The Votanis Collective, or Votans, originate from a binary star system in the Perseus Veil (or Perseus Arm). The Votans were forced to flee their system after a galactic cataclysm. The Sol System became a very appealing new home: Jupiter alone had 65 moons that could be reformatted with their Terramorph technology, there were ample mining opportunities in the asteroid belt, and, perhaps most importantly, they believed Earth void of intelligent life due to the absence of spaceflight technology. When negotiations for colony rights broke down, the Votans declared war on humanity, which culminated with the Arkfall, when several of their ships crashed onto the planet's surface, inadvertently unleashing the Terramorph technology and irrevocably altering Earth's biosphere. The Collective is comprised of the following species:Castithan A humanoid race with pale skin and white hair, Castithans bear the strongest physical resemblance to humans, and from a political standpoint, are the Collective's dominant species. A highly spiritual race with a rigid caste system, most of the Casthithan refugees are from their ruling class.Indogene The most technically advanced Votan species, Indogene are congenitally hairless humanoids with a wiry build and pale skin, which has runes and tattoos to denote individual identity. As the physically weakest Collective species, they tend to undergo various forms of genetic or cybernetic modifications, specific to their chosen professions.Irathient The most physically robust Votan species, the Irathients have been the most successful in adapting to life on Earth. They bear a strong resemblence to humans, but have prominent ridges similar to Neanderthals.Liberata A race of short, squat humanoids with porcine features, Liberata held the economic power among the Votan races until their greed led to their downfall. They have since become the servant caste in Votan society. Despite their social status, most Liberata have a strong sense of humility, viewing their current predicament as punishment for crimes of their ancestors.Sensoth An ape-like species from the Irathient homeworld, the Sensoth have a lifespan of approximately 200 years. As a result of this longevity, Sensoth tend to be deliberate and conservative in nature, preferring long-term plans over abrupt action.Gulanee An energy based species that require containment suits to interact with their surroundings; the rarest Collective race encountered.Volge A race of automatons, disliked by all of the other Votan races, and the closest thing to a straightforward "villain" race. They stand over eight feet tall, are covered in dense armor, and possess integrated internal weapons. Not intended to be part of the Exodus, they were smuggled onto the Arks via unknown means.Not every creature is alien, however, as the Votan Terramorph technology inadvertently created several mutants.
The series takes place in what used to be St. Louis, Missouri, now called Defiance, while the game takes place in the California Bay Area, formerly San Francisco.The show focuses mainly on life in Defiance, and the power struggle between its most powerful families. Comparisons to Deadwood and Game of Thrones have been made. Conversely, the game focuses on the Bay Area Expedition, where Ark Hunters are seeking to recover salvage from crashed Votan ships at the behest of Machiavellian industrialist Karl von Bach. Some major characters in one will have cameos in the other. Series protagonists Nolan and Irisa appear in some of the game's early campaign missions, where they engage in morally questionable activities such as theft and piracy. In the series, Nolan is seeking redemption for these actions. Also, it is highly likely that von Bach is involved the show's conspiracy arc.