My suspension of disbelief was held aloft on the Defiant's size vrs capability issue simply by this:
It had no brig, no holodecks. Likely limited bare-bones replication, little or no recreation areas. Smallest of crew quarters, and simplest and tightest of accesways and so forth.
It was specifically designed to be as small and light as possible, which usually indicates expensive or even experimental materials, with limited supply and inordinate costs (think all-carbon-fiber car).
It was an engine, upon which had been strapped very large guns, a shield generator, and a bridge, some crew cabins in what space was left between and a thin hull of insanely expensive and rare material stretched over it all.
Posters with better knowledge of the episodes point out replaceable weapon power cells instead of the standard ability to never need replacement. Think in terms of batteries instead of power draw (allowing for a smaller core, as nothing is pulling form it but minimal systems, not even the guns).
This was not a ship meant for long journeys alone. This is an older attack submarine. Compact, efficient, deadly, and entirely dependent on other ships and facilities for long-term needs. In game-terms, I would expect enormous speed and handling, innate bonuses to DPS and accuracy, or Crit Dmg and Strength alternately, but rather limited weapons battery and VERY slow health regen, possibly even innate debuffs to BO healing abilities when applied to yourself (Emergency Power to Shields, etc).
All the other tier Escorts seem to be less overspecialized in design.
Don't worry I am well versed in treknobabble and ordinary technobabble.
I am still miffed the Akira and Defiant are in the wrong order. The other way round would have been a lot less gamey. I prefer the Akira to the Defiant and none of the T5 escorts I have seen do anything for me, so I will probably be pimping a Defiant for a long time ....
I have to agree. If the Prometheus had it's MVAM then I'd crawl into it and never crawl out. The Cerberus is just a refit of the Prometheus that removed the MVAM. And the Cryptic Escorts, AKA the Dervish, look like junk.
But, I'm partial to the canon story around the Prometheus so I'll probably have one, although, it should have been the ship set with the extra Eng slot and not the Dervish/Hermes.
I don't knowhow this got from Akira to Defiant but here's my take on the Definat. Star Trek wasn't overly concerned with cannon for a very long time. Take for example, Miles O'Brian. He was an Ensign, a Lieutenant an Ensign again before being a Chief Petty Officer. It contradicted itself on many occasions. In DS9, it's stated that the Defiant's weapons are tied into an oversized Warp Core yet in another episode it states it uses Energy Cells, contradicting the earlier method of power. Hell, Voyager contridicts its own cannon in one episode where Torres states there will be a Warp Core breach and so needs to errect a containment field arround Engineering only for Janeway to say later in the same scene that a Warp Core breach should have destroyed the ship!
If you want a techno supposition, consider that the Defiant, unlike other "Cruiser" class vessels, had a comparatively small sick bay, had little room therefore accomodated a small crew, therefore needed little in the way of Life Support, had no Holodecks, Science Labs or elaborate crew quarters. Therefore, all the power that would go into those facilities where pumped directly into the weapons, allowing for a higher energy output.
Personally, I'm still wondering why Cryptic hasn't dabbled in 'cross ships' BEFORE Tier5.
Replace the current Akira with the REAL norway design, and make the Akira an 'engineer escort' at same tier as the Defiant (T4), and for canon-happiness give it a 1 sec smaller cooldown on torp fire.
At the same time, they could add the Nebula as a Mix ship with a - you guessed it - Universal Lt (or higher?) slot!
Federation ships aren't warships, every single one houses crew quarters frequently described by other starfarers as some form of 'luxurious', and are utterly stuffed with scientific equipment and even holodecks. Their hulls are covered in freaking windows, and even the little Intrepid-class can maintain and produce it's own small fleet of shuttlecraft while tooling about on the other side of the galaxy.
By comparison the Defiant is a flying brick covered in guns. The rooms are as close to barracked as Starfleet has ever shown, there's sod all recreational facilities, if you want to see outside you walk out an airlock because your window is an armour plate, and if you're lucky you might have the scientific facilities to work out that planets are roughly spherical.
The Federation is just plain better than its rivals, they've been building armed explorers and fighting wars with them against full on combat vessels from opposing empires. The Defiant is what happens when the gloves come off; a tiny little freaking death machine.