Origins do not limit what abilities, weapons or outfits the players can choose. The four origins are Veterans, Outlaws, Machinists, and Survivalists. Veterans are a group of soldiers who survived The Pale Wars, a massive conflict between humans and aliens. Outlaws are criminals who raid and destroy for fortunes. Machinists are scavengers, who recover alien technology to make profits and a living from it. Survivalists are humans or aliens who attempt to survive in the newly formed, hostile world. Besides initial starter weapon and also costume - this choice, similar to Race (Human, Irathient & Castithan) has absolutely no consequence in the later game, with all weapons, abilities and costumes being equally accessible to all players beyond the tutorial area.
Players can choose to be either a Human or an "Irathient" (a humanoid alien species who are similar to humans), or the Castithan race if you have a particular DLC available.
The Ark Hunters are injected with an EGO (Environmental Guardian Online), a symbiotic, neuro-muscular bionetic implant developed by Von Bach Industries, which helps players navigate the Bay Area and gives them access to unique abilities.
The game takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area, 15 years after the devastating Pale Wars between Earth and a loose alliance of extraterrestrial races known as Votanis Collective. The Votans came to Earth seeking a new home after the destruction of their solar system, unaware that the planet was already inhabited. Friction between the new arrivals and Humanity led to war, during which the Votan's terraforming technology was unleashed. The Earth's surface was drastically altered as a result, introducing radical changes in topography, the extinction of plant and animal species, and the emergence of new species. Afterward, Humans and Votans were forced to live together. Player characters are enlisted as "Ark Hunters" by industrialist Karl Von Bach to search the Bay Area for advanced and expensive alien technology. Players also take part in side missions to earn cash or challenges in which they compete with other Ark Hunters.
Karl Von Bach – Owner, CEO, and chief engineer in the weapons division of Von Bach Industries, Karl Von Bach is humanity’s foremost intellect on Votan technologies and hybrid weaponry. Karl Von Bach hopes to foster a better future for humanity by cracking the secrets of arktech. By mastering EGO and terraforming technology, Earthkind will enter into an age where we can better ourselves and our world.
Varus Soleptor – A local business magnate: the richest person in Paradise Territory. He commands a large umbrella corporation, Soleptor Enterprises, which he founded when he foresaw the ‘gulanite rush’ that would overtake the Bay Area. Liberata traditionally occupy the servant caste in Votan society, but Varus has used his business acumen and moral flexibility to become the most powerful business force in Paradise.
Torc Mok – An imposing Sensoth who does not welcome company. He has left behind his military service during the Pale Wars and even his existence as a member of the Defiant Few. He would rather people forget his contribution to history at the Battle of Defiance and instead lives a humble life operating Headlands Transit Depot in Sausalito.
Ara Shondu - A female Castithan and the unofficial leader of the community of Paradise. Ara grew up in the Tranquility community in Mount Tam and went on to become a politician for the Votanis Collective, only to be forced out due to some sort of scandal. She became the V.C. Frontier Ambassador to Paradise and used her connections to help Paradise.
Rosa Rodriguez – Rosa was a child when she and her father, Amelio, survived the Battle of Defiance and became recorded in history as members of the Defiant Few. Now she lives a secluded life in Marin where she operates Top-Notch Toolworks with her companion, Eren Niden. Rosa has grown up to be a hot-tempered, genius inventor who keeps Paradise rich with innovative solutions to the dangers of the new frontier.
Cass Ducar – A new arrival to Paradise. A fearless Ark Hunter, Cass has left behind the tribal customs of the Irathient people to search for the hidden secrets buried by the Arkfall. She eases contacts into a false sense of security with her easy charm and flirtatious manner, but she is always seeking and stealing information.
Eren Niden – Eren is not your average frontier doctor. She is an Indogene bio-technician specializing in xenobiology and nano-augmentation. As brilliant as she is, she has only recently left the Votanis Collective and has poor command of the English language. This, combined with her focus on research rather than medicine, has led her to have a rather strained relationship with her patients in Paradise. Her only strong connection is with her companion, Rosa Rodriguez, with whom she lives at Top-Notch Toolworks.
Jon Cooper – Lawkeeper Cooper is a man who has seen the horrors of war and the evils of prejudice. He stands as a pillar in the community supporting peaceful human-Votan coexistence. Years ago, he came to the ruins of San Francisco with the Iron Demons, the Earth Military Coalition’s 9th Mechanized Division, to wipe out a Votan army during the Pale Wars. Fate had other plans. Jon Cooper stood alongside Votans and humans at the Battle of Defiance to put a stop to the hate-fueled bloodshed. As a member of the Defiant Few, Jon Cooper helped start a movement that may eventually bring peace to a world at war.
Nim Shondu - Brother of Ara Shondu and leader of Dark Matter, a radical Votan group. He grew up in Tranquility as well and was used as part of a plan to create a virus to kill Votans which lead to a hatred of Humans. He became the leader of Dark Matter and fought in the Battle of Defiance and was one of the survivors. He returned to the Bay Area in 2046 with Dark Matter to use the Terra-spire there to terraform Earth to kill off the Humans.
Defiance had been in development since August 2008. It started as a collaborative effort between Trion and Syfy to make a video game that ran alongside a television series. The publisher has reportedly spent more than $70 million during development.