of resource scarcity makes this danger all the more real when placed into the combat equation. Spikes, stims, and grenades add a huge amount of power to the ark hunter arsenal, but power always comes with the seductive possibility of becoming dependent and thus, vulnerable. This can be dangerous when that power is in a limited supply: run out of an integral part of your arsenal in the middle of a fire fight might end in your downfall.
Luckily, all kinds of spikes, stims, and grenades drop from enemies with great frequency. Any of these items may be picked up on the fly and used immediately. Now, more than ever, ark hunters can improvise. Maybe you run out of your favorite frag grenades, but if an enemy drops bio grenades, you can improvise: swap your loadout, change your mindset, and continue on your path to victory. It’s a deadly and exciting thing to improvise in combat and, in the wild world of Defiance, it can quickly become a necessity.