Defiance PvP Beginner’s Guide

Defiance PvP Beginner’s Guide by Notturno


The primary goal of this guide is to provide an entry level analysis of the necessary mechanics and theory of competitive play in Defiance. I will be particularly emphasizing itemization and progression elements of the game, notably weapons and EGO powers. My hope is that after reading through this primer, you will be able to be on a relatively level playing field with the more seasoned players.

About Improvement

Before I go into the bulk of this guide, there is one particular piece of advice I was given as a younger gamer that I wish to pass on to everyone. When it comes to improving in any competitive game, youabsolutely must assign blame to yourself. Regardless of any issues you may have with game mechanics, personal disputes with a player, or general gripes with the game, there is always something you could have done different to change the outcome of a situation.

Look at your own mistakes and figure out where you went wrong. The most immediate thing you can change is yourself, and this is the best investment of your time if you want to improve.


The highlighted weapons represent the most popular, and subjectively “best,” varieties within their class. They can be substituted anywhere in the guide with the alternatives I have listed. If a weapon is not listed, that does not make it bad; I have only listed weapons that are user friendly and work best in competitive play.

VOT Tachmag Pulser

This is the most popular weapon choice because of its fast fire rate, respectable damage. The main strength of this weapon is its ability to rapidly trigger nano effects, particularly syphon. When you are able to trigger Syphon two to five times in a single magazine, this dramatically improves its efficiency.

  • Barrel: Which mod you choose depends on your play style. If you find yourself engaging from longer ranges and typically play on larger maps, then the Sustained Power Muzzle is the way to go. Otherwise, the Power Bore is a good all around choice.
  • Magazine: Since reloads are relatively fast with these weapons, generally you will want to have theHigh Capacity Magazine as your mod of choice.
  • Sight: Sights are generally irrelevant due to the Tachmag’s high accuracy, but the Stabilization Sight is really the only sight that will directly benefit you.
  • Stock: I personally see very little recoil or bloom from Tachmags, so I see little reason to use it. If you are using Sonic Strike with this build, then a Guerilla Buttstock is optimal.

Alternatives: The VOT Pulser is a good option if you are looking for a higher damage, slower firing alternative. The FRC Sub-Carbine is a good choice if you are able to hit a moving target with a full burst. The VOT Blast Rifle can also be used to great effect in a similar role.

Pairs With: Blur, Gunslinger.

VOT Fragger

This is the ideal shotgun choice because of its two shot burst; it provides a respectable amount of front end damage, with a chance to trigger a nano effect on each shot from the burst. It is arguably the ideal shotgun choice.

  • Barrel: Which mod you choose depends on your play style. If you find yourself engaging from longer ranges and typically play on larger maps, then the Power Retention Choke is the way to go. Otherwise, the Power Choke is a good all around choice.
  • Magazine: Adding additional rounds to your magazine on the Fragger is actually detrimental unless they come in multiples of two. I believe the effect trigger percentage is high enough on the Fragger as well. Thus, I feel the best option for a magazine is the Rapid Shot Pod.
  • Sight: The Scatter Scope is a great option if you do not use the aiming feature, since it improves your movement accuracy. If you do aim, consider using the Shotgun Hip Spread sight.
  • Stock: If you find yourself struggling to control the recoil, then the Recoil Buttstock is a good choice. If you find yourself using Sonic Strike with this build, then the Close Quarters Buttstockis preferred.

Alternatives: The FRC ScattergunVOT Grind Fragger, and VBI Shotgun are all good choices depending on your handling preference.

Pairs With: Blur, Cloak, Gunslinger, Shadowed Strike.

VBI Assault Rifle

The VBI Assault Rifle is a great all-around weapon due to its relatively tight accuracy, solid range, and middle ground damage. It is able to operate at any range competently, but fails to excel at any single range.

  • Barrel: The Power Bore is often the best option for the Assault Rifle, since it does not suffer too much from falloff damage. If you are using a high magnification scope, then the Sustained Power Muzzle may be useful.
  • Magazine: Reloading is generally quick enough, so choosing the High Capacity Magazine is often the best choice.
  • Sight: Sights are going to depend mostly on your magnification preference. The following sights are ordered from least to most magnification; no scope, Tactical ScopeCommando Scope,Assault Scope.
  • Stock: This is based on preference; if you are doing melee, then use the Guerrilla Buttstock, otherwise use External Recoil Reduction.

Alternatives: The FRC Assault Carbine is a slightly longer range version of this gun, but with worse accuracy with hip fire. The FRC Heavy Assault Carbine offers much improved range, and functions best with a burst modification.

Pairs With: Overcharge, Hunter’s Stance, Hunker Down.


The FRC SAW boasts a very high damage per round with a very large magazine, making it a perfect sustained fire weapon. Its high damage and steady fire rate allows it to be a great medium range weapon. When used with Overcharge, the recoil and bloom become irrelevant and turn the gun into one of the strongest options available.

  • Barrel: Depending on your preference for range; the Power Bore is a good all around choice, with the Sustained Power Muzzle suited more for long range engagements.
  • Magazine: The large magazine capacity makes the High Capacity Magazine give a lot of returns on your investment. However, the Fast Action Reloader is a good all around option since you will often want to reload more often to make sure you can engage a target.
  • Sight: Sights are going to depend mostly on your magnification preference. The following sights are ordered from least to most magnification; no scope, Tactical ScopeCommando Scope,Assault Scope.
  • Stock: This is based on preference; if you are doing melee, then use the Guerrilla Buttstock, otherwise use External Recoil Reduction.

Alternatives: Currently, none of the other options are good enough to justify using them over a SAW.

Pairs With: Overcharge, Hunter’s Stance, Hunker Down, Overload, Biological (slows).

VBI Sniper Rifle

This weapon and the FRC Bolt Action Repeater are the only two sniper rifles you should consider using. They have the highest damage values of all the bolt action snipers, which is what you want when you are multiplying damage with headshots.

  • Barrel: Generally speaking, the Ultra-Bore Extension will provide better damage numbers at lower critical multiplier values. If you happen to have a sniper rifle with multiple critical bonuses, then theTachyon Laced Extender will yield better results. The goal is to dish out enough damage to kill someone in a single headshot, which is typically easier to achieve with multiple critical bonuses.
  • Magazine: The last thing you want to do when sniping is miss a shot because you are busy reloading, so the Extended Sniper Mag is always a great option for any sniper rifle. If you can work with a lower magazine count, then the Rifle Catalyst Injector is a good option if you have a good nano effect.
  • Sight: Sights are going to depend mostly on your magnification preference. The following sights are ordered from least to most magnification; Sharpshooter ScopeMarksman Scope, default scope, Telescopic Sight.
  • Stock: There’s really only one option, and that’s the Sniper Recoil Stock.

Alternatives: The FRC Bolt Action Repeater is a good alternative; the stats are nearly identical, it just has a slighter larger magazine at the cost of reload speed.

Pairs With: Cloak, Shadowed Strike, Height Advantage.

VBI SO-2 Courier

The Courier fires two separating arced sticky explosives. At close range, sticking a target with both explosives provides a significant advantage in any engagement. The weapon also excels at destroying vehicles.

  • Barrel: The Courier is not subject to falloff damage, so it is advisable to use the Power Choke.
  • Magazine: Ideally you should be using the Rapid Shot Pod for quicker reloads. When combined with the Pumped Up perk, faster reload speed allows you to get your EGO power recharged much faster.
  • Sight: Sights will provide no benefit to a Courier, as it fires in a predetermined arc. You really should only get a scope for synergy purposes.
  • Stock: The Courier is not subject to bloom, and recoil should be easily compensated for while switching weapons. I would recommend using the Close Quarters Buttstock, especially when you are running Sonic Strike.

Alternatives: The VOT Nano Fragger is a good alternative for close range engagements, but it is subject to heavy falloff damage. You should consider using a Power Retention Choke if you use any other Sawed-off Shotgun.

Pairs With: Cloak, Shadowed Strike, Deadly Cascade, Pumped Up, Mad Bomber.

FRC Big Boomer

The Big Boomer is a sticky grenade launcher with the largest blast radius available. While the magazine size is decreased to compensate for the blast radius, it is generally the best option due to how forgiving the blast radius is.

  • Barrel: The Radius Overthruster allows a bit more forgiveness for your maximum damage threshold, and is generally a good option if you are not reliably sticking your targets. Otherwise, theProximity Overthruster has a damage increase that will always be favorable.
  • Magazine: The Reserve Chamber is a good magazine choice because it features a flat magazine increase, effectively doubling your magazine capacity.
  • Sight: Sights do not exist for Detonators.
  • Stock: The only option is the Sledge Arm for melee damage.

Alternatives: The VBI Grenade Launcher features a larger magazine with a reduced blast radius; it is a better option if you are able to regularly stick targets.

Pairs With: Overcharge, Deadly Cascade, Mad Bomber, Shock Trooper.

VBI INF-3 Canker

The Canker is one of the more unique Infectors because of the way its damage operates. Rather than basing its damage on unreliable bugs, all of the damage is focused on the damage over time effect. This damage effect forces people to roll to not die, giving you an opportunity to deal free damage. It is worth noting that you reach maximum damage at three infections, meaning firing more than 15 rounds is wasted damage.

  • Barrel: The Viral Accelerator is the only option, since this increases the damage over time effect.
  • Magazine: The Strain Reducer gives a fire rate increase, which is the only magazine that will directly impact your killing potential, thus the best option. The Strain Reloader is a good option if you find yourself reloading often.
  • Sight: Sights do not exist for Infectors.
  • Stock: This is based on preference; if you are doing melee, then use the Eviscerator, otherwise use the Bio-Stabilizer.

Alternatives: The VBI Invader is an automatic variant of the Infector that relies on bug damage as well, instead of purely damage over time. The VBI INF-27 Immunizer is a long range option, with a three round burst.

Pairs With: Blur, Cloak, BMGs.

FRC Tele-Spanner

The Tele-Spanner has the longest effective leashing range, with an average energy drain rate.

  • Barrel: This depends purely on your play style. For the highest damage potential, the Syphon Suppressor does damage at the expense of healing. The Syphon Accelerator provides the opposite effect; increased healing potential at the expense of damage. The Beam Intensifierprovides a minor damage increase with no drawbacks.
  • Magazine: The Tachmag Reloader is the only modification that has an effect, since charge has no effect on BMGs at the moment.
  • Sight: Sights do not exist for BMGs.
  • Stock: The Bionetic Amplifier is the only modification available, but provides a slight boost in potential link range.

Alternatives: The VBI BM-4 Stingray and VOT Spanner are very similar with slight variations in stats. The VOT Spanner Trapper is a slightly weaker variant with a slowing effect when damaging a target.

Pairs With: Blur, Decoy, VBI INF-3 Canker, Damage over time.

Shields & Grenades


One of the best all-around options is an Ironclad. It has a good mixture of capacity and recharge, which allows your to survive most burst damage without significantly hindering how fast you can start another engagement. The Rhino is another option you can consider, especially if you use Cloak; triggering the Cloak effect also immediately starts your shield regeneration, which negates the long delay drawback of the Rhino.

Ideally you should look into a Syphon resistant version of your preferred shield, due to the prevalence of Syphon effects in competitive matches. Your shield variant should be chosen based more on availability, but Regenerator versions are ideal if you can find them.


Your goal should be to get grenades with low detonation timers, preferably none at all. Frag grenades are the prominent choice due to their large burst damage. Pyro grenades are also a feasible option due to the damage over time forcing players to roll to stop it, which opens them up to free damage. Bio grenades are useful if you have a longer range play style; using them with short range weapons leaves you particularly vulnerable to hitting yourself with the effect.

EGO Powers


Blur is a great choice for competitive game modes because of its ability to close and create gaps. It also allows for quick traveling across the larger maps, as well as access to shortcuts exclusive to Blur. This power is best paired with weapons that are not impacted by movement accuracy penalties.

  • Strengths: You have the ability to quickly close gaps for shorter range weapons, or create them with longer range weapons. There are also several environment shortcuts you can only access with Blur.
  • Weaknesses: Any biological application will negate your speed bonus.
  • Pairs With: Melee, VOT Tachmag Pulser, VOT Fragger, VBI SO-2 Courier, FRC Big Boomer.


Cloak offers two significant benefits as a base power; it offers perfect invisibility in most situations, and enables instant recharging of your shield. You can move in and out of fights while recharging your shield, a luxury other EGO powers do not have.This power allows you to initiate a fight, which lends itself well to burst weaponry.

  • Strengths: Incredibly versatile, allowing you to engage at the range you choose. Instant shield recharging makes Rhino shields a viable option.
  • Weaknesses: Invisibility can negated by any sort of constant damage; fire, biological, infections, and so on. Infector needles display even if you are cloaked.
  • Pairs With: Melee, VOT Fragger, VBI Sniper Rifle, VBI SO-2 Courier, FRC Big Boomer.


Overcharge is a raw damage power, which fits very well with higher damage weaponry. Using the power immediately reloads your active weapon, which can come in handy with explosive weapons and weapons with long reload times.

  • Strengths: Instant reload pairs well with explosive weapons. Instant reload can make an LMG deadly.
  • Weaknesses: Leaves you vulnerable with no option for a defensive power, or any mobility. Often goes best with weapons that do not emphasize mobility.
  • Pairs With: VBI Assault Rifle, FRC SAW, VBI SO-2 Courier, FRC Big Boomer.


Decoy is not an optimal choice for competitive matches, mostly due to its easily identifiable nature. It can still be utilized by an aware player; the swapping feature allows for quick escapes, and you can often bait certain weapons into being used on your Decoy rather than yourself. This power can be paired with nearly every weapon option, but typically works better with shorter range weapons due to its short travel distance.

  • Strengths: You can bait Cloak players, slow reloading weapons, and partial weapon clips. Decoy also allows for quick escapes from bad situations with the swap.
  • Weaknesses: Easily noticed by players, with a very limited survival time for most Decoys. It’s very situational in its application.
  • Pairs With: Melee, VOT Tachmag Pulsers, VBI Assault Rifles.


EGO Perks

The following perks are considered absolute necessities because of their performance in competitive game modes. Failing to run these will result in severely diminished survivability.

  • Thick Skinned is a must due to its 50% damage mitigation on shield break. This gives you significantly enhanced survivability in a firefight.
  • Rear Guard is also a must due to its 30% damage reduction from behind. This will give you a chance to react to cloak users who engage you from behind, as well as give you additional survivability when escaping.
  • Escape Artist, as this gives you an advantage when attempting to escape, or dodging individuals once your shield goes down. When combined with Thick Skinned and Rear Guard, you should have no problems escaping targets.
  • You should have some form of EGO recharge reduction in your build. If you are using weapons that you frequently reload from an empty magazine, such as a Courier or Tachmag, then Pumped Up is a great option. Otherwise, Second WindShadow’s CoreQuick Charge, or Materialize should be used (based on your selected EGO power).

Outside of these perks, you can mix and match a number of other perks based on your needs. Any combination of these perks may be useful based on your play style.

  • Blast Shield: If you find yourself dealing with numerous explosive users, then Blast Shield is a safe bet.
  • Cellular Armor: Another solid defensive choice. Flat damage resistance will always be valuable.
  • Deadly Cascade: This perk is a great choice since it adds a big damage boost if you happen to catch two people in an explosion. This logic supposedly applies to Frag Grenades as well.
  • Detachment: If you find yourself going against multiple targets, then this perk can provide a great amount of additional defensive benefits after a single kill.
  • Displacement Field: If you want additional speed, particularly if you are running a Respark shield, then this perk offers a great amount of additional mobility.
  • EGO Duration: Increasing the duration of your EGO power can be preferable for your play style.Endurance RunnerInfiltratorKilling Machine, or Efficient Projection are all viable options.
  • Fortitude: A solid defensive choice, due to the way it synergizes with Thick Skinned.
  • Gunslinger: A critical damage modifier based solely on hip firing weapons. It pairs quite well with shotguns and SMGs.
  • Kill or Be Killed: When combined with Thick Skinned, this perk gives you a fair amount of time to take advantage of the massive critical damage bonus. A very risky and situational perk, but it can pay off if you are good with headshots.
  • Mad Bomber: If you use grenades or explosives to secure kills, this perk will deliver great returns. It provides a seven to ten second reduction on your grenade recharge, depending on your base recharge.
  • Regeneration: If you are having problems against damage over time, particularly Infectors, you should consider picking up this perk.
  • Shock Trooper: This perk can provide some very lucky breaks in some situations, particularly when using a Courier.
  • Sonic Strike: If you find yourself using melee often, Sonic Strike can be very effective when combined with melee bonuses and melee stock mods.

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